Adoption, unfortunately, isn’t a cure-all

The other day I added a case to the Charley Project, a 21-year-old woman who’s been missing for over a year. I won’t say her real name here, because there’s a good chance she will return home alive, and I don’t want this blog to come back to haunt her in terms of future employment prospects, etc. I’ll call her Beth. There don’t seem to be any indications of foul play in her case, but the police are concerned for her safety, since she has both mental health problems and substance abuse issues.

When I was researching the case for the write-up, I came across an article about Beth’s adoption from foster care. The article didn’t say when she’d been placed in care or why, but did note that her biological mother died when she was a toddler and her biological father wasn’t really a part of her life. She lived with relatives who “relinquished custody” to the foster care system at some point. She then had multiple foster placements, which is typical. When Beth was seventeen years old, her foster mother adopted her.

It’s very uncommon for an adolescent to get adopted; most prospective adoptive parents want babies and young children. Hence the article about this rare instance of an almost-adult being adopted. The judge who legally finalized the adoption paid for balloons and gift bags to celebrate the occasion. The article had photos of Beth and her mom hugging each other, and the reader can imagine them walking hand-in-hand into a happily-ever-after future.

Then, four years later, Beth disappeared. The photo on the poster appears to have been a mug shot. I really hope she’s okay and will get in touch with her mom.

I’ve seen quite a few cases on my site of people who were adopted out of foster care, grew up troubled and disappeared. The foster care system isn’t designed to actually raise children, it’s just designed to keep them alive and protect them from abuse and neglect. (And it’s not even very good at that.) I think any child who spent years in care, like Beth did, is going to have some emotional problems as a result, both from being bounced around in the system and from whatever led to them being placed in care to begin with.

Certainly love, and the permanency of adoption, does wonderful things for foster children. But love can’t fix everything.

11 thoughts on “Adoption, unfortunately, isn’t a cure-all

  1. E March 20, 2021 / 5:17 pm

    I’ve worked in adoptions for almost 8 years and it’s rare to see any kids who end up with minimal issues. There are kids I have worked with that I will think about for the rest of my life!

  2. The system is flawed. March 21, 2021 / 1:55 am

    My husband and I raised a child who wasn’t ours for 5 years. He had so many issues. We tried all the therapies and all the things. But he just had so much going on. And we weren’t trained through the foster system. His mom had been my friend. Ultimately, I drew a line in the sand when he started having homicidal ideation. We have younger children and they were afraid. We just couldn’t traumatize our other children any further. Not only was there no support in my state for getting him psychiatric treatment, my husband and I had to basically report ourselves to CPS and refuse to pick him up from a mental health facility. It was terrible. And I really wanted to be able to stay involved in his life and help care for him but not in our home and CPS cut us off completely. His life was hard before that and I fear it may only get worse when he turns 18. 😖 There is a reason that former foster children are such a prominent part of the population of homeless people. And it is such a disservice to those children.

  3. J. Leon March 21, 2021 / 3:17 pm

    You had mentioned earlier to someone else that you wanted to be alerted to typos so this one from your entry for Daphne Westbrook jumped out at me: “In February 2021, he was indicated for aggravated kidnapping in Daphne’s case.”

    Of course you meant to say that he was “indicted”-and the comma after 2021 may be superfluous (assuming I remember my punctuation rules correctly).

    And while there’s nothing funny about Daphne’s situation, the typo itself brings to mind a retired NFL player-I want to say it was L. C. Greenwood-who shocked a friend by announcing that he’d just been indicted-before explaining that he had just learned he had been “indicted” into the Hall of Fame.

    Here’s hoping that John Westbrook will soon score an “induction” into the Big House to go along with his indictment, and that Daphne is there to celebrate.

    • Meaghan March 21, 2021 / 3:37 pm

      Thanks, will fix. John Westbrook sounds like a real psycho. Like an evil criminal genius from a movie. I really hope the police find Daphne quickly.

  4. Dawn Marie March 21, 2021 / 8:01 pm

    Just read the entry for Christine James. what a squalid, sad situation she lived in.
    I have to wonder: she told her friend she was pregnant, which wouldn’t be surprising given the business with her cousin. But twins? She couldn’t know that unless a doctor had examined her. I would think she’d get a medical workup on being placed in the facility? And no HIPAA rules back then so it should have been easy enough to confirm or refute at the time. Whatever, who could blame her for wanting to run away and never come back. And she had nowhere to run to and nobody who could have helped her. Nobody seems to have given a rat’s about her who was in a position to do anything about it. Her sister cares now but back then she was too young to have any say in it. Even her worthless mother doesn’t seem to have cared, despite Christine trying to take the blame for killing her cousin.

    • Meaghan March 21, 2021 / 8:02 pm

      I hope Christine is alive and well. Given the situation she’d been in I wouldn’t blame her for never getting in touch with her family again, if she did run away. But I think she is probably dead.

    • Meaghan March 21, 2021 / 9:58 pm

      Oh and regarding the alleged pregnancy, I wouldn’t be surprised if Christine made up the story. Or perhaps she genuinely believed she was pregnant but only fantasized about it being twins. If she had been medically confirmed to be pregnant I’m sure her parents would have been told whether Christine wanted this or not.

    • missingmysteries March 23, 2021 / 10:45 am

      Her situation was indeed sad, and maybe it’s wrong of me to think it, but my first thought upon reading her entry was to wonder whether she might be the St. Louis Jane Doe from the early 80s. It always boggled my mind that the child victim in that case likely had never been reported as missing. The age is off a bit, but this child who was found raped and decapitated in a dirty basement has always stuck with me, and I’ve kept my eye out for newly added cases that might fit. This little girl matches quite a few aspects. I may forward it to the Doe Network, even as slim a chance as it is.

      http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/54ufmo.html

  5. missingmysteries March 22, 2021 / 9:44 pm

    OT, I read the update on the case that Sergio Armando Lopez Rosales is considered a suspect in, and I couldn’t help but compare it to this unidentified remains case:

    http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/1827umwv.html

    I know they can’t possibly be related, but I also can’t get the idea out of my mind that this guy doesn’t have more bodies tributed to him. We shall see.

  6. missingmysteries March 23, 2021 / 2:15 am

    OT, quick note about a typo:

    “Watson disappeared from Columbus, Ohio on August 19, 2018. In January 2021, her remains…”

    Henry Clay Watson, so should read “HIS remains”.

    Thanks again for all you do!

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