How Could You? Hall of Shame-Reece’s Rainbow Ukrainian Adoptee Selah Clanton case UPDATED
This will be an archive of heinous actions by those involved in child welfare, foster care and adoption. We forewarn you that these are deeply disturbing stories that may involve sex abuse, murder, kidnapping and other horrendous actions.
For the benefit of the expected new readers to our website and How Could You? series, cases are placed here when any publicized (in media or government report) foster or adopted child, adoptive parent, or person working with foster or adoptive youth has experienced or allegedly committed a crime and/or been injured in alleged neglect which includes events that may eventually be classified as accidents. The reasons for this archive include enumerating cases by year and type as well as proposing child welfare changes to systems to prevent these actions.
From Rochester, New York, on August 15, 2012, Selah Clanton,8,a newly-adopted special needs child from Reece’s Rainbow Ukraine program ,was strapped into a double stroller with her brother (also an 8 year old disabled child, biological to her adoptive parents) when her adoptive father Jon paused near the Erie Canal . They were visiting from Florida for medical procedures for more than one of their children. The family blog states that Jon is pastor of a rural church and they have 2 biological children and 3 adopted children. One is a special needs son from China and the two girls were recently adopted from Reece’s Rainbow ministry in Ukraine.
The family blog states “[Jon]stopped for a minute on a level surface, to check the time on his phone & the stroller rolled into the Erie Canal.” The stroller rolled down a 10-foot embankment into the canal. As Jon dove in to save them, a bystander ran into the nearby park and “on a bicycle, sped to the Roundhouse Shelter in Genesee Valley Park where a group of first-year University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry students were taking part in a community service event that doubled as a “get to know you” picnic for the students, who began classes just three days before.
“There are people in the water, they are in trouble, and I can’t swim,” Michael Wentzel, a spokesman for the University of Rochester Medical Center, recalled the witness telling the students.
Lindsay Wahl, Sarah Nevarez and Bridget Hughes stepped forward and ran with Dr. David Lambert, senior associate dean of medical education, to the water. They couldn’t find the three in the water at first; they’d floated some distance down the canal.
When they did locate the Clantons, Hughes, 22, of Williamsville and Wahl, 23, an accomplished swimmer from Pittsford Sutherland High School who is also trained as an emergency medical technician, jumped into the water and swam to the stroller and to Clanton.
Wahl was able to remove Sam and swim with him to the steep wall.
By then, Dondorfer, a cardiopulmonary resuscitation trainer at the police academy, was waiting and took the child.
He performed mouth-to-mouth on the boy and was able to get him breathing again, said Sgt. Justin Collins.
Nearby, Hughes and Clanton worked toward getting Selah up to the path where Lambert, Nevarez, 25, also of Pittsford, and Alliet, were waiting.
That rescue proved more difficult because Selah was strapped into the overturned stroller and because her location was near a large cement wall with a lot of foliage, officials said.
Eventually, with the additional help of Rural/Metro Ambulance Services personnel and firefighters, they were pulled from the water.
Both children were injured, having spent considerable time underwater while in the stroller, officers said, ” according to Democrat and Chronicle.
Democrat and Chronicle also states that “dozens of police officers, firefighters and Rural/Metro were on scene for several hours after the event.
Among those investigating was a team from the department’s homicide investigation unit. Police would not elaborate on the team’s role in the investigation, but said it was standard procedure for an incident of this nature.”
The family has issued a public thanks to those medical students and police officers who risked their lives to save the children.
Sam, the biological child, is out of the hospital and expected to make a full recovery.
Selah, the adoptee, is still comatose on August 29, 2012. Her family’s blog details her challenges. Media articles also discuss these details such as if she overcomes a serious infection (MRSA), she would need a feeding tube and trach tube to breathe-items not needed prior to this incident.
[Democrat and Chronicle 8/15/12 by John Hand]
[Your News Now 8/16/12 by Seth Voorhees]
Zephyrhills pastor loses stroller, children roll into N.Y. canal
[Bay News 9 8/17/12]
[The Global Dispatch 8/20/12 by Brandon Jones]
[The Tampa Tribune 8/23/12 by Ronnie Blair]
[ABC Action News 8/26/12 by Jacqueline Ingles]
REFORM Puzzle Pieces
In this case, placing two special needs children at once again needs to be looked at as does the entire operation of Reece’s Rainbow. We are firmly against this placing policy and discuss it in depth in this post which also discusses Reece’s Rainbow. I don’t want to hear about how this situation was “God’s will.”
We would be remiss if we did not mention Nicolai Emelyantsev’s death case from Reece’s Rainbow [Pound Pup Legacy case file]when it comes to a continuation of no accountability.
Update: According to the family’s blog, Selah did have a trach tube and feeding tube placed and has had som etype of corneal response but still is having swings in blood pressure. They are encouraging others to internationally adopt and mention that they originally wanted to adopt 3 more kids before this incident.
“Doctors have told Jon and Yvonne Clanton that the progress their daughter has made to this point is probably all they can expect.
When Selah and Sam, both 8, fell into the canal last month, her parents say Selah was underwater for 30 minutes.
“She suffered more and her heartbeat prevented more, therefore the brain damage occurred to a greater degree,” Jon Clanton says.
Sam is fine. His parents say he’s back to the little boy he was before the stroller he and Selah were riding in accidentally fell into the canal.
“There’s times I lean over the bed when I’m alone with Selah in that hospital room and I say honey, I’m sorry… Daddy loves you Selah,” Jon says. “My wife and I are on the same page when it comes to our faith in Jesus Christ. We know one day healing will come– full healing.”
Now that Selah is breathing on her own, the family is making plans to return to Florida sometime in the next month or so. They’ll be transferring her to a hospital there.
“She’ll be there for awhile then we’ll have to figure out how we’re going to rearrange our home. We have a little house. She has to have her own room where she can have nursing care.There will be some nursing care involved,” Yvonne says.
This has been a tough ordeal for the family, and they have mixed emotions about leaving Rochester. They say the outpouring of love has been tremendous. The family is preparing for the long road ahead, and the promise they made when they adopted Selah and their other daughter Sarah.
“If I didn’t believe in eternity, if I didn’t believe life is but a vapor, yeah I would definitely want to throw in the towel and run as far as I could because it’s hard,” says Yvonne. “Our promise to the judge in the Ukraine was that we would love these little children and care for them their whole life and we will not break our promise or change our promise.”
The Clantons recounted many of the ways the Rochester community has supported them, from letters and cards to a shopping spree for the whole family at Macy’s because they had only brought shorts and summer clothes on their trip to Rochester. One night while having dinner at a local restaurant another family paid for their dinner. That’s just some of the kindness the family shared with News10NBC.
Their only request is for your continued prayers for Selah.”
“The Good Samaritans who helped to pull two young children from the Erie Canal last month are being honored.
Medical students Lindsay Wahl, Sarah Nevaraz and Bridget Hughes, along with U of R professor Dr. David Lambert and Rochester Police Officers Paul Dondorfer and Adam Alliet will receive the third annual Camp Good Days and Special Times “Courage Award.”
The award is part of the Camp’s Courage Bowl.
The group pulled the two 8-year-olds, Sam and Selah Clanton, to safety after the stroller they were in accidentally rolled into the canal.
Sam has recovered but his sister, Selah, suffered brain damage and has been at Golisano Children’s Hospital since.
The group of honorees will receive the award during the Courage Bowl football game this Saturday[September 15, 2012]”
“During their trip in August, Jon was walking with his daughter, 8-year-old Selah and son, 8-year-old Sam in a stroller along the Erie Canal behind the Ronald McDonald House. However, the stroller got away from him and went into the canal.
Jon jumped into the water trying to hold his children above the surface. Three U of R medical students came to the rescue after they jumped in to save the children. They grabbed the children and performed CPR until medics got to the scene.
“They were willing to jump into an old, polluted canal and come to a man on a limb, holding a stroller,” says Jon. “Without hesitation, they swam to me and rescued my children. If they hadn’t we wouldn’t be here talking about what we’re going to do with our children.”
Sam suffered minor injuries but Selah’s injuries were grave. The Clantons say her heart had stopped for 30 minutes. Since the accident, she has had very little activity to her brain.
“We definitely miss her and [her siblings] miss her,” says Yvonne. “We’re coming to terms that life is going to be different, but it’s still going to be our life and we’re still going to go on. We’re going to make things as good for her has possible.”
Selah is able to breath on her own thanks to a tracheostomy, a surgical procedure which creates a hole in the windpipe.
Despite Selah’s severe nervous system injuries, the Clantons say they never worried about making a difficult decision. They plan to give Seleh the best life they can.
“We just know that God allowed her to live and we’re going to cultivate the life that’s in her to whatever is the fullest degree that’s possible for her,” says Yvonne.
Yvonne says her family may be able to go back to Florida with Selah next month. However, Yvonne says she gets nervous thinking about it. She says her family feels comforted at the Ronald McDonald House and that the medical care at U of R is unlike anything she can get back home.
“We kind of know what lies ahead, but that’s a little bit scary,” she says. “We’re in a rural area in Florida and we don’t have the resources that New York has.”
However, the Clantons can be comforted by at least one thought. When they get back home, they will move into a bigger home. Jon is a pastor at a local church and lives in a parsonage. Community members in Tampa and Zephyrhills have partnered up to build the family a bigger home that will help accommodate Selah’s new medical needs. The family is thrilled and grateful.
“Just to think that people were thinking about us and concerned… Wow,” says Yvonne. “That’s really something. That’s amazing.”
Despite the challenges that lie ahead, the Clantons know they will be able to go through it together.
“Our family has to stay together through thick and thin. That’s what love’s about.””
[WHAM 9/14/12 by Angela Hong]
“Yvonne and John Clanton say thier [sic]doctors tell them thier daughter Selah has recovered as much as she well.
Selah was mentally disabled, and sustained a traumatic brain injury when the stroller she was riding in, with her brother, went into the Erie Canal.
Her parents say they’re still holding on to thier[sic] faith, and hoping for a mircale [sic] to bring her back.
“We rescued that little girl from a mental institution,” said Selah’s father, John Clanton, “and then to lose her in that canal.”
Tragedy struck a little more than three months after John and Yvonne Clanton adopted Selah from the Ukraine. She sustained a traumatic brain injury when the stroller she was riding in fell into the Erie Canal. The accident took away the little communication skills she had, “she would kind of make little noises, and when she would do that, then you would do the same noise back and you would banter back and forth,” said John.
Even though she can no longer communicate, Selah’s parents say she can still hear them, “she does move her eyes down and look at me and make contact through her eyes and so that’s what we cherish that’s all we have,” explained John.
The Clanton’s say thier [sic]heavy hearts outweigh their fear of adjusting to caring for Selah, “I really don’t know how everything’s going to work out when we get home,” said Selah’s mother, Yvonne Clanton, “but I know that we’ll learn and do what we have to do, but it’s just that she has to lay there”
As they come to terms with a new life, they’re still holding on to hope for a breakthrough, “even though things look as bleak neurologically as they do you know we still just ask that people pray for her,” said Yvonne, “and that maybe god will have mercy and do a miracle for her.”
John, Yvonne, and thier family have been staying at Rochester’s Ronald McDonald House for the past five years as they have made many visits to Strong Hospital.
They say the support they get from the staff, and other families has really helped them get through this tough time.
They’re not sure when they’ll be able to take Selah back home to Florida.”
[This news station needs an editor! “thier” 3 times ? “mircale”? At least use spellcheck!]
[Rochester Homepage.net 9/18/12 by Vanessa Herring]