Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Kansas Horror Story

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Adam Herrman was born Irvin Groeninger III on June 8, 1987. He had every right to live a happy life and grow into a healthy and well-adjusted young man. But that was not to be. Adam, in fact, had a horrible childhood that probably ended just shy of his twelfth birthday. As far as the world knows, he disappeared in May of 1999 and has not been heard from since. Amazingly, his adoptive parents neglected to report him missing until an anonymous source brought the disappearance to light this past week.

Adam was taken into foster care by the state of Kansas when he was two-years-old. His biological parents were eventually prevailed upon to relinquish their parental rights, and Adam and two of his younger siblings were adopted by Doug and Valerie Herrman of Derby, Kansas. The Hermann's received a nice chunk of change for adopting the children. The adoption subsidy for Adam alone was, according to Valerie, $700 a month.

According to the Valerie Herrman, Adam was being seen by a psychiatrist who believed that he was either bi-polar, schizophrenic, or suffering from attachment disorder. She said that he acted out at school and at home, and that they finally made a decision to remove him from school and begin home-schooling the child. The adoptive mother said that they found two knives under his pillow and the sad child stated that he was going to kill her and her husband. Supposedly on the advice of his psychiatrist, they began locking him in the bathroom at night for his and their safety. He slept in the tub, but, she added, their were no chains or handcuffs involved.

One of Adam's sisters was removed from the Herrman home around 1991 or 1992 for reasons Valerie Herrman declined to disclose, but she did say that they lost their foster care license over the incident. Poor Adam, however, remained with the family that Kansas no longer wanted to use for fostering. Mrs. Herrman said that she spanked Adam with a belt in 1996 leaving bruises. A psychological counselor at school saw the bruises and called police. Adam was removed for two days and then returned to the Herrman's.

(One "benefit" of home-schooling is that those pesky teachers and counselors are no longer in a position to view, hear about, or report abuse.)

Valerie Hermann said, after the story of his disappearance came to light last week, that she spanked Adam again in May of 1999 and he promptly ran away - never being seen again. The adoptive parents continued to draw the $700 per month adoption subsidy for Adam until he would have been eighteen (something in excess of $50,000). They did demonstrate their compassion and honesty by returning a check that was inadvertently issued after his eighteenth birthday. They also listed him as a member of the family on court documents as late as 2003.

Sound suspicious? It gets worse!

All of the above information was provided by Doug and Valerie Hermann after someone blew the whistle last week. Allegations have been made by Valerie's sister and the Herrman's two biological children that the adoptive mother routinely punched and kicked Adam over the years, and that she also beat him with a belt buckle and kept him chained to the bathtub faucet in the home. It bears repeating: Valerie's grown biological children who were living in the same home, and Valerie's sister, made these claims! A local television station has indicated that the anonymous report that set off the search for Adam likely came from the Herrman's grown biological daughter and son.

Crystal Herrman, the biological daughter, said in an email to the television station: "We started this, which was hard (because it was) against our own parents as we were not adopted. But we want more than anything to find the truth, answers, and justice. We pray every day our parents will come forward, do the right thing not only for what they already put Adam through in the past, but to make it right for him now."

Valerie was managing a local trailer park in Towanda, Kansas, at the time Adam disappeared. Authorities have begun digging around that trailer park, and they are reporting that they have found an answer to one of their questions - but as of yet, no body. Valerie reportedly told her sister: "They can dig up the whole state of Kansas, (but) they'll never find a body."

Are they Herrman's criminals? Definitely. At a minimum they defrauded the state of Kansas out of over $50,000, lied on court documents, and failed to report a probable crime.

Did the state of Kansas contribute to this outrage? Of course they did. Never mind that no apparent measures were taken to remove an adoptive child from a home that had its foster license revoked, the state also failed to perform due diligence to check on the effectiveness of the $700 that was flowing from the state treasury to the Herrman's each month. Kansas should have been providing regular face-to-face contact with Adam at a minimum of once or twice a year. How many more Adams are out there? Someone needs to do an audit of the foster and adoptive children of Kansas - today!

I have worked (for many years) with biological parents who had their children removed from their care, foster children, foster parents, children adopted through the state (Missouri), and adoptive parents. There are children in every state living in horrible circumstances who need to be removed from their parents. There are parents aplenty who are evil and dangerous and need to have their children taken away. That's all true, and the state (every state) has an important and necessary function of protecting children.

There are wonderful people across this great nation who serve as foster and adoptive parents for no other reason than to make children's lives better. God bless them each and every one. Unfortunately, there are also scumbags who become foster and adoptive parents because they want to prey on children or make an easy living off of the state. Both types are in the system in every state, and it is the duty of lowly paid and overworked state social workers to sort them out and keep the system functioning in a safe and effective manner.

Kansas failed to protect Adam Herrman - repeatedly. His life was truly a nightmare.

1 comment:

xobekim said...

You deserve credit for "BREAKING NEWS." Although the story broke in Kansas media in time for you to read and comment, the details about the two day removal and return of the child hit local news outlets way after your post.

If this keeps up you could change the blog name to "Extra Extra Read All About It."

Good work Citizen Journalist.