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Top 10 Terrible Tales Of Adoptive Parents

by Paul Brown
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Adoptive Parents are heroes in the eyes of our society. They take in children whose families cannot care for them and give them homes, food, clothes and other basic essentials. At least that is what they are supposed to do. In some (thankfully few) cases adoptive parents choose to neglect, abuse and even kill the children in their care. While not all adoptive parents are bad, society does not recognize that not all adoptive parents are heroes, even to the detriment of the children in their care.

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10 Myka Staufer

Photo credit: US Magazine

“Re-Homing” is the euphemism for the process of adoptive parents changing their minds and giving away their adopted child. Although it is an alarmingly common occurrence, no instance of re-homing has been more published than the Huxley Staufer case. Huxley is a young boy from China, who was adopted by the Staufer family in 2017, and helped accelerate Myka’s fame as a Mommy Blogger slash “influencer”. Particularly in regards to Huxley’s autism and Staufer’s seeming willingness to care for him. That was the story that was portrayed across the family’s social media, however behind closed doors, the truth was anything but.

According to the Staufer’s, Huxley had become too difficult for them to handle so they decided to place him in a care home, both for his benefit and the benefit of their other children. Backlash to the Staufer’s decision was quick and severe, with the couple receiving international condemnation. Recently, law enforcement in Ohio have announced an investigation into the Staufer’s and Huxley’s rehoming, particularly in regards to ensuring Huxley’s safety.[1]

9 Tony Spilotro

The psychotic Las Vegas mobster Tony Spilotro was feared by everyone who knew of him. Among his numerous exploits, Spilotro allegedly killed a man by crushing his head in a vice, ran the Hole in the Wall Gang in Las Vegas and was chief enforcer for many of Las Vegas’s mob owned casinos. His life was immortalized in the movie Casino where the character Nicky Santoro was based on him. He also brought his work home with him, affecting his wife Nancy and their adopted son Vincent. According to Vincent’s own recollection, he watched his father beat a man unconscious over a gambling debt, and was home when drunken Las Vegas police officers shot up the Spilotro home. After Tony Spilotro was killed in 1986 his son was left without a father, which may have saved his life, as Vincint lives a law abiding life today, free from Tony Spilatro’s legacy.[2]

8 Mr and Mrs Hammersley

In 1952 Mr and Mrs Hammersley adopted a young boy who they named William, in what was supposed to be a happy forever home, caring for him when his mother couldn’t. Throughout his childhood, William was whipped repeatedly by his adoptive father, sexually abused by an Anglican minister in what William later wrote was a way for his adoptive parents to gain favour in the church in order to adopt a daughter. Eventually William dropped out of school and left his adoptive parents’ home, full of anger. As a result of his abandonment and subsequent abuse, William fell into drug and alcohol addiction, drug addiction, and depression. He was eventually able to put his life together and live as a productive member of society, but he could never fully shake the demons of his past. William, unlike many adoptees who were adopted into bad situations, was able to legally rectify his situation. In 2019 he applied for an Adoption Discharge, which under Australian law would nullify his original adoption order and legally recognize his biological parents as his legal parents. This order was granted on August 1 2019 and William had his status at birth restored. Unfortunately William died from cancer on September 3 2019 shortly after his discharge was granted.[3]

7 Jeane Newmaker

In 1996 pediatric nurse Jeane Newmaker adopted 7 year old Candace Newmaker, a child who had been in and out of various foster homes her entire life. Candace had difficulty attaching to her adoptive mother and new surroundings and acted out frequently. Newmaker took Canadace to a variety of therapists in an attempt to get her to better bond. In 2000, Newmaker took Candace to a psychotherapist named Connell Watkins, who specialised in, “re-birthing,” therapy. This therapy, which has been discredited by all psychiatric organisations, involves wrapping a patient in pillows and blankets in order to simulate birth. According to Newmaker, she had hoped that the therapy would lead to her adopted daughter bonding to her as if she had been born to her. Unfortunately, the reality could not be further from the truth.

On April 18 2000 while in Watkins office, Candace was covered in pillows and blankets forcibly by 5 adults, weighing roughly 600 pounds compared to the 70 pound child. Throughout the 40 minute session, Candace repeatedly said that she could not breathe and that she was going to die. Nobody did anything to alleviate the pressure on Candace as they were assured it was normal. After 40 minutes Jeane asked her if she wanted to be born, and Candace responded with the word, “no.” It was her last word before slipping into a coma and dying the next day. All parties involved in the death were charged and convicted of varying degrees of child abuse, and served prison time for their actions.[4]

6 Woody Allen

Although he never formally adopted his partner Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon Yi Previn, Farrow’s partner Woody Allen had a large role in her upbringing, being the closest thing she ever had to a father. This makes Allen’s relationship and marriage to Soon Yi extremely shocking even by today’s social standards. Allen first met Soon Yi in 1979 when Soon Yi was adopted by Mia Farrow. Although they did not begin their relationship until Soon Yi was 20, nude photos were rumored to have been found of her when she was allegedly underaged, supposedly taken by Allen. This was not the only time Allen was accused of inappropriate behavior with an adopted child. In 1992 Allen’s adopted daughter Dylan Farrow accused him of sexually abusing her throughout her childhood beginning when she was 7. According to Allen, he does not listen to the public condemnation of his relationship with the woman whom he helped raise. Soon Yi says that she is upset by the treatment that Allen has endured in the public sphere in the 2 decades since they’ve been together. As of today, Allen and Yi are still married with children, with Allen never facing legal actions or investigation for his activities.[5]

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5 Lauri and Britta Wuornos

Lauri and Britta Wuornos were the parents of Diane Wuornos and the grandparents of Kieth and Aileen Pittman, the children of Diane, and a man named Leo Dale Pittman. Given the instability in Diane’s life, Keith and Aileen went to live with their grandparents in 1960 and were legally adopted by them a few months later, changing their last name to Wuornos. According to Aileen, both of her grandparents were alcoholics, and that her adoptive father was extremely abusive. In particular he would force Aileen to strip naked before heavily beating her. He also sexually abused her, and allowed his friends to do the same. In 1971 Aileen, at the age of 14 gave birth to a son fathered by one of Lauri’s friends, which she was forced to give up for adoption. The abuse continued until Britta Wuranos died of liver failure and Lauri subsequently kicked Aileen out of the house. The despreate and alone teenager turned to prostitution to survive.

This trauma stayed with Aileen for the rest of her life as she drifted across the United States, commuting small crimes and engaging in a series of extremely unstable relationships. Eventually Aileen would become America’s first female serial killer, murdering at least 7 men with a handgun after posing as a prostitute to get into their cars. At her trial, her defence used the abuse she suffered during childhood as a mitigating factor in her sentencing. According to several mental health experts, Aileen was suffering from a myriad of mental illnesses brought on by her childhood experiences. This did little to sway the court and Aileen was sentenced to death and executed in 2002.[6]

4 Nathan and Pearl Berkowitz

Unlike Aileen Wuoranos who was adopted within her family, David Berkowitz was adopted by 2 complete strangers who were totally unprepared to raise a child, with Nathan considering his adoption a mistake. The couple did little to contain their son’s violent anger even as he grew bigger and more violent. David’s behavior got worse after his adoptive mother Pearl died when he was 14. Nathan soon after remarried and moved the family to Florida, which would negatively affect David’s mental state. In order to escape, David joined the army where he learned how to properly handle firearms and excelled as a marksman.

This isolation and anger followed David in the army, and in his post army life, where he returned to New York City and lived alone, working a series of odd jobs. Eventually mental illness and anger took control of David’s life and a compulsion to kill formed. Berkowitz committed his first murders on Christmas Eve 1975 when he stabbed 2 women, only one of which was identified. He proceeded to terrorize New York City, gunning down random couples with a .44 revolver. He made contact with New York Police through a letter in which he declared himself to be The Son of Sam and that he would not stop killing. Eventually he was caught after receiving a parking ticket at the scene of his final murder. He pled guilty to his crimes in 1978, and was sentenced to life in prison, where he remains to this day.[7]

3 Mathew Scully Hicks

Photo credit: Daily Mail

In what British authorities now acknowledge was a wrongful adoption, Mathew Scully Hicks and his husband Craig Scully-Hicks adopted a baby named Shayla O’Brien, who they renamed Elsie Scully-Hicks on May 12 2016, after several months of pre-adoption care. Mathew subjected her to months of horrific abuse before she succumbed to her injuries on May 25 2016. According to police and social service reports, Scully-Hicks threw the young child down the stairs, shook her, screamed explicitly at her, broke her legs, among other abusive actions. Scully-Hicks, who denied abusing his adopted daughter, and claimed that a fall from a changing table had led to her death. Even after he was convicted, he expressed no remorse for his crimes, remaining emotionless throughout his trial and sentencing. Given this lack of remorse and responsibility, Scully-Hicks was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 18 years for his appalling crimes.[8]

2 Lori Vallow

Lori Vallow was once a normal mother to 2 children, her biological daughter Tylee Ryan and adopted son JJ Vallow. This came to an end at an unknown time, when the children were murdered and buried on a property owned by Vallow’s husband Chad Daybell. The children first disappeared in September 2019, and after extended family members contacted authorities to have a welfare check performed. The children were obviously nowhere to be found, leading Vallow and Daybell to flee Hawaii where they were arrested on February 20 2020 in connection to the children’s disappearance, however they have yet to be charged with murder.

Further investigation into the couple revealed that they believed in a number of doomsday conspiracy theories and that the world would be coming to an end soon. As of now Lori Vallow, along with Chad Daybell are the prime suspects in the deaths of the children as well as deaths of their previous spouses which are now under reinvestigation as they sit in prison charged with a series of smaller offenses.[9]

1 Jennifer and Sarah Hart

Jennifer and Sarah Hart were a lesbian couple who adopted 6 African American children from foster care at varying ages. One of their children became famous after a photo of them hugging a police officer at a protest went viral as a sign of unity between 2 communities that had long been at odds. The illusion of a happy, multicultural lesbian family came to an end on March 26 2018 when Sarah and Jennifer fed each of their children a large quantity of benadryl, knocking them unconscious, and put them into the family car, and Jennifer Hart drove off of a cliff into the Pacific Ocean. It is believed that the pressure of a CPS investigation into the couple on the suspicion of neglect led to the Harts murdering their children. According to reports filed by the neighbors, the Harts had been starving the children as punishment for minor infractions, and the children were becoming malnourished. Given their reaction to the abuse allegations, it is clear they had some merit.[10]

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fact checked by Jamie Frater