An alleged child starvation case near Longview is one of more than a dozen cases -- including one death -- that have state officials reviewing how adopted children are placed and treated.The Governor has appointed a study group to consider these cases and the following questions:
The number of abuse cases is small compared to all adoptions. But a string of high- profile child starvation cases last year -- including one from May accusing Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock of starving their five adopted children at their Bunker Hill-area home in Cowlitz County -- has state officials alarmed.
"Starting in the beginning of 2011 we started seeing a cluster effect of these types of cases," said Mary Meinig, director of the state's Family and Children's Ombudsman office, who included a section about adoption abuse in her annual report, released last week.
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Officials are concerned at the severity of these cases, the apparent spike in them and that so many seem to involve adopted children. The adoption cases are particularly concerning because screening by the state or private adoption agencies should catch unfit parents before children are placed.
Dr. Frances Chalmers, a Mount Vernon pediatrician who consults with DSHS, began to get a "nagging feeling" that something was up and started tracking starvation cases herself. Meinig started doing the same, finding 15 adoption or guardianship cases since 2009 that involved starvation or severe abuse. Eleven of those cases were in 2011.
•Are neglect and abuse -- including withholding food -- on the rise and are they more prevalent in adoptive homes?I think the article does a good job of offering appropriate caveats that correlation doesn't equal causation, of fleshing out the statistics in this small pool of cases, and of explaining the complex issues the study group will be examining. So read the whole thing.
•Did a rapid increase in adoptions let some unfit parents slip through the cracks?
•Does the adoption process itself need to be reworked?
•Does age, race or gender play a role in abuse of adopted children?