Adopted girl says mother forced her to dig her own grave
A Tennessee woman says that when her adoptive parents gave her away to new parents at age 14, she and 17 other adoptive kids in her “nightmarish” new home were sometimes forced to dig their own “graves” in the backyard and scrub the floor with toothbrushes.
Editor’s Note: Today’s stories are the first in a series of online and broadcast reports on adoption by Reuters and NBC News.
“’Get out and go dig your own grave,” Nora Gateley, now 26, says her new mother told her. “’I don’t care if you die. Nobody will find you. You were not even here in the first place.”
…An investigation by Reuters in partnership with NBC News has uncovered an underground world of “re-homing,” where parents give their children to new caretakers, sometimes people they have met only over the internet, with little or no government oversight….Nora had to wear a brace on her leg for her polio, and says that Debra would sometimes take it away. “She took my brace numerous times … as punishment. So I [couldn’t] walk.”
“She said, ‘You can run away for all I care and I’ll let the coyotes out there eat you,’ ” recalled Nora. “’Nobody knows you were here anyway.’”
Sometimes, claimed Nora, Debra would punish the children by forcing them to dig their own “graves,” leaving holes “everywhere” in the backyard. Sometimes she made Nora supervise the other children as they dug, and at least once Nora was made to do it herself.