Medlin Family Adoption

THINGS DON'T ALWAYS GO THE WAY WE PLAN THEM.

The Short Version

My cousin, Brian Medlin, and his wife, Vanessa, have adopted a child who suffered horrific, unimaginable abuse at the hands of her former foster parents. The expense has been greater than expected and they are left with a balance of nearly $5,000 that must be paid to the adoption agency. It would mean the world to me, and to them, if can offer any support. The balance is due now and all funds will go directly to the agency. 

The Whole Story

*Note. The child’s name in this story has been changed and her face covered in the photo because she fears for her safety. If you happen to know the Medlin family personally please don’t use her actual name in any comments or social media posts.

Imagine this: you are a fourteen year old girl home alone and your parents have gone out. You’ve been told what to do - clean your room, fold the laundry. As you do those things you are aware that you are being watched by the security system cameras. A voice comes over the speaker. “Go to the hallway where we can see you on the camera. Now, balance on one foot and don’t let the other touch the ground. Stay like that until we get home and remember, if your foot does touch the floor you will get a beating when we get there.”

Scrolling through my Facebook feed last fall I saw a post on Facebook from my cousin Brian. He had announced that he and his wife, Vanessa, were adopting. The post had some information about the child and a link so that people could donate money to cover the costs.
 
Brian has a good job. He’s the pastor at Mineral Springs Baptist Church. He and his wife, Vanessa, own a nice home. They drive modest, but nice, cars. Their two girls are well dressed and attend a nice school.

My reaction to his post was negative. “I have twice as many kids,” I thought.

“Why should I give him my money just so can he have more kids?” Julia was put off and skeptical. “That is flat-out wrong,” she said.

As it turns out, we had missed the point entirely.

Not long after he’d posted that Brian invited me to breakfast. I’d not seen him in quite a while so we caught up on our lives while we waited on our food. We talked about the normal stuff - jobs, kids, politics. Brian is a lot closer to our extended family than I am, so he filled me in on my aunts and uncles and other cousins. As we talked about the family I eventually asked the question.

“What’s up with this adoption?”

I’m not one to cry in public but that morning, sitting in a booth at Hilltop, I came pretty close. Later, when I told Julia, I couldn’t stop my lip from quivering. She burst into tears.

Stephanie, the child that Brian and Vanessa are in the process of adopting, is originally from the Philippines. Although she is fifteen years old most people would think she’s eleven or twelve due to her small stature. She’s the youngest of four children. Her father and her brother were killed in an accident when she was seven months old, leaving her mother alone to raise three girls. Unable to make ends meet she sent Stephanie and her sisters to live with her grandparents.

Shortly thereafter her grandfather passed away leaving the grandmother solely responsible for these three girls. Social Services was notified of potential endangerment and the older sisters were taken to an orphanage. Stephanie refused to go and remained with her grandmother. Unable to care for even one child the grandmother tried to locate Stephanie’s mother but had no luck, she had disappeared. Like her sisters before her (who had now been adopted) Stephanie was sent to the orphanage.

In May of 2016 she was placed with a couple in
the United States. Her new life here started with a trip to Disneyland. She met all the princesses and thought she’d found a fairy tale of her own. She had a mother and father. She was clothed and fed and had shelter. She felt loved. This was everything she had ever wanted.

But it didn't last. It wasn’t long before the foster parents began to abuse her.

For twelve months she was waterboarded. She was burned. She was repeatedly stabbed with sewing needles and thumbtacks. She was kicked, stomped, and punched. From being repeatedly hit in the head she developed cauliflower ear (like wrestlers get). In public the foster mother would pretend to whisper in her ear. But what she really did was bite her.

They told her if she cried it would get worse. They told her all of this was training; that it was discipline. They told her it was okay, and she believed them.

One afternoon the foster mother took her to a coffee shop. It was there that a woman witnessed her repeatedly kicking Stephanie under the table. She then stabbed her hand with a sharp pencil before storming off to the bathroom.

“Do you need some help?” the woman said when Stephanie was alone.

“No. I’ll be fine. Just pray for my mom please. She does this when she gets angry.”

Returning from the bathroom the mother could see that Stephanie had been talking to the woman. Enraged she punched her in the head. Right there in a coffee shop this foster mother punched her daughter in the head.

The woman, now joined by the manager of the coffee shop, confronted the foster mother.

“I’m her mother!” she yelled, “I paid $35,000 for her! They told me I was getting a smart child, but instead I got a stupid one!”

She smashed Stephanie’s hand, still bleeding from the pencil stab, with a coffee cup. “Let’s go,” she said, and she pulled her out the door.

The woman and the manager filmed them leaving and got the car’s tag number.

When the police arrived they didn't believe the story that Stephanie had been instructed to tell. They took her to the hospital where they discovered over 100 fresh puncture wounds on her chest. She had scars on her neck, scars on her thighs. They found scars along her arms and in her armpits. Marks on her ears and the nape of her neck from being pulled with pliers.

Stephanie says now she thought they would have eventually killed her.

Thank God for random women in coffee shops. Stephanie is safe in Brian & Vanessa’s home now and the former foster parents are facing charges of torture and mayhem.

Not just abuse. Torture and mayhem.

You see, Brian and Vanessa aren’t adopting Stephanie because they wanted to adopt her, in particular. True, they are deeply spiritual people who feel called by God to adopt. But the reason they are adopting Stephanie is because she needs to be adopted. This was not the child they were looking for and they weren’t quite ready to adopt, but she’s been through enough. She needs to be adopted now.

That was the point Julia and I had missed in Brian’s Facebook post.

I’m proud of Brian and Vanessa for having the strength and courage to bring Stephanie into their home. At a previous point in my life I’d considered adopting so I know just a little about it. I know that introducing a grown child into an established home is complicated. I know that children who have been through the foster system often come with a lot of baggage. I know there are other complexities.

And this goes back to something I wrote about last month - perception. Things are not always what they seem. Where I saw a seemingly selfish person asking for money to help himself, there was actually a selfless person asking for money to help a child.

Donations

  • Holly Campbell 
    • $5 
    • 25 mos
  • Diane Odiorn 
    • $100 
    • 25 mos
  • Laurel Michael 
    • $25 
    • 25 mos
  • Ken Turco 
    • $100 
    • 25 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $65 
    • 25 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Richard Price 
Organizer
Monroe, NC
Brian Medlin 
Beneficiary
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