Tom P. has contributed an inspiring and thoughtful Comment of The Day in response to the disturbing but ultimately uplifting story of how a Russian orphan, abused by her American adoptive parents, not only survived and thrived (that’s Sabrina today with her family, above), but did so without succumbing to bitterness and despair.
Tom’s first line in his comment is especially provocative, I think. When are “we given” that one life we have the opportunity to do with what we can? Isn’t it at the moment a unique genetic being comes into existence, with the living biochemical capacity to develop and grow if others don’t interfere for their own reasons to stop the process? If that is the case, and I do not see any way to deny it with intellectual honesty, how can abortion activists argue their position without dealing with the existence of two lives in the abortion equation, and not only the mother’s?
But the rest of Tom P.’s Comment of the Day on the two-part post, “The Incredible Sabrina Caldwell Ethics Train Wreck,” is equally thought-provoking. Here it is:
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.
Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
At the end of last year, CBS’s “48 Hours” broadcast an update of a horrifying episode from two decades ago. I missed both programs, but I stumbled upon a rerun of the December 2021 follow-up last night. The tale is a true ethics train wreck that, incredibly, had a happy ending, making it also an abject lesson in moral luck.
The story had special resonance for me because it involved the aftermath of an American couple adopting of a Russian orphan, a process my wife and I went through as well. In 1997, Crystal and Jesse were a young married couple who had tried and failed to conceive. They fund Russian adoption agency’s website and were smitten by a photo of a beautiful 9-year-old girl. The couple began the adoption process. The child’s medical records from the adoption agency, were concerning, though: they described developmental problems.
CBS made a big deal about this, but essentially all older Russian orphans have developmental issues. Crystal told CBS that the “were assured that this child was healthy and that in a good home … with the best doctors in America helping her with the developmental issues, that she should be fine.” That was accurate advice (and she and her husband should have known that by doing responsible research before deciding to adopt a Russian orphan). I should also mention here that Russian medical records regarding orphans are notoriously unreliable. Our son, who has been freakishly healthy, came with ten pages of supposedly serious medical problems. Our pediatrician literally laughed at the document. Continue reading →