Tim and his wife Julie were a happy, stable couple who were very much in love but had recently found that they were unable to have children of their own. Like many other couples in similar situations, they decided to adopt.
But the day they took home their two new children, they learned that sometimes, childhood naivete isn’t always what it appears, and that the abuses of one’s past can seriously affect the way they see the world…
The couple put in a request to social services asking for news of available children. In no time at all, they received a call informing them that two kids, a brother and sister, were available. Pretty soon, 19-month-old Beth, and her 7-month-old brother Jonathan were on their way to their new home.
Prior to the adoption, Social Services had told the couple that both children were completely normal and healthy: they had lied. In a few months, Tim and Julie began to discover that something was wrong with the children. For one thing, the back of Jonathan’s head was flat and he was unable to raise it on his own. For another, something was very off about little Beth…
Almost immediately, little Beth showed aggressive tendencies towards others, especially her little brother. As she grew, this overtly aggressive only increased in severity. She would pinch or hurt Jonathan at every opportunity and seemed to be intent on leaving lasting marks upon him.
It wasn’t just baby Jonathan who bore the brunt of Beth’s aggressions either. As she grew, the emotionally distant little girl began to display a variety of disturbing behaviors. She harmed animals as well, including beloved family pets. One time, she even killed an entire nest of baby birds. Something was very wrong…
In addition to the outright frightening behavior, Beth also suffered from unbelievably vivid nightmares. She would wake up screaming to her new adoptive parents, crying that a man was falling upon her in her dreams and hurting her with “part of himself”. It didn’t take long for the Thomases to surmise that perhaps she had been abused prior to them taking her in.
Abuse of All Kinds
Of course, their theories about her past would have to wait. In the meantime, Tim and Julie had to figure out how they were going to stop Beth from hurting her brother: an obsession that was quickly becoming her favorite pastime. She would scratch him, hit him, and even pinch and kick his genitals. Something had to be done…
Beth had been molesting and harming her brother since he was born and if that wasn’t bad enough, one day Julie came down to the kitchen to find several of her best kitchen knives missing. Her immediate thought was that Beth had taken them, but it was a thought she immediately felt guilty about. Of course, she wasn’t wrong….
She Had Them
A few days after they’d gone missing, Beth asked Julie about the knives. She described them in perfect detail, then gave her mother a malicious and unsettling smile. She knew then and there that Beth had taken the knives and had hidden them somewhere. She found them in Beth’s room and took to locking them up, but Beth’s behavior only worsened…
As time wore on and Beth grew, she began to display more and more overtly sexual and inappropriate behavior. She would fondle her grandfather and brother. Eventually, when she masturbated in public, Julie and Tim decided they needed to see a psychologist, or at the very least, find out what had been done to her prior to her adoption.
Bashing the Brother
Before they could do any of that though, things came to a head. Beth was found bashing her brother’s already damaged head into a concrete floor. She was trying to kill him. Her parents had no choice now. Beth was under strict supervision at all hours of the day and at night they locked her in her room for the safety of the whole family…
Before they could take her to a therapist, they had to know why Beth was acting the way she was, displaying such violent, psychopathic behavior. They called the adoption agency and demanded to know what they had done to Beth before they’d sent her to them. The agency refused to give them any information, citing strict confidentiality laws. The Thomases were determined though and they soon did their own digging into Beth’s past.
Used and Abused
Their investigation soon revealed that both Beth and her brother had suffered extreme abuse as children. Beth herself had been physically and sexually abused as a toddler by her father. When asked about what he had done, Beth described the molestation in detail and even revealed that her father would make her bleed. But why hadn’t the adoption agency told them?
When she was asked about the missing knives sometime later, Beth responded very matter-of-factly as to their purpose. She explained to her therapist and later and interviewer that she wanted to “Kill my brother John and Mommy with them. And Daddy.” The strangest thing about this was that unlike other psychopathic children, Beth seemed genuinely remorseful about the feelings.
She Knows it’s Wrong
Beth Thomas seemed to know that the things she was thinking, the violent things she’d done, were wrong. You see, each time she engaged in violent behavior towards anyone, she would apologize, whereas many psychopaths are completely unapologetic. It was something her parents had noticed in her that gave them hope that one day she might be cured…
Soon Beth was being seen by a psychiatrist, but things didn’t improve right away. As soon as she would apologize for the things she was doing wrong, she would go on to talk about how she wanted to murder her parents again. She knew her urges were wrong, but felt compelled to act upon them. Perhaps her disorder was worse than they originally believed.
A RAD Disorder
Eventually, her therapists diagnosed Beth with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), a condition which stemmed from the neglect and severe abuse she suffered as a baby. Children with this disorder already have trouble forming attachments with parents and caregivers at a young age, so to Beth, her adoptive family were nothing more than victims. Her generally antisocial behaviors and lack of empathy were clear signs of this. But could she be cured?
Luckily for Beth Thomas and other children like her, RAD has been successfully treated with therapy. It can even be cured in most cases by way of intensive behavioral modification therapy. Therapist Connell Watkins stepped in to help cure Beth by using something called Attachment therapy, which involved periods of extreme restriction. Beth was forced to ask permission for everything and was locked up at night.
It seemed harsh, but the therapy eventually worked like a charm. Within a year, Beth’s behavior, outlook, and emotional attachments all improved substantially. She was acting like a normal child at last. Unfortunately, not all children are as receptive to the therapy as Beth Thomas and when Watkins tried to perform a drastic therapy known as rebirthing, something went terribly wrong…
Rebirthing is used to simulate the feeling of being born over a 70 minute period. During the therapy, children are wrapped in blankets and pushed with pillows. It sounds unusual, but often, as in Beth’s case, it works. Sadly, in 2001, Watkins tried the therapy on a 10-year-old child and smothered them to death. She was jailed for seven years.
In the end, thanks to the hope and dedication of two people who were determined to be good parents, Beth and Jonathan survived and went on to live rich, normal lives. Let us remember that with the proper therapy and care, mental health issues can be managed and sometimes, if we’re lucky, cured.