Adopted Girl Found Dead in Truck, I May Be at Fault

As an adopted person and adoptive mother, I pay attention when adoption hits the news.

Early this week authorities in West Palm Beach Florida found Jorge Barahona and his adopted son unconscious in Barahona’s truck.  The ten-year-old boy, drugged into unconsciousness, was covered in chemicals.  The dead body of his twin sister, Nubia, was also found in the truck.

In 2004 the children had been placed in foster care with Jorge Barahona and his wife, Carmen.  They were adopted by the Barahonas in 2009.  Last week, Florida’s Department of Children and Families’ abuse hotline received a concerned call about the children’s situation.  Though a state worker visited the family the following day, the investigator was not able to see or speak to either of the twins.  Three days later, 10-year-old Nubia Barahona was found dead and her brother was in critical condition.

A Christian Response

If previous cases of abuse and filicide that have been thrust into the media spotlight are any indicator, American news consumers will demonize the Barahonas.  Plenty will point accusing fingers at Florida’s Department of Children and Families.  Many, without adequate information, will wonder how the pattern of abuse which preceded Nubia Barahona’s death was not recognized by neighbors and relatives and teachers.

As Christians, though, it was our job to protect Nubia Barahona and her brother.

Scripture is clear that God’s people are responsible to care for society’s most vulnerable.  In establishing the holy law, God assigned the care of the widow, the orphan and the alien to his own people.  And today, we are still the key players in God’s protection of and provision for the weak.  And though our assignment is irrefutable, we have too often muted scripture’s clear injunction to care for the vulnerable.  Conveniently, we have justified our apathy by abdicating our given responsibility to federal and state social services.  This way, when tragedy strikes we’re off the hook.

Except, we’re not.

My Ugly Complicity

Nubia’s and her brother’s story has gripped me because it indicts me, personally.

Almost three years ago my husband and kids had taken me out to lunch for Mother’s Day.  While we ate our pizza I noticed a girl, about eight years old, and a man I assumed was her father eating at a nearby table.  The man’s eyes would droop closed, as he sipped a soda, as if he was falling asleep.  Though he smiled, his gaze looked glassy.  And though he treated the girl well, he appeared to be impaired.

As we ate our meal, I agonized over what to do.  Should I confront the man?  Should I speak to the girl when she went to use the restroom?  Should I call the police?  Though I felt terribly anxious, in the end—simply hoping for the best—I did not act. I fear my hollow prayers for the girl simply made me complicit in her neglect.  Needless to say, it wasn’t the “Mother’s Day” I’d expected, nor one I wish to repeat.  Instead, the commitment I make today, to a pair of 10-year-old twins and to the pizza girl, is that no other endangered children will slip away from my maternal watch.

Children in natural homes and foster homes and adoptive homes across the country need the body of Christ to do our job.  They need attentive neighbors and teachers and cable TV repairmen and pizza eaters to pay attention to their circumstances.  They need courageous ones to speak up for them.  They need us to do for them what they are, as yet, unable do for themselves.

Brave New Films

Though it’s too late for Nubia, the story of her life begs for a redemptive response from those who have been commissioned to protect the weak.

What I can do and what you can do…

1. Speak.

If you suspect that a child is in danger, speak up.  Plan to feel anxious.  Expect to look stupid.  Anticipate the possibility of being wrong.  Then get over it.  You may be this child’s only opportunity for safety.  Use your voice.

2. Foster.

In every state, children thrust from the bosom of their natural families need the security of a stable home.  Contact your state’s department of children’s services to learn how you can welcome foster children in need of short term and long term placements.

3. Adopt.

The most recent government data shows that almost 450,000 children are in the custody of the foster care system in the United States.  One quarter of these children wait for permanent homes with adoptive families.  Visit Adopt US Kids, online, to learn more.

4. Equip.

Educate and equip your congregation to make a difference in the lives of children.  Invite a representative from your state’s department of children’s services and host an evening where curious folks in your congregation can learn how to get involved.

If you’re a Christian, your response is not optional.  It’s in the job description.

Print Friendly

About the Author

Margot Starbuck

Margot StarbuckMargot Starbuck, is allowed to say our faces and voices are more important than books we write because last year she wrote a book about loving those who are other than we are,  Permission Granted, and she just released one about reflecting the gracious Face which is true— Not Who I Imagined: Surprised by a Loving God. More @ MargotStarbuck.comView all posts by Margot Starbuck →

  • Well said! Thanks for this, Margot.

    • Jennifer A. Nolan

      Bravo! My feelings exactly!

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Red Letter Christians » Adopted Girl Found Dead in Truck, I May Be at Fault --

  • Ann

    I disagree. Too often, people think they know something is wrong (especially if you have a disabled kid) and tear families apart. If you aren’t 100% sure, SHUT UP. You will be destroying the life of a family, the children, if you get the government involved. What happened to just being a neighbor, a friend? No, too easy. Better to pass it on and pat yourself on the back. And fostering? Ugh. That’s a nightmare. Kids taken away from their culture. Forced to go to churches that aren’t theirs. Forced to ignore their race. Forced to avoid their families (even if allowed). Foster families that I know of, have seen, and what I have studied show them not helping with reunification, again, helping to ruin lives. The “I may be at fault” stuff? Yeah, you’re looking for a way to feel better about yourself. I hope no one takes all your advice too seriously. The homewreckers out there who think they are doing good, make me sick. Your maternal watch. As if you are their mother. If you are somehow better than someone else. How privileged. How wrong. How shameful. I am sickened at people encouraging destroying families. Absolutely sickened. I have no respect for people like that, at all. You want to ruin lives to feel better about yourself? Shame on you.

    • Jennifer A. Nolan

      Do you have to be so SNIPPY, Ann?? Honestly! Based on what Margot writes about the drooping father at the pizzeria, that situation sounds frightening.
      My family wasn’t perfect, but one thing I never had to put up with was seeing my elders so out to lunch; nor did they EVER allow us children to be endangered by their moods, habits, or behavior. It’s that simple. Children’s incompetence does NOT take away their right to life, or the basic necessities thereof, or to live in comfort and safety. Margot should have spoken up, and we as citizens and Christians should build a better child-welfare system: one that keeps them safe and treats them as people, not as pieces of property as you apparently want it to do!

      • I must be missing something here. Maybe CPS should change their by laws. If people feel once they are involved their world is changed upside down. They should be a comfort to people and try to get to the root of the problem and not destroy families who are already in trouble.

    • Really?! Wow. Look, I don’t love CPS, I don’t love getting them called on me, but honestly, its just a hassle and nothing more. If there’s nothing wrong, they don’t do anything, at least 99.99% of the time. Heck, social workers more often keep kids with their family when they shouldn’t, because the foster system is so full. I have a child with mental health issues, I’ve been dealing with CPS off and on since he was 2 (he’s 12 now). I’ve been through several case workers, some more annoying than others, but its never been more than that, just an annoyance. What if my son actually was acting like he does because I abused him? Neglected him? Hell, I called CPS on a friend over something small and they IMMEDIATELY took him away (and she never got him back) because it turned out what I thought was going on was just a very small tip of the iceburg! I’m so happy I called!!

      As for the foster system, yes, there are flaws. They are still arguably better than orphanages and the majority and foster parents are doing it for the right reasons. I just wish they could weed out those who aren’t better. But to just leave an abused child with their family? Where’s the motivation to change? There isn’t any. Sure CPS can harass and harass, but if they know their child isn’t going anywhere….well, they won’t bother to change. And you’re wrong, reunification is almost always the goal, unless the parent clearly won’t change and usually for a long period of time, or repeated offenses. So yes, it is absolutely horrible that these kids were adopted by bad people and were hurt. But to say people should just bud out? No. You’re wrong.

    • Nicole Elizabeth

      This makes me wonder if you know much about the process child services uses before removing kids from their homes and severing parents’ rights. It’s not as if one unfounded call will cause CPS to charge in, take a kid, and never return him/her. It actually takes a long time – years – to sever a parent’s rights, and unless extreme danger is found on a first visit, kids aren’t typically removed until parents have been given several (often too many) chances. The foster care system is far from perfect, that’s true, but I’ve worked with a lot of children who have had CPS/DCF involved in their lives, and NEVER has a child been taken away who shouldn’t have been, whereas OFTEN have children been left in situations that were nightmarish and wrong.

      Sorry you so strongly disagree – but maybe you just think it’s better for kids to spend their childhoods getting raped, beaten, or starved by their biological parents?

  • shelle

    As the daughter of a drug addict, I see two possible scenarios in the Mother’s Day situation the author described:

    1. She did nothing. That child left with that impaired adult. The actions of the impaired adult directly affect the life of the child – he could crash on the way home, overdose at any time, act out in ways that he might not if he were sober. The fact that the girl and the impaired adult physically live in the same house does not make this an intact family.

    2. If the author had spoken up, authorities might have intervened. The adult might have been motivated to make some changes. The girl might have a better shot at a healthy life; the family might have had a better shot at mending. If nothing else, in a more immediate sense, the girl might have been saved from having to travel in a vehicle operated by an impaired person.

    The operative word here is “might.” There’s no black-and-white in either situation, no way to know for sure before acting. Ann (below) is oversimplifying the author’s motives, and I believe the author’s history and personal investment in the children’s stories inform her views also (they would mine as well).

    If confronted with something questionable, an individual just has to weigh the situation and make the call, whichever it is. Just be sure you know the place you’re acting out of; sometimes a painful personal history with a subject can heighten our responses in ways that aren’t always helpful.

    • Anonymous

      “Just be sure you know the place you’re acting out of…responses…aren’t always helpful.” I agree. Confrontation from your own guilt (sometimes hidden anger drives it) is not usually helpful. The best thing is to get to know people and their circumstances in your own circle of influence. Sometimes “saving the world” is actually meeting your own needs. This does not mean that concern and caring for orphans, widows, aliens are not a concern for Christians – just be careful about the motives as well as the means.

  • Pingback: How Lucky You Can Be: The Story of the coach at Don Meyer | Car crash lawyer sacramento Blog()

  • Pingback: The Facts About Adoption And Foster Care()

  • Camille Leclair

    Dear Margot,

    We thank you for having the courage to write and share this story of your Mother’s Day. Our ministry team works with young at-risk children, and foster children youth. Your story will help to open deep discussion between all of us and the social workers as part of our team who are responsible for the care and placement of abandoned children; so often, a forced job with paper and pen, children merely a numeric placement in our judicial systemas as opposed to the care and the manner with which they deserve to be cared for as they await adoption. I intend to share and impress upon my team the phrase above wherein said Christians are set free to live love that is for others. You are not alone in fault.

  • Pingback: uzaktan egitim()

  • Pingback: free ipad 3()

  • Pingback: privacy()

  • Pingback: Inmate Locator()

  • Pingback: Atlanta Garage Door Service()

  • Pingback: best over the counter sleep aid()

  • Pingback: legal protection insurance()

  • Pingback: rehabs in florida()

  • Pingback: Altamonte Springs chiropractor()

  • Pingback: Mobile Money Bandit scam()

  • Pingback: Ingersoll Rand Air Compressor()

  • Pingback: PPCGB()

  • Pingback: Phoenix()

  • Pingback: buy fans()

  • Pingback: Memory()

  • Pingback: work at home scams()

  • Pingback: Los Angeles short sale()

  • Pingback: oo7 Game()

  • Pingback: studying abroad()

  • Pingback: webcam chat()

  • Pingback: here()

  • Pingback: why should we hire you()

  • Pingback: Transportation Costa Rica()

  • Pingback: heating and air Taylorsville UT()

  • Pingback: engagement rings san diego()

  • Pingback: austin modern furniture()

  • Pingback: black hair()

  • Pingback: hma vpn()

  • Pingback: Lucia Emiraz()

  • Pingback: Celeste Hall()

  • Pingback: ingilizce konusma()

  • Pingback: wedding photography Oxfordshire()

  • Pingback: bed linen supplier canada()

  • Pingback: acne()

  • Pingback: dental gold buyers()

  • Pingback: Escort girl Paris()

  • Pingback: geocaching()

  • Pingback: buy neopoints()

  • Pingback: hcg diet recipes()

  • Pingback: Cosmetic Dentist NYC()

  • Pingback: investment properties()


  • Pingback: katy wine bar()

  • Pingback: Salon games download()

  • Pingback: Antoni Gaudi i Cornet()

  • Pingback: luxury villa rental st lucia()

  • Pingback: Make Money Online()

  • Pingback: dab antenna()

  • Pingback: racunovodstvo()

  • Pingback: Wilson catering()

  • Pingback: Best Treatment For Eczema()

  • Pingback: Burlesque Dessous()

  • Pingback: smithfield landscaping()

  • Pingback: High Risk Credit Card Processing()

  • Pingback: Holton Buggs()

  • Pingback: Chicago immigration attorney()

  • Pingback: Electric Heaters()

  • Pingback: Pokemon Rom Hacks Download()

  • Pingback: wholesale virgin remy hair()

  • Pingback: lyrics search()

  • Pingback: buy neopoints()

  • Pingback: como puedo quedar embarazada()

  • Pingback: leather loveseat()

  • Pingback: tetris()

  • Pingback: Scooby Doo Games()

  • Pingback: Outback coupons()

  • Pingback: DSW coupons()

  • Pingback: engagement rings()

  • Pingback: luxury comforter sets()

  • Pingback: barmixerschule()

  • Pingback: anti spam()

  • Pingback: Ameri Ichinose()

  • Pingback: e-cigs()

  • Pingback: network marketing()

  • Pingback: bsn syntha-6 protein()

  • Pingback: Jennifer Ellison nuts()

  • Pingback: Gatwick parking meet and greet()

  • Pingback: noclegi nad morzem()

  • Pingback: Wholesale Clothing()

  • Pingback: security training courses()

  • Pingback: Solar Power Kits()

  • Pingback: Luxury Homes in the US()

  • Pingback: property investment manchester()

  • Pingback: Lavera()

  • Pingback: indoor bootcamp()

  • Pingback: elusive lifestyle()

  • Pingback: Manchester boot camp()

  • Pingback: serotonin is()

  • Pingback: Tatouage()

  • Pingback: bathroom floor tile design ideas()

  • Pingback: jiu jitsu tampa()

  • Pingback: Futures Trading()

  • Pingback: jiu jitsu tampa()

  • Pingback: buy neopoints()

  • Pingback: bank teller resume()

  • Pingback: marijuana addiction()

  • Pingback: Pacquiao vs Mayweather()

  • Pingback: Escorts in Miami()

  • Pingback: for profit colleges()

  • Pingback: PowerPoint Training()

  • Pingback: work at home()

  • Pingback: Jermaine Unikel()

  • Pingback: Stenographer Info()

  • Pingback: icf scaffolding()

  • Pingback: motivation for weight loss()

  • Pingback: coleman grills paul jr()

  • Pingback: scrunch hair styles()

  • Pingback: how to make your hair wavy without heat()

  • Pingback: vaginismus()

  • Pingback: mark quinones()

  • Pingback: electrical installations()

  • Pingback: bedroom furniture()

  • Pingback: kodak()

  • Pingback: Scleritis symptoms()

  • Pingback: qrops advice()

  • Pingback: Transfer Music from iPhone to Computer()

  • Pingback: fire pit screens()

  • Pingback: playhouses()

  • Pingback: Blog filmy porno()

  • Pingback: Home Laser Hair Removal()

  • Pingback: commercial inspections()

  • Pingback: Online Calculator()

  • Pingback: Parenting()

  • Pingback: NYC Hotels()

  • Pingback: How to get toned()

  • Pingback: earn money online()

  • Pingback: flirt()

  • Pingback: backlinks()

  • Pingback: ipad faq()

  • Pingback: led lighting manufacturers()

  • Pingback: targeted traffic()

  • Pingback: adult Halloween costumes()

  • Pingback: full length mirror()

  • Pingback: medical job search()

  • Pingback: Scott Tucker Racing()

  • Pingback: Budeko()

  • Pingback: Scott Tucker Racing()

  • Pingback: Okna Mogilno()

  • Pingback: Scott Tucker Racing()

  • Pingback: Okna Gniezno()

  • Pingback: Scott Tucker CBS()

  • Pingback: Scott Tucker Leawood()

  • Pingback: passive income()

  • Pingback: POF Secrets()

  • Pingback: Insurance rss feeds()

  • Pingback: Bank Owned Homes()

  • Pingback: music video production nyc()

  • Pingback: Appraisal Management Companies()

  • Pingback: reo agents()

  • Pingback: lipo 6 hers reviews()

  • Pingback: vapor cigarette()

  • Pingback: steven cymbrowitz()

  • Pingback: compare prices()

  • Pingback: SWTOR Leveling Guide()

  • Pingback: Balut Longboard Wheels()

  • Pingback: Loaded Balut()

  • Pingback: video sales letter()

  • Pingback: candidiase()

  • Pingback: john vespucci()

  • Pingback: Spray Tans()

  • Pingback: iPhone development()

  • Pingback: performance engines for sale()

  • Pingback: boot camp training()

  • Pingback: power to choose()

  • Pingback: iPhone 4 screen protector()

  • Pingback: Bodybuilding()

  • Pingback: ecommerce seo()

  • Pingback: Website Hosting()

  • Pingback: spinach health benefits()

  • Pingback:

  • Pingback: future technology predictions()

  • Pingback: football speed()

  • Pingback: track and field training()

  • Pingback: san diego sem()

  • Pingback: car insurance austin()

  • Pingback: palm beach county()

  • Pingback: kris kris()

  • Pingback: DUI attorney Indianapolis()

  • Pingback: skin tag removal()

  • Pingback: Removing Makeup()

  • Pingback: pick up lines()

  • Pingback: Free Makeup Samples()

  • Pingback: Free Makeup Samples()

  • Pingback: hgh supplements()

  • Pingback: aquaponics diy()

  • Pingback: Build Good Credit()

  • Pingback: rewards online()

  • Pingback: money()

  • Pingback: vendo rottweiler()

  • Pingback: Pokrycia Dachowe()

  • Pingback: Fetisch Sexkontakte()

  • Pingback: tarot gratis()

  • Pingback: Yeast Infection Information()

  • Pingback: Proactol()

  • Pingback: lottery win()

  • Pingback: prestiti personali agos()

  • Pingback: maryland short sale expert()

  • Pingback: frostwire()

  • Pingback: electrician training()

  • Pingback: link()

  • Pingback: Air Conditioning Repairs()

  • Pingback: Is The child Underachieving?()

  • Pingback: Spokane Photographer()

  • Pingback: escorts in london()

  • Pingback: california beach house()

  • Pingback: Payam Pedram()

  • Pingback: device mobile tracking()

  • Pingback: Psychic Readings()

  • Pingback: SEO Link Monster()

  • Pingback: recipes()

  • Pingback: create a minisite()

  • Pingback: magic jack plus discounts()

  • Pingback: Tampa Pest Control()

  • Pingback: session de couple()

  • Pingback: windows and doors()

  • Pingback: best protein powder for women()

  • Pingback: hood deflector()

  • Pingback: Family Holidays()

  • Pingback: kindle ebooks()

  • Pingback: sex webcam()

  • Pingback: travel()

  • Pingback: Stromtarife vergleichen()

  • Pingback: SEO Link Monster()

  • Pingback: noclegi nad morzem()

  • Pingback: resume()

  • Pingback: cross country ski poles()

  • Pingback: Jim Larkin()

  • Pingback: melbourne escorts()

  • Pingback: psd 2 html()

  • Pingback: google plus ones()

  • Pingback: Scott tucker()

  • Pingback: Scott tucker()

  • Pingback: free seinfeld episodes()

  • Pingback: Scott Tucker CBS()

  • Pingback: Scott Tucker Racing()

  • Pingback: Scott Tucker Racing()

  • Pingback: Scott Tucker Racing()

  • Pingback:

  • Pingback: Scott Tucker CBS()

  • Pingback: justbeenpaid com scams()

  • Pingback: diet solution program()

  • Pingback: marketing with anik()

  • Pingback: zeek customers()

  • Pingback: cool games()

  • Pingback: Kinky Curly Curling Custard()

  • Pingback: publishing house()

  • Pingback: Samsung Galaxy S2()

  • Pingback: seo company()

  • Pingback: Akron DUI lawyer()

  • Pingback: best restaurant websites()

  • Pingback: Fast SEO Results()

  • Pingback: hyperpigmentation()

  • Pingback: Video Presentations()

  • Pingback: salt lake dentist()

  • Pingback: how to get a diet program()

  • Pingback: raspberry keytone()

  • Pingback: young adult fantasy fiction()

  • Pingback: professional real estate photography Montreal()

  • Pingback: lose 10 pounds()

  • Pingback: document solutions()

  • Pingback: seo link monster review()

  • Pingback: Dukan Diet Attack Phase Recipes()

  • Pingback: Kate Moss Diet()

  • Pingback: how to get rid of pimple scars()

  • Pingback: prevent cat bitingz()

  • Pingback: home security in calgary()

  • Pingback: get ex back()

  • Pingback: Nettikaupan hakukoneoptimointi()

  • Pingback: seo denver()

  • Pingback: retail design()

  • Pingback: raccoon deterrent()

  • Pingback: find interns()

  • Pingback: automobile occasion laval()

  • Pingback: gas line install()

  • Pingback: California lottery()

  • Pingback: caps()

  • Pingback: The Diet Solution()

  • Pingback: best paper shredder()

  • Pingback: hack windows 7 login password()

  • Pingback: recover windows 7 admin password()

  • Pingback: land rover axle rebuilding kit()

  • Pingback: Subliminal()

  • Pingback: no nonsense muscle building()

  • Pingback: Boise Chiropractor()

  • Pingback: garmin 2555lmt()

  • Pingback: Online Paranormal Television()

  • Pingback: Free PSD file()

  • Pingback: Best Fashion Clothes()

  • Pingback: Memorial Websites()

  • Pingback: mobile money machines()

  • Pingback: learn more()

  • Pingback: futurequest marketing()

  • Pingback: zojirushi rice cooker()

  • Pingback: Paintball()

  • Pingback: Whey Protein()

  • Pingback: petite dresses()

  • Pingback: woodworking project plans()

  • Pingback: free hosting()

  • Pingback: phen375()

  • Pingback: epr rave()

  • Pingback: slate roof tiles()

  • Pingback: bleeding hemorrhoid treatment()

  • Pingback: cheap logo design()

  • Pingback: ultrasound technician()

  • Pingback: how to get my boyfriend back()

  • stilladyj

    When I was in High School, someone called CPS for me, and some people came in and talked to me. I denied everything, because there wasn’t anything going on, and talked to both of my parents, then went away again. A year or so later, I realized that one of my friends was being abused, and I chose not to speak up. I figured it would happen with her as it had with me: she would deny it, and they would talk to her dad, and she might just get it worse. I still feel bad to this day that I did nothing, and yet, in the same situation again, I still don’t know what I’d do. It’s not an easy thing. (I am happy to say that she and her brothers were eventually removed from their father’s home and lived with their grandma. I’m friends with her on Facebook, and she has 2 kids and a great husband and I’ve never been so happy to see someone succeed.)
    As far as adoption goes, it’s one of those things I’ve talked over with my fiance, because I feel very strongly about it. Christ tells us we are to care for those in need. I have heard barren couples say they won’t adopt because clearly “God is telling us we shouldn’t have children.” What?!
    Beyond that, I think it’s important to note that we are ALL adopted – into God’s family, made co-heirs with Christ. In that sense, I think adoption is a great way to show your faith, to thank God, and to give back.

  • Kaity

    As a Christian and a social worker it breaks my heart when I assess cases of abuse. Sometimes because there is nothing going on and other times because there is so much going on. We never know what’s going on in another person’s life and yes it can be intrusive to call CPS on others, but let me assure you that the goal is always child safety. That can mean the child stays home, goes with a relative or foster care and finally adoption if needed. The minimum requirement for calling CPS is a reasonable suspicion that a child is being abuse/neglected. If you have any suspicion, call and consult and CPS can tell you there’s not enough information to warrant an investigation, at least you’ll know. That said, we need to remove our middle class biases when assessing what is abuse/neglect.

    Being a good neighbor in your inner circle is nice and definitely something we are called to do. But we are also called to step outside our comfort zone and interact with others. Poverty, mental health, and just not knowing any better is not a crime and if we reach out to one another in love, there is so much despair that can be prevented.

    There are churches that have adopted CPS workers or work with teen pregnancy homes, homeless shelters, etc. to provide food, care and a warm blanket. Not everyone is called to foster and adopt, but some are and that is great! Consider being a CASA (Court Appointed Child Advocate)! We need loving and caring homes to open their doors, even if it’s only temporary so children have a safe place to be. Everyone can be a mentor, a tutor, an advocate whether in word, action or financial support. Whatever you do, doing nothing is not an option. Reach out in your own home, community, church, and start the discussion. You may be surprised by the response.

  • Pingback: Adopted Girl Found Dead in Truck, I May Be at Fault | The Hoags()

  • HT

    With the little information you gave about the situation, it sounds like you didn’t really know what was going on and speculated the worst. Perhaps the man worked night shift and was tired out of his mind, or had a low blood sugar. Maybe he was not the boogy man you percieved. Yes, you should have asked if he was okay and went on from there. I get the message you were trying to convey, but you also sound like you self-righteously judge others without knowing much. In a court of law that is called circumstancial evidence and that alone is not good enough evidedence to back up your accusations and get a conviction.

    • Ephirius

      Not to nitpick, because I agree with your overall conclusion, but circumstantial evidence -is- enough to convict. It is usually the only sort of evidence that exists in older cases and, while it requires interpretation, it is the only evidence that cannot lie (witnesses can, of course).

      • HT

        Thankyou for your reply. Are you saying circumstancial evidence can’t lie? I am trying to clarify that is what you said. Not that there is an intentional lie, but circumstancial evidence often points in the wrong direction.

      • HT

        P.S. I like to read some of your post, you seem to be thoughtful in your responses.

    • Sheryl Bush-Maciel Sessions

      I agree that the right thing to do is to approach the man and ask if he is feeling well and offering to call a cab or drive him home if he is sleepy or calling the police if he smells of alcohol. How many people (including children) have been killed by people who fell asleep at the wheel, were drunk driving, going into a diabetic coma, or otherwise ill.

      I was stopped, myself, recently because I didn’t realize I was weaving in traffic. Nor did I realize I was coming down with a terrible case of the flu which had me in bed for 2-1/2 weeks. When the policeman asked me what was going on, I said I didn’t know, but that I didn’t feel well. He escorted me to a nearby hotel, saw that I was checked in, and I had friends pick me up the next day. Thank God I was stopped…I had my grandchild in the car with me! Also, being older, the man could have had a stroke or a heart problem right at that moment. You may have saved him and the grand-daughter.

  • Andy

    Sorry, I just don’t buy into false guilt.

  • Michelle

    This was a great article. So true. Thank you.

  • Robyn

    I think that people often jump far too quickly to call CPS in many cases. There are children I know of who would have benefited from CPS involvement, but the authorities still were unable to do anything of worth when involved… on the other hand, a dear friend of mine, and amazing mother, who lost her husband in action, in the military, had a neighbor call CPS on her, because of symptoms her son displayed. He was very loved and cared for, but suffering from PTSD after having lost his father. The school system knew, his doctor knew, the family knew, her close friends new, his counselor knew… but my friend, though completely cleared on all accounts, and relatively quickly, had to literally go on anxiety medication afterward to help her cope. I understand – I’d be the same way. If someone ever misunderstood a situation, and even THOUGHT of doing something like that to me, and my parenting was questioned by the authorities, I probably wouldn’t sleep for months, in terror of my children being taken away, our home and family invaded, etc. And they were already in a horrific enough situation.

    Unless there is very valid reason to interfere, and true and definite abuse going on, people should think long and hard before getting “authorities” involved. Too many children have been taken from bad situations and put into much worse situations, and trauma added to already struggling families, when discretion isn’t used – and not as many people have impeccable discretion as believe they do. “Better safe than sorry” is hardly a fail-proof approach. You may sleep better that night – but a wonderful mother might not sleep well for years if caution isn’t used (again, based on what I’ve seen personally).

    • Karen Sharp

      My thoughts exactly. This makes absolutely no sense. About the twins in the original article – you are forgetting that these children were in the hands of CPS WHEN THEY DIED. Someone called CPS in the first place to get them removed from their biological parents, a situation that couldn’t possibly have been worse than the one CPS put them in. And how do you then say you feel responsible for not contacting CPS and possibly having another child removed and put into an abusive foster home? Obviously, some children are safer for being in a foster home and not all foster parents are bad, but they move the kids around so much that they are more likely to encounter an abusive one just because of sheer numbers!

      • Nicole Elizabeth

        To clarify, they were NOT technically in the hands of CPS when they died, they had been adopted. Someone had called CPS to report them and CPS is hugely to blame for their poor follow-up, but the kids were not in foster care at the time. The fact that they were adopted means that their biological parents were either dead, gave them up, or had their rights terminated by the courts, so for you to say it could not possibly have been worse with their biological parents is likely untrue. For all we know, their parents sexually abused them, or tried to kill them in the past, or are both in prison for violent crimes… and we also don’t know what led to them being in the trunk. The article says that the adoptive father was ALSO in the truck. Was someone outside the family responsible? Was it the mother? An uncle? A neighbor? Was it an attempted murder-suicide?

        This is absolutely tragic no matter the circumstances, but to say that the kids would’ve been better off with their biological parents when the circumstances are unknown doesn’t make sense. There is just not enough information printed here.

    • Nicole Elizabeth

      Sorry, but I cannot agree. While I feel awful for your friend, I DO believe in “better safe than sorry.” Sometimes it’s hard to know if one’s suspicions are “valid.” That’s why one reports and lets DCF. But that’s based on countless cases I’ve seen that I wish I could go into, but cannot.

      I can say, though, that I once had to call DCF when a student came into school upset after having been slapped by the mother even though, after hearing the child’s story (from the child) and knowing what the parents were going through, I understood why the mother reacted as she did and was reasonably sure no abuse was going on. However, being a mandated reporter, I called. DCF investigated. They interviewed the child, interviewed the parents, made a follow-up surprise home visit, and determined there was nothing on which to proceed. That was that. I felt guilty, yes, and I’m sure it caused sleepless nights for those poor parents, but if I hadn’t called and that child had later been beaten to death by her mother?

      I have some idea of what that family went through, BTW, because someone once called DCF on my parents after my brother suffered three major injuries in a row (they met with us, me included, and the case was dropped right away because all three injuries occurred at school with many witnesses). It IS stressful. It sucks to have someone think you might hurt your child (and as a kid it was upsetting having someone think your parents might be hurting you when they’re not). But as I said above, it is much, much worse to ignore a potentially dangerous situation. I’ve worked with a lot of abused/neglected kids. One special needs girl in particular that I’ll never forget. She was finally removed from her home at age SEVENTEEN after a lifetime of sexual and physical abuse that came with signs everyone ignored. No one stepped in to help her. They minded their own business because they had suspicions, not proof.

      As for being taken away from home situations, in my experience it is extremely rare that children are taken from parents willy-nilly. On the contrary, often kids are left in their homes or returned to their homes are parents are given chance after chance.

  • John Gordon

    Amen. And while not wishing to hijack your thread, I would add STOP putting roadblocks in the way of gay couples wishing to adopt! Even if you believe that they are living in sin, so what? – they can still provide a safe haven for a child and don’t worry – the “gayness” won’t rub off. As a matter of statistical fact, most foster care abuse occurs in heterosexual parents homes, so it may be even safer! And lastly, realize that we never get to pick the “perfect” scenario, and there are thousands of gay couples out there who may not be perfect in your eyes, but are able to provide a MUCH better place for a child than where they are currently at.

    • Brian Vinson

      While I am not a gay marriage advocate, and while the “statistical fact” doesn’t hold water (may be safer???), I know multiple gay couples who are doing amazing jobs parenting adopted children, children who had already been in disrupted adoptions, children who the system was failing, children with no future…

      And guess what… the children in question are doing wonderfully. They are being loved by their parents. So though I think the statistics that you (didn’t) quote don’t tell the whole picture whatsoever, that doesn’t have any bearing on where I come in on this… that gay couples who have gone through the proper training and preparation, should be allowed to adopt.

      • John Gordon

        The statistical fact is the first part of the sentence, about what type of homes most abuse happens in, percentage wise.
        Being “safer” is my opinion, which is why I said “may be” safer.
        Sorry if that was somehow confusing.

        • Brian Vinson

          Thanks for the clarification. I would imagine that most abuse happens in heterosexual parents’ homes just because of the percentage of heterosexual parents as opposed to homosexual. But that clearly does not mean that a homosexual parent *would* or *will* abuse.

          My own “evidence” is clearly circumstantial, but the end result is we agree. It should NOT be so hard for gay couples to adopt. It is a horrible thing to leave a child in a terrible situation just because the prospective parents are gay.

  • Melinda

    Gotta say, as a mother of a child with autism who faces routine misunderstandings from people who don’t know my situation, either find a way to offer help without being snooty and paternalistic, or mind your own business. Sometimes you will encounter me, and others like me, out in public, sleep-deprived, dazed-looking, semi-functional, because we’re trying to do something incredibly difficult and people are a lot more happy to judge than they are to help. The do-gooder impulse to report people you don’t know to CPS is invasive and meddlesome. If you care enough to befriend the struggling parent, then you will gain the right to speak up and the knowledge to do so with charity. If you don’t care enough, do nothing. It’s better than throwing a wrench into another family’s private life so that you can feel like you’re helping children.

    • tanyam

      I can imagine this is horribly difficult. But being “meddlesome” is, quite possibly, going to save another child’s life. I can’t possibly be judge and jury when I see something odd. I may be witnessing an Elizabeth Smart story, or it may be nothing — but in the (rare) moment I think something rises to a level of concern, I will call the police.
      As a child, I remember my father getting up from the table in a restaurant and calling the police once when he saw a parent behave badly — I don’t remember if it was exceptional verbal abuse or physical abuse. When the police arrived, they took a parent out to the parking lot — I don’t know what happened later. But it is just such a thing that might open a file, and bring a family under scrutiny — a family that needs to be under scrutiny.
      It is terrible to think that a family like yours might be caught up in such confusion. But I don’t see a better alternative in ignoring the mistreatment of a child.

    • Nicole Elizabeth

      As a caregiver of children with autism, and the godmother of two children with autism, if I were looking “glazed over” and falling asleep in public while with one of my kiddos, I’d hope someone would ask if we need help. Do nothing? Why? So you can get in your car, crash it, and kill the child? I have worked with and cared for TOO MANY abused children whose situations went unreported by those afraid of “butting in” when unnecessary. I’d rather see a hundred happy, decent families receive one or two in-good-faith housecalls from DCF than see one child (with or without autism) accidentally killed or worse, murdered. But maybe that’s just because I care more about the safety and wellbeing of children than about possibly inconveniencing or insulting someone.

      • Siggkins .

        Melinda did suggest you actually befriend the parent in such a situation, which is not ‘doing nothing’ and will actually provide you with a better perspective of what’s going on in the life of this family, where you may be able to be supportive of both parent and child and if possible bring them into a community of supportive people
        . I object, actually, to the way you just dismissed this woman’s post as though she is somehow a miscreant for simply voicing her frustration over being judged by strangers. And for heaven’s sake, you’re going to call the authorities on a parent over sleep deprivation?

        I am not suggesting that obvious child abuse should go unreported but I wish you could just hear for yourself how condemnatory, self-righteous and alienating your comments were towards a woman who is just obviously TIRED.

        • It is evident in Melinda’s case your meddling would not be sufficient. What about the thousands of other children you would actually be helping. We as a society can no longer afford to sit idly by and do absolutely nothing. We owe it to our future children of the world to get involved now.

  • elizabeth

    while I agree that we need to be aware and speak up, at the same time, I have an autistic daughter who we treat wonderfully, loves us and her sister, yet when it’s time to leave any place we’re at, routinely says she’s “scared to go home”. Which is just her way of saying she doesn’t want to go home. I would NOT appreciate you calling CPS on me based on that one thing. After all, there’s no abuse going on, we don’t spank AT ALL, we use gentle guidance and we’re in therapy. So while I agree mostly, if you don’t have all the infomation, you could be doing way more harm than good. Just my two cents.

    • Nicole Elizabeth

      But SO MANY autistic children are abused, and too often the signs are ignored simply because “s/he’s autistic.” Someone very close to me had DCF (our version of CPS) called on them because their child seemed “afraid” to leave school with his grandfather. WE know that his upset was because the same person always picks him up, and his grandfather is not that person, thus his routine was disrupted. DCF investigated, determined there was nothing to worry about, and that was it. YOU know why your child says she’s afraid, but the average person doesn’t, and personally, if I ignored something like that only to read in the news two days later that the child was murdered, I’d never be able to live with myself. Maybe that means I’d call out of some degree of selfishness… I don’t know. But I’d hate to risk it.

      (that said, I know how incredibly difficult and challenging it can be to raise a child with special needs and my heart goes out to you. it’s not pleasant, to say the least, having people be suspicious of you when you’re working so damn hard to do the right thing and do it well. good luck to you)

  • Digger

    I avoided reading this article for weeks due to the vulgar title; a problem with many articles on this site. Glad I finally read it. Good article. Agreed with everything except the “hollow prayer” line. That line speaks too little of my God.
    I especially liked that the author gave specific steps that every person and congregation can, and should take. What a wonderful thing to do with the abundance God gives us.

  • Mom of 7

    When my first husband died, I was alone with 3 kids trying to pay bills based on a much larger income but with only 1/3 of the money. We moved to a less expensive neighborhood and I worked full time during the day and full time from home at night. I wrote websites and spreadsheets for anyone that had cash money. I was tired all the time. Many mornings my oldest son would wake me up, my face laying on a keyboard, and tell me I needed to get him and his brothers ready for school. One of the new nosey neighbors, who I didn’t have time or energy to get to know, spoke to my mother and implied that I was a hooker with men coming and going all the time. Really? My mother, being a southern lady, said, oh, maybe it’s her boss, or one of her new clients, she writes websites you know, or possibly her dad or brother in law who have been here fixing her car and helping with the boys. Which man are you talking about? She very gently told him what was going on and made him feel like the jerk he was. We all made it through a very difficult time, and I am now working only one job and making a decent living. I have also adopted and fostered children, but that doesn’t make me a saint, just a mom with a heart for kids. I agree several other readers on here, just because a guy looks tired or grumbles at his kid, doesn’t mean he is abusive. Just because a single woman has men over doesn’t mean she’s a hooker either. Most people have good intentions. Not all but most. And things aren’t always what they seem.

  • Kesh

    Good article and advice there is nothing vulgar about the title of this article. I hope I do my bit..

  • This is an excellent article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Brett Huebner

    I appreciate this; I have had this line of thought ever since the Littleton shootings in 199 and with every such event since, and an event like this also. It is the diabolical influence on humanity, I believe, that seeks to ‘localize’ blame for tragedies, and localize it ‘far’ from ourselves. It is the imago Dei part of our nature that accepts responsibility and repents when we have failed. Anytime we ‘don’t act’ [and I have done this embarrassingly often too, Margot], or also, anytim we take out our frustrations on someone, however slight, we contribute to a ‘culture of sin.’ One reason I oppose capital punishment is that EACH of us is complicit whenever crime happens: society is a network, a web, not just a bunch of disassociated blobs.

Read previous post:
The Egyptian Revolution and Theological Reformation

It's risky to make historical comparisons. If we say, "This event is exactly the same as that event," our comparison...