More Thoughts Adoption

Someone on Facebook shared some very insightful comments I would like to share with you all:

There’s another element to this story that has not been addressed – and that is the fact that so many adoptive families are ill-equipped to deal with the realities of bringing home an older child, group of siblings, and/or children from overseas. I think that the Schatzes went into adoption believing they were “rescuing” children. They adopted THREE children at one time – one was 8yrs old, one was 4, and one was an infant. They were interviewed by a local news station before they left for Liberia, and the video showed them smiling and calmly talking about how they meant to open their home to a child in need. They had 6 children in the home already. Clearly this couple believed in the teachings of the Pearls and had used it with their 6 kids. They thought they were “in control.” There was no kid-behavior they couldn’t defeat with their methods. And since it worked so well with their 6 kids, surely it would work especially well with orphaned kids who they believed would look up to them as rescuers and godlike figures. They EXPECTED it. Adoption was supposed to make them feel even more powerful and noble. They expected gratitude and obedience, especially from their adopted children. What they didn’t count on was that their 8yr old arrived with emotional wounds from years in an orphanage, struggling with incomprehensible losses and grief in her short life, and anger at the people who thought they were “saving her.” No doubt her behavior was difficult to manage. No doubt the other kids – who were not used to defiance and expressions of anger – were overwhelmed by these newcomers and what they brought to their new lives. The Schatzes expected that ALL KIDS will comply, ALL KIDS should bow down to their parents, that the very real and deep issues arising from adoption loss should be no different from any other difficult “childlike behavior.” When it didn’t work out that way, for the first time they realized they are not in control. Rather than seeking help, they just lost it and beat up on defenseless children, believing that they could somehow punish away all the behaviors they found so intolerable. What they refused to consider was that they were witnessing years of pain and grief and anger that was only compounded by a new and maybe even more miserable life for these children. The problem comes up when parents think they are in control of every action that a child demonstrates. When they don’t ask for help. When they think that they are godlike figures and children are sub-human, deserving to be “trained” like mules and horses.

I responded:

I agree except for one point. They had these children for almost 4 years and were using the Pearl method the entire time. I don’t believe that they “lost it” and beat her up. I believe that they continued to chastise her more and more as she continued to get more and more defiant and eventually it became a death match. She refused to give in and they just kept on chastising her, sure that she would eventually give in. Pearl teaches that his system will work on EVERY child but that the parents must be 100% consistent. What neither Pearl nor the Schatzes realized was that not every child will give in and that with repeated switchings, the tissues will break down and kill the child. I could be wrong, but this is what I suspect. As there was a witness, I believe that the truth will come out in court.

The reply:

Actually, that is what I suspect as well, though I probably didn’t state it clearly. As you say, the other children were witnesses and will (hopefully) speak out in time. My suspicion is that the Schatzes were firm believers that the Pearls’ methods were “the way of proper parenting” and simply believed it would always work – with every child. In every situation. And were surprised and at a loss when they found it did NOT work with their new adoptive children. My suspicion is that those children had never been beaten in their lives before and were outraged and far more defiant against the “trainings” than the Schatzes’ biological kids were. When I suspect that the parents “lost it,” I mean that I believe they just could not fathom what to do about being out of control with a child. They must have wondered: how could that happen when the Pearls’ promised their techniques would work on every child, when they were following all the marital and parenting rules set forth by the Pearls’ books? I think they just didn’t find in themselves the basic compassion and humility they needed to understand the situation and call for help. And I think that ultimately their “training sessions” just became more frantic and violent in their attempts to beat the children into that “submissive whimper” they were promised by the Pearls.

The Schatzes have a court date scheduled for June 24th, one week from today.


  1. […] of all, let’s look at who Lydia Schatz was. This post explains her background. She was adopted from Liberia at the age of 4. She did not learn to obey at […]

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