exposing the dark side of adoption
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Woman charged with severe abuse of adopted children



Police have arrested a 50-year-old Anchorage woman on multiple charges of kidnapping and assault after what they say was years of emotional and physical abuse inflicted on her adopted children.

Anya James was arrested Tuesday and charged with 10 counts of kidnapping and six counts of first-degree assault. The arrest comes after an eight-month police investigation.

Police say she collected over $750,000 in adoption subsidies from the state of Alaska between 2000 and 2010 after adopting six children. She also was a foster mother. James moved from the Eagle River area in 2001 to a home on the Anchorage Hillside that is currently assessed at more than $560,000.

The children were confined in small rooms with alarms on doors and windows to alert James if they tried to escape, police say. They had to use kitty litter buckets as toilets even though the home had three working bathrooms. They were homeschooled and had minimal contact with the outside world, police said.

The children were malnourished because James severely restricted their diets, police say. Their growth was stunted to the extent they didn't go through puberty as teenagers.

In October, Anchorage police detective Chris Thomas began investigating a report of child abuse involving four of the children still living at home. Those children were removed as police investigated the abuse report, police spokeswoman Anita Shell said. Several were so malnourished they had to be hospitalized, police said. Two children were grown and no longer living at home, Shell said.

James will appear in Anchorage Superior Court this afternoon.

Her bail has been set initially at $100,000 and she cannot have any contact with her adopted children or children under age 16.

Police believe James may have adopted additional children before 2000 and ask that anyone with information call detective Thomas at 786-2628.

2011 May 18