The front page of The New York Times carries a story about a simple preacher from Tennessee, Michael Pearl, who with his wife, Debi, has sold more than 670,000 copies of his self-published book, To Train Up a Child. Train is another word for corporal punishment. Christian websites and magazines are all atwitter over To Train Up a Child. They love it, and so do, apparently, parents who home school their children.
Trouble is, some kids in families who have To Train Up a Child are dying because the use of the rod (and switch, and a quarter-inch plumbing line that can be rolled up and carried in one's pocket for immediate use). And you know what? The ones reported on the Times piece are all: Adopted. Many from Africa.
"In the latest case, Larry and Carri Williams of Sedro-Woolley, Washington were home schooling their six children when they adopted a boy and a girl from Ethiopia in 2008. (Ed: Now they have eight.) The two were seen by their new parents as rebellious, according to friends.
"Late one night in May this year, the adopted girl. Hana, was found face down, naked and emaciated in the backyard; her death was caused by hypothermia and malnutrition, officials determined. According to the sheriff's report, her parents had deprived her of food for days at a time and had made her sleep in a cold barn or a closet, and shower outside with a hose. And they often whipped her, leaving marks on her legs. The mother had praised the Pearls' book and given a copy to a friend, the sheriff's report said. Hana had been beaten the day of her death...with the 15-inch plastic tube recommended by Mr. Pearl."
|Hana Williams in a happy moment; her adoptive parents are charged with homicide|
BEATEN TO DEATHThe same kind of plumbing tube was reported to have been used to beat Lydia Schatz, 7, who was adopted at 4 from Liberia and died in Paradise, California in 2010. Her parents had the book, but ignored the Pearl's admonition not to use force to excess: Lydia was whipped for hours, with pauses for prayer. She died from severe tissue damage, and her older sister had to be hospitalized. (No mention whether she also is adopted. And I could not help but note the sad irony of their town, Paradise.) The Schatzs were home schooling nine children, three of them adopted. They are now serving long prison terms after Lydia's adoptive father, Kevin Schatz, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and torture, and Elizabeth Schatz to voluntary manslaughter and unlawful corporal punishment.
To Train Up a Child also came up in the trial of Lynn Paddock of Johnson Country, North Carolina, who was convicted of first-degree murder of Sean Paddock, 4, in 2006. The Paddocks had adopted six American children, some with emotional problems, and turned to the Internet to find the Pearls' website, Ms. Paddock said. Sean suffocated after being wrapped tightly in a blanket. His siblings testified that they were beaten daily with the...same plumbing tube.
Through the book and video sales, and donations the Pearls' No Greater Joy Ministries has brought in $1.7 million a year, which they say goes "back to the cause." No further explanation to what cause is offered.
STRANGERS IN A STRANGE LAND
The Times piece ends with a quote from an adoptive mother in Portland, Me, who has two adopted children from Ethiopia. "These children have been ripped from their home country, extended family, culture and language," said Lisa Veleff Day. "The last thing they need is to be smacked around."
All the deaths associated with this awful book were of children who were not the biological issue of the people raising them. I know parents sometimes do beat their own children to death, or starve them; but it is the unusual parent who does that. Here we have grownups beating and starving children who were adopted presumably for a better life. Additional commentary today is not necessary.--lorraine
Preaching Virtue of Spanking, Even as Deaths Fuel Debate
We have written about international adoption many times; for more stories, use the search tool at the very bottom of the page. Search for "corruption in international adoption," or a specific country you are interested in, or "Elizabeth Bartholet" or "E.J. Graff."
As a side note: One mother who read the blog on Didion's Blue Nights was offended because I used the word: natural, as in natural family. What other marginalized group gets such push back when they want to change what they are called? Only unreconstructed bigots used the N word, chauvinists used to call feminists dykes, but certainly those words were never heard from the liberals who insist that we are nothing but birth mothers who bear birth children. I suggest we start calling ourselves: the Not Artificial Mothers. That ought to get some blood boiling.