The Barbours’ Punishment: Probation and Alternative Housing

At today’s sentencing for the abuse and endangerment of their two adopted Ethiopian children, Douglas Barbour received 5 years of probation, and Kristen Barbour received six to 12 months of incarceration but is eligible for alternative housing.

Kristen Barbour said during the sentencing: “I hope (the children) will understand my intent and have it in their heart to forgive.”

As part of the plea agreement, the Barbours had terminated their parental rights. The children are doing well now that they no longer are with the Barbours. Their new adoptive parents testified at the sentencing about the boy’s starvation and malnutrition, and the little girl’s fractures and other physical problems.

What a message this punishment sends about adoption, parenting, and the value of children.

I will post more later. A link to a local CBS news report is here; a story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is here.















13 thoughts on “The Barbours’ Punishment: Probation and Alternative Housing

  1. @Looking For The Truth Do you have anything at stake involving Ethiopian adoptions? Your writing has a tone very similar to other comments I’ve read about them. Kind of defensive, like you’re trying to justify your actions, salving a guilty conscience. Just curious as I don’t believe everything I read, like in Forbes magazine, for example. And not a lot that I hear, like testimony before Congressional hearings.

  2. Pingback: Removed From the Barbours, The Children Have Flourished | Light of Day Stories

  3. I expected this (ridiculous light) sentence for the Barbours, but hoped against hope they’d get a long jail term.

    I’m also completely and utterly horrified that they were able to keep their biological children — what does watching mom and dad torture the adopted kids teach the biokids? How can that NOT be abuse, in and of itself?

  4. How sad it is that when the now adoptive parents are asked by their children whether the bad people who hurt them were punished the answer they hear will be ” not really”. How can we as a society explain that. Malnutrition, trauma, untreated fractures…… Alternative housing??

  5. If things don’t make sense, there is usually something that you don’t know. Don’t believe everything you read – I hope you readers at least recognize that even if you don’t.

    • I recognize there is always more to a story. I am going on the facts that the state of Pennsylvania removed the children from the Barbours, that they pled no contest to the charges, and that the children, despite the abuse and endangerment, are doing well now with a new family.

      • What more needs to be known – Adults intentionally chose to adopt, they went to great lengths, and at least one had higher education, so lack of knowing they needed to educate themselves (and how to find information) is not an excuse. They chose how they treated the adopted children compared to the biological, the children did not choose to become adoptees and be moved overseas and all that entails.

        I’m deeply upset.

    • Are you disputing that this couple adopted the children? Or that their injuries were not acquired at the hands of the parents? The court found that they hurt their kids. The only thing I don’t know is, What were these people thinking?

      Adding 2 children to a family at once, unless they are already sibs who live together, is not a best practice. Adding a child through adoption who is out of birth order, not a best practice. Adding children who have been in institutions to a family that has birthed the children already there, another a high-stress choice for all 4 children.

      They did everything that professionals in this field recommend against, all at once, and coped poorly with the predictable consequences of their choices. All 4 kids are permanently impacted by their bad judgment, and probation as the consequence sends a terrible message: Go ahead and ignore the experts, you’re probably special, and if it turns out that you’re not uniquely blessed with better coping skills than everyone else who’s licensed to parent, and you maim your child, oh well! You tried!

      • I’m an adoptive mom to 12 kids from foster care, and international adoption. We’ve adopted out of birth order, non-siblings, artificial twins…you name it. Despite all those things, we have never abused our children, worked with professionals throughout our adoptions, and still do on a daily basis for our kids that have many, many challenges. We didn’t set out to break the rules…situations just came to us and we evaluated case by case. The essential issue here is that these parents were inflexible, unwilling to do what is best for the child (even though it may be hard for them, or not what they expected, etc), and unwilling to get resources they needed, or as many of you point out, ignored the advice professionals gave them. It is the essential nature of these parents, not necessarily the situations in which they adopted. It’s an attitude they had and apparently still have. Parenting is extremely challenging, as you all know. My friends with birth kiddos tell me horror stories about their teens–so it’s not unique to adoption. But when you have hurt and traumatized kids on top of normal development phases, you have an additional responsibility to seek help and do what it takes for the kids. As a parent, you have to change, you have to look at yourself and be flexible. And honestly, you have to have a sense of humor. Rigidity never works. These parents were not doing any of that. So regardless of the situation, they made poor choices. As well as illegal ones. It’s too bad they won’t have to pay for them, the way their former children, now even more hurt, will have to.

    • @”Looking for the Truth” – your chosen username here makes me laugh out loud, especially after reading an asinine comment like “The existence of abuse and endangerment is not a fact.” Something tells me that you’re very well acquainted with the Barbours and you’re interested in anything BUT the actual truth. You’re very likely here to cast doubt and save face for this lunatic.

      Do you want to know what doesn’t make sense? Why the Barbours were charged with anything less than false imprisonment, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder? Why they were granted delay after delay after delay? How Judge Manning could (with any shred of sincerity) utter words like “no intent to harm” or “no malice”? Those are the questions that should be asked and answered.

      The truth is that the abuse and endangerment IS ABSOLUTE fact. These children were BOTH nearly KILLED by the Barbours in their attempt to “train up” the children (yes I’m very well acquainted with Michael and Debi Pearl). These facts are documented and given under sworn testimony by physicians trained in child advocacy. The weightloss was real, the body temperature was real, the broken bones were real, the head trauma was real. They will suffer from the effects of their short stay with these evil people for the rest of their lives.

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