The Strange Case of the Ukrainian Adoptee

Not the child in this story.

She had traveled from Ukraine to the rolling hills and cornfields of Indiana, only to wind up on her own in a strange city. When police checked in with the girl in September 2014, it had been more than a year since she had seen or heard from her adoptive parents, who had changed her age from 11 to 22 on official documents and rented her an apartment before moving to Canada and leaving her behind.

This is strange enough but the story gets stranger from there.

The couple who abandoned the girl disagree about whether she actually was a child — or an adult pretending to be one.  The mother, now divorced from her husband, claims that the adoption was a “scam” and that the girl was a diagnosed psychopath and sociopath, who had been an adult the entire time they knew her.

Her ex-husband tells a different story.  As far as he was concerned, police said, the girl was a minor when they switched her age and left her behind in Lafayette Indiana. He also told detectives that his wife had counseled the girl to tell people that she was 22 if questioned, and to explain that she just looked young.

The family had adopted the disabled girl from Ukraine in 2010 and she came to live with them and their three sons in their cozy suburban home north of Indianapolis. The girl would later tell detectives that a different adoptive family had initially brought her to the United States in 2008. Though no details are provided in the police affidavit, there were apparently complications, because the couple in this story adopted her two years later.

The girl’s actual age was difficult to establish from the beginning.  In an Indiana probate court, they adoptive parents legally changed their daughter’s age from 11 to 22 and provided a letter that purportedly came from a doctor who said that the date on the girl’s birth certificate was “clearly inaccurate,” since she had both the teeth and the secondary sex characteristics of a grown adult.

The girl had been committed to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with sociopathic personality disorder in 2012, and, around that time, started to admit that she was over 18. Determining her true age was difficult, the letter states, because records provided by Ukrainian officials were “grossly incomplete” and her condition, spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (dwarfism), meant that the typical assessments weren’t helpful.

When her adoptive parents rented her an apartment in downtown Lafayette Indiana, she knew no one else there. What happened next is unclear.  It is said that the girl’s neighbors “took her under their wing.”  In May 2014, less than a year after her adoptive parents left her alone in the apartment, she was evicted for not paying her rent.

In September 2014, the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office tracked down the adoptive daughter, who would have been 12 or 13 at the time. Legally, she was considered to be well into her mid-twenties.  Another five years passed before her adoptive parents  were finally charged with neglect.

When another couple petitioned to become her guardians in 2016, the adoptive parents filed an objection.  Two years later, the new couple changed their mind about the adoption, for reasons that weren’t specified. The adoptive parent’s petition was subsequently dismissed.

Stay tuned.  Authorities have hinted that there could be even more strange details to come. “This is going to end up on a TV show,” an anonymous law enforcement official remarked.

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