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Maryland- “how did this person . . . qualify to become an adoptive parent?”

Special note to readers-

I’m doing two posts tonight, so please also be sure to read Adoption subsidies for frozen corpses, more on the Maryland nightmare for part II of my coverage. (This third post is coming almost immediately on the heels of my second post following the developing Maryland story. I cut this writing about today’s Washington Post piece off the bottom of my last post to cut down the length and try to maintain the continuity.)

For new readers, also be sure to go back to part I, Maryland- 3 adopted daughters; 1 beaten, 2 dead, frozen in freezer for 7 months to get up to speed


Wednesday’s Washington Post reveals more details in its most recent article, Girls May Have Been Dead More Than a Year, Police Say. This latest piece says Bowman may have moved to Prince George’s OR Charles County:

Renee D. Bowman, 43, who arrived in Calvert in February, “indicated” in an interview that the bodies were in the freezer when she moved out of her former residence in the Rockville area, investigators have said. Yesterday, authorities revealed that she left that area last October or November and then stayed briefly in Prince George’s or Charles County before moving to Calvert.

So we may still only be dealing with three counties.

The new article also reveals that Bowman on top of the misdemeanor conviction, Bowman had filed for bankruptcy and that the information may not have been included in the outsourced background check:

The case continued to raise questions about D.C. child welfare services yesterday, three days after the bodies were found. The D.C. Child and Family Services Agency recommended Bowman as a suitable adoptive parent even though she filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001, the year she adopted one foster child, and had just emerged from it in 2004, when she adopted two others. In between, she lost her Landover house to foreclosure.

Bowman, now jailed on child abuse charges, had also been convicted in 1999 of a misdemeanor charge of “threatening bodily harm” to a 72-year-old man.

“We want to know how did this person . . . qualify to become an adoptive parent?” said D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chairman of the Committee on Human Services and a former social worker. “Is there anything we don’t know or should have known that would have prevented the adoption?”

Acting Attorney General Peter Nickles said he was not aware of the bankruptcy filings or the misdemeanor conviction and does not believe that the information was included in a home visit report generated by a private contractor.

“That was not revealed. At least, I don’t think it was revealed,” he said. “I’m not saying . . . that I’ve seen everything.”

Then again, as the contractor, Board of Child Care of the United Methodist Church, (yes, folks more faith based adoption entanglement) isn’t saying anything either, we may just be looking at finger pointing and ass-covering in all directions at this point.

According to the Post:

Thomas Curcio, president of the nonprofit Board of Child Care, the private agency hired by the city to evaluate Bowman, has not responded to phone messages seeking a comment on the case.

As details of the adoption process are kept secret by law, determining misconduct in the process becomes an incredibly complicated endevour.

Bowman’s adoptions were approved by a D.C. Superior Court judge after a background investigation by a private agency under contract with the child services agency. Records of the adoptions remain confidential under D.C. law.

Meanwhile baby-step reforms, as opposed to comprehensive systemic overhauls (which I spoke to in my last post) are already being contemplated:

The case is prompting discussion among child-welfare advocates in the region about developing a standardized protocol to ensure thorough examinations of prospective adoptive parents and increasing post-adoption monitoring. Most states and the District have no post-adoption monitoring systems, experts said.

We also get a glimpse of the DC scope of the federal adoption subsidies:

As of last month, 2,295 people who adopted from the District were receiving the tax-free federal subsidy of $800 a month per child, said Mafara Hobson, spokeswoman for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).

And a snapshot if you will of Bowman’s recent work history:

A spokeswoman for Suburban Hospital in Bethesda said Bowman did secretarial work there from September 2004 to June 2006. She worked as a patient appointment scheduler at the Center for Ambulatory Surgery in the District from May 1989 to June 1993, then again from May 1998 to December 2000, according to a spokeswoman for the facility, which recently changed its name to MedStar Surgery Center.

Most importantly, the Post has dug out the details of the the incident that led to the misdemeanor conviction:

In 1999, according to D.C. Superior Court records, Bowman, in a vehicle, pulled alongside a 72-year-old man’s car and angrily demanded that he pay her for damages to her car caused during an earlier accident. The man, who was with a woman, quoted Bowman as yelling: “I want my $900. . . . If that [expletive] wasn’t sitting next to you, I’d whup your [expletive] right now.”

He said Bowman continued to follow him and threaten him that day, at one point saying she would “get the drug boys around the corner” to break into his house and beat him. Bowman received a 6-month suspended sentenced and was put on probation for a year.

The Post article also contains new details about Bowman’s boyfriend who has been questioned by the Police:

When the 7-year-old spoke with Calvert authorities Friday, she said her mother had beaten her, but she spoke kindly about a man she considered to be her father. He is not her biological father, authorities said, but her mother’s boyfriend.

The girl “thought the world of him,” Detective Sergeant Moore said.

Officials identified him as Joe C. Dickerson and said he was cooperative during an interview. They would not say what he had told them when asked about the bodies in the freezer. They said he visited Bowman at her home frequently but did not live there.

At yesterday’s custody hearing:

The 7-year-old was placed in the custody of the Maryland Department of Human Resources after a court hearing that was closed to the public. The girl remained in the hospital late yesterday afternoon, and she was scheduled to be placed with a Calvert foster family, officials said.

The Department of Human Resources said it had found no records of any child abuse or neglect complaints about this family.

One Response to “Maryland- “how did this person . . . qualify to become an adoptive parent?””

  1. Baby Love Child » Renee Bowman finally convicted: a case study in the broken adoption system Says:

    […] a broken system. A system that enabled Renee Bowman to adopt these three girls in the first place despite red flags along the way, such as the misdemeanor conviction for threatening to hurt someone, then after the adoptions, the […]

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