To Hug a Porcupine

Three little boys set out to destroy the parents who loved them. This isn't how adoption is supposed to work.

Jorge needed some help, so for several thousand dollars, he hired two professional "transporters" — imposing men trained in a whole repertoire of negotiating skills and takedown maneuvers. One morning last November, they drove to a group home where Jorge's eldest son was being held.

Brian was just 15 years old then but already six feet tall. All cheekbones and muscles, with long hair and dark, serious eyes, he looked like a young Johnny Depp. He was deemed violent. A flight risk.

As the transporters stood in the background, Jorge tensely informed the boy that he was being moved across the country to a different, more secure psychiatric facility. Immediately. Would he like to get anything from his room?

Since there were few things he cared about in the world, Brian grabbed his sneakers and a couple of other possessions. Then off he went, sandwiched by his escorts, to catch their plane.

Days later, Jorge surprised 14-year-old Matthew. At home on the family ranch near Gainesville, Jorge told the straw-haired blond boy that he, like his brother, was being sent to a faraway residential facility for indefinite treatment. The boy surrendered peacefully. Considering the stunts he'd tried in the past — like trying to murder his mother — Jorge felt a huge relief.

Then there was James. Once his brothers disappeared, delivered to institutions in separate states, the 13-year-old with the thick blond hair and mischievous eyes knew what was coming. Because of scheduling issues, though, it wouldn't be until the next month.

During those quiet weeks, James busied himself by plotting a chilling revenge. What could he do that would have the maximum, spirit-crushing impact?

He gathered some supplies and headed into the horse stalls.


Jorge and his wife, Debbie (New Times is not using their last name in order to protect the identities of the children), say that if they'd known in 1998 what they know now, they never would have adopted the brothers. The Department of Children and Families hid reams of information about brutal sexual abuse the boys had suffered in their first years of life, and when that abuse caused a rare but severe psychological disorder, the agency wavered and stalled rather than provide proper care. DCF had barely recovered from disturbing news stories in recent years about foster parents molesting children in their care and young wards of the state disappearing into the system — here was another sad example of the historically troubled agency failing the very children it claimed to protect.

Now, even after a protracted, eight-year-long lawsuit has drawn to a close, Debbie and Jorge remain in legal/political limbo with $10 million at stake. The boys are finally in treatment — but no one's sure it will help at this stage.

In hindsight, experts say that the children should have been separated from their trauma bond and given intensive psychological care — ten years ago. "My youngest child entered foster care when he was one month old," Debbie says. "He's coming out the other side a sociopath."


1998 was a vastly more hopeful time for the family. They were a couple who wanted to have a positive impact on the world. They had already adopted one boy — 11-year-old David — and the plan now was to take in three brothers who'd arrived in the foster care system as the children of shockingly neglectful parents. Everyone was excited about the first meeting. Debbie, Jorge, and David would head over to John Prince Park, where, on the playground, they would "accidentally" bump into adoption workers and the three boys. No need to tell the kids this could become their "forever family." Best not to get anyone's hopes up.

It was a chilly February afternoon. Jorge and David tossed a ball with the three siblings as Debbie looked on. Brian, who at 6 was the oldest, was always the most serious of the children. Talkative 5-year-old Matthew was already a charmer. The baby, James, was 3.

Under normal circumstances, the adoption process includes a number of test visits to make sure kids and parents warm up to each other. But after their very first sleepover at Debbie and Jorge's Boynton Beach home, Brian, Matthew, and James cried and begged not to return to their foster home. So that was it; they moved in. DCF expedited the adoption, and it was finalized July 24. As part of the turnover, adoption counselor Myra Zuc­lich gave Debbie and Jorge some paperwork — birth certificates, Social Security cards. "The stack was a quarter-inch thick," Debbie says, pinching a forefinger and thumb.

The papers included one abuse report detailing an incident that had caused the children to be taken from their birth mother. It was possible the oldest boy had been sexually abused in her care, Debbie remembers Zuclich saying, but no one had ever been charged.

These days, Debbie and Jorge do their best to sound chipper. They are pretty good fakers. Debbie, a 49-year-old with reddish-blond highlights and flawless pale skin, retains her teacherly voice, though she hasn't worked in a school in years. She has mastered the ironic chuckle. Jorge, also 49, has a gentle presence. A Cuban-American with bushy black eyebrows and, stunningly, just a few gray hairs at his temples, he exudes unfailing politeness. His voice has that 1950s sitcom-dad quality, like Ward from Leave It to Beaver.

Jorge remembers the classes that prospective foster and adoptive parents were required to take. "It was a weeding-out process," he says. Some people seemed motivated by the financial boost they could get from fostering, a few hundred dollars per child per month. "You could tell they were thinking: Am I going to work at McDonald's or do foster care?" Many participants were scared away when they heard about the challenges that might lie ahead. "I think our class started with 45 people in it," Jorge recalls. "There were eight at the end."

Debbie and Jorge, though, felt well-prepared for more kids. Their first adopted son was a black child whose mother had died of cancer and whom they knew through their church. Debbie had been a teacher and principal at a school for children with special needs; Jorge was a successful salesman and youth minister. A study conducted by DCF described a loving and idyllic family with a lively cast of animals: three cats, dogs who were used for pet therapy with disabled children, and Merlin, an African gray parrot who "sounds exactly like Jorge."

It said right there on the home study: To complement their mixed family, Debbie and Jorge were open to accepting children — they could probably take one or two — with "mild-to-moderate medical, developmental, and/or behavioral needs." Debbie says now that, because they already had a son, they specified "absolutely no sexual acting out at all." They turned down a few children with behavior problems they didn't feel they could handle.

Then one day, DCF adoption specialist Zuclich came to tell them about three amazing little boys — the sort who rarely ever became available. According to Debbie, "She said, 'I'm not supposed to show you, but here is their picture.' " The couple was hooked.

Debbie remembers the first few meals with the boys. "They were grabbing fistfuls of spaghetti," she says. They didn't understand the concept of utensils. They hoarded food. When she helped them take baths, she noticed they were skinny and bruised, "like refugees."

Other signs were more disturbing. Brian, the oldest boy, suffered from nightmares. Matthew maintained an air of defiance, never, ever acknowledging blame. Little James was always biting. All three wet their beds and seemed obsessed with grabbing at each other's genitals as though it were some sort of power play. "They would rage and scream for two to three hours at a time at the top of their lungs," Debbie says. Each boy could be cruel to pet cats and dogs.

With a therapist's help, Debbie and Jorge learned coping techniques. They let the boys take food to their rooms until the hoarding stopped. They set a rule to stay arm's length apart. To deal with extreme tantrums, the parents calmed the boys by sitting them in a chair and physically retraining them, wrapping their arms around from behind.

About six months after the adoption, Debbie was cleaning the house and moving furniture around. The bed made a squeak. Little James, then 4, looked terrified.

That was the sound he heard before the bad man came to get him, he muttered. Upon further questioning, he reported: "Hector slept with me." Hector Rosa was his former foster dad.

"I pulled Matthew aside, and he told me the same story," Debbie says. The bed always made a telltale squeak when Rosa lifted himself off one boy and went for the next.


Hector Rosa was a DCF-vetted foster parent who had been in charge of Brian, Matthew, and James just before their adoption.

The three boys moved in with Debbie and Jorge, making way for an 11-year-old girl. According to court documents, Rosa customarily passed out on the recliner in his small house in Palm Springs. From there, he said, he could best guard the eight kids. "Hector the Protector," his wife liked to call him.

A police report notes that it was nearly midnight in December 1998 when Hector's wife, Yolanda, roused herself from bed to grab a bottle for the 1-year-old baby. She stumbled into the living room and was surprised not to see Hector. She padded over to one of the kids' rooms. Yolanda turned the doorknob.

She looked at the bottom bunk. Then screamed.

"I can't believe you did this!" she yelled.

"It's not what you think!" Hector shouted, jumping up.

Yolanda lurched for the phone and dialed 911. "I just caught my husband molesting one of the foster children!" she cried hysterically. "I just caught him!" She recounted what she had seen: Her husband, a 49-year-old property manager, 5-foot-9 and around 200 pounds, under the blue sheets, moving his hips. Beneath him: the 11-year-old foster girl.

Hector ran to the bathroom and vomited on the floor.

By the time two officers arrived, Rosa had abandoned his plaid, semen-stained boxer shorts and thrown on a pair of jeans. He nervously rattled on about how sorry and embarrassed he was. He insisted there'd been no penetration. One of the officers read him his Miranda rights. Still, he continued to babble. He told the police he'd fondled the girl on about eight occasions.

"I think I need help," he stated weakly.

Hector Rosa had already been jailed for that incident when Debbie called DCF to report that her boys may have been sexually abused. She says she was told not to worry; Rosa was locked away. He would later be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

"Couldn't anyone have told me?" Debbie asked, incredulous. "Would a phone call have been so difficult?" After her boys were interviewed by authorities, three additional charges of lewd assault were filed against Hector. He pleaded no contest to one charge and had ten years tacked on to his life sentence. Weeks later, however, he withdrew his plea, and he is still fighting his cases from prison.

Because the boys lived in fear that Hector would come back and kill them for telling — James had night terrors about it — Debbie brought them to his sentencing hearing so they could see him in shackles. In the courtroom, Brian lowered his head and let out a satisfied "Yesss!" Matthew stared Hector in the eyes. When they got home, Debbie says, little James asked who would watch the bad man when the guards slept at night. Debbie reassured him: "You are safe."

The family moved to a new home with separate bedrooms for each of the boys, but their frustrating behavior continued. The boys destroyed furniture, tortured pets, smeared feces on the computer, and, when separated, would tear out electrical sockets to tunnel into one another's rooms. Debbie was horrified to walk in on the children all naked together.

Regardless of age, an orgasm "is ten times more potent than cocaine," one of the boys' therapists later said in a deposition. It would not be surprising if, after being exposed to sexual stimulation, they felt compelled to continue it. Debbie and Jorge installed a security system so they'd know if the kids were trying to get out of bed.

Realizing they might be in over their heads, Debbie quit her job to stay home and care for the boys. Although Jorge had become a full-time youth minister who opened missions abroad, he stopped traveling for work. The couple says they asked the state to provide additional, post-adoption psychiatric services but were met with the attitude: Too bad; they're your kids now.

One serendipitous day, Debbie was browsing in a bookstore and noticed a volume out of place on a shelf. She moved to slide it out of the way and was struck by its title: High Risk: Children Without a Conscience by Dr. Ken Magid and Carole A. McKelvey. The book described a psychiatric diagnosis that had been around for decades but remained relatively unknown: reactive attachment disorder.

Kids who do not receive adequate parenting in the early stages of life, the book explained, had no foundation for healthy emotional development. Such children — kids who were abused, neglected, kept in hospitals, or rejected by mothers with depression — would show little in the way of bonding as they aged. They would often turn aggressive and violent. They would release their anger on caretakers. Debbie remembers thinking: "My God. These are our kids!'"

Even now, reactive attachment disorder remains underresearched. ATTACh.org (the Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children), the preeminent organization focusing on the disorder, has only 380 members — 60 percent clinicians, 40 percent parents — according to its executive director, Lynn Wetterberg. She estimates that there are fewer than ten residential centers in the country equipped to handle patients diagnosed with the condition.

Debbie and Jorge became convinced that their children needed such treatment after they were diagnosed with RAD. They say they begged DCF for additional services only to be denied because the kids' Medicare wouldn't cover the bill. It was only after they wrote to then-Gov. Jeb Bush, using Hector Rosa as leverage, that then-district administrator of DCF Paul Brown invited the couple in for a meeting.

Brown authorized money for the whole family and two therapists to attend a two-week session at a treatment center in Colorado that specialized in RAD. It costs around $10,000 per session.

"I just want to feel like I did one decent thing," Debbie remembered Brown telling them. She was surprised when he added a suggestion: They ought to sue DCF. The next day, she says, Brown resigned. "He said the system was too broken to fix."

To prepare for the family's visit around Christmas 2000, therapists in Colorado requested the boys' records directly from DCF. Adoption worker Zuclich sent them: not just a quarter-inch stack but boxes and boxes, with a DCF provision that the files not be shared with the parents.

Nestled in a conference room surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and evergreen trees, therapists sorted through documents. They looked sympathetically at Debbie and Jorge. The information they were reading stunned them. Goodness, would they like to share, but professional regulations prevented them from breaking DCF's orders.

Debbie and Jorge watched helplessly. Their furor grew. They wanted to know what those papers said.

"That was the moment of truth for me," Debbie says. "Up until then, I'd just thought we'd been dealing with incredibly incompetent people. Then I realized they had actually been hiding things. It had all been a setup."

"When we left there," Jorge says, "we got a lawyer."


Here's a taste of what was in those boxes — information that Debbie and Jorge would see only years later.

According to one document, the boys' biological mother, Mary, told DCF workers she'd been raped by at least six people over the course of her life — including four family members. But it was an encounter with a man at a California truck-driving school that produced her beautiful dark-haired son Brian. Then again, documents also showed she was a liar.

Mary fell for a troubled 27-year-old divorcé and had two more babies in two more states. The family was living in a car in Georgia when child protective services there got on their case. They gave authorities the slip by crossing the state line into Florida.

According to a time line in the boys' file, the family did not stay undetected for long. The children were taken into state custody in Palm Beach County on November 8, 1994, when "Brian's arm was broken by a parent in a fit of rage." He was two years and nine months old at the time. The baby, James, was only a month. Examinations showed signs of physical and sexual abuse.

The time line shows that, in keeping with standard procedures, the boys were placed together in a foster home of a woman named Alix Holley while Mary was allowed supervised visits in hopes of reunification.

Some excerpts:

2/27/95: "No visits until parents are clear of scabies."

3/29/95: "Brian's teeth all rotten."

4/27/95: "Saw all three children. Impetigo and ringworm cleared up."

4/28/95: The foster mother reported "aggressive/physical behaviors, head banging, self-inflicted, will hurt animals."

8/29/95: Foster mother reports "behaviors real bad. Giving oral sex to each other."

10/26/95: During a visit, "Brian said to [biological] mom, 'Don't hurt me.' "

Ongoing entries describe Holley's growing suspicions that the boys were being abused in the care of their mother. When the court approved continuing visits despite her objections, Holley would cancel or dawdle in bringing the boys to appointments. On February 23, 1996, Holley seemed "extremely concerned about continuing the visits." She threatened to sue the department.

Although correspondence that was later released would show that other workers shared her concerns, Holley was deemed a nuisance for interfering. "She thrives on this type of controversy that makes her feel important," a caseworker wrote in a memo. The boys were soon shuffled again.

Plans for reunification with Mary were scrapped on June 2, 1997, when, according to notes, "James was the victim of physical abuse when the mother intentionally bit him at the therapist's office." Mary was arrested and agreed to terminate her parental rights. She planned to move back to Georgia. She was five months pregnant at the time.

Documents in the boys' file would show that Brian was separated from his brothers, who landed in an immaculate, three-bedroom, one-bath house in Greenacres. Nancy Garcia and her husband took in $2,035 a month between his job at Publix and their Social Security checks. They got some extra income caring for 12 foster kids that year, sometimes five at a clip.

An abuse report details the time that a DCF worker went to check on the home after the boys complained about being kept in a chicken coop. A therapist confirmed the presence of such a structure in the yard, but when asked about it, Nancy Garcia said she only threatened to put the boys in a cage after they refused to go to bed. In a separate incident, the Garcias admitted to putting tape on Matthew's mouth "as a reminder to stop talking." The couple sometimes warned the children by rolling up a newspaper and smacking it against a hand. The toddlers were troublemakers, Nancy Garcia reported. "You can't spank them; what else am I supposed to do?"

According to the paperwork, a district staffing specialist forwarded concerns about the Garcias' "inappropriate discipline techniques" to the relicensing unit, who in turn referred its concerns to a home educator. But the home educator had left her job, so the case was closed. The Garcia home was later described as "above satisfactory" and relicensed.

But the troublesome boys were clearly not wanted, so workers sought a new placement.

Hector Rosa and his wife had room for three kids.


In 2002, Debbie and Jorge filed a lawsuit against DCF based on "negligence" and "wrongful adoption." During the years that it moved along at a glacial pace, however, something curious happened to the boys. They grew.

Matthew, the middle child, was about 8 when he sidled up to Debbie. "He said, 'Mommy come here,' " she remembers. He told her he had been lifting weights. "Guess how much I weigh now," he whispered. "'I'm getting bigger, and I'm getting stronger, and I will kill you. When the knife goes in, you'll know it."

Debbie tried to hide her panic. She'd learned that attachment disordered kids often took out their hostility on the person closest to them. Any loving gesture repulsed them. They were especially mean to women, and their favorite target was mom.

"It's like a porcupine," therapist Lori Angulo would later explain in a deposition. When a person gets emotionally close, "they act out. They can pull you in for a little bit, and you think you're getting closer. And then if they become vulnerable at all, they will sabotage that."

Debbie and Jorge engaged the boys in activities that even privileged kids would envy. The family camped, canoed, and swam with dolphins. They all did yoga at the YMCA. Since little James loved Curious George, a real monkey came to his birthday party. Brian decorated his bedroom with an astronomy theme, and when the Kennedy Space Center opened its Hall of Fame, Brian and Matthew cut the ribbon. They met some of the world's most famous astronauts.

The family even rented a pasture in Boynton Beach and bought two miniature therapeutic horses, Dakota and Magic. Debbie, a talented photographer, would later take pictures of James in a field with the creatures. In the sepia-toned images, he wears a cowboy hat, and the sun pours down like honey. The pictures would haunt them years later.

The boys' bad behavior had no particular trigger. "Not a rhyme or reason," Jorge says. "You could go to dinner and feel like it was a good day." They'd play chess or talk about world events, and minutes later, violence would erupt. Therapists described both parents as cooperative and patient. Angulo called them "loving... to a fault." They would need to watch out for themselves.

Debbie was delighted one day when Matthew, without prompting, brought her a glass of root beer. How thoughtful. She spent the next two days in the bathroom, violently ill. Matthew would later admit to collecting chicken blood from uncooked dinners and spiking her drink. He got the idea when she'd lectured the kids about salmonella, and he had tried it a couple of times, he said, before getting the formula right.

Socializing became a problem. Debbie and Jorge allowed visits with friends who had kids, but every venture ended in allegations. They stole something or bit someone or touched other children in ways that could lead to lawsuits. The family retreated. They abandoned church.

Isolating the boys at home became a necessity, therapists believed. The house was transformed with aquariums and LEGO stations. Angulo described it as "a velvet-lined steel box."

"James at 7 didn't know the letter a," Debbie says. "After being homeschooled for a year, he was reading at middle-school level. Now he can read a novel a day." Each of the three boys, she says, has a genius IQ. James is a member of Mensa.

The problem, Debbie says, was that "as they got bigger and stronger, they became more dangerous."

With a little laugh, she ticks off a list of offenses: They broke her jaw. They stole from her purse. They went into her closet and scissored her clothes. Debbie says she carried the internet modem with her wherever she went so they couldn't download porn (they always chose violent, misogynist sex scenes) or steal people's credit-card info. She wouldn't go to the bathroom unless Jorge was home. She watched the boys in the rearview mirror while driving lest they pull off a surprise attack.

The family relocated to the ranch outside of Gainesville. There, they could keep more therapeutic animals and be closer to relatives. Once, though, the boys set a fire at Jorge's parents' home by putting a broom on the stove. Eventually, even family members backed off.

Although they had at first resisted residential programs, Debbie and Jorge began to relent. They enrolled Matthew in a military-style academy, but he was sent home, declared a danger to officers and cadets. At one group home, Brian poured a chemical in a girl's lip gloss to burn her. They boys entered boarding schools, boot camps, and mental hospitals only to be expelled. Soon, the family ran out of options.

Home with only Debbie, the brothers hid knives and hammers inside the walls. In 2006, the parents found the word die carved under their bedroom window. "It's like they were POWs and we were their captors," Debbie laments.

Brian was the size of a man now. Debbie and Jorge longed for the days when hugging the boys in a chair was a technique that actually worked. Systems of punishments and rewards had lost their effect. The couple sometimes turned to police; Matthew alone was arrested eight times. They used the Baker Act to have the boys placed under observation in mental hospitals.

Debbie has a recurring dream. "Matthew is chasing me around the car. And I reach in my purse, and I pull out a gun and I shoot him. And then" — she swallows and looks away — "he turns into a child again."

She doesn't chuckle when she says this. She cries.


Debbie and Jorge felt close to the DCF workers who'd inspected their house and investigated their past. "During the home study, they'd ask about the most intimate details: 'How is your sex life? Oh, you're infertile? How does that feel?' It was like therapy." That these same individuals would purposely deceive them felt like "the ultimate betrayal."

The boys' therapists and their family lawyer, Lance Block, however, characterized DCF employees as well-intentioned people stuck inside a flawed system.

When Myra Zuclich, the DCF adoption worker, was deposed, she explained that she had 40 kids to see each week for an hour apiece. Normal work hours didn't even allow time for travel. For unfettered access to a copy machine, she had to work through the night.

The system was a maze of adoption, placement, and licensing units and finance people. In the scheme of things, Zuclich said, she was "a little person" with no decision-making power. Her motivation was to find the boys a good home.

She did not follow up on concerns about the chicken coop, however, because it was "not my jurisdiction," and while she'd had her own suspicions about Hector Rosa, she did not pass them on because "nobody ever gave me information on things like that." When choosing paperwork to share with the parents, she says, she followed instructions and sent whatever documents her bosses picked out. During testimony, other workers described a similar runaround.

The case was set to go to trial last November — "It would have been a monster verdict," Block says — but the night before it was to begin, DCF settled with the family for $10 million, almost all of it to be put in a trust fund for the boys' future treatment. "That's unprecedented," says Block, who has handled the case pro bono for eight years. It may have also been a bargain: An economist who is an expert on institutional care estimated that the boys' lifetime care would cost $75 million if fully funded.

Debbie and Jorge fought for a stipulation in the settlement agreement that each parent receive $350,000. "We went from making over $100,000 a year," Debbie says, "and then I stopped working in my 30s, just as my career was getting under way. Now I'm in my late 40s, and it's like, 'Oh my gosh. My career is missing! My life is missing!' " The funds could also help offset costs incurred over the years, like therapeutic animals, wall repairs, and transporters.

For now, however, the award stands only on paper. Because of "sovereign immunity," state payouts are limited to $200,000, no matter what attorneys hash out. Sovereign immunity can be waived, and bigger settlements disbursed, only if a state representative sponsors and the Legislature then passes a claims bill. That happens only a fraction of the time. One claims bill that was passed this year — a well-publicized $18.2 million payout to Marissa Amora, a 9-year-old who needs permanent care after being abused under DCF's watch — had been reintroduced three consecutive years before passing.

Debbie and Jorge and their attorney say that the state became markedly more responsive after Jeb Bush left office and Secretary Bob Butterworth took over the Department of Children and Families in January 2007. They felt at least minor validation when Butterworth spoke during a hearing on their behalf. "The new policy under my administration is a policy of openness," he remarked, "and one where we admit mistakes and compensate those damaged as a result. The department could and should have done a better job."

Despite the bigwig weighing in, however, legislators from around the state, each consumed with their own constituents' concerns, declined to pass the claims bill before the legislative session ended in May. Tight budget this year, so sorry.


The main reason Debbie and Jorge accepted the settlement was an agreement that the state would send the boys away — immediately — for treatment, however belated.

Last December, after Brian and Matthew had gone, little James shipped out too. He was 13. From his new home, he spoke to Debbie by phone. She was happy to hear him show some apparent compassion when he asked how the horses were doing. Maybe the program was already working.

"Make sure you feed them," James said. He repeated it the next time they talked.

In January, Debbie was driving home from town. As she approached her property, she noticed several of her miniature horses lying on the ground. She drew closer. Bodies were sprawled on the hill.

"Ten," she says. "He wiped out ten."

The boy would later confess to swiping rat poison from a neighbor's farm and slipping it into a container of horse feed during the weeks he waited to be sent away. It was only a matter of time until Debbie fed them from that particular bag. Some of the horses they'd had since James was little. Four cats also died from the poison.

"He told his therapist that the horses got what they deserved," Debbie says. He also said he had planned to kill Debbie in one of the horse stalls. A search of the stall yielded a knife.

The boys' treatment requires parents to remain involved, so almost every other weekend, Debbie and Jorge get on a plane. But the kids, Debbie says, "still feel, 'These people need to be destroyed.' A therapist told me, 'Brian feels like if you're dead, his pain will go away.' "

When they arrive at Brian's center, he resists seeing them. Someone read about the settlement in the newspaper and told him he's a millionaire now. He scoffs at any explanation that the money is earmarked for therapy.

Matthew, Debbie says, "loves me the most and hates me the most." Seeing him can make her nervous, especially when she thinks of the chicken-blood incident. When she visits, he is seated in a chair lower than hers, and she remains close to the door.

James, the horse poisoner, has been asked to leave his current facility. Staff there cannot keep other residents safe with him around. Debbie and Jorge are looking for a place that will take him. Once again, their options are few, and they need a facility that accepts Florida Medicare. If the settlement money were available, the task might be easier. They look forward to the next legislative session. "Are [legislators] going to come through on their promise?" Debbie asks. "Or hold us off for another year? And another year?"

In May, Debbie and Jorge received about a dozen bankers' boxes of documents about their children.

Some of the documents seem ludicrous now, evidence of an ineffective system. There's a letter from DCF thanking Hector Rosa for his "unselfish dedication." There's also a 1996 memo in which a therapist wrote that the boys' case "should be monitored by your most experienced case worker because it has the potential to be a newspaper article that would be detrimental to [DCF]."

Other papers, though, hint at additional worlds of abuse. Like the handwritten notes alluding to another child in Hector Rosa's care who was bruised and acted out in school. Documents explain that Hector and Yolanda Rosa had been abused when they themselves were children.

The lawsuit uncovered other sad epilogues. A caseworker in Georgia called Myra Zuclich once looking for history on the boys' biological mom. Remember, she'd been five months pregnant? That child had died. An adult rolled over and suffocated it during sleep.

People often wonder: Why didn't Debbie and Jorge just give the kids back?

"Give them back to who?" Debbie barks. "To the people who abused them? To the system that failed to keep them safe over and over and over again?"

Jorge acknowledges that no matter how much the children fight off their affections, "they mean something to us." Love, Debbie concedes, has become a somewhat awkward concept. "I still love them with the knowledge that they don't love us back."


A lawyer and spokesperson for DCF, Florence Rivas, says that the department has always had a policy of full disclosure. It's regrettable that it was not enforced four administrations ago, she says, but it is being emphasized under Butterworth's tenure. Debbie, though, says that "ultimately, our family was sacrificed."

Debbie and Jorge try to remain optimistic. They note that their oldest, often-overlooked son had a difficult childhood but is a productive 21-year-old now. Perhaps the other three boys will gain something in treatment, even if it's only a year before Brian turns 18 and ages out — or can sign himself out — of his program. Maybe they'll come out of therapy calmer, less angry.

But things could go the other way too. Experts say child abuse is a tough cycle to break. Many agree that the best hope for attachment disordered kids is intervention in early childhood. Without it, they say, the next stop is often the prison system.

Debbie says the boys, who are not allowed to speak to New Times because doing so would interfere with their treatment, are "articulate and friendly and charming. They could sit in a room and talk to you about the news. Then they can turn around and hurt somebody and never feel it. My fear is that it will be a woman. I don't want someone else's daughter to pay the price."

It is possible that upon release, one of the boys could try to make good on his threats. One form of self-defense would be for Debbie and Jorge to go into hiding. "To be honest," Debbie says, "it's something we've talked about." They'll see how they feel in a year.

For now, they take things day by day. Lately, they'd been feeling good. They thought they'd gotten over the death of the horses. But just today, a pregnant one miscarried. The stillborn foal was deformed. "It never stops," Debbie says.

So they keep their emotions in check, just in case more heartbreak lurks around the bend. Best not to get anyone's hopes up.

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ricky5456
ricky5456

What the fuck.. So hugging a porcupine first of all is not a very bright idea. Retards.. so these parents Jorge (probably some viking idk who knows) and Debbie (Wendy's conglomeration possibly? probably or just a super fat bitch). First of all kids are never bad. Parents are bad. Here we see a Viking who is married to a fast food restaurant chain or some shit (or fat lady who can't do shit). Here you see they adopted innocent kids, but they we're obviously not good enough parents and don't know how to take care of children (what were they doing hugging porcupines? There was nothing on this articles about porcupines [fucking retards]). I bet this odd couple goes to greece or something and eats greece salad while putting their kids on invisible chains and shit. These three kids seem like the coolest and chillest people alive and i bet they're doing so well right now if they're out of their parents house. I bet they're fit as fuck since they probably don't live in a fast food chain anymore. Who the fuck calls their daughter Debbie anyway. Sounds like this Jorge was too pussy whipped or something. I bet she's ugly as fuck.

Koltwheeler
Koltwheeler

timD  Debbie and Jorge were told by DCF that they would be charged with "felony child abandonment" if they tried to give the boys back... as were many other adoptive parents at the time.  An article and single quote does not tell the entire story.

timD
timD

(Regarding the option of "giving the brothers back")"Give them back to who?" Debbie barks. "To the people who abused them? To the system that failed to keep them safe over and over and over again?"Yes, those people. Or maybe maybe drop these monsters off at a Siberian gulag? a deserted island? a meat grinder?Honestly, Debbie and Jorge are pathetic individuals. I aplaud their noble efforts to save these children, but once they start plotting to kill you, it's time to cut the cord. And don't forget their other son, David, who surely suffered massive psychological trauma from being exposed to these animals.

RG
RG

What seems clear is that while the DCF system failed these children miserably, Debbie and Jorge, with their unflagging empathy and love, were these childrens' only hope. I have two small children myself, and although they are wonderful and loving and sweet, even so I have days I would "give them back" if I could. How this couple could have continued to love and support these boys, after all they went through and without love and gratitude in return, is beyond me. Debbie and Jorge, you are bigger and better people than I and I think you deserve a medal for all that you have done. Just emotionally, not even taking into account all the money, time, lawyers, and bureaucracy that must have eaten up your life.

You must also take care for yourselves. You cannot spend your lives trying to save these boys, if they cannot be saved from themselves. At some point, and only you know when this is, you must say, we have done all we can, and now we must retreat from this responsibility and take care of ourselves and our other son. YOu have done more than any of us, you shouldn't have to spend the rest of your lives carrying this burden.

Yolanda, my heart goes out to you. Try to let go of your guilt, we all do the best we can, when we can. It was brave and right of you to turn Hector in, and help make sure he could never hurt another child again. Now enjoy your family and let the pain go...

Again, Debbie and Jorge, you have my empathy and admiration. Hang in there. At least you tried to make a difference in these boys lives, which is more than most of us do.

Yolanda
Yolanda

I knew the Florida Department of Children and Families very well. The department was not honest with this family and I am ashamed to say, I had knowledge of it. How did i know, well, I am Yolanda, the last foster mother the boys had before being placed with Jorge and Debbie.

Amy Z. was the children's DCF worker and she did fully disclose the boys past with us. But when they found adoptive parents willing to take them, we were asked not to disclose the information we had because if would be a breach in confidentiality. We were told that information would be given to them in a timely manner. Yes, we did have some problems with the boys (mainly with Brian) when they first came to us, and over time, the problems did become worse. I did not understand what was going on as the behaviors worsened because when the boys came to live with us, Matthew and Jamie were sweet little boys, and Brian was their guardian sort of their protector. But as time went by and things started to change, I would question myself and his therapist as to why is the behavior getting worse rather than better. But we just could not pin point the problem and I just believed that their problems came from their previous foster placements and biological home.

When the day came that the boys were going to move in with their new parents, I was happy for them because knowing the boys past and hearing what great people Debbie and Jorge were, I just knew the boys would find their happily ever after. My ex-husband how ever made a comment that was strange to me at the time but it never hit me. He said there goes my toys. I just looked at him wierd and he explained that he was active outdoors with them, so I never thought about it again. I spent most of my time at work. I held 2 jobs in order to provide for the family while my ex-husbands job gave him the flexibility to stay home with the children. It was not till after I had my ex-husband arrested for molesting a young girl placed in my home did I find out that he was rearrested for aggrevated sexual assualt on these three little boys. I could not believe that I was married to a monster. I was horrified. As a survivor of sexual abuse I could have sworn that I would know the signs. Just like I noticed a change in behavior in the little girl weeks before I discovered what my ex was doing, I noticed the behaviors in the boys changing weeks before they moved out. When I caught him molesting that little girl in my home a couple of weeks before Christmas in 1998,I thought back to the changes in behavior and hated myself becuase I could not put the two together. I would have never thought the the man I trusted with myself, my own children and my foster children would ever do such a thing.

After his arrest, I turned to DCF for help as well because knowing that he had done such a terrible life changing thing had affected me, my kids and possibly all the kids placed with us in such a way that I new my family needed counseling. It was not until after his arrest did my own children start to reveal physical abuse. But DCF said the only way they can help me or my children was if my children were a ward of the state. After hearing what happened to most of the kids placed with us and then knowing what happened in my own to some of those children, there was no way I was going to let that happen. I live with the guilt that I was not able to protect the children that were placed in my home every day of my life. I have never married again because I could not trust another man to come into my home and harm any one of my children again. Now that my children are adults, I still cannot and will not trust a man because of fear that he will hurt my grandchildren. I had to turn down my niece to care for here children because I was afraid I could not keep them from harm.

I have often wondered about the little girl and the 3 boys he molested and wondered how they are doing today. I have often prayed that God help them with this terrible sin this monster has committed against them. I know that Jorge and Debbie have written another article in 2002 explaining the horrific details of what they were going through as a result of the crimes committed against those boys. Back then, I could not stop my self from crying and wishing if I had only known, I could have done something to prevent it. Today, my adult children came across this article and were afraid to tell me about it because they know how I have blammed myself over the years for failing to protect these children. I thought I had coped with it, but after reading this article, the memories came back and the damage that has been done to these kids still haunt me. I am so sorry to Debbie and Jorge for all of it. I wish I had disclosed to you what I did know. Maybe I could have prevented some of your pain. I am so sorry that my ex turned out to be one of the monsters that hurt those little boys. I am sorry that his actions has turned those little boys to what they are today. You certainly do not deserve all that has happened to you, you opened up your hearts, your love and your home to provide them with something that they never had. I pray that some how some way God will help the boys finally find peace and closure and that God will bless you with the family you always dreamed of having with those boys. I am truely sorry.

izzie wigelsworth
izzie wigelsworth

I am wondering why these boys could not be charged with crimes and incarcerated for the various things they have done....wouldnt the chicken blood incident be attempted murder ...isnt there soem assault charges or animal cruelty in there somewhere.I is frighten to think that these young men havent been charged with anything.I feel bad fo rthem...the system is horrid and they were victims over and over again but does that give them lisence to terrorize innocent people and carry on this insame legacy their birth mother left them....will they be allowed to kill this couple or their other son(I REALLY feel bad for him!!!) just because of the sins committed against them!?!?!?

MARIA
MARIA

those kids human they've had a real bad past, the parents that adopted them saved them from my step father, he was a cruel man that deserves what he gets. My mother was always wondering why they were acting out so much. It wasn't cause they were bad back then they didn't no how to tell my mother what was going on and nether did we when we saw him we always yelling at them for no reason. He had a way of strickin fear into us to make us obey. my mother never new cause she wasnt home she had to work to take care of us and me and my brothers were too scared to admit anything. We never new about sexual abuse but we new about the physical cause we were around when he just used to get mad at mathewand brian. So please dont say there not human the just been abused for so long that they no longer no whats right or whats wrong. THE WORLD KINDDA OWES THEM SOMETHING FOR NEVER HELPING UNTIL IT WAS TO LATE.!!!! I HOPE MY STEP FATHER ROTTES IN JAIL FOR WHAT HE DID!!

Jessie McVicar
Jessie McVicar

I am part of a class action lawsuit against the government for just this topic and from what i understand their are a large number of adoptees getting ready to sue as well.

The one comment above where the peon said those kids deserve to be done away with for the good of society...I bet your a CPS worker..... if not you would make a good one as that is the attitude they have for the most part..

Out of 35 kids I knew and grew up with in foster care... 5 of us are alive today the rest died at the hands of foster care...

Adoption is disgusting and foster care... I just lack the words needed to describe such a savage and barbaric practice...

I can only hope we move past this savage brainless solution to foster care... but from what I see from people.. it will be us who were in the system and lucky enough to survive that will make that happen... by reading this story and posts all I see is "me me me me" and pointing fingers everywhere but where they belong.. the government and those who stand to profit from this disturbing thing people have come to call "In the best interests of the children"

If you support adoption and foster care you need to get your heads checked..

Jessie McVicar
Jessie McVicar

I can honestly say I felt the same as those boys did. I was stolen (Right or wrong) then the people who stole me abused me and I share those boys experience. I turned violent, sadistic and I wanted to hurt everyone. But on top to be sent away for this and for that... I probably would have gone insane too. But what do you do?

Well you make sure the system is not worse then abusive parents .... and it is... I know 10 years 13 homes not sure how mnay group homes.. and adoptive homes.. but the more you go threw this the worse you become... a child living in foster care is acting on pure instinct.... I know.. Everyone I hurt i hurt as in my mind I thought I needed to get them before they got me... and the truth was... it was true.. that was how it became instinct...

People tend not to think about how or why this kids act out but blame on on pasts and what not when the reality is...We feel like prisoners... we are prisoners... Even as an adult becuase I was in foster care I can never have a child.. or they will use my file agasint me and put my child in foster care/adoption.... as the system knows what they are creating.... and know most kids who grow up in care gert screwed right up and 8 out of 10 times can become a threat to their own children... In my case I was a threat to government if I spoke out or told people what was done to me in care.. I spoke out and now my son is forever gone.

I am not sure why I did not share my peers fate of violence crime hate and hurting people.. I went the other way... But what sets me apart from others...?

I took off from foster care and hid on the streets... therefore ending the abuse and insanity that comes when rich people want to play hero's but truly suck at it...

I don't feel pitty for the family who took them... I feel sorry for the kids... once the system touched them it was all over... and they will pay for the systems mistakes for the rest of their lives.. like I do now every time I close my eyes...

And it will be the kids that will have the fingers pointed at them... for being who they are... AND NOT THE GOVERNMENT WHO IS 100% responsible.... but will it stop? Nope the government just moves on to the next child... while asking the federal governments for more money...

Had my parents actually abused me like what the reports said... I would remember.. I remember everything.. that is the price to pay for having a photographic memory..

So when you read these reports that the bio-parents are responsible for children's behavior while in foster care.. don't believe it..

It's foster care it's self that fucks up us... as you read here some times beyond repair.... like these boys..

All I have to say is you want to adopt and foster? then be ready... when we come to you from with in the system... you are our enemy... because our friends would not hurt us, lie to us and take our parents from us... separating children from parents really really screws children up...... so you play with fire your gonna get burned... I just feel sorry for the kids... they will pay for these peoples mistakes for the rest of their lives... and the kids will end up getting all the blame while the system just moves onto the next poor family not able to defend themselves in court... while the rich just keep getting richer and adopting other peoples children... only it's been proven.. when you adopt you got q 50/50 chance of adopting a stolen child and not one who was in need of protection.... But by the looks of things after the system "protects" them they still are still in need of protection from the greedy, corrupt, heartless, abusive broken system run by the upper-class and their cronies...

If poverty had been eliminated like it was supposed to be none of this would be happening...

Jessie McVicar
Jessie McVicar

I can honestly say I felt the same as those boys did. I was stolen (Right or wrong) then the people who stole me abused me and I share those boys experience. I turned violent, sadistic and I wanted to hurt everyone. But on top to be sent away for this and for that... I probably would have gone insane too. But what do you do?

Well you make sure the system is not worse then abusive parents .... and it is... I know 10 years 13 homes not sure how mnay group homes.. and adoptive homes.. but the more you go threw this the worse you become... a child living in foster care is acting on pure instinct.... I know.. Everyone I hurt i hurt as in my mind I thought I needed to get them before they got me... and the truth was... it was true.. that was how it became instinct...

People tend not to think about how or why this kids act out but blame on on pasts and what not when the reality is...We feel like prisoners... we are prisoners... Even as an adult becuase I was in foster care I can never have a child.. or they will use my file agasint me and put my child in foster care/adoption.... as the system knows what they are creating.... and know most kids who grow up in care gert screwed right up and 8 out of 10 times can become a threat to their own children... In my case I was a threat to government if I spoke out or told people what was done to me in care.. I spoke out and now my son is forever gone.

I am not sure why I did not share my peers fate of violence crime hate and hurting people.. I went the other way... But what sets me apart from others...?

I took off from foster care and hid on the streets... therefore ending the abuse and insanity that comes when rich people want to play hero's but truly suck at it...

I don't feel pitty for the family who took them... I feel sorry for the kids... once the system touched them it was all over... and they will pay for the systems mistakes for the rest of their lives.. like I do now every time I close my eyes...

And it will be the kids that will have the fingers pointed at them... for being who they are... AND NOT THE GOVERNMENT WHO IS 100% responsible.... but will it stop? Nope the government just moves on to the next child... while asking the federal governments for more money...

Had my parents actually abused me like what the reports said... I would remember.. I remember everything.. that is the price to pay for having a photographic memory..

So when you read these reports that the bio-parents are responsible for children's behavior while in foster care.. don't believe it..

It's foster care it's self that fucks up us... as you read here some times beyond repair.... like these boys..

All I have to say is you want to adopt and foster? then be ready... when we come to you from with in the system... you are our enemy... because our friends would not hurt us, lie to us and take our parents from us... separating children from parents really really screws children up...... so you play with fire your gonna get burned... I just feel sorry for the kids... they will pay for these peoples mistakes for the rest of their lives... and the kids will end up getting all the blame while the system just moves onto the next poor family not able to defend themselves in court... while the rich just keep getting richer and adopting other peoples children... only it's been proven.. when you adopt you got q 50/50 chance of adopting a stolen child and not one who was in need of protection.... But by the looks of things after the system "protects" them they still are still in need of protection from the greedy, corrupt, heartless, abusive broken system run by the upper-class and their cronies...

If poverty had been eliminated like it was supposed to be none of this would be happening...

DAVIL
DAVIL

The records given to the parents stated the boys had only mild to moderate behavior problems!~! The adoptive parents were not given any of the boys' records showing sexual acting out or violent behavior!~ !~!~and The years of documented abuse in Florida's foster care includes being caged, starved, beaten, gagged and ritualistically and sexually abused~!~1`1`!~!and in #��BIGBISEXUAL.C O M��!~!# you can see more !~!

R
R

My heart aches for this family. My parents adopted a child through DCF in late 1970s who was later diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, although at the time he was referred to as an "unbonded child." He displayed many of the same behaviors detailed in this story (food hording, poisoning both of my parents, killing pets, hiding weapons, physical attacks, threatening/planning to kill both parents, setting fires, etc.). My parents pursued many of the same treatment options. DCF also pressured my parents to adopt quickly, and later met their requests for treatment assistance with the "he's yours now" attitude. I was disturbed to see that DCF's practices have not changed over the last 30 years.

While it may seem hopeless - and it very well may be - I do have the following words of encouragment: my brother is now 35, and he has become a close and loving member of our family. This did not happen until his mid-20s. Between 18-24, he had only minimal contact with my parents. He doesn't maintain romantic relationships (he was also sexually abused as a baby), and has difficulty staying employed for more than a year or two with the same company. He also doesn't miss a family event, he shows genuine affection, and visits my now retired parents regularly. In our eyes, he is an amazing success.

KP Ryan
KP Ryan

Terrible all around. These boys' lives are forever ruined by adults who used them as toys.

And in its wisdom, the Supreme Court claims sexual deviants who abuse children should not be killed. Yet the abusers of these boys left 3 who would have likely been better off killed by their tormentors, rather than left to rot as adults.

Riley
Riley

Debbie and Jorge-- the only thing to say about your dedication is don't let this stop you. Don't let this jade you. There -are- kids out there who can use loving, wonderful people like you, and not all of them are going to threaten to kill you (we hope). It's worrying to me, though, that this is out there. My husband and I are not going to have biological children. We feel that there are too many children who need positive influences in foster care and could benefit from 'having a safe place' that they can always return to, even just for visits, where we're their extended family, as it were. It's scary that we could foster and this could be the same situation for us; the suffering and pain you have all gone through (you two and your eldest) is something I cannot even grasp. I have always felt that I did not want to have my own children biologically when I could foster and help make the system a -little- better... but reading this is discouraging as Michigan's foster system isn't much better, frankly (try googling the story of Ricky Holland), and it makes a fear seat itself deep inside my heart that something like this could fall upon us. It is an act of selflessness and dedication to be a good, proper foster or adoptive parent; to be the type of household where someone can look back fondly and say, 'you know, those people aren't so bad,'- I just hope this doesn't kill your drive to continue being a light of hope for children.

Samantha
Samantha

I just thought of one other thing, these boys I'm sure acted out sexually, and the behavior only briefly alluded to in the article regarding their contact with other playmates I'm sure involved some kind of sexual abuse. They also acted out on each other. What am I getting at? If charges can be pressed and they are convicted, they'll be sexual offenders for life, and can at least be registered and tracked. They'll also be prohibited from being around children, which means they'll less likely abuse the children of a single mom they hook up with. The future is horrifying to me. It's time to stop thinking about them and think about the welfare of young women they might meet, and children in the future. I have no idea why no parent has pressed charges by now, but it's time to stop covering up and protecting them. I'm sorry, that's just the way I see it.

Samantha
Samantha

Debbie, you are a saint for all you attempted to do with these children. I'm sorry to say, but they are twisted beyond repair. In my opinion, they may get to a point where they are no longer a danger to others, but that will only be after years more of therapy. It scares me that the article said that at 18 they can check themselves out. How? I don't understand why they wouldn't get a psych eval at 18, be diagnosed as violent sociopaths, and be committed. They also admitted to criminal behavior, and if it comes down to pressing charges (for poisoning you, breaking your jaw and killing the horses) I would do it, to keep them behind four walls. I don't know what they did at various military academys and such but I'll bet that was criminal behavior as well. It's time to press charges, honestly. If these boys get out, they will kill somebody. They are mensa members, violent people with genius IQ's. They can rack up dozens of bodies before anyone notices. They can bury people alive in the backyard and no one will know. Something needs to be done.

Chelsea
Chelsea

God Bless you and your husband for not abandoning these children. Someday perhaps they will vanquish the inner demons and find some semblance of peace.

Amy
Amy

What a sad and difficult reality this couple wakes up to each morning. I don't understand why the State of Florida, who has admitted failing this family, feels okay with the settlement being on paper, feels okay with letting the bill sit in the legislature and feels okay with letting this couple go uncompensated another day. Quit failing this family and pass the legislation to give them the money needed to properly care for these boys. I am a mother of 3 daughters and anyone who is a parent knows that we have to teach our children about sexual predators. Almost everyday we hear or read the news about a young woman/girl being kidnapped, murdered. I read recently that when sexually abused boys go untreated society will suffer the consequences thru various crimes including more sexual abuse. I also read that one third of juvenile delinquents, 40% of sexual offenders and 76% of serial rapists report that they were sexually abused as children. How dare DCF and the State of Florida put its citizens at greater and greater risk by not providing sexually abused children in their care with the best treatment possible. I wonder how much we as taxpayers pay monetaritly for the incarcerated pedifiles and serial rapists not to mention what we pay as a society in the human cost of suffering. I am sure it's way more than the millions due this couple.

Penny E.
Penny E.

Debby, God bless you and your husband and do not be disheartened by some of the comments posted here. I was in Children's Services for years in varying capacities in Broward County, Fla. I appreciate the intent of the foster care program...i.e. a home atmosphere for children...but, in the overall picture, I often questioned why "we" did not return to the orphanages of the past. Sounds cruel does it not? Well, when one is first hand witness to children being shuffled around like a deck of cards, or being abusedin a licensed home after being removed from there natural parents because of extreme neglect or abuse, it is an eye-opener. The children lose the fragile trust they have in others. And often display so many ill behaviors that it is understandable why the best intended and equipped licensed subsequent foster or adoptive parents can no longer care for them. I often said "this is a overall deplorable situation." Not in every case but in far too many cases. Our ability to bond is our link to humanity. At least in orphanages versus foster care, the caretaking would be more monitored. Children would have stability of environment. The staff would be professionally trained and have a better support system with more resource availabity. There could be a close network of different disciplines involved with the child...caretakers, therapists,physicians, educators. Closed circuit monitors would record the daily operation of the living environment.

I am not the only longtime social worker who feels as I do.And, I know there are numerous loving and nurturing foster parents. Overall, though, I do feel we threw out the child when we threw out the bathwater so to speak. That is, when with the information we now have as to even just the detriment of moving children from one caretaker to another; with our idealic view of foster parenting often being crushed; with the modernization of abilities to monitor care; and certainly, with all the knowledge of a need for psychological care for all these children, the return to the orphanage concept should be explored. But let's call it another name but orphanage, for sure.

Bless you and your husband and the many other wonderful nurturers who are or ever have been a part of the system.And my heart breaks for all the kids who are or who ever have been part of the system as it indicates that at one point in their life..and hopefully, it was only prior to placement..they did not get the care they so much deserved.

Debbie
Debbie

To help answer some of the questions asked in the comments...

Florida's Department of Children and Families hid from the adoptive parents all of the abuse that happened to these boys while they were in state care. It was years later (and only with legal help) that boxes of information including police abuse reports were seen by the parents for the first time.

The children entered Florida's foster care as a newborn, a one and a two year old. The boys were adopted as a six, five and almost four year old. The years of documented abuse in Florida's foster care includes being caged, starved, beaten, gagged and ritualistically and sexually abused. Even when the boys' last foster father was arrested for raping a child, DCF did not inform the adoptive parents.

The adoptive parents were told by DCF that there may have been abuse years ago by the biological parents, but the boys had been safely in foster care since they were very, very young and had no memory of it. The records given to the parents stated the boys had only mild to moderate behavior problems. The adoptive parents were not given any of the boys' records showing sexual acting out or violent behavior.

The decision to adopt from DCF was not a rushed one by the parents. They waited five years after adopting their first child while the adoptive mother worked as a school principal. They then spent months taking the DCF parent training class, were screened and had background checks completed and then had a home study completed.

Before the parents were given information about these boys they turned down two other sets of children because they thought their behavior problems were too severe. After receiving information about the three brothers, records show that the adoption was rushed by DCF and not the parents. The adoptive parents had no reason at the time not to trust DCF or the information they had received.

The severe behavior (including violent and sexual behavior) did not start or was not discovered until after the adoption. Like most foster children in a new situation, there was a "honeymoon" period of better behavior. At first the boys were relieved to be in a safe environment with plenty of food and toys to play with. The parents were told that the children just needed love, boundaries and social skills and that they were making excellent progress.

No rational person would knowingly become involved with such disturbed children. Any person who decides to adopt a foster child has the right to know exactly what they could be facing.

All available information about these boys should have been given to the adoptive parents before they even met the children, and long before the adoption so they could make an informed decision. Instead, DCF spent years hiding information and more years refusing to help children they admit were "badly damaged in our care".

It must be said that after the adoption, once DCF started hearing about the boys� behavior in the new home (but long before there was a legal case), threats and intimidation were the next step. Calls looking for "dirt" on the adoptive family were made, including to the children�s therapist. It was also made clear that the adoptive parents could be charged by law enforcement with abandonment if they tried to return the children to DCF.

How do I know this... I am the adoptive mother.

Debbie
Debbie

To help answer some of the questions asked in the comments...

Florida's Department of Children and Families hid from the adoptive parents all of the abuse that happened to these boys while they were in state care. It was years later (and only with legal help) that boxes of information including police abuse reports were seen by the parents for the first time.

The children entered Florida's foster care as a newborn, a one and a two year old. The boys were adopted as a six, five and almost four year old. The years of documented abuse in Florida's foster care includes being caged, starved, beaten, gagged and ritualistically and sexually abused. Even when the boys' last foster father was arrested for raping a child, DCF did not inform the adoptive parents.

The adoptive parents were told by DCF that there may have been abuse years ago by the biological parents, but the boys had been safely in foster care since they were very, very young and had no memory of it. The records given to the parents stated the boys had only mild to moderate behavior problems. The adoptive parents were not given any of the boys' records showing sexual acting out or violent behavior.

The decision to adopt from DCF was not a rushed one by the parents. They waited five years after adopting their first child while the adoptive mother worked as a school principal. They then spent months taking the DCF parent training class, were screened and had background checks completed and then had a home study completed.

Before the parents were given information about these boys they turned down two other sets of children because they thought their behavior problems were too severe. After receiving information about the three brothers, records show that the adoption was rushed by DCF and not the parents. The adoptive parents had no reason at the time not to trust DCF or the information they had received.

The severe behavior (including violent and sexual behavior) did not start or was not discovered until after the adoption. Like most foster children in a new situation, there was a "honeymoon" period of better behavior. At first the boys were relieved to be in a safe environment with plenty of food and toys to play with. The parents were told that the children just needed love, boundaries and social skills and that they were making excellent progress.

No rational person would knowingly become involved with such disturbed children. Any person who decides to adopt a foster child has the right to know exactly what they could be facing. All available information about these boys should have been given to the adoptive parents before they even met the children, and long before the adoption. Instead, DCF spent years hiding information and more years refusing to help children they admit were "badly damaged in our care".

It must be said that after the adoption, once DCF started hearing about the boys� behavior in the new home (but long before there was a legal case), threats and intimidation were the next step. Calls looking for "dirt" on the adoptive family were made, including to the children�s therapist. It was also made clear that the adoptive parents could be charged by law enforcement with abandonment if they tried to return the children to DCF.

How do I know this... I am the adoptive mother.

f. shadow
f. shadow

The story was riveting but a number of very important questions were not addressed.What was the hurry? Were these kids presented like a New York rent control apartment? Were there other people waiting in the wings to scoop them up? We take more time and are more judicious about choosing a car or a puppy. We have our mechanic check out the car and we might ask to look at maintenance records. With the puppy we want to see the sire, dam, litter mates, and question the socialization process.This was a major life decision that would take up the better part of two decades. It is inconceivable that anyone could act so hastily.Unless, religion enters the picture. Perhaps the youth minister felt that a divine presence was involved with these particular children crossing his path. A true believer might feel it was destiny and heaven sent. That would explain the rapid adoption and even the overlooking of the horrific manifestations of behavior.The author did not fill in the blanks so I offer this explanation.

Thom Debord
Thom Debord

Shattering story. Assuming there's not some deep dark secret that the adopted parents are hiding (and there could be; one should instinctively distrust anybody with such strong ties to a church community), the situation seems terminal. This Rosa dude is obviously fucked up in some way that he is powerless to address, which led to these kids being fucked up in some even more profound and unfixable way, which has in turn potentially ruined the lives of this well-meaning couple. They're probably doing the right thing by getting these kids committed, but doing the right thing is no guarantor of success. All they can do is keep tinkering, trying new things, hoping for the best even though all signs point toward the inevitability of the worst. Miserable situation, and best wishes to the parents. Congrats to the author, too, for rendering the story so elegantly. - TD

Ralph Williams
Ralph Williams

Those "children" are not human. They don't have emotion. They need to be put down for the good of society.

Benny
Benny

It's sad, but I see a lot of older men who are afraid to "come out" after being raised in an atmosphere of unwritten gender-identity rules and old-tyme religion. I know that for me it was a challenge to face my fears about faith and god and the ways we accept or reject ourselves, but I'm young. It saddens me to see men who've spent their whole life trying to cover-up a compulsive, barely awknowledged, and yet incredibly rich and complex side of themselves. It's not a sin to be left-handed, but it may be a sin to always be writing with the right hand just to keep the "love" of those close to you. It's a sin because that isn't real love; it's fear. Don't betray yourself in order to not betray another. That is the highest betrayal. BiLoves.com is a good place for people to come out.

 
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