How Could You? Hall of Shame-Former PA Deputy Atty General Douglas Barbour and Kristen Barbour 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.
From Wexford, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh-based Deputy Attorney General and Ethiopia Adoptive Parent Douglas B. Barbour, 33, and his wife Kristen B. Barbour,30, have been charged with two counts of child endangerment against their 6-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter. Each also received an aggravated assault charge against the daughter. Mr. Barbour was charged with simple assault against his son. The children were adopted from a “religious organization” in March 2012.
“”The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is in the process of reviewing the criminal complaint and will closely monitor the charges as they progress through the criminal justice system,” said a statement from state Attorney General Linda Kelly released Thursday night.
“Mr. Barbour faces a felony offense. Under OAG policy, he will be suspended without pay pending the resolution of the charges. At this time, our thoughts are with the children and the Office of Attorney General will cooperate fully with this investigation,” the statement reads.
Allegheny County police are leading the investigation.
The Barbours’ daughter is the victim of physical child abuse, including abusive head trauma [multiple skull fractures], according to Rachel Berger of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, whose examinations of the children was referenced in the criminal complaint.
Ms. Barbour told hospital personnel last month that their daughter has a history of banging her head, but the extent of her injuries and the fact that she had no underlying medical problem does not support that, Dr. Berger said in the complaint.
The Barbours’ 6-year-old son is “the victim of significant neglect and possible emotional abuse over a prolonged period of time,” Dr. Berger said in the complaint.
Doctors who evaluated the boy determined his skin lesions were likely the result of ongoing contact with urine. He was experiencing weight loss at home but ate voraciously and gained weight — without medical treatment — when fed at the hospital, according to hospital personnel cited in the complaint.
The boy told a doctor that when he soiled his pants, his parents would make him stand or eat dinner in the bathroom, according to the criminal complaint. Authorities noted his room contained no furnishings, decorations or window treatments: only a mattress on the floor with sheets.
Dr. Berger recommended the children be removed from the home and cease contact with their parents. She told authorities the Barbours’ daughter is likely to be reinjured or killed if she returns.
“I have been part of the Children Protection Team for almost 14 years and cannot remember the last time I recommended no contact,” she said in the complaint.”
Pa. deputy attorney general, wife charged with abuse of children
[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/5/12 by Molly Born]
“Deputy Attorney General Douglas Barbour, who works out of the Pittsburgh office, and his wife, Kristen, were arraigned Friday on charges stemming from the treatment of their children. The Franklin Park couple are scheduled for an Oct. 9 preliminary hearing.
Allegheny County police said they began an investigation after the children saw a doctor Sept. 14 and the boy was admitted to the hospital. A doctor since then has recommended that the children have no contact with their parents, particularly the girl who the doctor said could be injured again or die if she remains with the Barbours, according to court documents.”
“Chris Capozzi, a lawyer representing the Barbours, declined comment when the arrests were announced Thursday. He did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Friday after details emerged from court documents following the couple’s arraignment.
Both children, whose names were not released, went to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on Sept. 14 after the boy was taken to an urgent care center for hypothermia, rapid breathing and skin lesions, which a doctor later determined were caused by lengthy exposure to urine, court documents say. The boy was admitted to the hospital.
The girl was having difficulty breathing and her eyes were rolling back in her head; Dr. Rachel Berger found the toddler had multiple head fractures in various stages of healing, the documents say.”
“The boy weighed 47 pounds when he came to the U.S. from Ethiopia in March but 37.5 pounds when he was admitted to the hospital, police said. He gained nearly seven pounds during a six-day hospital stay, Berger told police.
When Douglas Barbour was told his son’s body temperature was 93.6 degrees, he reportedly asked: “Would that be from being in the bathroom, cold, wet and naked for an hour?”
Officials who questioned the boy were told he was forced to eat his meals in the bathroom or sometimes stand there in the dark if he soiled his pants.
Attorney General Linda Kelly said Douglas Barbour has been suspended without pay.
“Our thoughts are with the children, and the Office of Attorney General will cooperate fully with this investigation,” Kelly said.”
[WIVB 10/5/12 by Associated Press]
“According to investigators, the 18-month-old girl is at the Children’s Institute right now and that she may have suffered a stroke from the five different bone fractures and the injuries and that she may be permanently blind as a result.'”
The video also states that the 5 fractures on the daughter were old, healing fractures and that the 6year-old son stated that he was thrown to the ground and hit his head.
[KDKA CBS 10/4/12]
They are scheduled “for an Oct. 9 preliminary hearing.”
“The couple are currently out on bond. ” [WHY?Oh, that’s right Pennsylvania doesn’t give a rat’s behind about international adoptees with head injuries. See Nathaniel Craver case.]
State prosecutor and wife ‘abused adopted Ethiopian children found near death with skull fractures and bruises’
[Daily Mail 10/5/12]
REFORM Puzzle Pieces
Update: Based on internet searching, we believe that it is a strong possibility that the Barbours are the same as bloggers that go by the handle “Doug and Kristen”. Please let us know if it this is incorrect and we will update it.
They had an active blog and actively posted on other’s Ethiopia blogs since 2011. The blog name was calledtotrust.blogspot.com. Also connected to this blog is an Etsy site that still can be seen as of the time of this posting called MadeForAdoption. The link is http://www.etsy.com/shop/MadeForAdoption/policy . On the Etsy site, there is a photo of Kristen from Pittsburgh that we believe matched a picture of Kristen Barbour from a media story. She is white.That Etsy site was last updated March 23, 2012. The description is “My family is on the journey of adoption. We are bringing home 2 sweet Ethiopian children soon. This etsy shop is being used to raise more funds for our adoption, help other families finance adoptions, and help the orphans of the world.”
On other’s blogs, “Doug and Kristen” posted frequently about fundraising, discussed making and selling scarves and often used the phrase that others who were adopting were “Servants of the Lord”.
In one comment on an Ethiopia AP public blog on April 19, 2011 “Doug and Kristen” wrote “…Our family is in the adoption process (we just accepted referrals for 4yr old boy and 1 month old girl from Ethiopia – will soon publish to the world on our blog). Would be so blessed to be one of your featured families but we don’t have a fundraising to showcase at the moment – in the next few months we will (I am still crafting the products!). …” This description of the ages of the children matches the ages of the Barbour’s referred children that month.
You can also see a cached version of a February 2011 post from calledtotrust on the internet called “Homestudy and Dossier”. In that post, it identifies the homestudy agency as Bethany Christian Services and the placing agency as IAG (International Adoption Guides). You can see these two agency names attached to this blog if you Google exactly “calledtotrust bethany” (no spaces between calledtotrust).
Their blog description was “We are blessed beyond understanding. We are sinners, saved by grace and striving to serve the Lord daily. The Lord gave us a desire for orphans and has led us to adopt from Ethiopia. We are excited about this journey and how the Lord is working! The Lord does not call us to be comfortable, but to trust Him completely.”
A small update contains an interview with an “adoption consultant” from Los Angeles as follows:
“”Sally Amete, an adoption consultant in Los Angeles, told Bikyamasr.com that “there must be new regulations and post-adoption procedures in place that makes certain that the adoptive parents and children are finding their way.”
She added that “too often parents cannot manage the children because they have no experience.”
She argued that courses should be taken by prospective parents adopting children who have no children previously.
“We have seen this becoming all too regular in the US and it is something that we must fight against so these children do not end up in foster care,” she added.”
[Bikya Masr.com 10/7/12 by Brian Tersin]
Update 2: Hat tip to a reader who forwarded a cached blog entry dated January 9, 2012 from another family’s blog called Filled With Praise. Link as of this posting : here . I do not expect the post to remain up for very long so I will describe it here. It is a photo of the Barbour family with their two biological children who appear to be the same ages as the two they were adopting. (like a double-twinning) .The names of the referred children are visible in cards they are holding up but we will not mention the names unless the media prints them. The couple in this fundraising spotlight post explains that they were married in 2005 and that they only had to wait 2 weeks for their referrals. Their first court date was July 2011 and passed court in November 15, 2011. They were raising money for travel and final paperwork expenses in this posting.
Added: Another line that is important is that they claim that their court papers were lost and that is why the final court passing occurred in November. “Lost court papers” seems to be a common issue in adoptions with certain Ethiopia agencies. This is a red flag.
Update 3: “A Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General and his wife were scheduled to appear Tuesday in Leetsdale District Court, but the preliminary hearing for the Franklin Park couple has been postponed to Oct. 23.
Allegheny County and Franklin Park police charged Douglas Barbour, 33, and his wife, Kristen Barbour, 30, of Cole Road, last week with two counts each of endangering the welfare of children and one count each of aggravated assault. Douglas Barbour is also charged with simple assault, court documents show.
Barbour has been suspended from his state job without pay, Attorney General Linda Kelly said in a statement.
The couple is accused of abusing an 18-month old girl and 6-year-old boy they adopted from Ethiopia in March, according to a criminal complaint filed by county police.
An investigation began Sept. 29 after the children were treated at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, authorities said.
The couple posted 10 percent of $25,000 percentage bonds after their arraignments Friday morning and have retained a private attorney.”
[North Allegheny Patch 10/9/12 by Larissa Dudkiewicz]
Update 4: Typical!
“A judge says a state deputy attorney general and his wife can have supervised visits with their two young biological children, but not two adopted children from Ethiopia who the western Pennsylvania couple is charged with abusing.
Allegheny County prosecutors objected to any visits when 33-year-old Douglas Barbour and his wife, 30-year-old Kristen Barbour, appeared in court for a bond hearing Monday.
The couple was charged earlier this month with child endangerment and assault for not properly feeding their adopted 6-year-old son and head injuries suffered by their 18-month-daughter who, prosecutors say, will likely be blind and paralyzed because of a stroke she suffered as a result of the alleged abuse.
The couple will be allowed supervised visits with their biological children, ages 2 and 4, who have not been abused.”
[WFMJ 10/15/12 by Associated Press]
“Barbour has been suspended from his state job without pay, Attorney General Linda Kelly said in a statement after the couple’s arrest Oct. 4.
The Barbours were in court to ask for visitation and also to have their $25,000 bond reduced, the Post Gazette reported.
Judge Jeffrey A. Manning denied the bond reduction request, and said the parents would be permitted visitation only with the biological children, aged 2 and 4, but it must be approved by the judge who is presiding over the matter in family court, the PG reported.
There have been no allegations of abuse against those two children.
The boy was admitted to the Oakland hospital Sept. 14 after Douglas Barbour initially took him to a Children’s Hospital Express Care clinic in Wexford for treatment of a urinary tract infection, according to the complaint.
At the clinic, the boy’s body temperature was recorded as 93.6 degrees, prompting concerns about hypothermia, police said. According to the complaint. Douglas Barbour asked clinic workers, “Would that be from being in the bathroom, cold, wet and naked for an hour?”
A doctor at Express Care advised Barbour to take the boy immediately to Children’s Hospital, where he was admitted. At that time, his weight was recorded as about 37 pounds, according to the complaint. The boy’s weight had been recorded as 46 pounds, 8 ounces when he entered the United States in March.
Within five days of his admission to Children’s on Sept. 14, the boy gained 7 pounds without specific treatment other than being permitted to eat, police said. Investigators also noted that the boy suffered from skin lesions that doctors determined were caused by ongoing contact with urine.
At the same time the boy was being treated at Children’s on Sept. 14, Kristen Barbour called 911 from the couple’s home and asked for an ambulance, saying the girl’s eyes had rolled back in her head and that she was shaking and having difficulty breathing, police said in the complaint. An ambulance took the girl to Children’s, where Kristin Barbour told workers that the girl had a history of banging her head, according to the complaint.
The girl had not been ill recently, and police said they found no record of medical problems or emergency-room treatment involving her. Dr. Rachel Berger determined at Children’s that the girl had suffered multiple hemorrhages, fractures and injuries to both eyes and had been a victim of physical abuse, including abusive head trauma, according to the complaint.
The doctor recommended that the girl not be returned to the Barbours’ home, and that the boy be permitted no contact with the Barbours, police said in the complaint.
“I have been part of the (hospital) child protection team for almost 14 years and cannot remember the last time I recommended no contact,” the doctor wrote in a report cited by police.
The Barbour’s attorney, Christopher Capozzi, told the Post Gazette his clients “vehemently deny these charges.”
[NorthHills Patch 10/15/12 by Richard Cook, Cindi Lash, and Larissa Dudkiewicz]
Update 5: The preliminary hearing was supposed to be at 1:30 PM EST on October 23, 2012 but was again postponed The new hearing date has not been announced.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did a story on the case at Adoption saga ends with charges for Franklin Park couple
[The PIttsburgh Post Gazette 10/21/12 by Molly Born and Paula Reed Ward ]
The article indicates that they spent two years trying to domestically adopt before switching to Ethiopia in 2011. They say that the personal blog had 200 entries. They mistakenly state that Bethany was “the agency”. Bethany was the homestudy agency and IAG (International Adoption Guides) was the placing agency.
They state “They are scheduled for a preliminary hearing Tuesday [but was postponed again], accused of starving their 6-year-old son and leaving him with lesions from being kept in urine-soaked clothing for long periods of time. The 18-month-old girl will likely be blinded in one eye and paralyzed after suffering abusive head trauma. Their attorney, Christopher Capozzi, declined to comment.
The two biological children were unharmed.”
They interview Adam Pertman of EBD for some general blah blah blah statements about adoption prep. He does not lay any blame with the agencies. Typical!
“Married in 2005, Douglas and Kristen Barbour live in a two-story home with a big back yard in the North Hills that they bought in June 2006 for $177,500.
Kristen Barbour, 30, is a college-educated, stay-at-home mom, who blogged about cooking and craft projects and lavished words of love and praise on her family and God.
Douglas Barbour, 33, a graduate of University of Michigan Law School, is a state deputy attorney general — now suspended without pay. The family is active at Christ Bible Church in Cranberry.
As a teen, Mrs. Barbour had already expressed interest in adoption. She worked summers with missionaries in two orphanages, according to her blog posts.
The couple planned on adopting from the start: “After Doug and I got married, we weren’t exactly sure how the Lord would bring children into our lives. We didn’t know if He would give us biological children or adopted children. We prayed for both means!! We weren’t sure what the order would be. But, we knew that adoption was going to be in our family and we desired to have a mixed family (adopted — both domestic and internationally — and biological children).”
In a post by Douglas Barbour titled “Biblical Motivations for Adoption,” a long list of reasons for Christians to adopt is given, including “Adoption by Christians brings children into the covenant community and thereby enables them to enjoy the blessings associated with that connection.”
As they forged ahead in the adoption process — with seemingly strong support from friends and family and a larger community of adoptive parents — the Barbours went to great lengths to assure their two young biological children that they were loved.
The parents encouraged their children to pray several times a day for their siblings in Ethiopia. They included them in the preparations and were sensitive to the coming changes on them.
“Just as we are going through a lot of emotions and a ‘roller coaster’ with the waiting, longing, and praying, so is this little 3-year-old,” Kristen Barbour wrote in a December blog post about her daughter.She wrote of a bond already forming between her biological and adopted children. “How can you love someone you have never met?” she mused in one January post, referring to her daughter’s recurring prayer that the Ethiopian children “come home soon.”
“Praise the Lord!” Kristen Barbour wrote that day. “That is what we have been doing all day!!”
She detailed setting the alarm extra early that day so the couple would be awake and praying at the time when their adoptive children’s birth families were being interviewed in Ethiopia.
“So much reflection on this last year … these last five years of waiting … waiting on the Lord … longing and fighting on behalf of orphans … crying … sobbing … turning back … disappointment … questioning … confusion … and yet the Lord’s faithfulness was constant.”
In early March, the Barbours took a 13-hour flight to Ethiopia to bring their new children home. Mrs. Barbour didn’t write about the whirlwind trip and orphanage pickup until more than a month later, on April 10 and 11.
“The door opened and I saw [her] being carried in by her sweet nanny. The tears were flowing (mine that is),” Mrs. Barbour wrote. “I put my head down to catch [my breath]; this little girl. Well, such a big girl now. A 1-year-old; not a tiny 4-month-old. …
“Then, at the door appeared our oldest child and cutie pie son. He was smiling and gave Doug a big bear hug — as I watched them hug, [he] seemed so much bigger than I had remembered in July.”
The family returned to the United States on March 16. In the first blog entry made after that — dated March 21 — Mrs. Barbour wrote about the children’s first few days in this country.
“In the last week, we have cuddled up with a child and gotten puked on. caught puke in our hands. held back one another’s hair while throwing up. scooped poop for sampling. and on and on. And each of our children have received at least one of these ‘love acts’ from us this week (if not more than one!).”
Then she continued, “Sometimes when people think of adoption, they don’t think about the nitty gritty, get down and dirty hard times. And we are in the depths!! But with the Lord’s help, guidance, strength and grace!!”
Later in that same entry, she noted that her husband would be returning to work the next week and invited friends and neighbors who might read the blog to offer help with meals, groceries or errands.
As the weeks wore on, Mrs. Barbour wrote proudly about how well all four children got along, the home schooling she was doing and her first trip with them by herself to a grocery store.
But she also wrote about challenges, such as the 6-year-old’s oral surgery to take care of his severely rotten and infected teeth and the need for supervision of Candy Land because the Ethiopian boy didn’t play fair.
“I would like to blog about what is going on, the good, the bad, and the … well, the ugly … I guess,” she wrote on June 10. “But my heart isn’t quite ready to share all of that yet. And, the time isn’t there either.”
Six days later, that theme continued: “Wouldn’t it be nice to read about how these last weeks and months have gone … how we have grown … how we have struggled … how we have been taught … stretched … molded … formed … bonded together … strengthened … rejoiced … endured … Well, sorry to burst any kind of bubble or false anticipation.”
The increasingly sporadic entries are still peppered with love and faith and God, but also hint at frustration.
The examining physician noted to police that the girl would likely be reinjured or killed if she were allowed to return to her parents.
The 6-year-old told a forensic interviewer that his family would make him stand in the dark or eat dinner in the bathroom if he soiled his pants. He lost more than 9 pounds after moving to the U.S. and ate voraciously at the hospital, without medical treatment.
Police said the boy’s room had only a mattress on the floor with sheets — a sharp contrast with the elaborate decorating Kristen Barbour envisioned in a blog post. After their arrest, Douglas Barbour’s father, Donald B. Barbour, posted 10 percent of the $25,000 bond for each of them, and they were released from custody.
The elder Mr. Barbour did not return phone calls for comment.
On Oct. 5, the day after the Barbours were charged, about 15 members of Christ Bible Church gathered for an evening prayer session led by the Rev. Jimmy Caraway. Two days later, he made an announcement about the situation before beginning his sermon.
“What is happening is nothing less than evil. I don’t know how else to say it. It’s nothing less than evil,” he said. “They, the Barbours, did a very good, very biblical thing that was well thought through — they adopted. And I tell you, this is not of God. … They need a vast amount of prayer and support in other ways, and we as a church will be faithful.” A video of the sermon is posted on the church’s website.
Rev. Caraway twice declined to talk about his congregants for this story. He would not explain whether the charges or the alleged acts themselves are “evil” and “not of God.”
A deacon at the church tasked with checking in on the family did not return a phone message.
The Barbours wrote in their blog that they adopted through Bethany Christian Services — which facilitates between 1,500 and 2,000 adoptions each year at both the state and international level and was established in 1944.
The agency would not talk about the Barbours — or even confirm that the couple were clients — but did talk about the after-care services it requires.
Once children have been placed, Bethany conducts post-placement visits in the first year at one, three, six and 12 months. It refers families who are struggling to additional service, including counseling. It said its services meet state requirements.
Dr. Mary Carrasco, who leads a team at A Child’s Place at Mercy, spoke generally about cases in which abuse is alleged. She said many parents have idealized versions of what their child will be like. “The one thread that runs through every one of these experiences is unrealistic expectations.”
Mr. Pertman, with the Donaldson Adoption Institute, said follow-up care and education are essential to having successful family integration.
“Some level of training services and education have to be there, but you have to avail yourself of it,” he said.”
[Pine-Richland Patch 10/23/12 by Richard Cook] says “The couple was to have appeared Tuesday before Leetsdale District Court Judge Robert Ford, but that hearing has been postponed. It is the second time the hearing has been postponed. Patch will report on when a new hearing date is set.”
“According to the criminal complaint, the Barbours are accused of starving their adopted 6-year-old son and leaving him with lesions from being kept in urine-soaked clothing for long periods of time.
The 18-month-old adopted girl will likely be blinded in one eye and paralyzed after suffering abusive head trauma, the criminal complaint stated.
Dr. Rachel Berger determined at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC that the girl had suffered multiple hemorrhages, fractures and injuries to both eyes and had been a victim of physical abuse, including abusive head trauma, according to the complaint.
The doctor recommended that the girl not be returned to the Barbours’ home, and that the boy be permitted no contact with the Barbours, police said in the complaint.
“I have been part of the (hospital) child protection team for almost 14 years and cannot remember the last time I recommended no contact,” the doctor wrote in a report cited by police.
The Barbour’s attorney, Christopher Capozzi, told the Post-Gazette his clients “vehemently deny these charges.”
Update 6: “A judge postponed a preliminary hearing for a state deputy attorney general and his wife after prosecutors added additional charges that they physically abused their two adopted children from Ethiopia.
The hearing for 33-year-old Douglas Barbour and his wife, 30-year-old Kristen Barbour, of Franklin Park, is now scheduled for Jan. 18 after Allegheny County prosecutors on Monday added reckless endangerment and additional aggravated assault charges.
Defense attorney Charles Porter says it makes no sense that the Barbours would abuse their adopted children and not their biological children, who are 2 and 4.
Prosecutors last month charged the couple with failing to properly feed their adopted 6-year-old son and inflicting head injuries suffered that could leave their 18-month-daughter blind and paralyzed.
Porter says the couple did their best to cope with the children’s extraordinary needs.”
[San Francisco Chronicle 11/19/12 by Associated Press]
“Among the new charges filed was an additional count of aggravated assault related to the Barbour’s 6-year-old adopted son. The charge is based on allegations that the couple withheld food from the child, said Douglas Barbour’s defense attorney, Charles Porter.
Porter and Robert Stewart, the attorney representing Kristen Barbour, said it makes no sense that the couple would adopt and abuse two children from Ethiopia, but not abuse their biological children. They say the Barbours are upset and frustrated.
“You can imagine it’s been very difficult on them,” Porter said.
Douglas Barbour, a Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General, has been suspended from his state job without pay since he and his wife were arrested Oct. 4. He now faces two counts each of simple assault, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment.
His wife, Kristen Barbour, is also now charged with two counts each of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault, and one count of simple assault. The Barbours previously were charged with aggravated assault solely in relation to allegations of abuse of their 1-year-old adopted daughter.
Defense attorneys today said there was no indication when they spoke to prosecutors last week that prosecutors would amend the charges “at the 11th hour.” The defense agreed to seek a continuance to properly prepare for the new charges.
“We obviously dispute the allegations,” Porter said.
This is the third time the hearing has been postponed for the Barbours, who remain free on bond.
According to the criminal complaint, the Barbours are accused of starving their adopted 6-year-old son and leaving him with lesions from being kept in urine-soaked clothing for long periods of time.
Porter said the older child had serious issues that the parents tried to deal with to the best of their abilities. Stewart said the boy was defecating in his bed and putting his feces under the bed, so the mattress was placed on the floor.
Porter said Kristen Barbour maintained a blog and seemed to consistently be reaching out for help with the family’s situation. Douglas Barbour spent most of his time at work, Porter said, adding that reports indicating the parents gave the boy a barren room with a mattress is “simply not true.”
Dr. Rachel Berger at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC recommended that the boy be permitted no contact with the Barbours. She also determined that the 18-month-old adopted girl not be returned to the Barbours’ home, police said in the complaint.
The girl will likely remain permanently blind in one eye and paralyzed after suffering abusive head trauma, according to the criminal complaint. A doctor determined she had suffered multiple hemorrhages, fractures and injuries to both eyes and had been a victim of physical abuse, including abusive head trauma, according to the complaint.
In October, Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning ruled that the Barbours would be permitted supervised visitation with their two biological children, ages 2 and 4, pending approval of the judge who is presiding over the matter in Family Court, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported.
Attorneys said the Barbours have had supervised visits with their biological children since their arrests, but the attorneys couldn’t say if the Barbours have seen their adopted children. The matter of supervision is still pending in the courts.”
[North Allegheny Patch 11/19/12 by Larissa Dudkiewicz]
Update 7: Douglas and Kristen waived their right to a preliminary hearing. Two aggravated abuse charges have been dropped against Douglas. The formal arraignment is on March 7, 2013.
“A Franklin Park couple has been ordered to stand trial after waiving a preliminary hearing today on charges of abusing and starving two children they adopted from Ethiopia nearly a year ago.
Prosecutors dropped two aggravated assault charges against Douglas Barbour, 33, who appeared in Leetsdale District Court alongside his wife, Kristen Barbour, 30, of Cole Road for a preliminary hearing.
Douglas Barbour, a Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General, has been suspended from his state job without pay since he and his wife were arrested Oct. 4. He’ll stand trial on two counts each of simple assault, endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment.
Kristen Barbour will stand trial on one count of simple assault and two counts each of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault.
According to a criminal complaint, the Barbours are accused of starving their adopted son and forcing him to stay in urine-soaked clothing for long periods of time. The boy, who was 6 at the time the Barbours were arrested, developed lesions from that treatment, according to investigators.
Their adopted daughter, who was 18 months old at the time the Barbours were arrested, will likely remain permanently blind in one eye and paralyzed after suffering abusive head trauma, according to the complaint.
A doctor determined the girl had suffered multiple hemorrhages, fractures and injuries to both eyes and had been a victim of physical abuse, including abusive head trauma, the complaint states.
Neither husband nor wife spoke in the courtroom, and they did not comment as they left court.
A Nov. 19 preliminary hearing for the couple was postponed until this month.
The Barbour’s defense attorney, Charles Porter, previously told Patch the Barbours dispute the allegations against them.
Dr. Rachel Berger, who examined the children after they were taken to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, recommended that the Barbours be barred from contact with the adopted boy. She also determined that the adopted girl should not be returned to the Barbours’ home, police said in the complaint.
Porter said the couple has had supervised visits with their biological children, ages 2 and 4, since their arrests, but do not have custody of those children.
Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning ruled in October that the Barbours would be permitted supervised visitation with their biological children, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported.
Porter said the couple has not seen their two adopted children.
“We’re still trying,” Porter said.
A formal arraignment is scheduled for March 7.”
[Sewickley Patch 1/17/13 by Larissa Dudkiewicz]
Aggravated and Simple Assault in Pennsylvania
“§ 2702. Aggravated assault. (a) Offense defined.–A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he: (1) attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury intentionally, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life; (2) attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to any of the officers, agents, employees or other persons enumerated in subsection (c) or to an employee of an agency, company or other entity engaged in public transportation, while in the performance of duty; (3) attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to any of the officers, agents, employees or other persons enumerated in subsection (c), in the performance of duty; (4) attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; (5) attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to a teaching staff member, school board member or other employee, including a student employee, of any elementary or secondary publicly-funded educational institution, any elementary or secondary private school licensed by the Department of Education or any elementary or secondary parochial school while acting in the scope of his or her employment or because of his or her employment relationship to the school; (6) attempts by physical menace to put any of the officers, agents, employees or other persons enumerated in subsection (c), while in the performance of duty, in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or (7) uses tear or noxious gas as defined in section 2708(b) (relating to use of tear or noxious gas in labor disputes) or uses an electric or electronic incapacitation device against any officer, employee or other person enumerated in subsection (c) while acting in the scope of his employment. (b) Grading.–Aggravated assault under subsection (a)(1) and (2) is a felony of the first degree. Aggravated assault under subsection (a)(3), (4), (5), (6) and (7) is a felony of the second degree.
§ 2701. Simple assault. (a) Offense defined.–A person is guilty of assault if he: (1) attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; (2) negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; (3) attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or (4) conceals or attempts to conceal a hypodermic needle on his person and intentionally or knowingly penetrates a law enforcement officer or an officer or an employee of a correctional institution, county jail or prison, detention facility or mental hospital during the course of an arrest or any search of the person. (b) Grading.–Simple assault is a misdemeanor of the second degree unless committed: (1) in a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a misdemeanor of the third degree; or (2) against a child under 12 years of age by an adult 21 years of age or older, in which case it is a misdemeanor of the first degree.”
Reminder about the Paltry $25,000 Bail (that the Barbours complained was too much)
“Doctors determined that the boy had lost several pounds since the Barbours adopted him, and he developed a rash that was caused by ongoing contact with urine, police said.
The couple’s then-18-month-old adopted daughter also was taken to the hospital the same day for a seizure, according to a criminal complaint. Police said the girl had hemorrhaging in her brain caused by “abusive head trauma” and had several healing fractures.
The Barbours are free on $25,000 bond each, according to online court records.”
[Times Online 1/17/13]
For Douglas, the felony of “serious” bodily injury or extreme indifference has been thrown out. Go back and read the original comments Douglas made in the ER and the comment of the doctor of how infrequent she recommends no contact between parent and child (hint: she can’t remember ever doing so in her 14 year tenure) to fully understand how despicable it is that these felonies have been dropped.
Update 8: A check of the public Pennsylvania court records shows that a trial is set for July 9, 2013. The pretrial conference was on April 12, 2013. There were no media articles about the March 2013 formal arraignment that we could find.
“A Franklin Park couple accused of abusing their two adopted children have again asked a criminal court judge to reunite them with their biological children.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning delayed ruling on the issue for Douglas and Kristen Barbour until Thursday [April 18, 2013] when he will hear from a doctor who has evaluated the situation.
Defense attorneys argued that there is really no question, since a family court judge found after a lengthy hearing that the children should be reunified with their parents.
A condition of their bond, however, is to have only limited contact with the children.
Robert E. Stewart, who represents Kristen Barbour, said the doctor found that the children could be returned to their parents without being endangered.
But Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka responded, “if they fall out of line, then they could be at risk like the other children were.”
The Barbours are accused of abusing their two adopted children from Ethiopia last year by withholding food from the boy, then 6, and causing head trauma to the 19-month-old girl.
Ms. Ditka also argued to Judge Manning that the older biological child, a girl who is now 5, may be a witness in the case, and that she could be influenced by her parents if she were returned.
The biological children are in the care of their grandparents and have supervised visits with their parents about twice a week, said Charles Porter, who’s representing Douglas Barbour.
“There’s not a scintilla of evidence they were ever put in harm’s way by their parents,” he said.”
[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 4/16/13 by Paula Reed Ward]
Update 9: Judge rules in favor of Barbours to get their biological children back. Typical! Even the article titles this month from the Gazette are quite a spin-Douglas is not identified as a suspended deputy attorney general, but they are just some “Franklin Park couple”…yep…just some random couple…move along…nothing to see here…At least the judge has the sense to collect the older child’s statement first before the child can be coerced.
“A Franklin Park couple accused of abusing their two adopted children can be reunited with their two biological children.
A family court judge ruled in December that Douglas and Kristen Barbour should have custody of their 5- and 2-year-old children, but as a condition of the couple’s bond, a criminal court judge said the parents were not to have unsupervised contact with them.
Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka told Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey A. Manning she had concerns about the older child being returned to her parents because the girl may be a witness against the Barbours in the abuse case.
To resolve the issue, Judge Manning ordered that the girl’s testimony be provided within the next week and be recorded. Once that is accomplished, he said she can be returned to her parents.
The younger child is permitted to be returned now.
Defense attorney Charles Porter, who represents Douglas Barbour, a Pennsylvania deputy attorney general, said it is likely they will wait to return both children at the same time so as not to split them up. They are currently in the custody of their paternal grandparents.
The Barbours will still have oversight by Allegheny County Children, Youth and Families.
They adopted two children from Ethiopia last year and are accused of withholding food from the boy, who was then 6 years old. The girl, who was 19 months, suffered head trauma.
The adopted children are now in foster care.
A trial date is set for July 9.”
[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 4/18/13 by Paula Reed Ward]
Trib Live tells it like it is in their title: Suspended deputy attorney general, wife regain custody of biological children [Trib Live 4/18/13 by Adam Brandolph] “
Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning lifted a no-contact order covering the 2-year-old son of Douglas and Kristen Barbour and said a similar order for the couple’s daughter, 5, will be lifted within a week after she makes a videotaped statement to prosecutors.
“The parents very much want their children home with them,” said Charles Porter, Douglas Barbour’s attorney.
Barbour is a deputy state attorney general suspended without pay.
The biological children have lived with their paternal grandparents since the Barbours’ arrest in October. The couple were allowed supervised visits two or three times a week since being released on bond, their attorneys said.”
“Their daughter, 18 months, who also is from Ethiopia and was hospitalized on the same day, has multiple healing skull fractures, police said.
The adopted children are with foster families.
Family Division Judge Kathleen R. Mulligan in December ruled the Barbours may have custody of their biological children, who authorities said were not abused.
The couple’s defense attorneys said Manning’s decision was necessary because a no-contact order was a condition of their bail.
“It is neither my duty nor my obligation to interfere with” Mulligan’s decision, Manning said.
Dr. Ronald Neeper, a psychiatric consultant for the court who performed a mental evaluation on the couple, said he does not believe they were a threat.
Neeper, however, said he believes the Barbours could influence their oldest child, who may testify for the prosecution, which is why Manning ordered her statement recorded.”
“Kristen Barbour told doctors that the toddler has a history of banging her head. Doctors found multiple healing fractures and said it was abuse.”
CBS Pittsburgh says “Attorney Robert Stewart, who represents Kristen Barbour, told KDKA-TV’s Harold Hayes after the hearing, “With regard to the older child, the DA’s office apparently intends to call her as a witness and they’re concerned that once she is returned to the biological parents, that they’re going to influence her somehow. So, in order to get around that, Judge Manning kind of did a Solomon thing and literally cut the baby in half by ordering the testimony preserved by way of deposition. That way this witness is testifying as of probably next Tuesday and so the issue of taint no longer exists.”
Attorney Charles Porter, who represents Douglas Barbour said, “We’re more than happy to move the case forward now by preserving that testimony assuming its even competent testimony, which of course will be the first issue we’ll have to deal with before we get into whether or not there’s actual testimony to be preserved.””
[CBS Pittsburgh 4/18/13]
Update 10: Prosecutor nixes biological child deposition. They trust that the deputy AG won’t influence the girl (roll eyes).
“The Allegheny County District Attorney’s office decided not to take the deposition of a 5-year-old girl who may be a witness against her parents in a case involving the alleged abuse of their adopted children, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Judge Jeffrey A. Manning last week ordered the 2- and 5-year-old biological children returned to their parents, Kristen and Douglas Barbour of Franklin Park, but only after the older child’s testimony was recorded.
The Barbours face charges they abused the two children they adopted from Ethiopia last year.
Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka planned to take a videotaped deposition of the 5-year-old on Tuesday, however, she told the judge she did not want to scare the child, the newspaper reports.
“I think this child is very frightened today, and I think we’d do more harm than good,” Ditka said. “If these people will give us assurances, we don’t need to damage the child.”
Under questioning in court, the P-G reports that both Kristen and Douglas Barbour said they would not discuss the case in any way with their daughter.
Barbour, a Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General, has been suspended from his state job without pay, Attorney General Linda Kelly said in a statement after the couple’s arrest Oct. 4.
The biological children were in the care of their grandparents with supervised visits with their parents about twice a week, Douglas Barbour’s attorney Charles Porter told the P-G.
There have been no allegations of abuse against the biological children.
The couple adopted the children from Ethiopia in March, according to a criminal complaint filed by county police. An investigation began Sept. 29 after the children—a 1-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy—were treated at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, authorities said.
The couple is due to go on trial July 9.”
[Sewickly Patch 4/24/13 by Larissa Dudkiewicz]
Update 11: Barbours will move in with parents due to financial issues.
“An Allegheny County judge on Wednesday [May 22, 2013] permitted a Franklin Park couple accused of abusing their two adopted children to move from their home.
Douglas and Kristen Barbour, both 31, requested Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning approve a petition to relocate for financial reasons. Charles Porter, an attorney representing Douglas Barbour, said the couple plan to move in with Barbour’s parents in Mercer County.
Barbour was suspended from his job as a deputy attorney general soon after the couple’s arrest in October.”
[Trib Live 5/22/13 by Adam Brandolph]
Update 12: “A Franklin Park couple charged with abusing and starving two children they adopted from Ethiopia more than a year ago are scheduled to go on trial Tuesday, July 9 at 9 a.m.
The case against Douglas Barbour and his wife, Kristen, will be heard before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning.
Douglas Barbour, a Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General, has been suspended from his state job without pay since he and his wife were arrested Oct. 4.
According to the criminal complaint, the Barbours are accused of starving their adopted 6-year-old son and leaving him with lesions from being kept in urine-soaked clothing for long periods of time.
Their 18-month-old adopted daughter will likely remain permanently blind in one eye and paralyzed after suffering abusive head trauma, according to the criminal complaint.
A doctor determined she had suffered multiple hemorrhages, fractures and injuries to both eyes and had been a victim of physical abuse, including abusive head trauma, the complaint states.
The Barbour’s defense attorney, Charles Porter previously told Patch they dispute the allegations.
Dr. Rachel Berger at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC recommended that the boy be permitted no contact with the Barbours. She also determined that their 18-month-old adopted girl not be returned to the Barbours’ home, police said in the complaint.
The couple also has two biological children. They are not accused of abusing them.”
[North Allegheny Patch 7/8/13 by Richard Cook]
A search of the Pennsylvania public online court records shows that the trial has been continued to October 7, 2013.
Update 13: “Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning Tuesday approved the prosecution’s request for a continuation of the trial of Douglas and Kristen Barbour, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
[North Allegheny Patch 7/9/13 by Richard Cook]
Update 14:“A judge on Monday postponed the trial of a Franklin Park couple accused of abusing their two adopted children because a defense attorney had difficulty finding an expert witness to rebut a diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome.
Douglas, 34, and Kristen Barbour, 31, are accused of denying proper nutrition to their adopted son, 7, who was taken to Children’s Hospital in Lawrenceville on Sept. 14, 2012, and physically abusing their 2-year-old daughter, who was taken to the hospital the same day.
“We do not believe the head trauma to the infant was the result of shaken baby syndrome,” said Bob Stewart, an attorney representing Kristen Barbour. “We believe it’s something they term rebleeding.”
Stewart said he is trying to find a neurosurgeon from out of state to contradict the diagnosis of a UPMC physician.
The couple’s trial is now scheduled to begin Jan. 13. Douglas Barbour was suspended from his job as a deputy attorney general soon after the couple’s arrest in October 2012.
The Barbours are charged with simple assault, endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment. Kristen Barbour also is charged with aggravated assault. They are free on bail.
When their son was admitted to Children’s, he weighed 9.5 pounds less than when he entered the United States from Ethiopia six months earlier, police said. Their daughter, 18 months, who also is from Ethiopia, had multiple skull fractures that were healing.
Kristen Barbour told doctors that the toddler has a history of banging her head. Doctors said it was abuse.
The Barbours sat quietly in the second row of the gallery in Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning’s courtroom. They did not speak and declined comment afterward.
Manning previously granted them custody of their two biological children they are not accused of abusing — a son, 3, and daughter, 6.”
Trial delayed for Franklin Park couple accused of abusing adopted children[TribLive 10/7/13 by Adam Brandolph]
A check of the Pennsylvania Court Records shows that the jury trial has been continued until 3/24/14.
Update 15: “A former Pennsylvania prosecutor and his wife pleaded no contest Monday to endangering the welfare of two adopted Ethiopian children after child welfare officials found the boy had been underfed and the girl physically abused.
Douglas Barbour, 34, who resigned from the attorney general’s office last year, pleaded to misdemeanor counts and will receive probation when he’s sentenced in a few months. His wife, Kristen Barbour, 32, pleaded to felony counts of the same charges and could face prison time, though her attorney, Robert Stewart, said he’ll argue she also should get probation.
The Franklin Park couple was charged in October 2012 when the boy was 6 and found to be malnourished, and the girl was 18 months old and found to have several multiple head fractures in various stages of healing. Kristen Barbour allegedly told doctors the toddler often banged her head accidentally, but a doctor told investigators the child’s injuries were consistent with abuse.
The couple have two biological children, 2 and 4 at the time charges were brought, who were found not to have been abused. The couple lost custody of them because of the charges, but regained custody in April 2013. The Barbours have surrendered parental rights to the Ethiopian children and the children were placed in protective custody.
Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer DiGiovanni told the judge Monday the couple sought help from experts, including a doctor with expertise in foreign adoptions, but the couple couldn’t deal with the children’s special needs because the Barbours were unwilling to change their parenting style.
“The doctor advised the defendants to be more flexible and change their routine and accommodate” the boy, DiGiovanni said. “Both defendants balked at this advice. ‘That’s not the way we do it. That’s not the rules in our house.’”
The couple adopted the children in March 2012 and doctors found evidence of abuse when the boy was treated for an infection that September. The boy weighed 37.5 pounds, nearly 10 pounds less than when he had been adopted, and told investigators he was forced to eat meals in the bathroom or stand alone in there when it was dark whenever he urinated or defecated in his pants. The girl’s injuries have not been explained.[Update 7 says “Their adopted daughter, who was 18 months old at the time the Barbours were arrested, will likely remain permanently blind in one eye and paralyzed after suffering abusive head trauma, according to the complaint.”]
Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning seemed to agree.[!]
“It seems to me this started out as a significant act of charity gone awry,” Manning said. “I see no evidence of malice here.”
The no contest pleas have the same effect as guilty pleas, in that they are considered convictions. But the Barbours haven’t acknowledged guilt, only that they’re not contesting the allegations.”
Ex-prosecutor, wife plead in adoption abuse case[Yahoo.com 6/23/14 by Associated Press]
Update 16: “In the months after two Ethiopian children were put in foster care because of alleged abuse by their adoptive parents, the boy would repeatedly ask his new foster mother which bathroom he was allowed to use.
Alison Patterson told him “any bathroom he wished,” but the boy responded by saying that his “body was unsafe for other people.” She told him that was not true.
Then, when they would visit his younger sister, now age 3, at the Children’s Institute, where she was recovering from brain injury, the boy told Mrs. Patterson that he wasn’t to use public restrooms because “he would make other people sick.”
“He believed it to his core. Why would he have been kept in the bathroom in the dark if it wasn’t true?” Mrs. Patterson said Monday.
She and her husband, Kevin Patterson, who formally adopted the children in July, spoke Monday at the sentencing hearing for Douglas and Kristen Barbour, a former Franklin Park couple who pleaded no contest to child endangerment.
The Pattersons, who told Judge Jeffrey A. Manning in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court that both children are now thriving with their three siblings, asked that he sentence the Barbours to the maximum penalty possible.
“I have done and will continue to do everything in my power to expose them to the parts of the world that are lovely and good,” said Dr. Patterson, a psychiatrist. “I would like to one day be able to say to them, and show them the proof, that their lives were valued not only by our family but by our society.”
As part of his plea agreement to two misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, Douglas Barbour, 35, a former lawyer with the state attorney general’s office, was to be sentenced to probation. Judge Manning set that period at five years. Mr. Barbour made no comment.
She told Judge Manning that throughout her life, and based on her faith, she has sought to serve — spending time on overseas mission trips to help others.
“I am not a monster as some have portrayed me,” she said in a statement to the court. “I wish the children a good life and hope someday they will find it in their heart to forgive me.”
Judge Manning said he did not think that jail was appropriate for her.
“The whole aura of this matter has an aggravated [feel] about it, but I don’t find an aggravated range sentence would be appropriate,” he said. “It is clear there does not appear to be an intent to harm. I see no malice in this case.”[What???]
He gave Kristen Barbour two weeks to self-report, but Robert E. Stewart, her attorney, may file a motion for reconsideration to allow her to serve her sentence on house arrest. The Barbours live with their parents, and all of the adults work outside the home, except for Kristen Barbour, who stays at home with the couple’s biological children, ages 4 and 6 years.
The Barbours adopted the two Ethiopian children, ages 1 and 6, in March 2012 after spending more than two years trying to make the arrangements.
Within months, the boy lost 10 pounds. The criminal complaint includes allegations that he was left to lie in urine-soaked sheets, and locked in the bathroom of his home — forced to eat meals there.
Though experts counseling them on the adoption recommended that the Barbours allow the boy “unfettered” access to food, the couple did not follow the recommendation. They wrote to his teacher not to feed him, even though he would say he was hungry.
Deputy district attorney Jennifer DiGiovanni told Judge Manning that one of the most troubling parts of the case is how “entirely preventable this was.”
Although the Barbours sought help, “they promptly and completely ignored” the advice, the prosecutor said.
She listed several examples, including a physical therapist who had been working with the little girl. She had been walking well, but at another visit a week later was dragging her leg. Kristen Barbour was told to get the girl to a doctor immediately.
Instead, a broken femur and toe went untreated for weeks.
As for the boy, although he entered the hospital Sept. 14, 2012, extremely malnourished — and with a temperature of only 93.6 degrees — all he needed was food.
“It was like they were breaking a horse and not raising a child,” Ms. DiGiovanni said. “It was unconscionable that this went on. The very minute he was taken out of their care, he began to thrive.”
Alison Patterson described the boy, who is now 8, as active and kind.
He debates among prosthetics engineering, medicine, professional sports and the circus for what he wants to do when he grows up.
In the beginning, Mrs. Patterson said, the boy feared being in the dark and the sound of bathroom fans.
“He could not be upstairs alone, and feared that if he went to his room unaccompanied we might forget and leave him there,” she said.
He would blurt out things like, “I don’t know why she dissolved my banana bread in water” and “It hurt when she scribbled my face in the carpet when I peed.”
With therapy, Mrs. Patterson said, her son continues to improve. He looks out for smaller children and tries to make everyone laugh.
But, both parents said, he still struggles with self-esteem.
“He questions his self-worth almost continually, and works to make us upset with him if we have expressed too much love or pleasure or pride in his actions and in his person,” Dr. Patterson said.
“He will not always be a PTSD patient, but he will always be a child who almost starved to death in the midst of plenty,” Mrs. Patterson said.
As for the girl, her parents describe her as exuberant, active, smart and trusting.
“She brings life to every room that she enters,” Dr. Patterson said. “She likes to take care of baby dolls, and her hugs are strong and insistent.”
Though she could not walk when they first became her foster parents, the girl learned how to walk, and then run.
But she also has poor impulse control, and a significant likelihood of learning disability because of frontal lobe damage.
“As a psychiatrist with expertise in the effects of brain injury on future function, I could tell you what I know academically and medically,” Dr. Patterson said. “As a father, I know that someone tried to kill my little girl, and that someday I will have to help her come to terms with that knowledge.””
Franklin Park couple get probation for abusing adoptees[Pittsburgh post gazette 9/15/14 by Paula Reed Ward]
Update 17:”A Pennsylvania woman sentenced to jail for mistreating her adopted children will be allowed to go home six days a week to care for her biological children when she starts her sentence this month.
Kristen and Douglas Barbour adopted two children from Ethiopia and within six months were arrested in 2012 for allegedly harming them. The 5-year-old boy was malnourished and the 13-month-old girl had multiple broken bones, prosecutors said.
The couple, who lived in Franklin Park, Pennsylvania, pleaded no contest to endangering the welfare of the children in exchange for other criminal charges, including assault, being dismissed. Douglas Barbour was a deputy state attorney general at the time of his arrest.”
Pennsylvania mother jailed in abuse case allowed home with children[Reuters 10/14/14 by Elizabeth Daley]
Update 18:“A state-mandated review of the abuse of two Ethiopian children adopted by a Franklin Park couple showed there were no deficiencies in how Allegheny County Children, Youth and Families investigated the matter.[Yeah, right!]
Still, the review recommends changes at the state and local levels to ensure parents adopting internationally have a broader range of resources and better preparation to raise children who may have experienced trauma or adversity before arriving in the United States.
Although the Act 33 review was conducted Nov. 15, 2012, the report’s findings were not released by the state Department of Human Services until this month, pending the end of the criminal cases against Douglas and Kristen Barbour.
Douglas Barbour pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of children and was sentenced to five years of probation. Kristen Barbour pleaded no contest to two felony counts of endangering the welfare of children and was ordered to serve six to 12 months’ incarceration, with work release to care for her two biological children while her husband and in-laws work.
They were accused of abusing the children they adopted in March 2012 — a girl, 1, and a boy, 6. The boy was malnourished and had skin injuries from lying on a urine-soaked mattress. The girl was rushed to a hospital on Sept. 14, 2012, unresponsive and having seizures. Doctors suspected abusive head trauma and noted she had healing injuries to her leg and foot.
A report to Allegheny County CYF was made two days later.
Later, both children were placed in foster care and ultimately adopted last summer after the Barbours consented to having their parental rights terminated.
In its summary of the near fatality of the girl, the review notes that the Barbours “explained the injuries by suggesting that the six-year-old sibling had dropped toys on the injured child’s foot and that the injured child had inflicted injuries to herself by banging her head on hard surfaces.”
The report, though, noted that doctors said the explanations were inconsistent with the severity of the injuries.
According to the review, Allegheny County CYF, which had no prior involvement with the family, responded properly to the situation.
The review team suggested that CYF and adoption agencies engage with local members of the international community to build informal support systems for newly adoptive parents, recruit potential placement resources, and enhance education and awareness of issues adopted children might face.
The report also identified a lack of communication and collaboration between the community-based providers working with the Barbours as well as the children’s physicians. It suggested developing a shared system for electronic records and case conferencing.
“Most people we serve have multiple needs,” said Marc Cherna, director of Allegheny County Department of Human Services. “We are totally wedded to doing this conferencing and teaming.”
At the state level, the report suggests further discussion on regulatory enhancements for prospective adoptive parents. It also suggests cross-system training for medical, behavioral health and other providers and allowing CYF to offer licensed counseling services for family interventions.”
State review backs Franklin Park child abuse probe[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12/24/14 by Paula Reed Ward]
Update 19:“The lawyer for a Franklin Park woman accused of abusing her two adopted children from Ethiopia is asking that she be granted home confinement and electronic monitoring.
Kristen Barbour, 32, pleaded no contest to two felony counts of endangering the welfare of children in June 2014 and was sentenced to six to 12 months’ incarceration with work release. Barbour was eligible for alternative housing, but was later granted work release to leave the Mercer County Jail for up to 8 1/2 hours, six days per week to care for her two biological children while her husband, who was also charged, and in-laws work.
Douglas Barbour, 35, pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of children and was sentenced to five years of probation.
Attorney Robert E. Stewart, who did not respond to requests for comment, filed the petition Dec. 17.
Barbour “poses no threat to society and no evidence was presented to show that she has any propensity to be a recidivist,” the petition read. He also noted she has been compliant with terms of her work release.[Yeah Right!]
Alison Patterson, who adopted the two Ethiopian children in July with her husband, said, “That Ms. Barbour caused this petition to be filed just two months into a sentence that includes daily furlough is further evidence that she fails to grasp the seriousness of the crimes for which she has been convicted.”
When the petition was filed, Barbour had served about 60 days at Mercer County Jail and four months home confinement. Mr. Stewart said he spoke with Mercer County Probation, who said Barbour would be eligible for home monitoring in Mercer County.
She and her husband were accused of abusing the children they adopted in March 2012, a one-year-old girl and a boy, 6. He was malnourished and had skin injuries from lying on a urine-soaked mattress. The baby was rushed to a hospital Sept. 14, 2012, unresponsive and seizing. Doctors suspected abusive head trauma and noted she had healing injuries to her leg and foot. A report to Allegheny County Children, Youth and Families was made two days later.
Both children were placed in foster care and were adopted after the Barbours consented to having their parental rights terminated.
“My heart hurts, and if this petition is granted, I worry for the future time when I will have to explain this to my children,” Mrs. Patterson said. “I worry right now for the message this petition sends to other child victims.” [Me too!]
During Barbour’s sentencing hearing in September, deputy district attorney Jennifer DiGiovanni told Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning that one of the most troubling parts of the case was how “entirely preventable this was.”
Although the Barbours sought help, “they promptly and completely ignored” the advice, the prosecutor said.
She listed several examples, including a physical therapist who had been working with the little girl. She had been walking well, but at another visit a week later was dragging her leg. Barbour was told to get the girl to a doctor immediately. Instead, a broken femur and toe went untreated for weeks.”
Mother in Franklin Park abuse case seeks sentence reduction[Pittsburgh Post Gazette 12/31/14 by Lexi Belculfine]
Update 19: “In 2012, Douglas and Kristen Barbour adopted two children from Ethiopia. Six months later, they were accused of abusing them. The children, now named Robert and Didi, were placed into foster care after the Barbours’ arrest. In July 2014 those foster parents, Kevin and Ali Patterson of Point Breeze, formally adopted them.
The Patterson family — two parents, five kids and a grandmother — gathered for a birthday dinner of roast, salad, peppers and rolls, as well as blue cupcakes for Lila, newly 7, and a Sofia the First cake for Didi, who turned 4 a day earlier. The two sat beside their parents, with their three siblings scattered around the rest of the long, cherry-stained mahogany dining room table.
“Will tried to pull down my socks,” Robert, 8, complained to his mom.
Will, 13, protested, saying that he was playing.
“I know it’s play fighting,” Ali calmly responded. “But no play fighting at the table.”
The conversation ranged from talk of soccer starting for Robert soon — “Yes!” — to Iris, 10, being named Student of the Month at her elementary school, Pittsburgh Linden.
It was easy and sweet, chaotic and casual.
As the meal began, Grammy offered grace.
“Bless us, O Lord, for these thy gifts that we are about to receive through the bounty of Christ, our Lord,” Carolyn Patterson said. “Bless this family and these two birthdays and all the gifts that we have.”
Kevin and Ali Patterson met when they were in the fourth grade together in Grove City.
It wasn’t quite love at first sight, but they began dating their junior year in high school. They didn’t plan it, but both ended up at the University of Pittsburgh.
They married in 1997 and moved to New York where Ali went to NYU for her master’s degree in cinema studies and Kevin went to New York Medical College. He wanted to be a psychiatrist.
Ali was told by her doctor that if she was going to have a baby, she should do it while she was young because of medical complications.
She got pregnant during Kevin’s second year of medical school, and went into pre-term labor at 23 weeks. After 13 weeks on bed rest and a 54-hour labor, Will was born in May 2001. Ali was told she could not have any more children.
The bedroom became the nursery in their tiny apartment over the Cross Bronx Expressway in West Chester. Kevin and Ali slept in the dining room.
They returned to Pittsburgh for Kevin’s residency at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, partly to be close to their families.
As Will grew, he told his parents he was lonely.
“He’d make up stories about bunk beds and all these kids,” Ali said.
The Pattersons started to explore adoption.
They wanted kids who didn’t have better options. They believe children should stay with biological parents if possible, if not then with extended family, if not then to parents from their home country or culture, if not to parents of the same culture and race.
And if that couldn’t happen, that’s where the Pattersons would come in.
“In reality, we consider ourselves the fifth-best option,” Ali said. “But in real life, I think we’re pretty great.”
In 2006, they were referred to a 15-month-old girl in Ethiopia.
They were told there were health considerations and a possible developmental delay.
When Kevin first met her when he traveled to pick her up in Ethiopia, the little girl threw bananas and shoes at him, he said. She wasn’t walking yet — because the staff at the care center carried her everywhere.
When Iris got to their home, she immediately started running.
“It was like a bloom. Like opening a present over and over,” Ali said.
By the time Iris was 3½, she told her parents, “ ‘We need more brown people in this family,’ ” Ali recalled.
“She was right.”
In early 2008, they started the process to adopt a child from India. The little girl they were referred to had been born at 31 weeks, weighing less than 3 pounds. At 9 months she was not yet sitting up by herself.
They went to get Lila in May of that year from a Catholic orphanage in the very south of India where she was being raised. There was a Mass said for her, and nuns prayed over her.
”It was a beautiful moment — mixed sadness for them and joy,“ Ali said.
Lila quickly started to catch up with her siblings.
“There’s no doubt the other kids in the house are the biggest motivator,” Kevin said.
Although they weren’t seeking more children, in 2012 the Pattersons pursued foster-care training and licensing — even taking extra classes for trauma parenting. They figured they could be respite providers for other foster parents caring for special-needs children.
“Everybody was thriving,” Kevin said. “We were in a really good place.”
Ali was standing in line in Target in East Liberty on Oct. 6, 2012, when she checked her phone and saw a newspaper story forwarded to her from a friend in their adoption network.
It was about a Franklin Park couple, Douglas and Kristen Barbour, being charged with abusing their two adopted children from Ethiopia.
The Barbours, who had two young biological children who were unharmed, were accused of withholding food from their 6-year-old son and causing abusive head trauma to their 18-month-old daughter.
“ ‘This family is struggling, and these kids really need what we have to offer,’ ” Ali thought to herself.
She called Kevin and told him about it. He agreed that, for these children, their family “would be a soft place to land.”
Ali called their social worker and told her they were around if the Barbour children needed any help. In the third week of October, Allegheny County Children, Youth and Family services contacted members of the Ethiopian adoptive community to see if they had any recommendations for caregivers.
They recommended the Pattersons.
It was unclear if they would just be temporary caretakers or long-term.
“Love, for me, is not the thing,” Kevin said. “It’s an emotion. It can come and go and be stronger and weaker. You make the commitment, and then the rest of it happens.
“From the very first moment, I committed to these kids. If it was fostering, fine. If it would have been a transition, fine. It would hurt like hell, but it would have been in keeping with that commitment.
“I’m all in.”
“Absolutely loving them took not a second,” Ali said. “But I wasn’t naive about the challenges. There’s a difference between happiness and joy.
“I can take hard times and sadness because my life is full of joy.”
The boy, then named Eskindir, arrived in the Pattersons’ care on Oct. 24. The girl, Rediet, who was still being treated at the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh for her injuries, followed two days later.
Eskindir, then 6, was nervous at first, constantly wanting to please Kevin and Ali.
He asked what at first seemed like strange questions: “Which bathroom can I use?” and “Where should I eat?”
When they visited Rediet at the Children’s Institute, Eskindir told Ali that he couldn’t use the public bathroom there because he was “dirty.”
As the court proceedings revealed, Eskindir had sometimes been forced to eat meals in the dark in the bathroom at the Barbour home. If he had accidents, he was made to lie on a urine-soaked mattress — so often it caused his skin to break down.
The Pattersons reiterated to him that he could use whatever bathroom he wanted, that he would eat at the dining room table with them.
“He was sad a lot,” Ali said. “He grieved. Lots of losses.”
Eskindir was also afraid to go to sleep.
One night, Lila, then 4, told him that she would stay awake for him because she knew he was so tired.
By December, Eskindir told the family that he didn’t like his birth name, which means “Defender of Mankind.” He told Mama Ali and Daddy Kevin — that’s what he decided to call them because he thought using just their first names was disrespectful — he wanted to change it to a “Superhero” name. Although the Pattersons urged him to keep Eskindir, he didn’t want to. CYF ultimately agreed that he could use the name Robert, a common name in Ali’s family, and it has since been legally changed.
The Pattersons learned to be careful with him — to slow things down so he wouldn’t become fearful or flinch.
They also realized he was a ball of energy who always needed to be moving. They put a small trampoline for him in the family room.
“You can either struggle to change the child in ways that aren’t necessary, or you can change the environment,” Ali said.
When the Pattersons agreed to foster Eskindir and Rediet, they had heard that the little girl had been paralyzed on one side and blinded from the abuse.
Although she had recovered remarkably well — she was neither blind nor paralyzed — she was on seizure medications, had a completely flat affect and toppled over easily.
At his first visit to see Rediet at the Children’s Institute, Will Patterson began playing with her, and when he tried to leave, the toddler said, “Come back.”
The family thought she wouldn’t be speaking at all.
“It was exciting to see the potential there for relationships, as well as for healing,” Ali said. “It did not take long to have the sparkle in her eyes.”
Didi, as they now call her, started out going to occupational and speech therapy several times a week.
By January, she was trying to assert her independence.
“From 2 on, she has just been … she’s just a light,” Ali said.
Kevin says it’s as if she’s gone through a system reboot.
“She just started over,” he said.
But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t fallout from what happened to her. Because of her brain injury, Didi can’t be rough-housed.
“All my kids know something catastrophic happened to her,” Ali said.
She has poor impulse control. It makes her incredibly outgoing and friendly — willing to hug anyone — but Kevin worries that it could also mean increased risk-taking, or vulnerability, later in life.
Nonetheless, the Pattersons are grateful for how quickly Robert and Didi have adapted.
“Once someone feels safe, then you can work on everything else,” Ali said.
• • •
One recent evening, as Kevin and Ali sat in their living room talking to a reporter, Didi came twirling into the room in Iris’ dark blue polka-dot jumper, her eyes wide and happy.
Lila, who studies Mandarin, entered from a hallway doing a cartwheel.
Iris, a tall and beautiful girl, wondered what was being talked about. Will, a quiet and lanky 13-year-old, just wanted to study at the dining room table. And Robert, with a huge, infectious grin, wanted to put off going to bed.
The Pattersons describe Will as a great big brother who has a particularly strong relationship with Didi, and is the only one allowed to use a nickname with Robert — “Berto.”
The Pattersons said they’re careful to make sure Will is well-supported, has other relatives where he can go for breaks, and gets his own one-on-one time with his parents.
The family court case and criminal case against the Barbours dragged on for nearly two years. In June 2014, Douglas and Kristen Barbour pleaded no contest to two counts of child endangerment and agreed to give up their parental rights to Robert and Didi.
That opened the way for the Pattersons to adopt the two children, which became official on July 22.
Kevin, a psychiatrist for Hillman Cancer Center, and Ali, who teaches film at the University of Pittsburgh, have helped the children learn about their lives in Ethiopia, though information about Didi is scant.
Robert was placed at 4 in a care center in Harar, Ethiopia, where he remained until his adoption by the Barbours.
Ali worked with an investigator in Ethiopia and found Robert’s previous foster family in Ethiopia.
“His foster mother wanted it to be clear she still calls him her ‘son,’ ” said Ali, who sends her pictures and updates.
“I think it’s so important that he knows how much he was loved in Ethiopia,” she said. “He deserves to have his own story, and that’s been taken away from him. That’s the worst part.”
Robert tells stories of memories he has from Ethiopia. At first, he spoke a lot about his life with the Barbours, but not often now. He goes to a play-based therapist.
“They have a lot of big questions,” Ali said.
“There’s nothing that can’t be talked about,” she said, though they make sure the responses are age-appropriate.
“It’s hard to have no more answers than we do. Nothing will ever explain the violence.”
No one involved in the children’s lives at that time, from their community, family or church, ever apologized to Robert and Didi, Ali said.
“Nobody said, ‘I’m sorry you suffered,’ ” she said. “That’s what makes me angriest and saddest. Their suffering is unimaginable.”
Robert, who is in second grade and studies German, loves the idea of designing things, including prosthetic limbs. He recently made a paper boomerang and then worked on various modifications, such as making it heavier and lighter, to see what effects the changes would have. He speaks without an accent and talks about marrying a woman like Michelle Obama and how he’d make coffee for her first thing every morning.
Didi attends preschool three days a week and loves gymnastics, art and dress-up.
Something Kevin has learned through the adoption of Robert and Didi, he said, is the meaning of resilience.
“I try to substitute the negative emotions with the wonder of these two kids,” he said.
The family goes once a month to Tana, an Ethiopian restaurant in East Liberty, to spend time with other Pittsburgh families who have adopted from Ethiopia.
“The Ethiopian community is very loving and supportive of our kids,” Ali said. “I can be a lot of things, but I can’t be black, and I can’t be Ethiopian.”
After the Barbours entered their pleas, the Pattersons debated whether to make a victim impact statement at sentencing, knowing that it — and they — would become part of the public record.
The Pattersons felt that they had an obligation to all children whose abuse or neglect might not be reported.
“There were so many missed opportunities for help for our children, from mandated reporters to people in the community,” Ali said. “People need to understand that it isn’t their job to determine whether abuse and neglect are happening, but to report their concerns.”
Kristen Barbour, who entered her plea to a felony, was sentenced to six to 12 months in jail with daily work release to go home to care for her biological children. Douglas Barbour was sentenced to five years probation.
The Common Pleas Court judge who sentenced them, Jeffrey A. Manning, said at sentencing he did not believe the couple acted with malice.
Ali viewed Kristen Barbour’s work release to care for her biological children as an indication that the court viewed adopted children as different, since it decided that a woman who abused her adopted kids could be trusted with her biological children.
The Pattersons know that someday, Robert and Didi would look themselves up and see all the stories about what had happened to them.
“I don’t want them to be those kids,” Ali said. “They’re our kids.
“We wanted them to see themselves not as forever victims but as the resilient people they are, and we want them to know they are admired and adored.” ”
Family creates a home for Ethiopian adoptees abused by previous parents[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 3/8/15 by Paula Reed Ward]