Parenting is tough. As the father of a 5-year-old who suffers from ‘sudden onset crazy’ if he feels he is not getting enough attention, I understand how hard it can be to raise a child.
At times, when it gets overwhelming, I turn on the news and am greeted by folks who have failed at the parenting test. Or I will remember the stories of my mother who grew up in foster care before being adopted.
We like to think that adoptive parents — people who seek out children to bring into their home — would be people of compassion, love, and mercy. We don’t want any parent to be an abuser, adoptive or not.
But then you hear the story of Natalie Finn and her siblings. Natalie died on the floor, locked in her bedroom, surrounded by filth. She was skin and bones and reportedly had to drink toilet water to stay hydrated.
The day she died, her sister found her lying in her own filth. The day before, her sister had given her a sponge bath from a cat water bowl.
She and her siblings would be locked into the bedrooms. They were forced to climb out a window to beg food from neighbors. That is, they would go out searching for food until the windows were nailed shut.
The Des Moines register reported that Finn abused three out of the four children she adopted. It was not clear why the fourth child was spared her abuse. Finn removed the children from school in addition to abusing them.
When Natalie was too weak to get out of her bed, her mother stood above her and screamed: “Since you’re not going to get up, I’m not going to feed you.”
A handwritten note from one of the children states, “Can’t open window, mom nailed it shut!” The room was urine stained and animals also took up residence in the house.
“Many animals roamed freely, including well over a dozen kittens and cats,” the police report stated. There were also quite a few dogs on the premises.
In court it was suggested that Finn cared more about her animals than her children — it would certainly seem so, given that her children were caged while the dogs and cats got to roam.
During the court case, Finn would often turn to smile at her son Nathan, who was sitting with his grandfather. Her oldest son lives on the East Coast and did not attend. The younger children are in foster care and were not present at the court.
Finn was given three life sentences. She plans to appeal but made no comments after the verdict was read.
With a story like this it can be hard to find the hope. The only consolation is that the other children will be spared their sister’s fate.
This case has also spurred an investigation into why people did not notice the situation sooner — there were plenty of times somebody should have noticed or said something, but did not.
Remember, if you suspect a child is being abused, please go to the police. Be their voice. Be their hope.
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