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Slain Girls' Relatives Trying To Adopt

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By Keith L. Alexander and Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, November 3, 2008

Biological relatives of the three girls adopted by Renee D. Bowman are now trying to adopt the one surviving child. Bowman was arrested in September after the two other girls were found dead in their mother's freezer.

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The surviving girl, the youngest of the three, had been found wandering outside and told authorities she had escaped after being beaten by her mother. Bowman is in a Calvert County jail, having been indicted on attempted first-degree murder and child abuse charges in connection with the surviving 8-year-old. There has been no ruling in the cause of death of the two other girls, and Bowman has not been charged.

Tonight, the biological relatives of the oldest girl, who would have been 11 and whom Bowman named Minnet, are holding a memorial service at their home in the 1000 block of Quebec Place in Northwest Washington.

The bodies of Minnet and her sister Jasmine, who would have been 9, were found in the basement freezer of Bowman's Lusby home after the youngest girl was found wandering along the street, her body covered in bruises. The girl told investigators that her mother had beaten her and locked her in her room. The girl said she jumped out her bedroom window to escape.

Ivin Randall, one of Minnet's biological uncles, said his sister gave birth to the girl renamed Minnet in 1997 but placed her for adoption after battling drugs and mental illness. Randall and his family had already taken in three of his sister's children, whom she had from previous relationships.

The Randalls are not biologically related to the surviving sister. But they said they want the girl to live with them because they are the family of the child she grew up knowing as her oldest sister.

"We just want her to live with us, with her sister's family," Randall said.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, the surviving girl's biological uncle continues his efforts to reach out to his niece. The Washington Post does not publish the identities of biological family members of juveniles involved in abuse cases.

The girl's biological mother, who still lives in the District, remains unable to care for her, the uncle said.

"She should be with me here," he said. "She shouldn't be back in foster care, especially after what happened to her. She needs to be with her family."

The uncle said he was unable to adopt the girl and her older biological sister, Jasmine, when their mother first abandoned them because he had moved to Ohio and had three children to care for.

"But I'm ready now," he said. "She should be with me. I'm her blood."

Adoption specialists said that the biological families no longer have legal rights because the girls' mothers were charged with neglect and signed over their rights regarding the children.

"The circle begins all over again," said Peter J. Wiernicki, a Rockville adoption lawyer not involved in the case.

The process might be further complicated because the 8-year-old's family members live out of state, adoption lawyers said. Although interstate adoptions are possible, lawyers said, they require more interagency cooperation and different legal maneuvering.

"It is done, but it just makes it a little more difficult," said John R. Greene, an Annapolis adoption lawyer not involved in the Bowman case.

Bowman still has legal custody of the girl, adoption lawyers said. State officials would have to initiate legal proceedings to terminate Bowman's custody rights or persuade her to give them up voluntarily, said Nancy Lineman, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Human Resources.


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