Books relating to Child Protection
Books on child protection and related topics appear here ordered by publication date.
This book looks into the mind of adopted children. An extraordinary number of them graduate to anti-social adults, including serial murderers and (adoptive) parent killers. The author has spent years corresponding with adopted killers in prison, allowing us to know how they think.
The worst part of the adoption process is never knowing their own identity. Adoptees frequently go into families having nothing in common with their own personalities, leading to a childhood without any adult understanding or tolerance. When an adoptee is sentenced, adoptive parents make spiteful statements suggesting they are deserving of their fate. Natural mothers, if they can be found, still express unending love.
This book should end any notion that adoption is a "solution" for foster children. The book is riddled with typos.
Have you heard the story about the middle-aged man who divorced his wife for a younger model? Ann Widdecombe hasn't. This book deals with the reality of contemporary family life, not the feminist stereotype.
The principal character is a divorced father, victim of a psychopathic wife who walks away with his children, then ruthlessly harasses her former husband. The goal of protecting his children requires him to cooperate with his tormentors.
Side plots deal with many other aspects of family breakdown and intentional family destruction. A father who was abandoned by two wives cares for the children of both, and works two jobs to do so. Social services can only view his time away from his kids as neglectful, and seizes one of them. The next day he abducts his own son and flees the country. The flight ends a year later in an armed standoff, with the boy becoming an orphan after his father goes to jail.
Another divorced father is falsely accused when his vengeful ex-wife gleefully finds a pornographic picture in her daughter's possession. While no one believes in his guilt, the purgatory of waiting for a trial drives him to suicide.
In government agencies responsible for providing family services, parents who have spent a decade or more raising a family are bossed around by young girls just out of school. They use a pattern of lies to disrupt the lives of their clients according to their own prejudices.
Not all of the problems are legal. When a woman takes her husband's kids, a teacher sides with the mother against the father even before the commencement of legal proceedings.
This book breaks new ground in describing family life. Because it handles the subject in such a politically incorrect way, it is unlikely to get any awards.
Four-year-old Andrew (Andy) Setzer was murdered on August 2, 1999 by his foster mother.
A murder case leaves behind lots of evidence in the form of transcripts, tapes, and notes of interviews. Chapter 11 assembles the story from all these sources into one devastating narrative. Stephen King could not have written such a shocking story -- no one would have believed him. Only fact can be this horrifying. Other parts of the book give the biographies of the mostly pitiful characters in the life of the child, and a day-by-day account of the trial.
Andrew was born to a methamphetamine-addicted mother. At the age of seventeen months, California CPS took him from his parents, both then under arrest, and placed him with relatives until two months short of his third birthday, when he went into the care of strangers. He quickly wound up in the care of a family Goodenough identifies with the pseudonyms Mike and Lynn Herman, though a search of contemporary news accounts on the internet identifies them as Mike and Lynn Henry. This was a prosperous couple that treated Andy well, and wished to adopt him. But acting on anonymous and frivolous complaints, CPS grabbed him back from his class at Montessori school on June 3, 1999. His final sixty days were in the custody of a homicidal foster mother, Theresa Barroso, and her husband, Alvin Robinson.
The title comes from Theresa's efforts to toilet-train Andy. Near bedtime she prevented Andy from drinking any liquids. The home was in Riverside County California, on the southern margin of the Mojave desert, and the season was summer. Catching thirsty Andy stealing a drink of water touched off the final fatal attack.
At the murder trial nearly two years later, Theresa's guilt was never in doubt. The real wrongdoing in this case was by the social workers, whose negligence was comparable to giving a loaded gun to a child. Even the judge expressed disgust that the real culprits were beyond the reach of the law. Instead the police and prosecutor went after Theresa's husband Alvin. He had an intellect below 99 out of a hundred people. In his relations with Theresa, she dominated him. The main controversy at the trial was: can a person of such low intellectual skill be held accountable for failure to prevent a homicide by his wife?
The author harbors no bias against social workers. The story is from the point of view of someone who believes the child-protection system should be reformed, not abolished. The absence of bias makes the story that much more convincing. And unlike a book with a slant, it is possible to draw conclusions not mentioned by the author. Had CPS never intervened, the child would now likely be in the care of his grandmother, who has successfully raised Andy's half-brother. In this case at least, even a family of drug-addicts make better parents than the child protection system. The dysfunctional foster mother does not characterize most foster homes, but neither is she rare. This case is atypical only in the degree of the maltreatment. And why did CPS take Andy from a perfectly good adoptive family? When a young child enters foster care, the child protection agency gets a subsidy from appropriated funds for each day the child in in their care. The subsidy is greater than the payments to the foster parents and the difference is the vigorish that supports the agency. For an ordinary child, 18 years of foster care can earn a net fee in the area of a quarter million dollars. Andy was born with methamphetamine in his body, qualifying him as the more heavily subsidized special needs. While the actual dollar values are never published, it is entirely reasonable that the agency could have earned a million dollars by keeping Andy in foster care until age 18. They did not want to lose out by having him adopted.
As for weaknesses, the main characters are mentioned by name, but many minor characters only by pseudonym. No major publisher wanted the book, it has only a minor publisher, and copies can be purchased directly from the author. The book could benefit from proofreading by an English-major, since there are a number of minor errors in spelling and grammar. Also, direct quotes appear in quotation marks, but paraphrases do not, so it sometimes appears that the author, not the characters, are descending into coarse language. The book could also use some professional publicity, since it ought to reach a large audience.
An order from Donna Goodenough produced an autographed copy.
Some people become foster parents purely for the children (sometimes unable to give birth for biological reasons), some just for the money. Mary Callahan is in both camps. Candor about her own faults enhances her credibility.
It is entirely a distaff book. The thrice divorced Callahan found that even as a single woman she could become a foster parent. Each child is cared for by a foster parent supported by a team of professionals, but support in social worker jargon means people who tell you what to do. The teams are almost entirely female, and decisions are made through a process that from the outside looks more like a catfight. The ultimate catfighting tool is the abuse accusation, wielded against Mary herself when other team members felt annoyance at her requests. There is no suggestion anywhere that men have any role in raising children.
The biggest limitation of the book is in the prologue: "I will deal with confidentiality issue by changing the names and identifying details". This makes it impossible for an outsider to confirm or refute most of the facts in the book.
The author recounts with some disdain how she first caught the social workers handling her case in a lie. She reports somewhat more inconspicuously about her own lies, and instructions to her foster children to lie.
The incompetence of the system is well illustrated by the story of a girl she calls Tina. She had a chromosome defect undiagnosed by any of the professionals in the child protection agencies. Mary spent time in the library, and diagnosed it as Hurler-Scheie syndrome, a condition producing the behaviors seen in the girl, and dooming her to death in her twenties. The agency would not admit to the falsity of their child abuse allegations by returning the girl to her parents.
One of her wards is a boy who engaged in a sexual activity that Mary suspects was within the normal range. Still, he is sent to a sex-abuse counselor. After a year, Mary realizes that, common in such cases, the real harm to the boy came not from the sexual activity, but from the remedial therapy. Does she stop the therapy? No, that would reduce the boy to a lower level of care, costing Mary two thousand dollars a month.
Mary has a ward who is destined, according to the courses she is obliged to take, to an adult life in jails and psychiatric institutions. The only real hope for the boy is his natural mother. Mary is seduced by the large foster payments. She lives comfortably, while the natural mother lives in poverty, exacerbated by the mother's financial responsibility to pay for the foster care.
One chapter points out a familiar abuse that previously had no authoritative source. Social workers who want to wreck a family simply give them more chores than they can possibly carry out. Either the family does them all, losing their employment, or fails to do some of them, forfeiting their children for neglect.
From Rough Handling on the Way to the Car:
I've been told I'm an unusual foster parent because I don't feel competitive with the birth mothers. Probably because I've already raised my family, so I don't need the kids to see myself as a mother. I am able to share them with their real mothers. I sometimes wish I could live next door to their mothers, so they could get what they need from me, safety and material goods, but run next door for the one thing I can't give, unconditional love. Though I would never say it to a child, on some level they must know that I would return them like a sweater that didn't fit under certain circumstances. Those circumstances could be behavioral, financial, even health.
If I was diagnosed with cancer, the kids would move on and contact would be lost almost immediately. The new foster home would want that and I would probably be relieved. That is why I always feel funny when foster kids say, "I love you". And they say it all the time, usually within days of moving in. It would be cruel not to say it back, but it is rarely true, at least at the beginning. Everyone deserves someone in his or her life who really means it. That's usually the real family in my experience, no matter what they did or didn't do to lose the child to the state.
Here is one of the vignettes between chapters narrated by Mary Callahan in her role as nurse:
The little girls were well behaved. I might not have even known they were there, were it not for their tiny sneakers peaking out from under the curtain and the verbal abuse being hurled at them.
"Shut up, you little brats!"
"Sit down, you big babies!"
The woman is under a lot of stress, I told myself as I flew by taking care of other parents. I'm sure her husband is too. Being in an emergency room doesn't bring out the best in people. I wished I could detect a hint of feeling for the girls, something to indicate better parenting under the circumstances. There was none.
"Are you listening to that?" her nurse asked me when we ran into each other for a moment at the desk.
"Yeah", I answered. "I can't believe the way she talks to her children".
"Oh, those aren't her children", Donna told me. "Those are her foster kids".
A half-dozen errors in spelling and grammar have slipped into this self-published book. (Example: peaking). It should be worthy of a professional publisher.
The author is active in opposing the child protection in Maine, and can be found at babystealer.
The author was a ward of the state of Massachusetts during his own childhood. The book describes foster care from the child's point of view.
This is a one-sided account of a divorce and loss of child custody. Opposing views are omitted, or reduced to an occasional edited sentence. In 22 pictures, only Carline and her children appear.
But the story is credible to anyone familiar with the operation of family law. Carline's husband Craig Merkley was sterile, so she conceived her babies with the aid of an unknown sperm donor. She gave birth to triplets on January 1, 1993. Her husband started a relationship with a woman who was a master of using, and abusing, the family law system. With her connivance, he filed divorced papers, misrepresenting his intentions to his wife until obtaining "temporary" custody. Once granted, courts rarely alter their temporary rulings, and the rest of the case is the gradual erosion of the mother's finances, and access to her own children. She employed a long list of lawyers, none really helping her case. Her income exceeded her husband's, and she was required to pay him support, which she paid him directly, yet the Ontario Family Responsibility Office (FRO) continued to dun her to pay the same amounts. Efforts to resolve with problem with the FRO were futile. Experts hired by her husband returned reports uniformly favoring their client. Her home was sold by the sheriff to pay Craig's legal bills.
A familiar circumstance not otherwise in print is that when several witnesses appear in the same case by affidavit, they all write in the same literary style.
Carline was in the position usually occupied by fathers, stripped of custody of her children but required to pay for them. She joined a father's rights group, where she was the only woman.
In October 2000, faced with the complete loss of access to her children, she took her children to Nova Scotia, then to Mexico, where she was arrested three months later and returned to Canada.
In an indication of the relative severity of criminal and family law, Carline was charged with the crime of kidnaping, yet in a 300 page book, that case occupies only three pages, the rest dealing with family law. The jury acquitted her of criminal charges, but the crown reinstated the charges and she must face another trial.
Carline can expect no organized support. She is anathema to father's groups, because of her abduction of her children from their "father". No feminist group will stick up for a non-custodial parent.
Did Craig act in the best interests of the children, or out of vindictiveness? The book ends in the summer of 2002. In January of 2004, Carline, now with a new partner Larry Finck, gave birth to another baby, Mona-Clare, in Halifax. Children's Aid in Halifax presented a still-secret petition to a judge, getting a warrant to apprehend the baby. Carline suspects that Craig Merkley originated the complaint. Mona-Clare was seized after a three-day standoff with the police, and Carline and Larry Finck were convicted of several crimes related to the standoff.
The book is published by Carline VandenElsen herself, and is not available through most book dealers. As with many self-published books, it suffers from a number of elementary errors in spelling and grammar, for example, Sarnia MP Roger Galloway (instead of Gallaway).
This book has been driven from bookstores by the threat of litigation, but copies are available from:
92 Ontario Street
Stratford Ontario N5A 3H2
This well-written book contains some excellent illustrations of the failings and weaknesses of the current child-care system, and is an insight into the mind of people who would reform it by giving it more money and power. The principal reformer is Marcia Lowry, a lawyer who, with the backing of the ACLU, spent two decades suing the City of New York on behalf of lead plaintiff Shirley Wilder. The lawsuit was settled, but in the end accomplished nothing. The relief proposed by Marcia Lowry might have been beneficial in the time of Dickens, but while the suit was in litigation, the baby-boom children aged out of the system. The book is oblivious to the fact that today's foster children are not unwanted babies, but stolen goods. Pop-culture advice warns that the ACLU habitually wins a case without benefiting the client. In the case of Shirley Wilder, she was signed on as a client at the age of 13, she remained in foster care for the rest of her childhood, she never held a job in her life, and descended into a life of drugs and prostitution. She died of AIDS at the age of 39. She gave birth to a son when she was 14, and his childhood, also completely in the foster care system, is chronicled as well. Most of the lives are reconstructed from the notes of social workers, without ever mentioning, or compensating for, that profession's mendacious tradition. Marcia Lowry is now separated from the ACLU and has her own organization called Children's Rights Inc. Under her new umbrella, she is once again suing the City of New York, this time under the caption Marisol vs Giuliani. During the time her suits have been under way, the foster care population of New York City has risen from 15 thousand to 50 thousand. The system is now in the hands of an administrator who thinks the solution to all childhood problems is immediate placement of the child in foster care. There is no hint anywhere in the book that natural parents may be better for children than state-run foster care.
A lawyer and a journalist collaborated on this book about the ritual Satanic abuse scare of the 1980's. It contains details of how children were induced to testify to fantastic accounts of abuse. The scare is now over, but the techniques remain in active use throughout the social services industry. One man, Gerald Amirault sat in prison until April 30, 2004 when he was released on parole. He is still on record as a felon.
A history of psychiatric treatments from the eighteenth century to the present. It covers the progression from bloodletting to electric-shock, lobotomy, neuroleptic drugs and the latest atypical drugs.
Margaret A Hagan
A work critical of psychiatric experts and the evidence they provide. This book contains a full chapter called `In the Best Interests of the Child' dealing with child protection. Copy of the book (pdf).
The East German government [had] a secret policy of forced adoptions, a cruel, vengeful practice in which hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children were stolen from parents whose only crime was that they had gone west or opposed the government.
Chapter 15 follows the story of one such case, child Aristoteles, born in 1966 to Gabriele Püschel and Nikolas Kapogiannis. The couple was married in a religious ceremony not recognized by the state. When a court needed to terminate Gabriele's parental rights after her flight to the west it used the totalitarian edict: "The accused's permission for the adoption for the child of Aristoteles Püschel is replaced".
Gabriele and her other son, born eight years after Aristoteles, were lovers of language and music. When mother and adult son, renamed Anton after his adoption, were reunited just before the fall of the wall, he shared none of his family's interests — he had turned into a proletarian, a machinist, a construction worker, a window cleaner.
The best book describing the abuses committed in the name of child protection. Mr Wexler's recommendations are toward reform, rather than abolition. The quality and renown of this book is such that any scholarly work on child protection not mentioning it is probably biased in favor of the child protectors.
A book about the German Lebensborn organization. Nazi Germany used Lebensborn (fountain of life) for two functions, breeding Nordic children to populate the new Reich, and seizing Nordic appearing children from occupied countries and transferring them to otherwise childless German families. The methods of the latter enterprise are uncannily similar to those of Children's Aid. Here is a quotation from Chapter 14 titled The Kidnapings:
In Poland they were and still are called "The Brown Sisters of the SS".
Actually these women belonged to the NSV, established in 1933 to devote itself to the welfare of the German people. Under the aegis of the Youth Office, their activities covered the whole of Europe; they established maternity homes and creches for the armies of occupation and reception centers for children "captured" from the enemy. To those who suffered under them, these fanatical Nazi women, totally dedicated to the Fuehrer, were perhaps even more loathsome than the killers of the SS or the SD; stony-hearted robots was one description. The sight of one of these women -- often of mature age -- brutally snatching from its mother's arms a baby who was smiling at her remains an intolerable memory to those who experienced it.
The special training of the "Brown Sisters" included intensive courses in which they were taught the racial criteria by which Nordics could infallibly be distinguished, and they were instructed in how to observe a child without being noticed themselves; they were also taught ways of abducting it in the street, at home or at school. These courses were being organized by a special department of the RuSHA or the Gestapo in Berlin even before the outbreak of the war. Later, in view of the poor results obtained by improvised baby raids, the selection and training of the physiognomists became stricter. Students of the "Physiognomic Brigade" ended by being able to spot at a glance the fault that might be concealed beneath a shock of fair hair or in blue eyes that were too Slavonic.
Their technique of approaching children in the street did not vary greatly. A hungry child would be offered biscuits, sweets, sometimes even a bar of chocolate or a slice of bread, this creating an opportunity to question it about its parents, its home, the color of its brothers' and sisters' hair. That same evening they submitted their list of names and addresses to special teams of kidnapers, with carbon copy to the RuSHA. The latter would carry out a rough preliminary sifting by consulting the records at the town hall. Several days would elapse, and then the child would be taken, the abduction generally taking place at night. The child's parents would never see it again.
Now it was the turn of the medical and other examiners. Children who passed the tests were taken to a Lebensborn reception center; the others generally disappeared without trace, often being dispatched to a concentration camp. Luckier children might be returned to their parents without explanation. The kidnaping game does not seem to have been played in accordance with any fixed rules. The decision whether a child was to be sent to its death or back to its parents depended on the whim of a medical examiner or even of the SS man on guard at the door.
The worst fate was reserved for "Nordic" families refractory to Nazism. Not content with taking away their children, the SS vented their fury on the parents, who often suffered the death penalty as a result. Hundreds of families were thus liquidated. In such cases the Lebensborn and the NSV shared the booty; the former took the children under six, and the latter took those between six and twelve and placed them immediately in such special institutions as boarding schools, Reich schools, Napolas (Nazi political schools) or the BDM.
Psychological methods were used to make a child forget or even hate its parents. He would be told they were dead, and that there was nothing honorable about the way they died. The mother would be said to have been of doubtful morality and to have died of tuberculosis, drink or other shameful disease, while the father had died of cancer or drink, or been killed by Polish bandits. The object was to give the child a sense of inferiority about its origins and of gratitude to the Germans who had rescued it from the degeneracy of its home environment.
Though the pretexts differed, note the operational similarities:
Other similarities dealt with elsewhere in the book:
The horror of seeing a child abduction amid smiles is as great today as under the Lebensborn, and accounts for the absence of a single client reporting a good experience with Children's Aid.
Here is the text of the Nuremberg Military Tribunal ruling this activity a crime against humanity. Look for case number 8.
J Patrick Gunning
This work explains public choice theory. Chapter 14 shows the relationship between legislators who appropriate funds and the agencies that receive the funds. It is to the advantage of the agencies to conceal information from the legislators, an action formally known as information asymmetry. This is the true reason Children's Aid keeps its actions secret -- protecting the child is only a pretext. Unfortunately, this work is accessible only to readers with a high tolerance for boredom.
Aleksandr I Solzhenitsyn
The author is a Nobel prize winner for literature. From the chapter The Bluecaps, here is part of his essay on the mindset of the evildoer:
We would prefer to say that such people [evildoers] cannot exist, that there aren't any. It is permissible to portray evildoers in a story for children, so as to keep the picture simple. But when the great world literature of the past -- Shakespeare, Schiller, Dickens -- inflates and inflates images of evildoers of the blackest shades, it seems somewhat farcical and clumsy to our contemporary perception. The trouble lies in the way these classic evildoers are pictured. They recognize themselves as evildoers, and they know their souls are black. And they reason: "I cannot live unless I do evil. So I'll set my father against my brother! I'll drink the victim's sufferings until I'm drunk with them!". Iago very precisely identifies his purposes and his motives as being black and born of hate.
But no; that's not the way it is! To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he's doing is good, or else that it's a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.
Macbeth's self-justifications were feeble -- and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb too. The imagination and the spiritual strength of Shakespeare's evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology.
Ideology -- that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own, and others' eyes, so that he won't hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood and the happiness of future generations.
Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions. This cannot be denied, nor passed over, nor suppressed. How, then, do we dare insist that evildoers do not exist?
With those children, he thought, that wretched woman must lead a life of terror. Another year, two years, and they would be watching her night and day for symptoms of unorthodoxy. Nearly all children nowadays were horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party. On the contrary, they adored the Party and everything connected with it. The songs, the processions, the banners, the hiking, the drilling with dummy rifles, the yelling of slogans, the worship of Big Brother -- it was all a sort of glorious game to them. All their ferocity was turned outwards, against the enemies of the State, against foreigners, traitors, saboteurs, thought-criminals. It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children. And with good reason, for hardly a week passed in which The Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak -- 'child hero' was the phrase generally used -- had overheard some compromising remark and denounced its parents to the Thought Police.