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News- Prison for child’s death

Turning to local news, Samuel and Donna Merryman are finally off to jail for starving the son they adopted from Russia to death. Clearly, their “deep faith” was no obstacle to torturing and starving Dennis (born Dennis Uritsky):

(Quoting from this Baltimore Sun article, Prison for Child’s Death)

“Dennis died in January 2005. Photos taken the day he died showed an emaciated 37-pound body.

Two older siblings described how Dennis spent nights in an unheated room, strapped to a crib without a mattress to cushion him. His hands were tied behind his back with an elastic band, and bells were attached to his body so his parents could hear him when he moved, the siblings testified.

They said Dennis was fed a puree of yogurt and asparagus as punishment for misbehaving.”

Dennis was one of four siblings the Merrymans had adopted from Russia. Currently the four, in addition to the Merryman’s two biological children and a third from Donna’s previous marriage are living in foster care. Prior to the sentencing, there appear to have been a series of supervised visits with the children.

Dennis’ death appears to have triggered the series of events that got the other children out:

“The heinousness goes further,” Adkins-Tobin said. “They involved other children in it. Not only did they require them to take part in the abuse [by tying up their brother], but they made them play a role in the cover-up. Dennis, by dying, saved the rest of the children.”

One wonders what forms of support the remaining children are receiving in relation to their roles in the death of their brother. To date I’ve seen no mention of emotional support or counseling relating to their particular circumstances, no grief counseling or mechanisms to help them perhaps work through their own potential feelings of guilt. As far as I can tell, they’ve just been passed along into the foster system.

Now that the Merrymans (’cause I’m certainly not about to label them ‘parents’) are off to prison, will the kids just become available for adoption, or in the case of the Russian adoptees, re-adoption? What will become of the kids who lived through all this?

Beyond the sentencing a questions still linger; who was the agency that did the placement, and who the fuck did the homestudy? I suppose those culpable just get to whistle a little tune, look side to side and quietly make for the nearest EXIT, certainly no consequences to them. But I still want to know:

Who gave these monsters not one, but FOUR kids?

What precisely did those homestudies look like?

It’s long past time societally we came to the realization that “deep faith,” being a Sunday school teacher, claiming a “born again” experience, homeschooling etc are not some magic bullet qualifications to be an adoptive parent.

Seeing for example, a cross around a neck of a prospective adoptive parent, or perhaps getting a signed pastor’s statement saying a couple is in good standing with their local church doesn’t preclude them from going on to starve a child to death. ‘Proper’ tithing behaviour does not equate to proper parenting skills.

(Yet for many agencies, the statement of faith is the key qualification/deciding factor.)

When it comes to whether or not a couple will murder a child, a statement of faith means diddly.

Doubly so when you have the couple’s former pastor, Rev. John A. Dekker, (who performed their wedding) running around AFTER the sentencing claiming the couple are “not criminals:”

Their former pastor, the Rev. John A. Dekker, said, “They’re not criminals. They tried to do certain things for Dennis and it backfired. The judge had no sympathy.”

Pathetic. Inexcusably pathetic.

If anything, it raises the question of whether the couple were acting on someone’s advice, theological or otherwise.


Naturally, Bastardette, who has long been on the story of Russian kids killed by their adopters (see her important series “Forever Family–Forever Dead: a Memoriam for Russian Adoptees“) has already got a piece up on the sentencing, Forever Family, Forever Dead Update: Merrymans Sentenced in Death of Dennis. Once again, I can but tip my hat to her tenacity and intestinal fortitude.

6 Responses to “News- Prison for child’s death”

  1. E.Case Says:

    I’m going to try and find the Merryman’s agency. I echo your sentiments about this case. The agency SHOULD NOT GET AWAY UNMENTIONED.

    When (and if) I locate the name of the agency, I’m running with it.

    They never, EVER should have placed FOUR children at one time, from a foreign country, post-institutionalized, with one family. VERY BAD IDEA.

    Oh, but wait – the agency got their cut of the profit, so who cares if one of the kids ends up murdered? Not the agency’s problem, is it?

    I think it is.

  2. Baby Love Child Says:

    Glad to see I’m not the only one looking for who did the placements. Such may be buried down in the court documents.

    Just for clarification’s sake, I don’t know whether the 4 kids were placed all at once, or over a period of time. I’ll try to dedicate some time to finding out an answer on that, though if any of my dear readers gets there first and has a link that could be used as citation, feel free to post it here.


  3. Baby Love Child Says:

    Wjz in Baltimore has a useful link with video-

    The story centers around the ways in which the Merrymans’ homeschooling helped hide the abuse, which has been much of the focus locally.

  4. Baby Love Child Says:

    So I’ve been really digging, trying to find out when the other children were adopted; they were all placed at once, or was it done over time?

    The closest I’ve found so far are these two pieces:

    Harford couple sentenced to 22 years in starvation death of son

    The Merrymans adopted four siblings from Russia and brought them to their Harford County farm. The children, along with the Merrymans’ three biological children, are now in foster care.

    and Merryman kids’ fate uncertain after their parents’ conviction

    The Merryman children — three biological and three adopted from Russia with Dennis — have been in foster care since their parents were indicted in 2005.

    So yes, it does appear all four kids came across at once.

    I’ll let readers know if I find anything more.

  5. Baby Love Child Says:

    Ok, sorry it’s taken so long but yeah, finally, confirmation:

    Witnesses defend parents guilty of abusing son

    He was the youngest of four Russian siblings adopted by the Merrymans in 2000.

    Assumedly from the same agency at the same time (?)

  6. Baby Love Child » Russia suspends American adoptions, the adoption industry tries to pretend the Artem’s case is not part of a broader pattern Says:

    […] have also done a scant few posts about some of the Russian Adooptees: Masha, Dennis Uritsky here in Maryland and somewhat more in-depth coverage of essentially the last major international […]

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