Thursday Reads: 9/11 Memories, Adoption Horror Stories, and Other News

morning news and tea

Good Morning!!

It’s been cool here in the Boston area for the past few weeks, and then suddenly yesterday on the anniversary of 9/11/2001, the temperature shot up to 97 degrees.Today it’s only supposed to get up to the high 80s. And then we’re back to fall over the weekend. Very strange. You just never know what to expect from the weather these days.

On that day 12 years ago, my parents had rented a house on the beach in Rhode Island for a week. We had been obsessed with ExploreSUP reviews of paddle boards and were trying them out in the water. My sister from Indiana and my brother and sister-in-law from Cambridge were there too. This was before my two nephews were born. It was a beautiful New England day, and I recall it was pretty warm–but not hot.

I was out sight-seeing with my parents and sister when we got the first hints that something was terribly wrong. My sister heard someone say that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York. We rushed back to the beach house to horrible scenes of carnage on TV. We spent the rest of our vacation reading newspapers and watching TV for updates. A couple of days later, I had to drive back to Boston where school was starting and I had to teach at Boston University.

Driving up I-95 alone, I felt irrationally frightened, and I kept looking up in the sky for planes, even though I knew all air traffic had been grounded (except for the bin Laden relatives whom the Bush administration allowed to fly out of Boston–creepy!). The fact that the planes that hit the twin towers had flown out of Boston felt like a terrible violation. So even though nothing had happened to me and I was safe, I still had some post-traumatic stress. I guess we all did. For the first time, Americans learned what it feels like to be attacked in our own country. It was a loss of innocence.

Anyway, that’s my 9/11 memory–not very dramatic, but impossible to forget.

President Obama chose to mark the anniversary with a moment of silence on the White House lawn. From The New York Daily News:

Under a perfect blue sky, President Obama stood stock still on the neatly-manicured White House South Lawn and said not a thing.

moment of silence

In a capital where words are weapons, the silence was disarming.

The President, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Jill Biden had quietly walked out of the glistening white residence to observe a moment of silence on Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

They were flanked by a military honor guard and White House staff. If you looked toward the South Portico of the nation’s most famous home, a flag was at half-staff.

The two couples held hands as a bell tolled at 8:46 a.m., exactly the moment when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. The poignant simplicity was inescapable.

Afterwards, Obama attended a memorial service in front of the Pentagon, at the site where one of the planes had been flown into the building that symbolized America’s military might.

In the news…

I hope you’ll find time to read this important investigative article by Reuters reporter Megan Twohey about Americans who adopt children from foreign countries, then have regrets, and then give their children away to total strangers they meet on the internet. Many of these children end up being abused emotionally, physically and/or sexually. It’s one of the most shocking stories I’ve ever read. Here’s Part One and Part Two. I really can’t do this story justice with excerpts, but here’s the introduction:

KIEL, Wisconsin – Todd and Melissa Puchalla struggled for more than two years to raise Quita, the troubled teenager they’d adopted from Liberia. When they decided to give her up, they found new parents to take her in less than two days – by posting an ad on the Internet.

Nicole and Calvin Eason, an Illinois couple in their 30s, saw the ad and a picture of the smiling 16-year-old. They were eager to take Quita, even though the ad warned that she had been diagnosed with severe health and behavioral problems. In emails, Nicole Eason assured Melissa Puchalla that she could handle the girl….

A few weeks later, on Oct. 4, 2008, the Puchallas drove six hours from their Wisconsin home to Westville, Illinois. The handoff took place at the Country Aire Mobile Home Park, where the Easons lived in a trailer.

No attorneys or child welfare officials came with them. The Puchallas simply signed a notarized statement declaring these virtual strangers to be Quita’s guardians. The visit lasted just a few hours. It was the first and the last time the couples would meet.

I can’t believe such a thing is possible in the U.S., but it turns out most states don’t really regulate what adoptive parents do with their children. Within a few weeks, Melissa Puchalla learned that Quita and her new parents were missing and that Nicole Eason had a troubling history as a mother:

 • Child welfare authorities had taken away both of Nicole Eason’s biological children years earlier. After a sheriff’s deputy helped remove the Easons’ second child, a newborn baby boy, the deputy wrote in his report that the “parents have severe psychiatric problems as well with violent tendencies.”

• The Easons each had been accused by children they were babysitting of sexual abuse, police reports show. They say they did nothing wrong, and neither was charged.

• The only official document attesting to their parenting skills – one purportedly drafted by a social worker who had inspected the Easons’ home – was fake, created by the Easons themselves.

On Quita’s first night with the Easons, her new guardians told her to join them in their bed, Quita says today. Nicole slept naked, she says.

In Part Two of the report, Twohey writes about another man whom Melissa Eason partnered with to get access to unwanted adoptive children.

Online, she called herself Big Momma; he went by the namelovethemcute. And in the summer of 2006, housemates Nicole Eason and Randy Winslow were surfing the Internet with a common objective.

Each was looking for children.

Winslow – lovethemcute – was 41, balding and paunchy. He swapped pictures of naked children and would later spend time in a chat room called baby&toddlerlove, where he described himself as a “lil boylover,” court documents show. There, he would graphically boast of molesting boys and explain how to keep the abuse quiet: “Just have to raise them to think its fine and not to tell anyone,” he wrote in a chat with an undercover federal agent. “What is done in the family stays in the family.”

Eason – Big Momma – was about to turn 28. She had moved to Illinois from two states where authorities had taken away her biological children years earlier. In one report, authorities noted that a child she and friends were watching had died in her care.

Living away from her husband, Calvin, and with Winslow in the Illinois town of Tilton, Eason wanted to be a mother again. A few hours on an Internet bulletin board were all she would need to find a new child.

On July 14, 2006, Eason connected online with Glenna Mueller, a Wisconsin mother ready to give up a 10-year-old boy she had adopted. Mueller, 46, was once a licensed daycare provider. Struggling in a second marriage, she largely supported herself by collecting government subsidies for the seven children she adopted. She had taken the 10-year-old about three years earlier. Now, his tantrums were too much, Mueller told Eason.

“I couldn’t stand to look at him anymore,” Mueller says today. “I wanted this child gone.”


One more story based on the Reuters report, this one published by NBC news: Adopted girl says mother forced her to dig her own grave.

A Tennessee woman says that when her adoptive parents gave her away to new parents at age 14, she and 17 other adoptive kids in her “nightmarish” new home were sometimes forced to dig their own “graves” in the backyard and scrub the floor with toothbrushes.

“’Get out and go dig your own grave,” Nora Gateley, now 26, says her new mother told her. “’I don’t care if you die. Nobody will find you. You were not even here in the first place.” [….]

Nora Gateley was “re-homed” after she thought she’d hit the jackpot. Abandoned at birth in Guangdong, China, and with a right leg crippled by polio, she was about to turn 13 and become too old for adoption in 1999 when an American couple showed up at her orphanage with a Snoopy backpack and jewelry. Within weeks they’d whisked her away to a new life in the Florida Keys.

“I was the luckiest girl in the world,” recalled Nora. “I never felt so special.”

Her new parents brought her to live with their four other children, two of them adopted. Nora remembers the early days as “awesome, living a dream.” But after a year, her relationship with her parents changed. She was accused of hitting one of her siblings, and briefly ran away from home.

One day her mother told her she was going on a road trip with her father.

If you read nothing else today, please read this story. Thanks so much to Dakinikat for alerting me to it. This outrageous situation must change. No one should adopt a child and then abandon her to hatred and abuse.

Here’s another story at Reuters that isn’t about “rehoming,” but about actual adoptive parents who tortured their child to death: U.S. adoptive mother guilty of homicide in death of Ethiopian girl.

Hana Williams, adopted from Ethiopia in 2008, died of hypothermia in May 2011 after she was found unconscious outside shortly after midnight in temperatures hovering around 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius), authorities said.

The girl’s mother, Carri Williams, was convicted of homicide by abuse and of manslaughter linked to the girl’s death, while the father, Larry Williams, was convicted of first-degree manslaughter, a representative of the Skagit County Prosecutor’s Office said….

Investigators say Hana endured included beatings, starvation, being forced to sleep outside and use an outdoor toilet and that she had lost a significant amount of weight since her adoption. Prosecutors said her 10-year-old brother, who also was adopted from Ethiopia, was similarly mistreated.

The parents kept the family isolated from non-relatives, home-schooled the children and followed strict religious principles described in the Christian parenting book “To Train Up a Child,” investigators said.

Heartbreaking. If only states would stop trying to “regulate” abortions and focus on protecting children who are alive and suffering horrible abuse at the hands of people who are supposed to love and care for them.

A couple of short takes…

Did you see that The New York Times gave Vladimir Putin space on their editorial page to lecture Americans about “peace” and “international law”? I’m not going to quote from it, but here’s a response from Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey: Putin Op-Ed Almost Made Me Want To Vomit.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) nearly said goodbye to his dinner when he read Russian President Vladimir Putin’s op-ed in The New York Times cautioning the U.S. against military intervention in Syria.

Writing in the Times, Putin criticized American militarism. “It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States,” he wrote. “Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan ‘you’re either with us or against us.'”

“I have to be honest with you, I was at dinner, and I almost wanted to vomit,” Menendez said in an appearance on CNN Wednesday night. “The reality is, I worry when someone who came up through the KGB tells us what’s in our national interest and what is not. And, you know, it really raises the questions of how serious this Russian proposal is.”

Ever since Edward Snowden raised his ugly head, it seems that many in the media are encouraging hatred for the U.S. government among the public they supposedly serve. Not that the NYT needs to be a cheerleader for the president . . . Oh wait. They cheered on Bush and Cheney when they lied us into Iraq, didn’t they? What’s the difference between then and now? I honestly don’t get it.

Meanwhile, Snowden’s cheerleader Glenn Greenwald really jumped the shark yesterday. You’re not going to believe this. From Chez Pazienza at The Daily Banter: The Single Worst Thing Ever To Come Off of Glenn Greenwald’s Keyboard.

Well, it’s finally happened. Behold the single worst thing to ever be shot out of Glenn Greenwald’s Twitter feed:

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 5.24.56 PM

Actually, I suppose that if you’re looking to compile physical evidence of Greenwald’s sins against both journalism and intellectual honesty and to gain an understanding of exactly how he thinks and behaves, this thing is the fucking Rosetta Stone.

The “coalition of current and former military, police, and other public officials” that Greenwald so gleefully ballyhoos in the above tweet is the Oath Keepers. Greenwald of course doesn’t call them by name; he leaves that important detail out. The reason is that the Oath Keepers are a lunatic far-right militia who believe, among other things, that Barack Obama is a card-carrying communist, the U.N. is going to put troops on American soil, and our nation’s cities will soon be turned into concentration camps under the control of FEMA.

Where the Oath Keepers get their name is that they’ve sworn to defend our country against all of these phantom threats, the ones that exist solely in that tiny, empty space between their ears. They really are made up of ex-cops and ex-military; Glenn wasn’t lying about that. In classic Greenwaldian fashion he just neglected to mention that these particular ex-cops and ex-military are all batshit crazy paranoiacs whom no one should take seriously under any circumstances whatsoever. But Greenwald apparently does, and, as is standard practice, he does so only because they happen to agree with him on the one issue that he’s determined for everyone is most important in this world. The one thing that overrides all other considerations.

I’ll end there and turn the floor over to you. What stories are you focusing on today? Please share your links in the comment thread and have a great day!

22 Comments on “Thursday Reads: 9/11 Memories, Adoption Horror Stories, and Other News”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    From last May — Stephen Cohen, who happens to be Katrina vanden Heuvel’s husband, writes a spirited defense of Vlad Putin and what a great guy he is:

    Stop the pointless demonization of Putin

    Wonder how that’s working out for him now?

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Southern Poverty Law Center on Oath Keepers

    Oath Keepers Rally Reveals Radical Politics of Group

  3. Oh bb, this post is awesome. I read that Reuters article when it was first published and saved it for Wed.’s post but I could not bring myself to write about it. I am so glad that you did. I hope everyone does go and read the article in full.

    Its been twelve years but I still had a difficult time sleeping last night, everything is still so fresh to me. I feel numb even now…

    I really can not believe Putin got space in the NYTs, makes me want to vomit too. And while Putin was giving the US crap and the military bashing was going on, was there any mention of the anti-gay shit Putin has been spewing lately? I mean, the other crap the man has done regarding his own military and secret police and spy activities goes without saying…you know, selling arms and weapons to monsters…taking over Russia as president for life…etc. Damn!

  4. dakinikat says:

    Thanks for spending so much time with those stories of the adopted children who were basically farmed out like animals to all kinds of freaks due to bad adopted parents. I was horrified when I read it yesterday. Children and women are still treated like property in many many states.

  5. dakinikat says:

    After enduring the Catholic school version of “don’t ask/don’t tell” for several years, Totino-Grace High School English/religion teacher Kristen Ostendorf unexpectedly came out to her colleagues at the 47–year-old Catholic school in Fridley on Aug. 21. “I’m gay, I’m in a relationship with a woman, and I’m happy,” Ostendorf blurted out to a roomful of 120 fellow teachers at a workshop. She was asked to resign the next day.

    She didn’t, the school terminated her, and in a matter of moments the 43-year-old Ostendorf had become the second Totino-Grace educator to part ways with the school over sexual identity this summer (president Bill Hudson resigned in July after acknowledging he is in a committed same-sex relationship).

  6. RalphB says:

    The Syrian crisis has put the two nations back on speaking terms, though behind the scenes for now. Obama is going to drive the beltway warmongers even more insane!

    lat: U.S. and Iran are edging toward direct talks

    WASHINGTON — Signaling a possible thaw in long-frozen relations, the Obama administration and the new leadership in Iran are communicating about Syria and are moving behind the scenes toward direct talks that both governments hope can ease the escalating confrontation over Tehran’s nuclear program.

    President Obama reportedly reached out to Iran’s relatively moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, through an exchange of letters in recent weeks. The pragmatist cleric is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, and after years of the United States cold-shouldering his ultraconservative predecessor, U.S. officials say it’s possible they will meet with Rouhani on the sidelines.

    Beyond that, U.S. and Iranian officials are tentatively laying the groundwork for potential face-to-face talks between the two governments, the first in the rancorous 34 years since radical students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and founded the Islamic theocracy. Diplomatic relations have been broken ever since.

    Both governments have issued conciliatory public statements in recent days that suggest a new willingness to scale back the tension.


  7. RalphB says:

    Voyager 1 has traveled over 11.7 billion miles since 1977. She is in interstellar space!

    Science Daily: NASA’s Voyager 1 Spacecraft Embarks On Historic Journey Into Interstellar Space

    A coronal mass ejection, or a massive burst of solar wind and magnetic fields, that erupted from the sun in March 2012 provided scientists the data they needed. When this unexpected gift from the sun eventually arrived at Voyager 1′s location 13 months later, in April 2013, the plasma around the spacecraft began to vibrate like a violin string. On April 9, Voyager 1′s plasma wave instrument detected the movement. The pitch of the oscillations helped scientists determine the density of the plasma. The particular oscillations meant the spacecraft was bathed in plasma more than 40 times denser than what they had encountered in the outer layer of the heliosphere. Density of this sort is to be expected in interstellar space.

  8. Fannie says:

    Here again, it’s children who are abused and damaged for life, and people and agencies just stand by and do nothing. These throw away kids are everywhere, and we have done a horrible job of helping them in the homes, and communities.

    I had thought that Jane Adams (settlement houses), and Dorothea Dix (mental institutions) had give us a good start, but as we have moved forward in society, and the poverty rates for women and children is now worst than ever before. The religious fanatics have helped create the monsters we see today. It makes me think of Michele Bachmann, what the hell she had 23 children…………I think of what’s her face, Laura Silsby, who with a Baptist group from Boise, Idaho went to Haiti and took over 35 children out of the country. This was during the earthquake, and she knew what the hell she was doing. She was just slapped on the wrist and let go. I think of the White House boys in Marianna, Fla, who were abused year in and out for over 70 years before they were shut down. The overcrowding was beyond anything I have ever seen.

    Yes, the laws must change, and we must have better tracking of these kids. No parents should have ten, twenty disabled children to care for. I think that is a real issue, it’s looks more like they do this for money, and sex, not because they really care about children. There are federal laws, and we really must seek out those parents who abuse, who are mentally ill, and who do nothing while someone else is doing the abuse. These kids don’t know how to get out of this, other than running away, and then they become victims all over again on the streets.

    I had a family situation…………it was not an adoption, but the child grew up in the home, because her real mother had been involved with drugs (she died from drugs) and her father went to jail.. This young girl lived with her dad’s girlfriend, who was pregnant, and member of my family. I was beginning to see a pattern (when I was around) that this girl was being treated like it was her responsibility to care for the other children (half children), etc. What was happening was typical of what families do, sweep it under the rug. My closed minded family stood by and did nothing, and kept putting this young girl down (emotional and with verbal and physical abuse), nobody was sticking up for her, until I came along and told a few people they were fucked up. I was told when she was beaten it was discipline. It wasn’t until I found out that she was thrown to the floor and her hair pulled and her blouse ripped off, slapped in the face, that I said get out, and call the police, and don’t ever go back. I was told to mind my own business, this is how they attempted to shift the blame on to me. That girl was worth the fight that I went through, she had been wronged, and nobody in the family ever did a thing to reconnect with this girl, she was harmed, and I felt like I let her down. She went on to college, and I called a counselor to help her with all the stresses and crisis that she had been going through. My family told people that we had a “falling out, and blamed me”…….I let every body know they were the abusers, I held my ground and stood firm for this young girl. She’s a married woman now, and called me to tell me she was expecting a child next year. I was disowned, too bad for them, they choose not to have a good relationship with this step child, and me. That is their lost. I don’t know if she will ever repair the family relationship. Say it loud don’t ever let people abuse you, never tolerate that kind of treatment.

    Everybody deserves loves, and love never hurts.

    • bostonboomer says:

      What a terrible story, Fannie. I’m glad you stood up for this young woman. I hope she had gotten enough counseling that she’ll be a good mother to her child. Alice Miller always said that it’s important to speak out when you see a child being abused. Children need to know that it’s not their fault and they are valuable human beings. Even if a child is punished later, the seed will have been planted–child abuse is not “normal.” It’s wrong. No child deserves to be hurt and abused.

  9. RalphB says: