I wasn't really prepared to spend another week discussing a 'What were they thinking?' topic so soon after introducing the idea.
The political arena has been hyperactive in the past week or so. Angie Paccione has declared her candidacy for the House of Representatives and Judge John Roberts just finished his confirmation hearings for Chief Justice. I had many opinions on the afore-mentioned topics, and I was sure one or both would make great columns. That was until I read about the Gravelle family in Wakeman, Ohio.
Sharon and Mike Gravelle are adoptive and foster parents of 11 children. Eleven children ranging from one to 14 years old whom all have various disabilities including autism. Now this may sound like a heart warming little story of small town living. As it turns out, it is anything but. According to MSNBC.com and the Huron County Sheriff's Office, these children were removed from the Gravelle home last week after sheriff's deputies discovered the children locked in cages.
You read that right, cages. Yes, the 11 disabled children that the Gravelles were the legal guardians of were being kept in nine 40-by-40-inch cages built into the wall of the house. These cages had no pillows or blankets and were rigged with alarms that went off when opened. They were stacked two high and most also were blocked closed with heavy furniture.
I have never claimed to know much, if anything, about the adoption or foster programs in this country, but how does this sort of thing happen? Of the million or so hopeful adoptive parents in the United States alone how do people like the Gravelles end up with 11 children?
This story got even more bizarre when Mike and Sharon appeared in court with their attorney. Not only did they deny any abuse or neglect of their children, but the Gravelles also claimed that a psychiatrist recommended they place the children in cages.
I can see the conversation now. Oh, a psychiatrist huh? What was his name? I need a good psychiatrist too. Oh, you forgot his name? That is so unfortunate Mr. Gravelle. What was his number? 5-6-2-niner? That's only four numbers and did I catch a niner in there? Come with us Mr. Gravelle.
"The impression we got was that they felt it was okay," said Lt. Randy Sommers, who helped remove the children from the home. And a woman claiming to be Sharon Gravelle's mother said the children were happy in the home.
The children are now in new foster homes and charges against the couple are pending. Pending charges, however, are not acceptable. These people should go away for a long time. I understand this is an extremely small town in a rather rural area, but that doesn't excuse the obvious shortcomings in adoptive standards today. If there is no one out there that can do background checks or psychological examinations on potential parents, then maybe the government needs to step in.
Government control of yet another of societies' functions is a whole other debate; we won't delve into that issue today. We do, however, have yet another supporting argument for the case to reinstate lobotomies and shock therapy in modern prisons. People like the Gravelles do exist in real life, not just in cheesy horror films.
If anyone has ideas for future 'What were they thinking?' topics, shoot me off a suggestion at firstname.lastname@example.org. This could really get interesting.
Ryan Chapman is a senior marketing major. His column runs every Wednesday.