Siblings

Photo provided by Jim and Laura Taylor

Jim and Laura Taylor's children Sam, left, Sara, Levi and Beth pose on a beach. 

The frustration in Jim Taylor's voice is palpable as he describes the "living hell" his family has endured since adopting a 6-year-old girl.

"At night, I hide all the knives and scissors before we go to bed," the former Selinsgrove resident said.

Now living in South Carolina with his wife, Laura, and their four adopted children between the ages of 12 and 20, Taylor said the family's life began to change drastically in 2008 when they moved to Snyder County and Laura was approached by a couple she met in church.

Already raising three children with special needs, the Taylors were asked by the couple if they would consider taking their own adopted 6-year-old daughter "if anything bad happened."

The request left the Taylors stunned.

"It was beyond bizarre," he said.

Over the next several weeks and months, the girl named Beth latched onto the Taylor family and would even run eight blocks away from the home she had been in for four years to the Taylor house.

Eventually, the Taylors took her in and adopted her.

"We felt they (the other couple) were doing something wrong. Knowing what I know now, I have apologized many times in my head for the things I thought about them," said Taylor. "They reached out to us out of desperation."

Desperate is how the Taylors now feel.

Beth, now 16, has been in a juvenile detention facility since April despite years of therapy after being diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, Taylor said.

Her previous adoptive parents and the Taylors have had her in counseling for years with little success. She was put in an institution twice between the ages of 2 and 4 and eight times in the decade she's been with the Taylors.

"She has learned all the textbook responses. She has her coping skills memorized verbatim but refuses to utilize any of this," Taylor said. "Over the course of years of therapies she also has created an alternative life made up of all the stories that others shared and insists that they are her stories, her life."

Adding to the Taylors' anxiety are therapists who recently have begun telling them their daughter will likely end up "dead or in jail," he said.

Taylor attributes the "huge systematic failure of the adoption and health systems" in part to insurance companies and therapists that aren't truthful with families.

"Without fail, at every place we entrusted with the care of our daughter, (professionals) would tell us one thing. Then, on the monthly phone call with the insurance company for another 60-day renewal, they would say that Beth is still meeting all goals and requirements without issue — When, in fact, she kept running away from those facilities, got into fights with others, stabbed another child 'because she was bored' and displayed all her oppositional behaviors," he said. "It's almost like the various institutions knew they could tap the insurance companies for (more money) and, when they knew the monies were ending, they would send her back home with zero chance for success and zero thought and concern about the rest of the family unit."

Laura Taylor said the situation is made harder by the lack of understanding for the family's needs.

"When you have a child like this everybody wants to look at what's in the best interest of the child but they don't consider the family," she said.

Jennifer Napp Evans, the administrator at Snyder County Children and Youth, said her agency has seen a rising number of adoptive parents in the same situation.

"Sometimes love isn't enough," she said of parents trying to raise children with serious mental issues. "The system isn't where it needs to be when it comes to dealing with mental health issues."

Over the years, police have had to intervene when the Taylors' daughter ran away, disrupting the lives of the couple's other children and having little impact on correcting Beth's behavior.

"We were afraid for our kids, afraid for our family and afraid for her. We still are," Jim Taylor said. "Adoption is incredibly rewarding, but it's not always a cup of tea."

The Taylors describe their daughter as suicidal, homicidal and manipulative.

"I couldn't trust her walking down the stairs behind me because she would try to push me," Laura Taylor said. "She even tried to strangle her little sister."

Adding to their fear and frustration is the reaction from others when they seek help.

"You adopt a child to give them a better life but when you reach out for help people don't want to hear it," she said. "Don't our other children deserve a normal life?"

Evans commends the Taylors for speaking out about a situation that is impacting families across the country.

"It's heartbreaking," she said. "So many people are adopting children for the right reasons but in some cases, it just becomes so unsafe and then they keep silent."

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