Shannon Evans pleas for an end to Obedience-Based Christian Parenting, especially for adopted children, in a very well written post. This is a good post to share with pro-spankers because she explains the danger of the mindset without condemning spankers. I realize that many of my followers are disappointed in this post and claiming that it does not go far enough. We have to understand that there is a time and place for baby steps. People rarely jump from pro-spanker to anti-spanker in moment of epiphany. Such a change is usually a long, arduous journey. Information taken in at each step of the way will either push them further along on the way or push them backwards. A blog post which condemns all spanking is often rejected and may even push them right back to their starting spot. It is clear from this post that the author has come a long way and is in danger of alienating many people she loves by posting this. I applaud her courage and passionate plea.
Gregory and Melanie Magazu have been told that they may not have foster children because they spank their own children. I think that it is a good thing. Foster children have enough trauma, without being aware of children in the home being hit. This applears to be a test case, so I will be watching it.
Maureen shares an update of the Barbour case, in which Kristen Barbour was sentenced to 6-12 months for pleading no contest to the felony charge of endangering her 2 adopted Ethiopian children. What I find most surprising is that she will be allowed to go home and take care of her children for 40 hours per week. This is all explained in this article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Update: More about the Barbour case in this article: Franklin Park child abuse case draws protest, counter-protest.
She then goes on to tell us about Carri Williams and the 59 page appeal brief she has filed, which she has on her site for us to read. This is a lot to read, but I’ll try to summarize what I can understand. They argue that it was not proven that Hana was under 16 nor that Immanuel’s scars were caused by Carri, that the terms “torture” and “extreme indifference to human life” were unconstitutionally vague and that she was deprived of a necessary witness. They bring up the witness who claimed to be Hana’s uncle and testified to her age being 13 and then fled instead of returning to Ethiopia. It later came out that the State had paid him for his testimony. His testimony was stricken from the case, but the jury had heard it. They also show where the prosecuting atty gave opinions and was instructed by the judge to stop more than once. For these reasons, they believe that it should have been ruled a mistrial.
For more on the Williams case, please see my Hana Alemu “Williams” tag.
Maureen, at Light Of Day Stories, remembers the verdict one year ago today.
There are so many tragic cases of abuse, I don’t usually mention them unless the abuse was clearly tied to Christian teachings. In the case of the Barbours the ties are not indisputable, but there are some pretty good hints. Thankfully, this case did not end in death.
Maureen compares the Barbours with the Williams and finds quite a few eerie similarities.
There is a lot of information the 2 articles she links to from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
This story from Oct 2012 tells about how the adoption ended in tragedy.
This story from June 2014 is the follow up and tells us that the couple pleaded No Contest.
Kathryn Joyce did a long and very thorough investigative report for Slate Magazine on Hana’s entire story. Her article also looks at adoption reform. I must warn you that if you are sensitive and/or easily triggered, please do not read this story. Here is what Maureen has to say about the same article.
The above mentioned article is perfect for sharing with any politicians or celebrities who might be willing to put pressure on Amazon.com to remove the book, To Train Up A Child. If you can’t think of anyone, here is an idea from StopSpanking.org
Please ask Patty Murray to follow Parliamentary Member Nadine Dorrie’s example to demand that Amazon remove “To Train Up a Child” — a book that advocates child abuse and has contributed to the death of Hanna Elemu, murdered by adoptive parents Carri and Larry Williams right here in Skagit County!Call Senator Murray at (866) 481-9186 OR email her at: http://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contactme
Parliamentary Member Nadine Dorrie has agreed to contact Senator Murray to advise her to speak out on behalf of children and parents! Let Senator Murray know that Washingtonians are outraged by this book!
For a sample letter and more information on this issue:
I should also mention that while Amazon.ca.uk has removed the paperback version of To Train Up A Child, the Kindle version is still available. More info here in this edited and updated post from @ADadCalledSpen.
Valerie Tarico looks at the problem of Christian discipline leading to abuse in “Bible-based” discipline has led to child abuse in Salon Magazine. I am seeing non-believers getting more and more concerned with this issue and rightly so. It breaks my heart that abusive Christians are giving Christianity a bad name. Of course, it is only natural that they are trying to find a way to stop the abuse. My only concern with that is that their definition of abuse often includes teaching children that they are sinners in need of salvation, which is the heart of the Gospel.
Because of that article, Pastor Doug Bursch (who was raised in a grace-filled, loving home) discussed the problem with M. Dolon Hickmon on his Christian Talk Radio show, Live from Seattle 820AM. This conversation is extremely interesting as well as important. Dolon explains how important it is for Christians to recognize abuse. Not only do churches fail to notice abuse, they often inadvertently encourage it. He explains how each person listening to a sermon about spanking has a different definition for the words being used. Both abused children and their parents assume that the word, “spanking” means exactly what they are currently doing and are being validated that they should continue, even if the pastor preaching means nothing of the sort. Raising awareness is very important and he has a lot of hope that the book he wrote will go a long way towards that. You can get information about his book here. ****Warning! Book very triggering for survivors of abuse****
Whatcom Mom had an interesting comment which I would like to highlight.
I’m hoping the readers here will have some ideas about improving adoption home study practice, based on what we have learned from the deaths of Hana Williams and Lydia Schatz and injuries to their siblings.
So you know where I’m coming from. I’m an adoptive parent of now adult daughters, one adopted as an infant from a local nonprofit agency, the other as a toddler through state foster care. I’ve been active in pre-adoptive education and post-adoption support and have had plenty of occasion to reflect on issues that arise in transracial, special needs, and international and open adoptions. I have long been concerned about adoption agencies that place especially needy and difficult children with naïve, unprepared (and maybe overconfident) families and then fail to follow up with oversight and support.
I followed the Williams trial especially closely because the family lives in my area and because I know people who have worked for, and adopted from, the agency that placed Hana and her brother Immanuel. [Read more…]
As I reflect with sorrow and horror at the tragedy which was the Williams Trial, I find myself trying to make sense of what happened and why.
What I see as the root problem is pride. The Bible says that God hates pride. We know that “pride goeth before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18). I believe that very few people would argue with me when I say that Carri Williams had a problem with pride. I heard her described as a person who had to be always right. She was said to have perfect children. People described her as intimidating because her children were so perfect. I was told that when someone disagreed with her, they had a hard time confronting her because she had a reputation for a very cutting tongue. So, when people had concerns about how she was raising her children, they just withdrew away from her and left her alone. What else could they do? She would not listen, and she certainly would not accept help.
I’m not sure how and when she found To Train Up A Child by Michael Pearl. [Read more…]
Monday, August 19, 2013, was the last day of Immanuel William’s testimony. He did such a great job in a very difficult situation and those of us watching are very proud of him. The defense attorneys clarified with him that he sometimes had warm showers inside and did not take ALL his meals outside. Wow, as if that really mitigated their treatment of him. You can read the disturbing story in the Skagit Valley Herald. After Immanuel left the stand, the 16 year old biological son returned. There are some issues with his testimony being inconsistent with his statement given right after Hana’s death. He said that he did not want to talk to the social workers nor did he want to testify but that he told the truth both times. Next on the stand were a few minor witnesses as well as some CPS investigators and the sheriff’s deputy who had been at the home the night Hana died. One shocking revelation is that the 16 year old told the sheriff’s deputy that Hana was possessed by a demon. One has to wonder where he could possibly have gotten such an idea.
The Seattle Times has an article about the trial. This article discusses the case as well as giving more information about adoptions in general and Ethiopian adoptions specifically. In this article I found out that the defense says that Larry and Carri “regret certain parenting decisions.” I had not heard that. I wonder exactly which ones they regret since they still consider themselves not guilty. As this article outlines the entire case and trial so far, it is certainly not for the faint of heart.
Here is a brief story about Monday’s testimony from KiroTV. It focuses on how both Immanuel and the 16 year old biological son were asked if they had been telling the truth.
Chandra, who was at the courthouse last week, has posted Sorrow, Tears & Questions: The trial of Hana Williams’ adoptive parents.
Today, Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013, Immanuel was back in court after a 3 day break. There was no court session on Monday, in case anyone was wondering. The defense attorneys continue to play hard ball with poor Immanuel, which is very upsetting. Here is the story on Kiro TV. Also, Maureen has a post about that called, “Snakes, A Child, and Defense Attorneys.”
Also on the stand today was someone who volunteered at Hana’s orphanage who testified that she was healthy, well fed and appeared to be less than 10 years old when she was adopted according to an article in the Skagit Valley Herald.
In other news, apparently Hana’s biological cousin did not take his flight home to Ethiopia, which means that he has overstayed his visa. Police are now searching for him. Now the defense attorneys are using this as a reason to doubt his testimony. Here is the story in the Skagit Valley Herald and here is the story on Kiro TV.
Edited to add: Here is the story on King5 which tells us that another relative in Texas said that the missing cousin is ok. Which begs the question, why did not not testify as to Hana’s age? I can only assume that he is a distant relative who did not know her.
Today I would like to reflect on why we are following this trial. It is because the Williams were Pearl Followers. Their 7 biological children were all raised by the Pearl method and Carri was very happy and confident in this method being the best for everyone. I know this from reading on the Remembrance of Hana Williams Facebook Group and from private messages from people who knew the Williams. I have been told that she would recommend To Train Up A Child, by Michael Pearl to everyone, even going so far as to give people the book. Some have told me that they read the book and threw it away in disgust. But they were intimidated by how confident she was and how perfect her children appeared and so most did nothing. Someone did try to confront her about the abuse and was harshly scolded.
This is why this trial is so interesting to me. When they adopted the children, they apparently expected them to also conform to the teachings and when they did not, they went WAY outside of what the Pearls teach. I do not want to imply that they were following the Pearls’ teachings in regards to the adopted children. The only thing they were following was the spirit of always winning, always being consistent and ever admitting defeat. For more on that, please see my post, “Why Blame The Pearls At All?”.
I also read in the same Facebook group that the girls used to always dress like “Little House On The Prairie” but wore jeans to court when they testified. This speaks volumes to me. It took a lot of guts to defy their parents in that way. They had to know that would upset and displease them. Changing from a lifetime of all dresses to pants is a big step and can take years. In a formal setting like court, they would not stand out for wearing dresses. This makes me suspect that they have lost respect for their parents and their teachings. Of course, it is also possible that the defense attorneys asked them to wear pants to show the court how normal they are and that they were not damaged by their upbringing. I have no way of knowing, but I doubt that the Williams approved.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports that a Forensic Dentist testified as to Hana’s likely age today and the best he could do was that she was somewhere between 13 and 18 years of age. He testified that she was probably at least 15 but would not be surprised if he were to find out that she was 13. Hana’s biological cousin also testified today and I already know from his posts in the Facebook Group that she is 13. If the jury believes the forensic dentist over the cousin, the Williams will be charged with Manslaughter By Domestic Violence instead of Homicide By Abuse.
Larry Williams’ sister says she saw Carri Williams throw herself on Hana’s casket and sob “Hana, I’m so sorry.” #Williamstrial
— Gina Cole (@Gina_SVH) August 9, 2013
Here is the story with video from KiroTV. They say that even if the jury were to throw out the charge of Homicide By Abuse, they could still spend decades in jail for manslaughter and assault.
Please note that Maureen has posted part 2 of her case study.
Also, I added this article to yesterday’s post. It has some new information in it. (This article is Subscriber Content and will add a cookie to your browser. You are allowed to read 5 such articles in each 30 day period)
Here is Maureen’s report from Tuesday, July 30, 2013. I will give a brief summary below for the faint of heart and/or the short of time.
Dr. Daniel Selove testified about the autopsy and explained how he arrived at the conclusion that Hana died of hypothermia and that malnutrition and H. Pylori contributed to her death. She showed evidence of being switched before her death, but that did not contribute to her death. The defense attorneys asked if it was possible that Hana had bulimia/anorexia and were told that there was no sign of that. They then went on to discuss how bulimia/anorexia can be practiced secretly. Maureen and I both consider this idea outrageous considering the lack of privacy they were given in that house per Immanuel’s testimony.
Gay Knutson, from Adoption Advocates International (who handled Hana’s case) testified about the adoption documents and how adoptions are handled. Every adoptive family is required to submit a post adoptive report every year until the child turns 18. The Williams had not submitted one since 2009. Families are encouraged to call if they need help and there was no record of the Williams ever calling.
Then Yohannes Kidane, an instructional assistant with Seattle Public schools, (who is fluent in English, Amharic, and Tigrinya) testified as to the veracity of the translated documents and explained the Ethiopian calendar. Maureen noted that the Defense was asking him about his early education while they did not question any of the other witnesses about their education. Mr. Kidane is expected to return today.
Here is the article from the Skagit Valley Herald.
Maureen has been doing a great job giving us objective reports on the Williams Trial. She now gives us her own thoughts about the trial as a “fierce advocate for adoption policy that is transparent and has integrity.” As she warns, she takes off her gloves; and if you cannot tolerate any discussion of harsh treatment of children, this is not the case for you to be following closely. Reading her words is heartbreaking. Finding out that the Williams are willing to have their children testify in court, thereby reliving the trauma is heartbreaking. Today Immanuel is scheduled to testify, reliving his trauma and abuse. Stay tuned for further updates.
Also, don’t miss this chance to get to know Maureen better. <3
I have been watching 2 very sad cases in the news since October 2012. I have not mentioned them before now because neither of them seem to be following any particular extreme teaching. They are both about Christian adoptive parents who apparently tried to control their adoptive children using adversarial parenting and corporal punishment and ended up almost killing them and are now being tried for abuse.
The first case is the case of Douglas and Kristen Barbour in Franklin Park, PA. He is a Deputy Attorney General. They are accused of abusing and starving their 2 children adopted from Ethiopia. They recently regained custody of their biological children. There was mention in this article of their defense lawyer saying that they “did their best to cope with the children’s extraordinary needs.” Update: They were going to do a deposition of the 5 year old but decided against it.
The other case is the case of the Russel and Mona Hauer. The Hauers live in North Mankato, MN. It appears that their adversarial parenting caused them to starve their 8-year-old adopted son. They took him to the hospital severely malnourished and weighing only 35 lbs. Part of this was because of existing problems the boy had and part was their failure to get help and their way of trying to control the situation. In a news story published today, I see that their parental rights over this child have been terminated. There is a quote in this story which I find very interesting:
[The judge] said the Hauers failed to follow professional advice on services he needed and how to address behavioral challenges. He also faulted them for their “aversion to traditional health care beliefs and practices,” and said their “highly moralistic” efforts to correct his behavior were the opposite of what he needed.
This very much suggests to me that there is Christian corporeal punishment and adversarial parenting involved so I decided that it was time to at least bring these to your attention. I will continue to update this post as seems appropriate.
I should probably mention poor little Rodrick Arrington in Las Vegas here. He was not adopted, but it was his step father who beat him to death while his mother helped. I’m very unsure of this case, but certainly adversarial parenting and corporeal punishment came into play. But then, they do in all abuse cases and there are hundreds every year. 🙁 The purpose of this blog is not to discuss undisputed abuse. It is to discuss abusive teachings which many loving and sane parents are not recognizing as abuse and to give Biblical arguments against such teachings. That is why this post is categorized as “blog.” Because it is technically off topic and does not quite fit into any of my categories. Although, I admit that I’m seeing a grey area and might end up changing my mind about that at some point. I just don’t see anyone defending any of these abuse cases or denying that is is abuse, except the defendants and their lawyers.
House Judiciary Committee is considering a bill to protect adopted children as a response to the Hana Alemu “Williams” case. More information in this article in The Capitol Record.
The Williams Court Case is in the news again. This story in The Komo News reviews what happened to Hana Alemu “Williams” and how charges came to be filed over a year ago and brings us up to date with where the case stands now. For more info about this case, please see my Hana Amelu “Williams tag.
According to this news story:
Hana’s death also plays a prominent role in a new report ordered by the governor’s office on the severe abuse of adopted children. The state doesn’t do any background checks or home checks on international or private adoptions, and is looking into standardizing those procedures.
The report referenced can be found here, but remember that as it discusses this case and other severe abuse cases, it is probably not for the faint of heart.
I do not have the recently released DSHS report, but I do have the very disturbing sheriff’s report which was released last year.
Jeff Hodson of the Seattle Times provides extensive coverage of the death of Hana Alemu “Williams” as well as the Pearls’ teachings in Did Hana’s parents ‘train’ her to death? I am grateful to see this blog mentioned and linked to in this article. Letters to the editor regarding that article are here.
Kristin Butler at Crosswalk.com looks at The Pearls and the Schatz tragedy in Disciplined to Death.
A St. Louis Law Firm appears to be seeking families who wish to sue Michael for “negligence of a producer of consumer products.”
Here is an article from ZenaEthiopia about Hana and the fund which has been started to help make sure that nothing like this ever happens again: Ethiopian Community Mutual Association of Seattle Announces Hana Fund.
AAI, Hana’s Adoption Agency, has sent the following Letter to its adoptive families:
Dear Adoptive Family,
Everyone at AAI is shocked and saddened by the tragic death of Hana, a 13 year old from Ethiopia who had been with her adoptive family for three years. She passed away in May and, after several months of investigation, the adoptive parents have been charged with homicide by abuse and assault of a child. The coroner determined the cause of death to be hypothermia. She died in the family’s yard. It is hard to imagine a more horrible end to the dream of a new life in America for this girl. [Read more…]
C.L. Dyck of Scita Scienda shares her thoughts in Hana Grace Williams and the Myth of My Happiness.
Kathy Cassel of Cassel Crew explains her concerns with To Train Up A Child in (How Not) To Train Up a Child. Note that she does believe in spanking but more as a last resort than as a first and/or only tool.