In 1987 tragedy struck in NYC that reverberated around the world. A six-year-old named Lisa was abused and beaten to death by her attorney adoptive father while her adoptive mother stood by and did nothing. Seasoned NYC police officers said they had never seen a darker, filthier, drug-filled apartment or such horrendous abuse both to the child and the mother – who has multiple broken bones. Lying amidst the squalor was another child of 18 months, named Mitchell, tethered to a table leg with a filthy diaper and a bottle of rancid milk.
As the story of Lisa’s “illegal” adoption unfolded – of a mother betrayed by her obstetrician and a baby handed to two drug addicts, perhaps in exchange for drugs…and the years of abuse suffered by Lisa….the media couldn’t get enough of the story. It was the OJ Simpson case of the 80’s.
I was entranced from the beginning. All I could think of was: but for the grace of God. I knew with all my heart and soul that that could have been my daughter or any of our children who had been relinquished. My heart broke thinking of every mother wondering…and most of all for the one who knew it was her daughter.
I was angered, and anger is a fire that burns in me igniting me into action. I saw in this tragedy the need to scream to the world: "See – this is what secretive, private, unregulated adoptions can lead to!" And so, together with Joe Soll of Adoption Crossroads in NYC, I (with Origins-NJ) initiated a candlelight vigil from Lisa’s home in Greenwhich Village, NY to her public elementary school. We got what we sought: lots of press and TV coverage.
Perhaps more importantly, on a homan scale, I was succesful (details revealed in my book, The Stork Market) in reuniting the boy, named Mitchell with his family. It is the most rewarding search and reunion of thousands I have helped accomplish.
Newspaper coverage of our candlelight vigil.
Right: My then six-year-old daughter at the candlelight vigil. She was the same age as Lisa.
Adoption Activism takes to the streets of NYC and Washington DC