Family Faces Probe as 5 Disabled Adopted Children Die : Ohio: Mother notes that all of her charges were at high risk of early death. “You have to look at the whole picture,” she says. Inquest is set for late this month.
Kathleen and Timothy Carroll knew when they began adopting disabled children that most of them were at risk of not living long.
But five of their 10 adopted children have died in the last nine months, and the latest death has prompted a coroner’s investigation.
“You have to look at the whole picture,” Kathleen Carroll said. “The children weren’t supposed to live as long as they did. We, by having the children that we have, put ourselves in a very high-risk group for having something like that happen.”
Authorities scheduled a July 26 coroner’s inquest to get more information about three of the deaths. The investigation was prompted by the June death of 12-year-old Josiah Carroll. No criminal allegations have been made.
“There are just too many unanswered questions,” said Suzanne Schmidt, assistant Greene County prosecutor.
Four of the Carrolls’ remaining children still live with them in a modern house sitting on a wooded, five-acre lot.
Hosea, 9, was born to a drug-addicted mother; Samuel, 5, has Down’s syndrome; Isaiah, 10, has cerebral palsy, and James, 17, came from a “difficult” background but has no physical disability, Kathleen Carroll said.
The county’s Children Services Board has asked for temporary custody of the children. The motion probably won’t be decided until after the inquest, Schmidt said. Meantime, the agency is permitted to make unannounced visits to the home.
The couple began adopting children eight years ago when they lived in Massachusetts.
Kathleen Carroll, 31, who has worked in nursing homes and a hospital, said she wanted a big family and adoption agencies had asked her to adopt disabled children, who often are difficult to place.
“They hand you your baby and they say, ‘Here’s your baby. We don’t know why you want this child. We’re glad you’re taking it ‘cause we don’t know what to do with it, but it’s going to die.’
“It’s not that you don’t accept it or you don’t believe them. It’s just that you go home and you live your life with your baby. And every day is a gift from God.”
The deaths began Sept. 21, when Hannah, 6, who had Down’s syndrome, died after getting into some household bleach.
The Carrolls said they treated her skin burns with creams and believed she was healing. Three days later, they took her to a hospital, where she died. Officials said her lungs also had been burned by the bleach fumes.
The couple pleaded guilty in January to contributing to the neglect of a minor, a misdemeanor. They were placed on probation for four years and barred from adopting more children without court approval.
After Hannah’s death, the state removed baby Chloe from their home and transferred her to an adoption agency. Chloe, born missing all of her brain except the stem, died Oct. 19; she was 7 weeks old.
Noah, 3, born to a drug-addicted mother, died at home Nov. 15. He had a history of seizures.
A month later, Mary, 3, who had mental retardation and limited motor skills, was found dead in her bed.
On June 14, Josiah, who had cerebral palsy and asthma, was found dead in his bed.
After Josiah died, investigators decided to take a closer look.
The inquest will focus on the deaths of Josiah, Noah and Mary. Authorities don’t know what killed Josiah and Mary. A coroner ruled that Noah died of natural causes.
Kathleen Carroll said she welcomes the inquest.
“I hope they feel that they have turned over every stone and no stone has been left unturned and they will go away; they will leave us be in peace to be a family and heal from this,” she said.