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  1. #1
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    WA - Jeffrey & Rebecca Trebilcock for abusing 5 adopted children, Longview, 2011

    This case is deplorable. I hurt so badly when adoptive parents fail at the task gifted to them. It's clear that the adopted children were singled out for abuse and neglect. Sadly this will have a lifelong effect on the biological children's attainment of empathy. Food is a major issue with challenging kids (and over 85% of the children in the system have some level of challenge) but starvation is not the answer. Some of these children were adopted from Haiti and that tells me that they would receive no adoption assistance nor medical card. Children from Haiti present their own special challenges and a family would need an active support system to parent them. I have no doubt that the family started out with good intentions, as the neighbors say, but things took a turn somewhere along the line. Many special needs families use alarms and "systems" to deal with behaviors but there is NO excuse for a child starving. Many special needs kids will get into animal food and eat strange things. That's not the issue. The issue is that the children were starving. The parents are to blame but where was the community, the doctors, the educators? The dad works in the school system?? We've got a whole long list of mandated reporters who seem to have dropped the ball. My prayers go out to those children. I'm very hopeful that they are in highly experienced and loving homes today.

    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/122282554.html


    "A Longview couple was arrested Thursday after a two month investigation found they were severely neglecting and starving their five adopted children, according to the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office. Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock were booked into jail without bail. A spokesman for the sheriff’s office confirmed Thursday night that Jeffrey Trebilcock works for the Longview School District.

    In the first week of March, the couple's 13-year-old adopted boy was treated at Doernbecher Children's Hospital for several broken ribs, severe malnutrition, hypothermia and other ailments. He was placed into protective custody. Police said the boy was only 4 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 49 pounds...."

    and

    "...The parents are well-nourished and so are three other biological children in the home..."

    and

    "....In 2008, a doctor warned the parents that a medical condition the boy had was nearly life-threatening...."

    more at link


    Why oh why, did the doctor in 2008 not report this issue to DHS?

  2. #2
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    that is crazy why adopt if you dont want to take care of the kids. give them back to the state or wherever. They were getting money!!! what is wrong with people.
    Rest in Peace John 08/09/86-04/24/2014.

    Husband, father and son. I miss you and so does your son.

  3. #3
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    I have questions. It seems that the boy who was starved is a son who was domestically adopted and that the four daughters were adopted from Haiti. Almost all children coming in from Haiti have been institutionalized and therefore, present quite a number of challenges. The family certainly could get adoption assistance for the child adopted from the states but never for the internationally adopted children. The little boy would have qualified for an array of services--medical care and therapy and a feeding specialist. The girls from Haiti might have qualified for educational services. An adoption from Haiti costs between $15,000-30,000 and the family has four children from there? One must be approved by the state AND a federal agency before adopting internationally. The process is daunting and there is a lengthy home study process and a required supervisory period following placement.

    It sounds to me as if the family has extremely strict religious views and this would have raised alarms at the home study process and again at the Interstate Compact level. Even religious adoption agencies cannot accept or ignore corporal punishment. This should have been addressed at the required follow-up visits before the adoptions were finalized. I understand the children were home-schooled but were they receiving absolutely no services?

    How could a doctor see a child with FAS--a child at great risk--and NOT report this neglect? That was three years ago!! IMO, that doctor failed the child miserably as he's a mandated reporter. And why didn't the neighbors call when they saw children being neglected and/or abused?

    Neighbors state that the family loved their children. I can't address that but I do know that loving any child--with or without challenges--means meeting their basic needs with loving care. Sleeping in the barn and standing on the porch might sound questionable but are a common consequence for breaking family rules. Every family has their own rules. We didn't allow any video games either (for other reasons) and I don't see a night in the barn as abuse. It's a different issue entirely, though, if the child was denied warm clothes or bedding. Parents must be creative with their consequences and discipline BUT creative discipline does NOT involve hitting children with boards or cold water dousing. Both are against state law. I have to wonder if this family subscribed to Michael and Debbie Pearl's theories on child-rearing. If this abuse was not caught when it was, we could have lost another child like little Lydia Schatz. She too was the victim of an originally well-meaning religious couple who adopted internationally, isolated their children and beat them (one critically and one to death) to achieve perfect behavior. So so tragic.


    http://www.ktvb.com/news/regional/Or...122345674.html

    "....He [the son] told police that his beatings were so bad, he once felt blood running down his leg. The children were also placed outside and doused with water, ordered to stand on the porch. Four other adopted daughters were also underweight and neglected, according to a pediatrician. The four girls, remaining on a strict vegetarian diet since being removed from the home, have gained 18, 12, 10 and 18 pounds respectively. All five children have been placed in protective custody...."

    and

    "...Jeffrey Trebilcock is a part-time warehouse driver for the Longview School District. He works 5.5 hours a day for nine months of the year, district officials said...."

    more at link


    Once again, I have to ask....how did this family afford and get approved for four international adoptions?

  4. #4
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    I haven't seen information about when this family adopted the children from Haiti. Things have changed since we adopted from Haiti in 1989. Actually, there've been far more requirements. Both parents are required to travel now and the dossiers can take months to several years to process--even after the earthquake. And it's expensive. Our adoption was quick--less than 5 months from homestudy to our flight. An Evangelical Christian missionary group on the East coast arranged our adoption and it was seemingly smooth and easy from the first call. They were willing to accept the fact that we were not Evangelical but we still had to write a statement of faith. We also worked with a local private adoption agency to process the paperwork and to do our homestudy. Our trip and week long visit was pleasant--except for what I now know to have been some pedophiles I encountered running many of the informal orphanages/children's homes. Oh, if I would have known then what I know now.

    It was only after we returned home that we realized that our little three year old was tremendously mentally ill. It was one of the hardest two years of our lives as we struggled to deal with her issues with no adoption support or services. Our insurance wouldn't even accept her in those days.

    We learned, after two years, from another missionary who contacted us, that our daughter had been tremendously ritualistically abused from birth. She'd been a "scapegoat" child and had been raped repeatedly, beaten, locked in closets, and starved.

    She was diagnosed with severe attachment disorder, spectrum disorder, PTSD, and was noted to be both suicidal and homicidal at age 4. We were experienced parents (with 5 older children) but nothing had prepared us for her challenges. She wouldn't make eye contact, she gorged on food, she was non-verbal, she bit, she head-butted, she attacked an older sister with a pair of scissors in the nighttime. It was so sad to watch her struggle. We finally realized that this child needed far more than we could offer. On the day she left, she didn't even look back. We were devastated.

    She was first placed in another home without children. She killed a full grown Doberman there, by inserting pins into the dog. She was then placed in a specialized treatment center where she grew up. I've heard that she finally did speak but remains very disabled due to her early treatment.

    My point is that we pulled in all the services we could and spent a fortune trying to get our girl some help. We learned advocacy because of that little girl. Nothing worked. I can't imagine doing it without therapists, doctors and the school--a team approach. I am the most calm and unflappable mom out there but that child tested me far more than any other child I've ever parented. I grasp the flash points about food-sneaking. Trust me, I do. Where I draw the line, though, is not asking for help....not admitting that you need help or even that an adoption has sadly failed. Isolation is just never a good idea for children who might have special needs or challenges. Parents MUST be willing to accept help and services. And it's far healthier for many eyes to be on children. IMO, otherwise, a placement is doomed to failure...or tragedy.

  5. #5
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    Just an example of an adoption agency in Washington State which places children from Haiti. I have no idea if this was the agency used but this gives a good overview on the process:

    http://www.agapeadoptions.org/haiti.html

    And the home study:

    http://www.agapeadoptions.org/homestudy.html

    Remember this does not cover the "international fee". Each country has a different set of requirements and costs. Agape Adoptions places and supervises children located by another agency in Kentucky:

    http://allblessings.org/adoption/int...adoption.shtml

    Their fee schedule for Haitian adoptions. Remember that this family adopted four girls:

    http://allblessings.org/download/HaitiFeeSchedule.pdf

    For those interested in international comparisons:

    http://allblessings.org/download/ABI...Comparison.pdf

    If my math is correct, each of the Trebelcock adoptions would have cost around $26,000. If the children were placed as siblings, some of the costs would overlap but the Country fee of $14,000 must be paid for each child. It was $11,000 in 1989 so hasn't really increased that much. And remember these fees do not cover any travel and lodging expenses for the parents or children. Many agencies require more than one trip for the adoption of a child. That really adds to the expense.

    To be clear, international adoption is not an inexpensive option. My husband and I owned a construction company and built an elementary school for our first Korean adoption in 1984, a high end home for the other in 1986, and a Boys and Girls Club to pay for the Haitian adoption in 1989. We were tapped out and we were learning about the 400,000 waiting children in the US. Our next 9 placements were domestic.

  6. #6
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    Call me cynical, but when I hear about these cases I always think the parents heard if you adopt a special needs kid you get money from the government. So they adopt a kid for the paycheck, and realize only later on that they have a real child they have to deal with. In that context even normal childhood behaviors would be seen as irritating, as they are to a lot of people., but their responses are way out of proportion because they wanted a paycheck, not a kid. The kid gets no treatment because that would cut into the paycheck.

  7. #7
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    I thought of you when I read this story at work today Missizzy. I knew you would have lots to impart. Bless these poor little ones. I agree, even if faced with children with serious challenges, your answer is not to beat, starve or give up before you've begun.

    My prayers go out to these children.
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  8. #8
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    forethelost--I have to respectfully disagree. While there are surely some cases where families adopt for adoption assistance stipends (which can be equal to but no more than the appropriate foster care rate), that's actually quite rare. There are FAR easier and more pleasant ways to earn a living. And one never gets any assistance when adopting a child from a foreign country. In fact a family has to sign a contract stating that they will not apply for SSI, food stamps nor assistance for the child entering the country for a certain number of years. If the child does not stay in the adoptive home, the adoptive parents are liable for the child's foster care payments here in the US.

    As I said above, the process of adoption--domestic or international--is complicated and daunting. It's set up to weed out the families you mention or those having a fleeting rescue response. It almost always takes a couple of years to find a child and finish the home study and there's a good bit of oversight by the state (per federal mandate) during the settling in period. One has to stay very very motivated to find a child, to be approved to adopt and to complete an adoption.

    Interestingly enough, as much as I try to be respectful of DHS, they are often to blame for setting families up for failure. They are swamped with kids and will often overload families. When a family shows some success, the phone will ring off the wall. We had 7 placements in an 18 month period. Not what I would call best practice. But we had a strong support system and we immersed ourselves into the schools, therapy, and any service provided. Their were many eyes on our children--very much a team effort. We are indebted to many teachers, doctors, hospitals, the local police and on and on. We did not isolate ourselves and we used our adoption assistance funding wisely.

    IV-E funding happens to be my area of expertise so if you ever have any questions, I'd be glad to answer them. My job was to make certain that states followed the federal mandates set out in the Child Welfare Act of 1980 and to represent families in federal fair hearings when the rules were not followed.

    Agree or not, Congress decided that there must be an incentive to move children into permanency. In the 1970s, the system was completely broken and 100s of 1000s of children were languishing in care. I can recite the issue briefs written at the time. I fully believe in the wisdom of the Act. Congress was specifically committed to finding families who would accept the stipend, work with the children and stay connected to them throughout life. Studies (the Westat study for one) have shown that a child getting the same amount of assistance in adoption as he/she received in foster care actually costs the US taxpayer 1/7 of the cost due to the fact that the parent becomes the child's "case manager". The outcome for adopted children is also far brighter than that for foster children who age out of the system. Congress declared that no family shall experience a negative financial impact from adopting an older or special needs child or a sibling group. They wisely recognized that love and altruism does not buy groceries and extra bedrooms or specialized respite care.

    A great resource is the North American Council on Adoptable Children. You'll find many fact sheets there about the impact, importance and incredible success of the IV-E Adoption Assistance Program. In my opinion, AAP is an incentive to placement and a facilitator of success:

    http://www.nacac.org/

    http://www.nacac.org/adoptionsubsidy...onsubsidy.html

    This is the agency I represented before my retirement 6 years ago. Each state has hotlines and resource centers for families who are in crisis. I know this as I worked on state committees to design them. And I worked as a crisis responder for families for almost 20 years. There is help available. Beating a child with a board or starving a child is NEVER an option--for a birth child, a foster child, an adopted child--any child.

    I do agree that families can get in far too deep and not know how to climb out--especially if they've already abused a child. Disruption is seen as a failure and a reflection on a family's ability to love. Disruption of an internationally adopted child is a nightmare. It's just a sad but undeniable possible outcome of adoption. Not every match is a good one.

    I think in this case, the family must have raised funds in some way--maybe their church--to adopt these four little girls from Haiti. They obviously have a very strict and rigid parenting style and that rarely works with newly placed older children. In fact, it's a disaster waiting to happen. Look at Lydia Schatz's story.

  9. #9
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    To clarify, I don't think most people adopt for a paycheck - just that if the adoptive parents have money as a motivation it's far easier to fall into abusive patterns.

  10. #10
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    I agree that it can be a slippery slope. If a parent has set up their life to accommodate a child and is receiving assistance, it's very hard to admit that things aren't working. Everything would fall apart. This is a very real problem with large and specialized therapeutic adoptive families. They really are professionals and are on the job 24 hours/day. It's literally impossible to have an outside job when you are caring for 6 or more children with myriad issues. Their lives are their kids. Your life is a "milieu". It's hard to step back and say that you are failing with a child. And once abuse occurs, it's even harder to ask for help.

    But the only child in this family who would have qualified for assistance is the 13 year old boy who was domestically adopted. There's another very possibility, though. If children who are internationally adopt disrupt from their original homes and enter the US system, they can then qualify for AAP in another adoptive home. That's quite rare, however. In all my years of advocacy, I only dealt with a single child who qualified in that manner. I haven't found the details about these children's placement.

    Here's an update:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-no...t_charges.html

    It's sadly ironic, but the father's job was delivering lunches to the elementary schools in Longview. The family must have access to money as they posted $50,000 bond. I'm literally shocked that they allowed the biological children to stay in the home.


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  12. #12
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    Usually I can look at someone's FB or MS page and figure out where they're coming from (whether I like it or not). This guy is confusing though. I had a sense that this family was extremely religious and there's the comment of the strict vegetarian diet (which is being followed in foster care). And yet three guys who seem to be relatives seem middle of the road. One talks about fishing. Vegans and vegetarians don't fish. The news reports stated that all the kids were home-schooled and yet one young guy lists a high school. And there's a tattoo of a cross--not real typical in ultra strict religions. This story has yet to be completely told, IMO.

  13. #13
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    Photos of the Trebilcocks in court:

    http://www.katu.com/news/local/122371179.html

    "....The boy has now been diagnosed with psychosocial dwarfism. That’s severe growth impairment as a response to severe environment stress. A doctor estimates the boy will be "10 inches shorter than he would have been...."

    more at link

    This statement intrigues me as I have two children who were both prenatally exposed to alcohol and a variety of drugs (PCP and crack cocaine) who are extremely small. Our 23 year old daughter is only 4'6" and 80 lbs. She's the size of our 8 year old granddaughter but has a woman's figure. I have no idea how large she "should" have grown. Crack, especially, is known to stunt the growth of some, but not all children.

    I'm wondering how much of this boy's small size is related to his drug exposure and how much to the parent's abuse. This boy should have been an ongoing patient of a feeding specialist and a developmental pediatrician. These services are available, free of charge, to all special needs children in Washington. Even if his family chose not to apply for or accept a full medical card for him (which is his categorical entitlement due to adoption and special needs), the services would have still been provided.

    Why didn't the doctor in 2008 report this couple???? What condition did that doctor diagnose the child with?

  14. #14
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    From Wiki:

    "Psychosocial short stature (PSS) or psychosocial dwarfism, sometimes called psychogenic or stress dwarfism or the eponymous Kaspar Hauser syndrome, is a growth disorder that is observed between the ages of 2 and 15, caused by extreme emotional deprivation or stress.

    The symptoms include decreased growth hormone (GH) secretion, very short stature, weight that is inappropriate for the height, and immature skeletal age. This disease is a progressive one, and as long as the child is left in the stressing environment, his or her cognitive abilities continue to degenerate. Though rare in the population at large, it is common in feral children and in children kept in abusive, confined conditions for extended lengths of time[/B]. It can cause the body to completely stop growing but is generally considered to be temporary; regular growth will resume when the source of stress is removed...."


    This saddens me so much. If the doctor would have reported in 2008, this boy would have had a FAR greater chance of returning to normal.

    A bit O/T but of interest is that one of our sons who suffered from some of the worst of the sexual abuse years ago, was extremely small. He was raped at age 7-8 and simply stopped growing. He's a gifted athlete (a soccer striker), though, and very well built. Interestingly enough, when he "hit the wall" with his PTSD, in his late teens, and got intensive therapy and learned how to deal with his panic attacks and fell in love with a supportive young woman; that young man shot up and filled out--at age 22. It was something to see. He'd continued to look like a little boy all through his teens and is now working construction and coaching teens in soccer. He's much stronger and bigger and far more confident. I never made the connection until this very moment.

  15. #15
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    A little more info and a name of the doctor who failed to report in 2008. I cannot imagine what he was thinking:

    http://tdn.com/news/local/cc30f2c4-8...cc4c002e0.html

    "....The family had previously sought treatment for the children in Longview in 2008. At that time pediatrician Blaine Tolby warned the parents that the boy's condition was "perhaps life-threatening" and warranted a complete medical work up, Rosenzweig said. The family did not follow up with Tolby, whom [Chief criminal deputy for the sheriff's office, Charlie] Rosenzweig said "is a strong advocate for children ... and went above and beyond to try and make sure (the boy) was getting medical attention...."

    and

    "...Rebecca "Becky" Trebilcock was recognized by local 4-H officials in 2009 for her 10 years of service as a volunteer, according to Daily News archives...."

    more at link


    There's also a better time line here. I don't understand how they can call this doctor an advocate for children who went "above and beyond". He simply sent the child home to more abuse.

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