Posts Tagged ‘ child abuse ’

Widespread Abuse in the Foster Care System

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

I admit it: I troll news sites and websites for the most up-to-the-minute breaking mom news. Mom blogger news up the kazoo. Both having my own child and following the missing children websites, including the frenzy over the Jaycee Duggard story, I feel an obligation to keep up with the flow of scary child information.

Funny story:  About three years ago, my husband and I agreed that Los Angeles was too crime-filled and smog-polluted and we decided to move to Colorado after I personally witnessed the arrest of a child molester who lived down the street.

We’re outta there.

Here’s the punch line:  A week after moving to white-collar, homogenous bike-lovin’ Boulder, Colorado, I check a familiar Sex Offender website and find several yucky old men in a 4-mile radius. I sat on my new, snow-covered lawn and shivered.

We were back in Los Angeles in 10 months for a host of reasons.

Do you ever follow shocking kidnapping horror stories like this out of curiosity or a sense of vengeance, or maybe the horrific circumstances of others makes us feel just a tiny bit safer? I do, I troll websites for stories that keep my son safer.

Here’s one about gross accusations of a foster care organization in Vienna, Austria:

Lawyer Thomas Oelboeck represents two sisters claiming they and 18 other girls were raped for years in the early 1970s in the institution run by the city of Vienna. He said the third woman asserts that children at the Schloss Wilhelminenberg home were also regularly raped during her time there in the late 1940s and 1950s.

Oelboeck spoke of “anatomical changes due to the abuse,” adding medical reports he had seen related to the claims show that “these bodies are maltreated.” He said he could not divulge further details for now. One victim, now 69, was cited as saying that she saw a female teacher stomp a child to death.

“The women are totally believable and authentic,” he told reporters. “A story of this kind cannot be made up.” Authorities say that — even if crimes can be proven and perpetrators tracked down — the statute of limitations mean the cases cannot be pursued.”

PS: Welcome to new mommy blogger at Parents.com. I don’t have a middle name, and neither does my son, Sam, and I like it that way!

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Back To The Adoption Diaries, by Nicole Dorsey-Straff

How Parents Can Watch Other Kids for Child Abuse Signs

Friday, November 18th, 2011

I live in Los Angeles, and just joined the PTA here in Studio City since my beautiful bio-son Sam Sam entered kindergarten. And now I am surrounded by these 5-year-olds (and older kids who seem smellier and meaner somehow) and I can’t seem to like them any more than I did before… and now I actually have one. But here’s the point of the post about not liking kids very much.

Just because I don’t care for children doesn’t mean I don’t want them to enjoy every chance to excel in life. During Sam’s first week of school, LAUSD, the Los Angeles Department of Education, cut every librarian’s salary and fired the majority. Suddenly, all of our kids cannot go to the library. No books to help them with homework, reports and reading during school hours.

So now all of the parents in the PTA at Carpenter Charter in Studio City, Calif. have wholeheartedly pitched in and we volunteer once or twice a week to keep the library open, check in/out books, help kids search for books and basically be the librarian.

Call me librarian Nicole. Me, and about 50 kids per hour. I already have my favorites.

There is one little girl who sits alone in the library with me after school for hours.  Her face is always dirty and her clothes are tattered, and yet she is smart and very shy and sweet. She helps me “Ssssh” the privileged kids on the computers and she sits next to me, reading books all afternoon.

No one comes to pick her up.

I can tell she has nowhere to go, maybe her parent (if she has one) is not home from work yet and so she sits and reads. So I am now in a position to keep my ears open and my eyes open; I look for bruises on the kids. I ask them if they’re having a nice day. This one just sits and smiles at me — she thinks I’m funny.

She makes me think of all the Penn State kids that have been in the news lately — that alleged Coach Jerry Sandusky who raped and abused inner city kids at Penn State for years. You see, abusers aim for the weak and underrepresented, abusers like Sandusky grab the ones who will not speak out against him. The poor kids who don’t have loud strong opinionated and careful parents watching out for them. Like me.

Like this little girl who sits with me at the library all day, just be be safe. I feel her — she’s smart and she knows she’s safe with me. She makes me think about all the other inner-city kids with no parents to protect them, the foster kids and the ones who have to behave so they’re not sent back to wherever scares them even more.

I feel like my family can save one or two by fostering to adopt a poor kid. I feel like we have no other choice… how can a coach or a teacher with even an inkling of child abuse not rush to shout to the police? I am watching a lot closer these days too…

Tell me your adoption story!

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Back To The Adoption Diaries, by Nicole Dorsey-Straff

Adopted Kids Who Do Not Want to Find Bio Mom

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

If you’ve been reading now for awhile, you know that my husband Darrin and I want to add to our one biological child Sam (he’s closer to six now than five) because Sam desperately wants a sibling and my guys are slowly talking me into it. I feel ambivalent a lot of the time because I like our simple, do-able life. I can go hiking with my dog when I want, Sam and Darrin are at the age when they want to play sports together.

I also travel frequently for work and I don’t want to be tied down with another little one any time soon. I think.

I’ve been emailing back and forth with a smart lady named Belinda in San Dimas, Calif. I feel like she has a unique perspective because her adoptive parents actually saved up all her adoption papers and gifted them to her and Belinda did not wish to find her bio parents.

Not one little bit. What gives?

Belinda said, “I was adopted at six weeks old and my bio mom was supposedly a young woman who came to Los Angeles to work and end up in a firm working for a man that was high powered enough at the time to have a recognizable name.  She ended up having an affair with him and getting pregnant.  He was a married man, so adoption is what she chose.”

When she was 18, Belinda’s loving adoptive mom gave her the legal notes and one-page biography in the adoption papers about her young mother. She remembers the “healthy” status of her bio mother from those notes, brown hair, blues eyes, her height and interests. “In fact both my bio mom and my adoptive one enjoyed reading and sewing. That was interesting.”

Belinda’s adoptive parents (her “real” parents) always acknowledged her adoption and encouraged her to discuss it. “They just let me know from a really early age, so it was always a part of my knowledge and never a shock. No weird comments from relatives, nothing. Also, I look enough like my adoptive parents and brother so that no one questioned me.”

Belinda has never searched out her bio-mom. “I just felt that I had my real family, nothing was missing and I assumed the same was true for my bio-mom. At least I have always hoped so, for her sake,” Belinda said. It all seems very healthy and loving, bravo.

Thanks for sharing, Belinda. Please tell me your foster or adoption story next.

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Back To The Adoption Diaries, by Nicole Dorsey-Straff

Parents Abduct 8 Kids Back from Foster Care

Monday, October 24th, 2011

halloween feetLast week, the NY Times reported on a  couple suspected of abducting their eight children illegally out of  foster care during a family visit. Lawyer Norman Steiner says he met with both parents, 34-year-old Nephra Payne and the mother 28-year-old Shanel Nadal. The children were placed in foster care in 2009 after charges of parental abuse and neglect.

Police found the couple in their parked van with seven sons and an infant daughter  safe inside. The children were described as being disheveled but in apparently good condition. He said the couple wanted to unify the family amid fears their children had been abused during the last two years in foster care.

Steiner says the abuse and molestation complaints for the children while they were in foster care are documented. He said, “I expect the parents to be fully exonerated and cleared of all charges,” he said. “Their actions were not only justifiable, but expected; it is exactly what any biological parent would do.”

This news story got me wondering: Large families with multiple siblings who love each other have a very hard time being separated into twos and threes when they go into foster care. How do these multiple siblings maintain contact over the months or even years they spend sadly apart? How do they communicate and commune and play and bond through the years?

I found one (of a few) well-credited organization that take in foster siblings so they can spend a week or two of summer vacations just being with each other again. A camp in upstate New York offers siblings who have been separated in foster care a chance to spend precious time together.

Nearly 30 children from New York arrive for a week or two each summer loaded down with swimsuits and bug spray to spend a week with siblings who live in different foster homes. Founded in 1995 by Lynn Price, a former foster child who was separated from her sister growing up. It seeks to create healthy sibling relationships for foster children, who often have difficult family lives.

In developing the camp, Price said, “There were no memories of birthday parties, sharing clothes or helping each other with homework or talking about boys. I thought about the kids who will miss out on something that is so critical to their growth and feelings of unconditional love.”

My heart bleeds for these separated sibs. If you are considering adoption or fostering, could you adopt a sibling group? 

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Back To The Adoption Diaries, by Nicole Dorsey-Straff

Part 2: Neglected Daughter is Sexually Abused by her Violent Brother

Friday, October 14th, 2011

If you tuned in on Wednesday, you met Carolann from Florida, who was neglected and violently beaten by her mentally ill mother during childhood. While she was still toddler, her brother began raping and abusing her at home and when she complained to her teacher, she was beaten again by her own mother “for telling and getting your brother in trouble.”

Carolann P. remembered, “What is sad is this is too common and no one does enough for the victims of such abuse. I remember every instance, every night. I’ve  never blocked it out although I’ve tried.”

Her frightening and degrading childhood has impacted every decision she’s made, from her hard life to the man she married. “How do I handle this, even after years and years of recovery therapy…  It cost me my marriage and some of my sanity, an emotion breakdown and hardship. Of course it has.”

Carolann wished desperately to be placed into foster care and confessed once everything to a third grade teacher.  “I was beaten when I came home for it that one but I will never forget the teachers who tried to help, gave me a safe place to do homework.  It is my belief without the help I received from perfect strangers all along my journey I would be forgotten and just another number added to the sad list of suicides in this country.”

Today she helps other victims find their voice and freedom from abuse.

“Everyone in my family inherited depression and I am the only one to receive consistent help.  I am the only one who goes for treatment. I also learned some time ago, we are all born alone. I am responsible now for my  own life … but it’s a messed up world to me.”

“After spending much of my life in recovery for something that was not my fault, I want my day in court, I want my brother to pay restitution for stealing my life away.”

“I wish I had never been born to her, I wish my mother could have had the strength to give us up for adoption to a kind family. I beg other abusive parents to do the same. I have the fondest memories of living with one foster mom for a few happy months of peace. She was the nicest person.”

“Thanks for letting me purge.”

– Carolann P. in Florida

Join me in congratulating Carolann for surviving but this abuse has got to stop. We must become more aware of these situations. Stay tuned for anti-abuse blogs next week. Hear me roar!

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Back To The Adoption Diaries, by Nicole Dorsey-Straff