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.
“’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.”
Debra told Reuters that she took the children after their parents begged her for help. She also says she never abused any children, and that she only made the children dig holes as punishment for telling lies. She denies taking away Nora’s leg brace, and says she only pled no contest to the charges against her in hopes of getting the children back.
The parents who initially adopted Nora from China would not tell Reuters how they found the Schmitzes. Other parents who re-homed children with the Schmitzes said they contacted them through the internet. Dvorak says that Debra told her more than once she could get a child via the web. A second nurse who visited the home told police that Debra had shown her an internet group listing unwanted adopted children, and claimed she could get a child in three weeks without any government involvement.
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