exposing the dark side of adoption
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Court documents tell of abuse in death of boy, 8


Court documents tell of abuse in death of boy, 8

4 years later, adoptive mother charged in Port Orchard case


PORT ORCHARD -- Four years ago, 8-year-old Christopher Forder lay on his bedroom floor, stricken with pneumonia, heavily bruised and nearing death.

His adoptive father called a family meeting and told the family's seven other children they had a choice: They could bury their brother in the backyard, or call 911 and risk having all the children taken away because of Christopher's obvious bruising.

Later that night, Nov. 24, 2002, Forder and his wife, Kimberly Ann Forder, tried unsuccessfully to revive Christopher with CPR. A son called 911.

An account of the 8-year-old's last moments is contained in court documents, which allege that his mother abused and neglected him to the point of death, never seeking outside medical help.

The night he died, Detective Lori Blankenship walked into his bedroom to find the bruised and battered little boy lying on the floor, partly covered with a blanket.

"It appeared to be a case of abuse," she said. "This is a case that has stuck with me all these years."

Dr. Emanuel Lacsina, the Kitsap County Coroner's Office pathologist, determined that Christopher died of severe pneumonia. He noted the extensive bruising. Manner of death was listed as "undetermined."

The Forders say Christopher's bruises were caused by reactive detachment disorder, which caused him to scratch and pick at his skin and hurl himself into walls.

Blankenship said the family consulted a doctor who said the disorder was a possibility, but it was never diagnosed.

Kitsap County authorities were suspicious about Christopher's death, but for nearly four years the investigation went nowhere. This month, family members came forward.

Forder, recently returned to the U.S. from Africa, was arrested Saturday. She's in the Kitsap County Jail, held on $1 million bail following her not-guilty plea Monday to charges of homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter.

Robert and seven adopted children remain in Liberia, acting as Christian missionaries independent of an established church or aid organization.

When they lived in Seabeck, Kimberly was a stay-at-home mom and Robert a journeyman painter. The Forders so far have adopted eight children, including Christopher, and have three now-grown biological children.

This summer, authorities began investigating one of the couple's biological children. Michael V. Forder, 23, is also in Kitsap County Jail, charged with second-degree rape of an adult family member. Detectives learned the parents had moved to Africa.

Shortly thereafter, police received a report from Children Protective Services in Oregon outlining abuse that occurred before Christopher's death. Court records describe subsequent conversations with three Forder children who described a pattern of abuse, especially toward Christopher. One child said Christopher was beaten an average of six times a day.

If he didn't chew his food correctly, his mother would take it away, sometimes for days, documents allege. The boy resorted to stealing scraps from a compost heap, and eating dog food.

If the boy soiled himself, he was forced to wear the dirty diaper, sometimes on his head. If he didn't wash his clothes correctly in a 5-gallon bucket, his parents dunked his head in the dirty water until he stopped struggling, court documents said.

Christopher was with the Forder family for four years after his adoption.

Michael Forder told detectives his parents started treating the other adopted children better after Christopher's death.

Those dark days are a world away from the cheerful, healthy family pictured on the Forders' Internet Web log. Many of the posts document the months before their July 11 departure to serve as missionaries in Liberia, where they moved with seven adopted children.

"We hope to have a home, with a farm for children, and a school with a small medical clinic," they wrote.

When Kimberly returned to Oregon earlier this month for medical treatment, sheriff's detectives went down to meet her. She voluntarily returned to Kitsap County, where she was booked into jail on Saturday.

The state Department of Social and Health Services confirms the couple had a state foster care license from 1997 to 2002. The state placed one child with the Forders in 1997.

In September 1998, DSHS approved placement of Christopher with the Forders at the request of Oregon officials who'd had custody of the boy.

Washington provided courtesy supervision until June 1999, said DSHS spokeswoman Kathy Spears -- when Christopher's adoption apparently was certified.

The Forders let their foster-care license lapse in 2002, suggesting they had adopted their first foster child as well.

"As far as we can tell, DSHS was not involved with the placement of those remaining children," agency spokesman Steve Williams said.

2006 Aug 30