If you're up to getting your heart broken today, Slate.com has a (looong) thoughtful article that uses the case of Hana Williams, the Ethiopian girl fatally abused by her adoptive parents in Sedro-Woolley, as a launch point to investigate the trend of "American orphanages" in Western Washington (and in all probability, elsewhere). Families that adopt large numbers of orphans, often spurred on by their religious zeal, without understanding their new children's cultural background or social and emotional needs—to disastrous, damaging results. (Or maybe they're just sadistic shitbags who should never be put in positions of authority over any life forms, ever. Not even goldfish. Maybe mold, with good behavior.)
Whatever the case, the point is Hana's horrific home environment may not be an anomaly:
When he turned 12, problems grew worse and included what James describes as degrading and abusive physical punishment of Matt. There were sessions of sitting in place for as long as five hours, heavy chores, forced cold showers, and spankings with wooden spoons or belts. Matt says he was once duct-taped to his bed and was sometimes locked in his room or forcibly held on the floor by both parents, one sitting astride him while the other poked him forcefully in the chest—something he says the family called “Chinese torture” that may have been a form of “holding therapy,” a widely discredited treatment for attachment disorders that has gained popularity among some adoptive parents. During one such session, Matt says he blacked out and bit his mother; another time he leaped from his bedroom window and his parents had him hospitalized, claiming he’d attempted suicide. After he came home, Matt says he stayed locked in his room most of the time, eating little and excluded from the family, as his brothers and sisters weren’t allowed to talk to him. He fell into some bad habits in high school, had run-ins with the police over underage drinking and taking a friend’s car and sometimes “ran away” into the acres of land the family owned. Once, his father told him he wished he could kill him, and Matt ran away again. He says that soon thereafter, a judge removed him from the house for his own safety, transferring his legal guardianship to a friend’s mother. Yet another child, Tomas, left the family after their father asked him to reimburse the cost of his adoption.
Everyone seems to fail these children: their families, their adoption agencies, and the state.