Is Probation the Appropriate Punishment for Abusing Adopted Children?

Douglas and Kristen Barbour pled No Contest in June to charges of child abuse and endangerment of their adopted Ethiopian children. On September 15, they will be sentenced. Both are asking for probation. Join me and many others in sending a message to the court that probation is not appropriate punishment.

If the court decides that probation is fair, what would the message be about the value of these children? What would it say about the responsibilities of adoptive parents to care for children? What would it say to Ethiopia about how their children are treated? Who will speak out on behalf of innocent children who are abused and endangered?

The Barbours adopted two Ethiopian children, ages 5 and 1, in March 2012. They had 2 biological children who were about 3 and 5 at that time. In October 2012, Douglas and Kristen Barbour (he was a state prosecutor; she a stay-at-home mom) were arrested for assault and endangerment of the two adopted children. The little boy was hospitalized for hypothermia, had skin lesions, and was dramatically underweight. The baby girl had healing fractures and retinal hemorrhaging. After being released from the hospital, both children were removed from the Barbours’ home by the state of Pennsylvania and placed in foster care. Read more about the case here.

The Barbours were well-educated people, experienced parents, middle class, with access to many resources they chose not to use. If a stranger had broken into the Barbour home and harmed the children the way their adoptive parents did, he would be sentenced to far more than probation.

Probation is not an appropriate punishment for broken bones, endangerment, trauma, and abuse, to which the parents did not plead “Innocent.” They pled no contest. Probation sends a terrible message to the community about the value of adopted children, and of children generally.

Please share your views about that punishment by writing to Allegheny County President Judge Jeffrey A. Manning, Court of Common Pleas, 330 Frick Building, 437 Grant St., Pittsburgh, PA 15219. Fax: 412-350-3842

(Unfortunately, I do not have an email. If anyone has an email, please let me know.)

A brief note will do. We need to speak out for the children.

Write to Assistant District Attorney Jennifer DiGiovanni (attorney for the children) at Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, 401 Courthouse, 436 Grant St, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

Send an email to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Paula Ward about fairness for abused adopted children, at pward@post-gazette.com.

On behalf of the children, thank you very much.

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3 thoughts on “Is Probation the Appropriate Punishment for Abusing Adopted Children?

  1. Pingback: Smear Campaign? No, There Other Reasons for Adoption Slowdown in Ethiopia. | Light of Day Stories

  2. Pingback: Remembering Hana, Hoping (Again) for Justice in Adoption | Light of Day Stories

  3. I’m beyond appalled the Barbours might be sentenced to probation — rather than jail time! — for their horrific abuse of the two Ethiipian children they adopted.

    I am just as appalled that the Barbours were permitted to retain custody of their biological children. The biokids watched as their parents starved, beat and basically terrorized their adopted siblings! That in and of itself is abusive!

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