The Incredible Sabrina Caldwell Ethics Train Wreck, Part 2

Now for the rest of the story begun in Part I.

The story of the rejected and abandoned Russian orphan haunted “48 Hours” reporter Troy Roberts after he bid the girl farewell  in the Russian hospital. He wanted to know what had become of her, and tried to track her down over the years, with no success. Then, after more than two decades had passed, Caralee reached out to him and they arranged to meet once again.

That supposedly homicidal little girl who was diagnosed as incapable of love now lives in North Carolina as Sabrina Caldwell. She is 33, happily married and has four young children. Roberts met with her near Sabrina’s home, and he spoke with her husband as well. Sabrina explained that she was depressed and even suicidal when she was with Crystal and Jesse, who she felt were more interested in her younger brother than her. When she was falsely accused of trying to kill Joshua, whom she says she loved, she told Roberts she “wanted out.” She agreed that she tried to kill him. She made up the claims that she was hallucinating. When she was abandoned by her adoptive parents in Moscow, she said she  felt like she was in jail, but now believes she was partially responsible, since she had agreed to her parents’ version of events and lied about hallucinating.

Then again, she was just a child at the time.

After two months in the mental hospital, Nina Kostina, who had helped arrange her adoption, rescued Sabrina and brought her back to the United States. Three years later she adopted by another family in North Carolina.  n 2008, Sabrina volunteered for the non profit Mercy Ships, spending two years providing medical care to the poor in Africa. That led to a job at a hospital when she returned to North Carolina. Two years later, she fell in love with  fifth grade teacher Phil Caldwell, whom she met through her church. Before she would agree to marry him, she made him watch the “48 Hours” episode about her first adoptive parents. He told Roberts that he was stunned at what she had gone through. They were married in 2014, and now have three daughters and an infant son.  Sabrina Caldwell has never been diagnosed with any mental or emotional illness, and takes no medication for such disorders. Incredibly, Sabrina says she holds no grudges or ill will against Crystal and Jesse when she was a child.  she told Roberts. “Putting myself in their shoes,” she told Roberts, “I would have probably done almost the same thing.”

Although “I wouldn’t take a child back,” Sabrina said. She forgives all of it now. “I have an amazing husband … I have amazing kids. But if I didn’t go through what I went through I wouldn’t have that.”

Well. That’s pure moral luck. She just as easily could have ended up living on the streets of Samara, or dying in a mental hospital. Her adoptive parents washed their hands of her, and if they cared what became of their one-time daughter, they didn’t care enough.

There is one more wrinkle to this story, which Troy Roberts revealed at the end of his 2021 update on the little girl who had made him cry all those years ago. The experience made him obsess about adopting an older child, and he finally did it when he was over forty, still single, and still thinking about Caralee. He adopted a pre-teen boy who was living on the street with his mother and her other children. She had sought a family to adopt the boy because she could not care for him. At the end of the program, Troy’s son, now an all-American young man who is still amazed at his good fortune, spoke movingly about his life in the United States.

Roberts tried without success to find the Dr. Brian Kennedy, the doctor who had diagnosed Caralee as being capable of murdering her brother. Crystal and Jesse declined to be interviewed on camera.

Final observations:

1. The couple that abandoned that troubled, confused young girl in Russia should not use the fact that somehow her life turned out well to justify or rationalize their despicable conduct. But they will, of course.

2. Sabrina’s grace and willingness to forgive is remarkable and inspiring. I wonder if she would have been able to reach that point if events had been less fortuitous. I wouldn’t rule it out. She to be a remarkably perceptive and positive individual.

3. How much damage do psychiatrists and psychologists like Dr. Kennedy do every year to overly-trusting families and their children? A great deal, I believe.

4. One hero of this story is Nina Kostina. An adoption she set up turned out to be a disaster for the child, and she resolved to try to repair the damage, and did. That’s accountability. That’s caring. That’s making the extra effort to make right a situation that is wrong, whether it is your fault or not, because you can.

5. The effect of the sequence of events on Roberts, and the way it changed the life of a young boy so many miles from the U.S. and Russia is a marvelous example of chaos theory in action. The results of human conduct have unpredictable ripples. A terrible act pf parental betrayal set in motion forces that saved one life and enriched many more.

6. In the abortion-happy culture that “pro-choice” activists seek, Sabrina, Robert’s son and Joshua might have been snuffed out in their mothers’ wombs. Troy Roberts might not have a family; Sabrina Caldwell’s four children would not exist. it is far too hard to adopt children in the U.S.—trust me, I know—and this is why couples go to China, Russia and Africa for adoptions. Our system was allowed to rot after Roe; if, as I fervently hope, there will be more babies who make it to live births as a consequence of Dobbs, it is urgently required for adoptions to be encouraged, more easily obtained, and accepted.

You can watch the “48 Hours” episode here.

11 thoughts on “The Incredible Sabrina Caldwell Ethics Train Wreck, Part 2

  1. Most certainly adoptions should be easier and encouraged, but the narrative is that children who should have been aborted will be abused, neglected and otherwise mistreated by foster parents, to say nothing of biological parents forced to care for a child they created but didn’t want.

    We can expect many stories of, not only pre-teen pregnant girls in need of abortion, but also increased child abuse and neglect stories, especially in the foster care and adoption system, to facilitate this narrative.

    • I have several times, in my extended family, wondered why adoption never seemed to be a consideration for very very young (and basically indigent) parents to be.
      The babies were not necessarily unwanted (although theoretically ‘accidental’) and abortion was not discussed, but there would be a very high probably they would not be able to properly provide for the child, and a good chance it would be actually bad for the kid(s).
      We all know there are many people who desperately want children but are not able to conceive naturally. I don’t understand why adoption does not seem to be an active consideration.

  2. We are each given but one life and it is up to us and only us how we choose to live it. In the United States at least, except for our genetics and eventually dying everything else is of our choosing. That is not to say that everything is within our control or that our choices come without consequences. Basically, regardless of the situation each of us can control the choice but not the outcome

    Sometimes we can evaluate alternatives, foresee possible outcomes, and make an informed calculated choice. Sometimes we can’t. If all goes well, that’s great. It is what we do when all does not go well however that defines us. It determines our outlook on life and our level of happiness. For me, there are three keys to my happiness. When things don’t go well, I refuse to consider myself a victim, I count my blessings and try to learn from my misfortunes. Even when things go well, I count my blessings and discount my misfortunes.

    It seems to me that Sabrina may also embrace these principles. While she admittedly had the help of a caring soul ultimately, I believe her inner strength and positive attitude allowed her to grow and prosper. She either consciously or unconsciously understood that victimhood, self-pity, and resentments only hurt her and those around her. Our country would benefit greatly if more people embraced her example.

    What causes this mindset is unclear to me. It could be nature, nurture, life’s experiences, all, or none of the above. For me, I think a near-death experience helped inspire my current philosophy. Did the near-death experience create my philosophy or merely serve as a catalyst? I have no idea, and I don’t care. It is not important to me.

    Regrettably, our progressive woke culture has divided our population into two groups. You are either an abuser or the victim of an abuser. The current abusers are rich white folk who don’t pay their fair share and revel in their white privilege. They have institutionalized systemic racism so they can exploit “people of color”. Progressives drum into the heads of the populous that the perpetrators of crime are themselves, victims. They loudly proclaim blacks can’t succeed, are impoverished, and are disproportionately incarcerated because of systemic racism and not because of their life choices.

    It is easy to be a victim it doesn’t require any work or courage. You can just sit back on your pity pot and build resentments and discontent. Victims Look to politicians to solve their problems. The politicians are more than happy to stoke the discontent. The last thing they want is a happy, and self-reliant electorate.

    Our country is severely divided our economy is in turmoil, discontent is rampant. Our country needs more Sabrina’s and fewer people embracing victimhood. Our country would benefit if each of us in our small way would complain less, and do less finger-pointing. The problems we are currently facing in this country are not Trump’s or Biden’s fault we are the ones who elected those, Bozos. We are the ones sending the same clowns back to Washington each election. We need to demand solutions and accountability from our elected officials, not band-aids. For example, if there are problems with teen pregnancies, foster care, and adoption services demand those problems be fixed. Abortion is an irresponsible cowardly band-aid.

  3. 6. In the abortion-happy culture that “pro-choice” activists seek, Sabrina, Robert’s son and Joshua might have been snuffed out in their mothers’ wombs. Troy Roberts might not have a family; Sabrina Caldwell’s four children would not exist.

    Moral luck, she could right now be overseeing a death camp and disposing of Ukrainian bodies.

    • But still enjoying the opportunity to live. Ethics only dictates that everyone have a shot at doing what the can with life. Whether any individual actually makes ethics choices with that shot is an entirely separate issue.

      • Jack
        I just finished commenting on a previous post about utilitarian theory. Giving people a shot at life so that they can make choices validates my point and so thoroughly eviscerates the notion society would be better off if unwanted babies were allowed to be terminated at will prior to birth. Who has the right to say the greater good is served by legalized abortion? No one is omniscient and can determine the value another perceives. Suggesting that if a child will have a miserable existence and abortion would enhance the greater good by eliminating the misery is mere projection on their part.
        Third parties are the most ill-equipped persons to make choices for others unless explicit instructions were provided in advance. Therefore, one must default to doing nothing that would cause harm to another.

      • It’s the issue you chose to highlight Jack. Put the goalposts back. You can’t put it out into the world that a good outcome is an anti-choice argument without accepting the counter argument that immense suffering could have been avoided if Putin’s or Pinochet’s moms had a D&C.

        • Valkygrrl
          The argument you advance strikes me as specious. It ignores a key tenant of my post. The problem with Putin, Pinochet, Hitler, and Idi Amin, pick any evil leader, is not that they were born. The problem lies with the people who put them into power. Hitler convinced the German people they were victims, blaming the Jews and communists among others for many of Germany’s ills and promised Germans a better life if they followed him. The most important thing a leader needs is followers. Without the support of the German populous, Hitler would have been an insignificant Austrian painter virtually unknown to the world. So how do you choose when “One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been.” ― Sophocles

  4. How much damage do psychiatrists and psychologists like Dr. Kennedy do every year to overly-trusting families and their children? A great deal, I believe. One only has to look at the prevalent transgender affirming therapy modality that is being perpetuated and promoted by psychiatrists and psychologists.

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