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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009

    AK - Jessica Beagley for abuse of adopted 7yo son, Anchorage, 2011

    These stories always give me such pain as I'm the mother of a number of very challenging special needs adopted children and an advocate for children. You'll notice that this boy and his twin were adopted at age 5. My guess, knowing the Russian adoption system, is that they spent at least part of their lives institutionalized. That changes a child.

    This family needs support. No amount of punitive measures will ever reach a child who is unattached nor imprinted with pleasing his family. I've been in this woman's shoes and I know the heartache. You want a child to love you back and to make some attempt at behaving himself. When they don't and you don't have the proper support and guidance, tragedy can ensue--unless you have training and support in dealing with the challenges. It takes unending patience, fortitude and creativity....and a strong support system.

    ETA: Physical punishment and inflicting pain will never work and is absolutely wrong, IMO. I want to be clear about that. That worsens the situation and further harms the child's spirit. But there are methods that work. There is hope.

    I'm sure there will be many that call for trouncing the woman. But please do a little research, first, on what living with an unattached/unbonded child is like and check out the lack of services for families currently available. Like the article says, it's not all black and white. My prayers are with that family. They can make it. They just need lots of help....now!!


    Alaska woman on 'Dr. Phil' charged with child abuse

    "The wife of an Anchorage police officer has been charged with child abuse following her appearance on a Dr. Phil show in which a video shows her disciplining her adopted child with hot sauce and a cold shower, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

    The 7-year-old victim was adopted with his twin brother from a Russian orphanage two years ago, according to a local adoption agency, the newspaper reports.

    According to court documents, the Dr. Phil video shows Jessica Beagley, 36, yelling at the boy, putting hot sauce in his mouth, and forcing him, crying, into a cold shower...."

    more at link
    Last edited by Missizzy; 01-28-2011 at 02:49 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009

    The show was promoted locally with video clips of the upcoming episode. I understand and appreciate your position on adoptive families needing support. Having said that, there is no way that she didn't understand that she was humiliating and intimidating this young boy, further traumatizing him. It is to her credit that she reached out for help. Prayers that the emotional harm she has contributed to may be healed and the rest of this little boys childhood will be in a healthy environment with loving, supportive, nurturing memories that will lessen these bad memories.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Around here somewhere
    Another thing that I have noticed is that sometimes, when a child is adopted, their new family often expects immediate gratitude and respect. This is no way is a blanket statement that applies to all adoptive families, and in some cases, I don't think it's a conscious thought. But if you subconsciously expect to be that smiling family on the adoption agency billboard within a matter of days, then you will be disppointed, and you'll get frustrated and angry that much faster.

    I will confess, there are days when my son pushed me to the absolute limits and still does, on occasion. He'll be five next month, a classical autistic, and I had no idea how to handle him when he was about 2. Before he started intervention services, he was...uh...the nicest word I can use is uncontrollable. Oddly, that was not when I have come the closest to losing my cool with him, I felt it was my fault at that point. Obviously, I wasn't raising him right, to my eyes, or he would have been better behaved. After we got him into the services, when his behavior didn't immediately improve, that was when I could have (didn't but could have) done something that I really would have regretted. It became his fault, to my mind, that he wasn't working through his issues fast enough.

    I tell that story to be able to say that I understand where some of these parents are coming from. I don't condone it, obviously, there is never a good reason for child abuse. I never completely lost my cool with my son, but I think part of that was because I did know that he had a disability. If I didn't know what was wrong with him, I would likely have snapped. And that's what a lot of adoptive parents are facing, because it can be hard for a quick diagnosis, if they are having problems, who is to say if it is from the adoptive process or from a treatable disorder, until they have time to monitor them. (ETA: To clarify, my son is not adopted, but I used his story to point out that many adopted children, especially early on, and even later, can lash out in ways that are much like what I went through with him.)

    I don't condone it, but I don't think that adoptive parents or parents of special needs kids get the support that they need, and oftentimes they don't get the full picture of what they will be facing. It's horrible, and it just creates more victims of a preventable crime. But I see how it can happen, and why it seems to happen in adoptive homes, as well as biological homes.
    JMO. Unless there's a link, I can't prove it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Missizzy - I love ya to death, but dang! Who dreams up hot sauce in a child's mouth for punishment? A parent out of control generally hits a child out of frustration. Doesn't sit around dreaming up torturous acts????

    It is very hard to understand this. Also, why did she go on Dr. Phil? Was she looking for help or did she just need money? Dr. Phil pays his guests, transportation to and from the show, etc. etc.

    The cold shower for a child completely out of control - maybe, maybe I can buy that to get them to catch their breath and calm down so you can talk to them. It's a stretch for me and not something I would do, but a quick in and out, I can see that might be effective. I don't know how long she kept him there, but I would think anything over the time it took to shock them just a bit, would be too long. But the hot sauce -- no way am I buying that as effective for anything. Sorry.

    It is just so mean. I don't like mean. Poor little guy!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Salem--You'd be surprised at how often hot sauce is used as punishment. Truly. I remember being shocked once, in a Texas cafe, to see a mother demand that her young son stick out his tongue as she dabbed Tobasco sauce on it for saying a bad word. It's akin to using soap.

    As for the cold showers, that tactic is so common that every foster care agency I know of actually has a prohibition against it in their rules. I've used a cold shower one time--to try to bring a child out of a night terror--and it didn't work. The fact that the woman laughed at how time-outs don't work, tells me that either the child has special needs or is unattached. I could provide hundreds of articles about the issue but it's all linked to attachment, bonding, and imprinting. And that is for a normally developing child. For a child with ID, DD, or on the spectrum...all bets are off. I used to counsel families that, "Yes, you could beat him with a huge stick and he still wouldn't listen. So, why do it? Let's come up with another plan." There are methods but they have very little to do with typical parenting. The irony, though, is that once you learn them, they make you a better parent to even a normally developing and attached child.

    In reading my post again, I sound as if I am defending the mother. I am not. I am merely validating that she is most likely overwhelmed and exhausted. It is tremendously costly and time-consuming to adopt internationally and no family wishes to admit failure.

    I'm currently helping a parent try to find a residential treatment facility for a child who was adopted from Africa several years ago. The child has been diagnosed with Attachment Disorder and is out of control. Yet the parent is a LEO and a school resource officer. The parent has a tremendous amount of experience in parenting and working with children and yet the family home has become a battleground. The cost of the treatment facility we've located is $7000/month and insurance will not pay for it. Being that internationally adopted children receive no adoption assistance, families are on their own. Failure means both heartbreak, dashed dreams and huge expenses.

    NMKs, you and I almost always are on the same page. You are correct about the gratitude issue. Birth children certainly exhibit no gratitude (until about age 26) and why should adopted children? To be loved is an entitlement.

    I've always warned families considering international, special needs, or older child adoption that "if you are looking for gratitude, please adopt a rescue dog" and "if you are looking for love, be prepared to work hard for it and wait for years".

    My greatest hope is that this news story will serve as a cautionary tale and will open up the discourse on the needs of families in crisis.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    a little west of southern hospitality.

    Dr. Phil's 'hot sauce mom' mixed punishment and torture

    “This is completely inappropriate,” Levine told TODAY host Matt Lauer. “It’s terrible for the child being punished and for the other children in the home as well, who are witnessing.”

    This story BROKE my heart, poor child.
    "Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open." - James Dewar

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Heart of America
    Why just hot sauce; why not Draino?
    Any so called parent whom inflicts this sort of punishment on a child is sick beyond words. This is a good way to injure a child's digestive system. If conventional discipline methods arent working then get some professional intervention or give the child up.
    'Never stop fighting..never give up'

    Kevin Kostner as Eliott Ness in 'The Untouchables'

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    real life
    I must say, I missed the episode and have not seen the footage. I have never used hot sauce but you can bet your bippy I have used the old open wide and hold soap in the mouth for five seconds punishment with my own. It is amazing how well that clears up a potty mouth. I hope I am not considered abusive.

    I must add, I have only ever had to do it once per child.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    As much as I hope this debacle brings attention to the needs of older adopted children and their families, I also hope that countries can take to heart the very real and permanent damage done to children from years of institutional care.


    Russian uproar over adopted boy's punishment in US

    "Russian officials are closely watching a case involving an Anchorage mother of six who was charged with child abuse after a video that aired on "Dr. Phil" showed her punishing her adopted Russian son by squirting hot sauce into his mouth and forcing him into a cold shower.

    The case has sparked a public uproar in Russia at a time that nation is nearing completion of a bilateral treaty with the U.S. on adoptions. Russia called for the agreement following the deaths of Russian children who were abused or neglected by their adoptive American parents in recent years.

    Russian officials say they have not ruled out pushing for the return of the 7-year-old boy to his native country should his adoptive mother, Jessica Beagley, be found guilty.
    "This video caused a huge wave of outrage in Russia," said Andrey Bondarev of the Russian Consulate in Seattle. "We're going to pay attention because this behavior is absolutely unacceptable...."

    more at link

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    East Tennessee
    I've never heard of hot sauce as punishment in my life, and there's no way that is justified because other people do it anyway.

    Soap is just as wrong, imo.

    I have no trouble judging her because children are helpless and at her mercy. Humans instinctively know that children are small and helpless, and while that helps some adults learn patience and understanding, it turns others into tyrants and abusers.

    Just because someone is able to adopt a child doesn't mean they are a fit parent.

    Just because someone is able to have a biological child doesn't make them fit either.

    Human beings learn parenting skills from their own parents - all primates and higher animals do. I suspect this woman was an abused child herself to do stuff that is so diabolically wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

    I'm the proud mother of a new attorney!
    It's better to know some of the questions than all of the answers. ~ James Thurber
    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing ~ Edmund Burke
    Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense. ~ Mark Twain

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    here and there
    My parents used hot sauce - my mother actually did the deed - but my father was fully aware. I remember getting it one time for taking a dare and writing *hell* in chalk, on the sidewalk. It wasn't a dab either it was a tsp or TBS full.

    Wouldn't scrubbing all the chalk writing (there was lots) with a brush have made more sense?

    Child abuse happens when adults lose their patience or just happen to be feeling pizzy at the moment, it doesn't have to be a case of lack of attachment.

    BTW - I didn't use this one or most of my parents means of 'discipline' on my kids. Hurting, shaming, scaring kids into submission is not the way to correct behavior. There are always alternatives to abuse!!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2013

    An Alaska appeals court has affirmed the 2011 child abuse conviction of Jessica Beagley, the Anchorage "hot sauce mom"...

    In 2011, Begley received three years of probation, a suspended jail sentence of 180 days, and a suspended $2,500 fine.

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