And the Children Suffer

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I was appalled to read that Renee Bowman, suspected of murdering two of her children and severely beating a third, was receiving "$2,400 per month -- $800 for each of her adopted daughters -- through a program that aids people who adopt children who had been in foster care" [front page, Oct. 1]. This is a "tax-free federal subsidy," and 2,295 people who adopted from the District are receiving it. Why are we surprised that unfit, unscrupulous people have signed up for this gravy train and that they have put children in peril?

Clearly, the vetting process for adoption was lacking in this case. And, apparently, once the adoptions were complete, the children were virtually dropped from the child welfare system. At least in foster placements, children are visited, evaluated and monitored.

Are there other children being mistreated and hidden whose existence generates the family income? How many children are denied medical care if they have accidental injuries, because adoptive parents fear that their caregiving might be scrutinized, putting their payments in jeopardy?

Ms. Bowman would have had to have been employed with a salary of more than $30,000 a year to earn in take-home pay what she received through these subsidies. Based on her work history, it is unlikely that she had either the skills or work ethic to achieve that, so instead she gamed the system, and our government became complicit in the fraud because it continued to issue payments without oversight. The children were not even enrolled in school.

As tragic as this story is, I hope it will shine a light on a well-intentioned social program gone awry. And we all should pray for the children.

GAIL EVANS

Alexandria


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