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Posted: 5:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 17, 2014

Giving back adopted children

By Cheryl McHenry


DAYTON--Probably no one adopts a child expecting to give that child back, though it does happen.

But at least one local judge fears that criminally charging those parents, as happened recently in our area, could have a "chilling effect" on others who want to adopt.

"I love him and, as far as I'm concerned, he's already mine, " Jennifer Holcomb of Brookville said last month as she and her husband finalized the adoption of their 2-year old son, Damon.

The couple smiled and played with Damon, as their extended family members took pictures after the brief proceeding in Montgomery County Probate Court.

Adoptive dad Dustin Holcomb said, "He's ours for life and we're not giving up on him."

But next door in Juvenile Court, a more sobering story is unfolding.

Adoptive parents Doug and Linda Poling, of Englewood, watch as their 16-year old adopted daughter is handcuffed and hauled off to Juvenile Detention--again.

They've refused to bring her home since April when they called the police. "Trying to burn our house down and threatening to kill us in front of the police officers. I mean, we had no choice. We have other children," says Linda.

The Poling's have raised eight children, five of them adopted, and say they never had a serious problem with any of their children before this daughter.

Referring to the Butler County case in which a couple was charged for returning their adopted son, Linda Poling says, "Years ago, with all of our adoptions going so wonderful, I had heard about things like this and I would have thought, 'Oh, my God, how could they do that?'"

The Poling's now empathize with Cleveland and Lisa Cox, who were indicted for non-support. They took the boy to Children's Services after his behavior turned violent.

"I think it's a chilling effect for potential adoptive parents," says Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Nick Kuntz, referring to the indictment. He says local social service agencies try to keep adoptive families together, but that sometimes it just doesn't work. "Everything has been tried. The family hasn't been able to make it, the child's not making it. They're not criminals. And they (Children's Services) take that child back."

Kathey Maxwell is a caseworker at Montgomery County Children's Services. "Sometimes the adoptive parents think that love is enough," she says. But every year, her agency sees between three and five children returned by their adoptive parents. "They're just unable to cope with the kid's behaviors, and all they can say is, "Get 'em out, now.'"

The Bobo family of Huber Heights adopted 13-year old twins, Jalen and Jayna, as infants. Both have dealt with developmental problems. Mom Deena Bobo says she seeks help wherever she can for her children--and for herself. She attends a monthly support group for adoptive families at Children's Services. "You know, we cry, we laugh, but when you walk in that room, you know you're with someone who understands."

Doug and Linda Poling need a different kind of support. They want their daughter to undergo intensive therapy so they can eventually bring her home. "This is why we're doing this," says Linda, "we could have given up and just said, "That's it. We're done. She's yours.'"

They hope to keep the commitment they made years ago when they adopted her.

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