Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Four Korean Adoptees Murdered in U.S.

Gov't Working to Encourage Adoptions
Korea Criticized for 'Exporting' Orphans
'Reversible Adoption' Sparks Int'l Outcry
Woman Charged With Killing Adopted Korean Child
Four adopted Korean children were killed by their adoptive father in the state of Iowa in the U.S. The children had been born to unwed mothers and were abandoned a week to three months after they were born.

According to the local press in Iowa, the four adoptees, Ethan (10), Seth (7), Mira (5), and Eleanor (3), and their adoptive mother Sheryl Sueppel (42) were found dead in their two-story home in Iowa City at 6:30 a.m. on Monday. Authorities believe they died of blunt force trauma.

The adoptive father Steven Sueppel (42) was found dead in a wrecked and burning Toyota minivan that had crashed into a concrete abutment in the median of a highway some 14 km east of town.

The Sueppel family is seen in this handout family photo. Steven Sueppel, a former bank executive facing trial for embezzlement, beat to death his wife Sheryl and the couple's four adopted children in Iowa City, Iowa, before killing himself by ramming his car into a highway sign post, police said on Wednesday. /REUTERS

Police on Tuesday said Sueppel killed himself after slaying his wife and children, and that it was Sueppel himself who made an emergency call directing officers to his home.

Police believe Sueppel killed his family and himself because of the pressures of an impending trial for embezzlement and money laundering. Court records show that Sueppel was indicted last month on charges of stealing about US$560,000 from Hills Bank and Trust in Johnson County, where he was vice president and controller. His trial was scheduled for April 21 at the U.S. District Court in Iowa.

The adoptions of the four children were arranged by Holt Children's Services. An official with Holt said the four children were born to different unmarried mothers.

According to Holt, Ethan, Seth and Eleanor were abandoned by their mothers as soon as they were born. Carrying their one-week-old children, the three unwed mothers visited Holt and asked that their babies be adopted overseas.

Mira was three months old when her birth mother visited Holt. "That means Mira's birth mother must have agonized for three months about whether she should raise Mira alone or abandon her for adoption," the Holt official said.

The children were adopted by the Sueppels in different years -- Ethan in 1998, Seth in 1999, Mira in 2002, and Eleanor in 2005.

Having adopted four children, Steven Sueppel was once called a "humanitarian" by the local press. His wife Sheryl taught at an elementary school until 2001.

Holt Children's Services said, "Holt International Children's Services investigated and found that the Sueppels were a very good family when the children were adopted. They had no criminal records. Mr. Sueppel's parents and brothers had decent jobs."

The Sueppels and their children attended a church service nearby their home on Easter evening. "The Sueppels were very dedicated to raising their children," said a shocked church official. "I can't believe that such a thing has happened."

How many seriously have to die before we all start demanding changes in adoption? How many children have to be hurt before the adoption industry is held accountable for their actions in the placement of these children? I really want to know. If we don't clean our shit up here, Americans are not going to be allowed to adopt internationally. Other countries are getting concerned about our adoption practices. Sadly here is two other stories where a Russian children have lost their lives as well.

BEL AIR, Md. -- A Harford County couple has pleaded guilty in the starvation death of their 8-year-old adopted Russian son.

Forty-year-old Samuel Merryman of Whiteford, and his 45-year-old wife Donna, pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree child abuse resulting in death.

Their son Dennis died in January 2005 at the family's home near the Pennsylvania state line. At the time of his death, he weighed 37 pounds. An autopsy concluded he starved to death.

Under the plea agreement, charges of second-degree murder and related child-abuse charges were dropped.

The Merrymans are to be sentenced April 15.

TOOELE, Utah (AP) - The adoptive mother of 3 Russian children has been charged with murder in the death of 1 child and both adoptive parents are charged with abuse in the neglect of another.

Court documents show a 14-month-old infant died March 7 after suffering a skull fracture which an autospy said was the result of blunt force trauma. The infant boy had been with his adoptive family less than a month.

Police say the child's adoptive father told them he thought the child had taken a fall.

Tooele County prosecutors have charged Kimberly Emelyantsev with one count of murder. A second-degree felony charge of child abuse was filed yesterday.

Fyodor Emelyantsev was also charged yesterday with third-degree felony child abuse.

The charges stem from the condition of a 4-year-old adopted child whom doctors say was malnourished and severely dehydrated.

Both parents are being held in the Tooele County Jail. Their next court date is March 18.


Anonymous said...

Come on. More children die at the hands of their own birth parents than adoptive parents. We have adopted twice. Once domestically and once from China. What would you change? You speak in general term of how aoption laws should change? Why don't we also change the laws for birth parents, if they are meth addicts, should we sterilize them. If they have commited a crime should be sterilize them and take away their children. Adoptive parents go though very thourough examination. Will there be problems, yes, but to make a blanket statement such as yours. I disagree. Do not assume that all adoptions are like these. The vast majority of adoptive parent are loving caring people. Do not use the exception to try and prove the rule.

Ungrateful Little Bastard said...

It's so horrible :(

Elizabeth said...

Here's the sad truth: there is absolutely no "adoption industry standard" that definitively protects children from being placed in the homes of those who may one day abuse (or kill) them. Homestudies, for the most part, are effectively "paid endorsements" of each prospective family, and most provide no more information or insight than is offered by the payors. Even criminal checks and CANRIS screens cannot predict future behavior. Only through the ongoing accountability of truly open adoption arrangements can first families be assured of their child's ongoing welfare in the years that follow placement.

Third Mom said...

Heartbreaking. Can't take it in.

What is frightening is that I don't know if a really fail-safe way exists to prevent people from adopting who have the tendencies Steve Sueppel acted upon. Is there any guarantee that anyone couldn't snap at some point in their lives? Honestly, I don't know. And if that's the case then none of us really should be parents.

That said, I know what you mean though, Amy. You have to wonder how someone who could beat four children to death with a baseball bat, never mind having done the same to his wife beforehand, could slip through the homestudy. Something seems to be seriously wrong in this situation.

So so sad.

Stitchwitch D said...

I know for a fact that a DHS investigator lived just across the park from the Sueppel family.

The local media had put a spotlight on what a nice family they were for adopting all those kids, and then he was in the news again for stealing all that money. Of course CPS knew! The Sueppels were not investigated because they lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood and seemed like such a nice middle-class white family.

Trust me, if they'd been below the poverty line and he'd robbed that much money from a bank, CPS would have been watching them like a cat watches a mouse, and any minor flaw would have been exaggerated. If there'd have been a penny on the floor, CPS would say Mira could have choked to death on it. It just didn't occur to them that a middle-class chronically-lying scam artist white guy could possibly be a threat.