Abuse in adoption: theft

As I post this, I feel the abject horror of what Leah has endured… Please read… Lara/Trace

healing hands artwork (etsy)


The word theft made me remember a true story an adoptee told me when her elderly mother got sick. The adoptee Leah (an alias for this story) had taken care of her adoptive mother for over 10 years; in 1996 she moved from the east to the Midwest to be there and care for her. Her mother contracted Lyme disease and it affected her mind like dementia.

Leah was single and worked full-time but spent every weekend at her mothers.  In 2007 her mother was still living alone when the doctor’s office called Leah to find out who was her mother’s caregiver. Up until then, it was Leah’s job – her adopted brother lived on the west coast and was not providing any support and visited rarely.

Leah called the state to find out what elder services were available and found out her mother’s income was too much to get full-time home health care assistance provided by the state.

Then when Leah tried to get her mother to consider a move into assisted living, her mother yelled at Leah, blaming her for taking her to crazy doctors.  The doctors agreed they’d wait until an incident then they’d have no choice but to move her. Leah agreed. Since her mother was still able to drive and shop on her own, they decided to see how the disease would progress. Her mother’s insurance and pension would cover the costs of assisted living and Leah planned to have her mother in the same town where Leah lived and worked.

When a major incident finally happened early in 2010, Leah was working out of state but talked to her mother every day by phone.  Alarmed, she called the social worker (who knew the case) to go check on her and found out her mother was in crisis, dehydrated and not eating.  Her brother had ignored Leah’s calls about their mothers’ failing health. (They were both adopted as babies and there were no other children.)

Before she could get there, Leah’s brother flew to the Midwest and packed up their mother and took her papers and emptied bank accounts.  To scare her mother into going, the brother said it was Leah’s fault the state was involved – so Leah’s mother would not speak to her. The brother threatened the state would take her mother’s house, why her mother was so angry with Leah and why she agreed to go.

Leah was heartbroken, actually stunned, but not able to do anything legally to stop him.  Before he flew her to the west coast, her brother went to get her mother’s medical file and told the doctor he’d care for their mother at his home. (This lasted 4 months and he put her in an elder apartment with no nursing staff.) He made it all seem so sincere to the doctor.

With no contact or calls from her brother or mother, Leah called the state where her mother was and asked their social workers to check in on her mother and wrote a letter saying her brother was embezzling her mother’s money which is elder abuse. The state said they’d investigate but did nothing.  Again, legally, there was nothing Leah could do and she couldn’t afford lawyers to get her mother back. (Her brother had used her mother’s money to fly them out west and he charged their mother for staying with him and legal fees and costs from moving. He spent all her money so her mother was considered poverty-stricken and could then receive Medicaid.)

Leah realized he’d set this up to take her mother’s money but it was her word against his.  Later (not telling Leah) he went back to the family house and emptied the contents, selling Leah’s things as well as her mothers. Every-thing her mother wanted Leah to have by inheritance was gone or sold.

Her mother died the following year in December. In her mother’s will, Leah was named executor but she could not afford a lawyer or the costs of keeping up the vacant home until it sold.  Her brother became sole executor and Leah estimates he stole at least $100,000 and then inherited more after their mother died and her house sold.

Leah told me her brother (not biologically related) told their mother how Leah had opened her adoption and met her natural family, thus setting the stage for making Leah the bad person and he was the good son and grateful adoptee.

Leah never got to see her mother again.


One thought on “Abuse in adoption: theft

  1. That is terrible. the mother’s plight. Your perspective of the adoptee demonstrates the great gap between siblings’ reactions that are read in “normal biological” households to a failing parent’s health and aging are not foreign to adopted children. I have a friend’s sister from growing up. All three of us adopted – we American-Indians to Caucasian families.My friend, her brother (biological?? also American-Indian) died at an early age, when I was in my teens. I worry her family will leave her without anything but do not say this to her. It would probably seem illogical (I have no contact with my adoptive family).She is now a single mother with two children, I lost contact with her, but read your book, “Sleeping With Knives” and sent it to her as a gift . She has not read it yet..


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