GUILTY WA - Hana Williams, 13, Sedro-Woolley, 12 May 2011


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Jul 19, 2009
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I don't see a thread on lovely little Hanna. Deaths such as this pain to no end as my life is filled with the joys and challenges of adoption. I've dedicated my life to attempting to better the lives of children through my own parenting and by advocating for adopted special needs children and their families. Let me do some research before I post again.

Note: I usually do not like to label children as "adopted" but it seems that this fact will be central in this case.

Police: Adopted child was starved, left outside to die
September 30, 2011

"The parents of a 13-year-old girl adopted from Ethiopia have been accused of starving and locking the girl outside — resulting in hypothermia that killed her. Hanna Williams was found dead in her backyard on May 12, naked and wrapped in a sheet. She had been living with her adoptive parents, Larry and Carri Williams, since coming to America from Ethiopia in 2008.

Larry Williams, 47, and Carri Williams, 40, were arrested Thursday in Skagit County and are charged with homicide by abuse. They are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail...."

more at link
Good we go again!! Michael Pearl should be held accountable for these horrid deaths.

"....In addition, according to an affidavit, Hanna was struck daily with a plumbing tool, a flexible plastic tube with a round ball on the end...."


"....In the documents, a book entitled "To Train Up a Child," was referenced..."

From the link above
How do monsters like this get past the background investigation? Or is it all about money for the adoption agencies? And why, why, why do people go through the process and spend money etc. to adopt if they really don't actually care about children?

Poor wee girl. She thought she was saved; she was probably told by everyone how lucky she was. These 'people' not only betrayed her ... they cast aspersions on the rest of us in society who only want to protect and nurture children.
I have written long, detailed posts on crimes such as this. Here's my short version of a recipe for disaster. Take a dedicated religious couple who have an altruistic mission to save a child/children. They commonly have already had great success with their biological children, so how hard could it be? Add in an international adoption where adoptive parents are led to believe they are giving the child a better life. However, most adoptions from Haiti, Ethiopia, Liberia, and other third world countries are dubious at best. Very often the children are not truly orphaned but are actually trafficked.

You'll find that many of these families are somewhat isolated and choose to homeschool. They are extremely organized, rigid and strict. They are ill prepared for a child who has been institutionalized and most probably traumatized in numerous ways. They firmly believe Michael Pearl's books concerning "spare the rod" and after a honeymoon period, expect the child to straighten up and fly right and follow family rules.

The problem is that these little ones have not typically bonded with anyone as they've had to make their own way in orphanages. They do not quickly imprint on their adoptive parents. They show no gratitude as why would a child? They have a tendency to push buttons. The adoptive mother makes her new children lovely clothes and they tear them. They are not careful with their presents and toys. Their manners are atrocious. They steal, sneak, gorge on food and hoard as it is part of their life experience.

Because the child is placed by a foreign agency and typically a religious agency here in the states, there is little or no oversight by the state agencies. Background checks are surely done but these families have no records. They have typically been exemplary parents. They are well respected within their churches and social groups.

An insidious resentment builds up between parent and child. The parent has gotten in way over their head and the child has nothing to lose. The child acts out and the punishment begins. It often seems as if the more spirited of the children almost relish the "game" of irritating their new parents and siblings. They often find humor in the situation which angers the parents all the more.

Before too long, it is impossible for the parents to ask for help or to admit defeat. Here they've spent $25,000-40,000 on an adoption and accepted the accolades of their church and friends. They lie to cover up the abuse going on in their home. They are backed into a corner. There are few resources available as the child does not qualify for an US adoption subsidy, specialized services and the family has no access through school.

The overwhelmed parents turn again to Pearl's books which advocate for breaking the spirit and instilling fear. The child then moves into a scapegoated position and the real abuse begins. The child is fearless and a tragedy occurs.

Rest in peace, little one.
LadyL--Because these adoptions are handled by private agencies, different rules apply than for US adopted children. Of course, homestudies, background checks and reference letters are done but these families have clear records and have usually raised other children. Certain religious agencies seem to look the other way concerning stern discipline which is strictly forbidden for any child exiting the US foster system.

As far as money goes, yes adoption is tremendously expensive--both private domestic adoption and international adoption. Adopting from the foster care system is either free or extremely low cost. Many people believe that by spending this money, they will receive a child free of prenatal drug exposure and trauma. With some countries which are members of the Hague Convention and which have long histories of placing children and excellent oversight, the children can be truly wonderful. We have two daughters from South Korea who came to us as infants. They were in the foster system in Korea which has been up and running since the 1950s. Our babies were healthy and very beloved in their foster homes. My husband flew to Korea to bring them home. Both adoptions were resounding successes.

Our adoption from Haiti, however, was one of the most traumatic experiences of our lives. Our child ended up growing up in a children's treatment center as we were not told of her profound early abuse and its effects. She was diagnosed as homicidal at age four years. As an adult, she still does not speak due to early horrific abuse. That is when we chose to only adopt domestic waiting children--those in the foster system...children with whom we could visit and take time getting to know.

We've spent weeks in Haiti visiting orphanages. The people who own them run the gamut. Some are wonderful and some are evil. But an institutionalized child carries tremendous baggage. They've lived a very different reality than a child experiences within a family home. They've grown an "armor" to protect themselves which can also make them "thorny" and difficult to love.

I believe that most folks set out with the purest intentions. Sometimes, there's a happy ending. Other times, there's not. I recently worked with a dear friend, a LEO, who adopted two young children from an African country. One child settled in nicely while the other was violent, combative, and cruel. It was tremendously difficult and expensive to find this child a placement. And her mother is a seasoned parent, highly trained at working with special needs kids and a LEO. She'd also spent a full year with the children in Africa. It was heart breaking to see the tumultuous upheaval in that home. No one was happy--least of all the child. Now that she's in a group setting where no love is given nor expected, she's doing far better.

I have always been and will remain a dyed-in-the-wool advocate for permanency through adoption. But the adoption of older or challenged or previously institutionalized children requires a great deal of support and finesse. Michael Pearl's book should not be on ANY adoptive parent's bookshelf.
The Probable Cause document:

ETA: I swear that I did not read this document prior to writing my posts above. It takes my breath away--just how similar it is to other cases I've seen. It's almost as if there's a template, which is tragic. When will agencies learn to support the families they place children with? When will they learn when it's time for an emergency removal? When will parents learn to ask for help before it's too late?
Ethiopia is not a signatory country for the Hague Convention at this time.
Hana's obituary:

"Hana Grace-Rose Williams, age 13, passed away unexpectedly at her home in Sedro-Woolley on Thursday, May 12, 2011.

Hana was born on July 19, 1997 in Ethiopia and came to join the Larry & Carri Williams family on August 16, 2008 at the age of 11.

Hana was a very pleasant young girl with a great personality and a beautiful smile.

She enjoyed knitting and crocheting, reading, drawing and various crafts, playing soccer and riding her bicycle...."

More at link
I am an adoptive mother to 6 children (both India and Africa), have been a foster parent, a bio parent, work at an adoption agency to find homes for kiddos whose parents are relinquishing/replacing them. I have also helped run international programs. I have adopted a infant with CP, a toddler/preschooler, two teens, and a non-related sibling group, so I understand adoption from both a personal and real life level as well as on a professional level. I have worked for two different agencies, one with a religious affiliation and one without.

Certain religious agencies seem to look the other way concerning stern discipline which is strictly forbidden for any child exiting the US foster system.

I can say that with all the agencies I have either worked for or with as both a parent and a professional, the only agency that ever "looked the other way" was a "non-religious" agency. The reason I mention this, is that I disagree with you that religion is the cause or that this issue/problem is restricted to those with a religious background. I think the real lesson here, is that NO ONE and no group of people are exempt from child abuse and therefore everyone deserves the same scrutiny. In the state I live in DHS has to sign off on all adoptions and the families intended use of discipline. Both agencies I worked for and all the ones I used with all kinds of religious affiliations did not tolerate or allow any type of corporal punishment. I have seen every type of person abuse their children. This problem is not limited to religion or it would be easier to fix.

"I have always been and will remain a dyed-in-the-wool advocate for permanency through adoption. But the adoption of older or challenged or previously institutionalized children requires a great deal of support and finesse. Michael Pearl's book should not be on ANY adoptive parent's bookshelf."

I agree that this book does not belong on anyones bookshelf and truly belongs in the garbage I also think that we need to be careful and realistic as to the pressures we put on adoptive parents. Permanency is ideal and a worthy goal, but it is NOT the only goal and should not be the only target. Many times a "die hard advocate for permanency" attitude is part of the problem for adoptive parents who think they have no other option but to stay in a terrible situation. I believe sometimes the best thing you can do for a child and even the most loving thing you can do for a child, is to recognize that you might not be the best parent for a particular child, raise the white flag and do the most loving thing for that child and allow them to find another home. Pride is the usually the number one reason that people won't relinquish, and sometimes it is due to a religion but ALWAYS it is the fear of what others will think. Because I work with replaced children, I have had the pleasure of seeing a really really hard thing for a parent and a child (a disrupted adoption) become a new and amazing story because 90% of the time that child does well in another placement, even the really tough cases.

For this family it may be religion, but religion is NOT the problem. Agencies are partly responsible, social workers, not enough training, family, friends and our laws are the real problem. The problem is that our laws are written to basically protect parents and the family unit. Once the adoption is finalized that child is seen by the law as having been born to those parents, so when an abuse report comes in, family reunification is the only and highest priority. I utterly disagree!! While those of us who are good adoptive parents see those precious children as born to us, sadly there are many who don't and those children need and deserve special protection under the law. Our laws need to change and need to protect adopted children with different provisions and tasks for DHS to carry out to determine if indeed it is best to reunify the family. I also think that 6 months of post placements for Internationally adopted kids is not enough. There should be continued oversight possibly once a year for the first 3 years with one on one alone time with children to determine their true well being, interview with a family friend and maybe it would be helpful if the agency conducting the report was not the placing agency so there was no bias to the family, the placement or the country.

You can blame religion if you want, but it will not solve anything or find a solution. We need to change the before, during and after process if we want real change and we need to change the laws.

I also think that while you may be aware of child trafficking, I have been in the adoption world for 12 years now and I have only ever been aware of one country with real ongoing child trafficking issues. That being said, I am sure that it has been and will be an issue from time to time, but I believe it is rare and not common in most countries currently placing children.

Adoption is both a beautiful thing and one of the most amazing things that you can ever experience, it is also really hard and will test you and challenge you in ways that cause you to grow or fail in ways you didn't know you could. It is definitely not for everybody and more people should be turned down.

Until then, I will continue to be thankful for families who see their inability, let go of their pride, see the best interest of a child and be willing to reach out for help from an agency who will not discourage a relinquishment but readily assist them in the process so that tragedies like this do not keep occurring. In all relationships, sometimes they work out and sometimes they don't and the sooner we accept that adoption may not be "forever" in some cases the sooner we lessen the guilt and anguish a family may have to admitting that they are in over their heads and there is something better for that particular child. Don't get me wrong, my children are in their "forever families" but some make a few stops along the way and better alive or not abused and replaced than stuck with no hope.

These parents deserve to go to prison, the authors of that book along with other books like it should be taken off the shelves and fined when abuse occurs because of their printed material and the little brother of Hanna should be allowed a separate placement away from the other Williams children and be allowed a chance at a new family.
I have been told that one of the agencies involved was AAIA, not a religious one and in WA one of the agencies with some of worst reports and incidences of child abuse is WACAP, also a "non-religious" agency.

I can say that with all the agencies I have either worked for or with as both a parent and a professional, the only agency that ever "looked the other way" was a "non-religious" agency. The reason I mention this, is that I disagree with you that religion is the cause or that this issue/problem is restricted to those with a religious background. Often times agencies "look the other way" to protect their program aka money. I think the real lesson here, is that NO ONE and no group of people are exempt from child abuse and therefore everyone deserves the same scrutiny. In the state I live in DHS has to sign off on all adoptions and the families intended use of discipline. Both agencies I worked for and all the ones I used with all kinds of religious affiliations did not tolerate or allow any type of corporal punishment, none of them, even the religious ones. I have seen or heard of every type of person abuse their children. I don't even know what religious affiliation this family has, but I know from my experience every race, every religion, ever career, every walk of life has had and will continue to have people who abuse children.

Accountability and reporting in addition to new laws are the only things that will truly address and begin to fix this growing problem.

This problem is not limited to religion or any one identifiable thing, or it would be easier to fix.
Rockin10--An excellent post. I highly support your idea of a supervisory period of up to 3 years. Far too many states are done at 6 months and the honeymoon is hardly over. I am shocked that only now, with this death, that DHS is stating that they want to review Michael Pearl's books. Lydia Schatz died an almost identical death almost two years ago in California. Her parents also used Pearl's methods. We have a long thread about that case.

I, too, have been involved in the adoption world for almost 30 years. We have 2 daughters adopted internationally and eight children adopted from the US system. We also have a teen who was placed with us in permanent foster care. I worked for 15 years for NACAC as the Oregon rep and support them whole-heartedly. Their philosophy is "For every child, a family". I hesitate just a bit there, as I know that some children need traditional families and others need a far more specialized milieu. However, I agree with you that not every placement is going to be the right one. I often think of adoption as being similar to a marriage. All parties must be satisfied or it will never be successful.

We've had one disruption and that was horribly traumatic. It was with our daughter from Haiti, who we later learned was trafficked and severely sexually abused. She did not speak at age four but we still worked with her in play therapy with a very skilled therapist. Our family was at our wits end. Nothing worked. Our little girl screamed all day, bit and head butted. She had night terrors and constantly ripped or removed her clothing. She would not allow us to bond with her and we felt resentment building. The other children were very confused by her behavior. We barely made it through two years. I'll never forget going to the therapist in tears and not knowing what to do. She quietly spoke some very wise words, "Have you considered that E does not want to be with you?"

No, we had not. It was in that moment that we saw the light. If we were miserable, imagine how this child felt. That's when we began to build a plan for her. E is also the reason that I am such a strong proponent of adopting waiting children, here in the states. There are between 300,000 and 400,000 children here in the US who need permanency. Because of the wisdom of the Child Welfare Act of 1980, the federal government has seen fit to set up an entitlement program of subsidies and services for these children, who might otherwise be hard to place. Our last eight adoptions and permanent foster placement were strongly supported with services. We've always had access to therapy and medical and dental care, the state hospital, inpatient services, in-home health care, respite--all things that are so necessary to ensure success.

My heart breaks for parents that start out with good intentions and lose their way. My heart breaks for the siblings who are horribly confused with the ongoing crisis in their families and forever effected by watching and participating in the abuse and scapegoating a child. And lastly, my heart breaks for the child who knows not what to do to fit in, to be loved, to simply be a child.
Let me quickly clarify one of my statements. I used the word, "religious". It was not the best choice of words. Maybe I should have said zealous or driven. There are many reasons that parents choose to adopt. Altruism and the "saving of a child" are not valid reasons to my mind. My experience has been with highly religious parents who self-isolate but this can happen with anyone who has a "mission".

Adoption should be a somewhat selfish act, IMO, just as pregnancy is. One should greatly desire a child. The reason I mention religion is that so many fundamentalist Christians seem to still embrace both Michael Pearl's version of "training" and also large, rigidly managed families. His website hearts my heart.

In reading over the documents, it's so clear why state agencies have the rules they do about clean bedding, warm clothing, no isolation for punishment, no cold showers, not allowing older siblings to discipline, privacy, no punishment for toileting accidents, and NO corporal punishment. These things seem like a given to most of us but see how quickly this family broke these rules as they grew more and more frantic about not being able to control this child to their family expectations.
The two articles I was looking for. Texas Mist found these when we were researching the Laura Silsby debacle in Haiti. Some very eye-opening information by Dr. Smolin of Samford University. I wish every adoptive parent was required to read these:

Child Laundering: How the Intercountry Adoption System Legitimizes and Incentivizes the Practices of Buying, Trafficking, Kidnapping, and Stealing Children

Very detailed descriptions of the many illegal methods used to traffic children out of third world countries.


Some specifics about African countries.
This is extremely disturbing. Members of the knitting group the "mother" belonged to reported that the "mother" had an extreme dislike for the adopted children and was very vocal about it.

Also other members of her "church" had adopted children from Ethiopia. I guess the adoption was to show other members of her "church" how wonderful she was, moved her up a couple of notches in the hierarchy.

Even one of the grandmothers got into the act of "disciplining" the adoptees by suggesting a "glue stick" would make a better weapon, oh excuse me, discipline device. Perhaps this "glue stick" was a chaulking tube for chaulking guns. Better grip and hurt more.

Sick, sick people. May justice prevail.
Let me clarify that I am aware of child trafficking being a world wide problem, but as it usually pertains to adoption it is not the norm. What I meant to communicate is that I know of one country with a continued record of child trafficking relating to adoption and I would never adopt from that country or counsel anyone else to. I do understand that unfortunately child trafficking happens in every country and sometimes those children are made available for adoption. However in all of the countries I have worked in with regard to adoption both in Asia and Africa we have only ever worked with orphanages with a proven track record of legitimate adoption as attested to by the officials in the country. I will say that I think that adoptive parents should shoulder the primary responsibility in being proactive about their agency, facilitator, country and orphanage. I researched all of the above and took responsibility as an adoptive parent to know who I was working with from beginning to end. It was my goal as an adoptive parent to only adopt from the most reputable orphanage in the country I chose.
If adoptive parents took more responsibility during the process (many agencies don't appreciate it) then we could greatly reduce the few situations that happened with your family. Many parents don't understand that it is not only their right but it is their responsibility. While agencies don't necessary love it, a good agency will understand and should respect your desire to adopt a legitimate orphan.

If every potential adoptive parent saw themselves as their future child's advocate during the entire process there would be less room for shady practices.
I actually asked to see documents and records from the orphanages and from the child welfare officials in the country about the orphanage. In addition to adopting from India, I adopted from an African country (Uganda) and I wanted to make sure that I knew what I was getting myself into and to take as much responsibility in the process as possible.
Bless this little girl and her brother for what they had to endure. My heart also goes out to the bio kids as they may never get beyond what has been demonstrated and taught by these parents.
I'm a little confused as to alot of the previous posts. It seems like the guilt of the adoptive parents is being cushioned by the excuse that they were not aware of or ignorant to the fact that if a child is not socialized, lives in an orphanage all their life and grows up the way that one WILL having to fend for themselves since birth without anyone caring for/loving/holding them they will be emotionally and socially stunted.
In this particular case, the poor girl had lost 30 pounds and was forced to sleep in the barn with only a sheet where she died of HYPOTHERMIA so I don't care if this little soul was the bride of Chucky! Those parents were supposed to care for her no matter what her emotional state but they murdered her with evil and neglect. They didn't do the most basic of things that we as human beings even provide to our own pets...feed her and keep her warm.
I'm not even going to assume the REAL reason WHY the parents adopted them or HOW they treated their own children. You don't adopt a child expecting to be "thanked" or appreciated or looked up to by your knitting group. You do it to try and give them the best life possible even if this means making sacrifices and receiving nothing in return.
I've never read this "book" but basic human empathy feeds a child when they're hungry and comforts them when they're cold!
I knew i shouldn't have read this thread... it's going to haunt me.

RIP little one. You are in a place of ultimate peace.

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