Here is the link. Here is the story.
WASHINGTON: A woman suspected of killing and freezing her two daughters was convicted of a misdemeanor and had past financial problems, but was still able to adopt the girls and collect a monthly stipend for their care even after their deaths, officials said.
The disturbing case has advocates questioning how Washington, D.C.'s troubled social services agency evaluates potential adoptive and foster parents.
Renee Bowman told investigators the frozen child-sized remains police found in her basement freezer over the weekend were those of her two daughters age 9 and 11 both adopted from Washington. Bowman, 43, is suspected of killing them and has been charged with first-degree child abuse in the beating and neglect of a third adopted daughter, who is 7.
She was a foster mother to all three before adopting them in 2001 and 2004.
"There is pressure across the board to get those adoption numbers up," Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, said Tuesday. "My question is: Did the D.C. workers have the time to look at it case by case?"
It is the latest tragedy linked to the Washington Child and Family Services Agency, which has been reeling since the January discovery of the decomposing bodies of four young sisters in a home that had a past report of abuse.
In the Bowman case, officials in Washington and Maryland say they had no information about any abuse, either before or after the adoptions. But Bowman had a 1999 misdemeanor conviction for threatening to hurt someone, according to court records. Bowman also appeared to be financially unstable, filing for bankruptcy in 2000 and in 2001.
It is unclear when Bowman became a foster mother. Bankruptcy could disqualify a person from becoming one, said Washington city council member Tommy Wells, a former social worker. Bankruptcy might not automatically keep a person from adopting, but it should be considered, he said.
Calvert County deputies made the gruesome discovery of the frozen remains Saturday in Lusby, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Washington. Bowman has been jailed on child abuse charges related to a surviving daughter.
After adopting the three "special needs" children a broad category that includes any child over age 5 Bowman received a monthly stipend of about $2,400 from a federal program for adoptive parents, Washington Acting Attorney General Peter Nickles said. He said Bowman apparently was being paid even after the children had died.
Before Bowman was allowed to adopt, she was cleared by the FBI and police and passed a background check, which includes a home study, officials said. Bowman worked as an appointment scheduler at a surgery center in northeast Washington a couple times, the last ending in 2000, a spokeswoman said.
"She had a stable home, her health evaluation, all of those things checked out," city government spokeswoman Mafara Hobson said.
Bowman's background was checked by a contractor, the Baltimore-based Board of Child Care of the United Methodist Church. The organization's president did not immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday.
Nationally, many social services agencies have probationary periods, during which workers visit homes before adoptions are final, said Wexler. However, that might be waived if an applicant had already been observed as a foster parent, as was the case with Bowman, he said.