Mom of 2008 "Adoptive Family of the Year" Charged with Abuse, Neglect07-Apr-2014
AC/DC says "it's a long way to the top," so it stands to reason that it's a long way down if you fall. One Oklahoma woman is tasting the irony of being charged with child abuse and neglect only a few short years after being named as the "Adoptive Family of the Year" by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Deidre Matthews of Jay, Oklahoma, is the adoptive and foster mother to eight girls and one boy, aged 4 to 17. She came to the attention of the Delaware County Sheriff's Office in late February after the agency received reports that a 14-year-old girl in the home was repeatedly assaulted by a sibling, and that Matthews was abusing painkillers to the point where she could not protect or provide for her children.
Deputies say that during their investigation, Matthews boasted that her family was named the DHS Adoptive Family of the Year in 2008; however, the mobile home in which she lived with nine children and dozens of animals was covered in filth, full of garbage, rotting food, cockroaches, and animal feces.
Investigators say that when they spoke with Matthews, she was glassy-eyed and "unsteady on her feet."
According to a local report, at least one of her children told investigators that Matthews abuses painkillers, and that the woman has a monthly prescription for 360 tablets of hydrocodone. Because she was so heavily medicated, say her children, the care of the younger children--a 10-year-old boy, two 8-year-old girls, and three younger girls aged 7, 6, and 4--fell upon the oldest two girls, aged 14 and 17. The children were also responsible for taking care of and feeding dozens of exotic animals in the home, including monkeys, lemurs, marmosets, miniature horses, birds, foreign and domestic racoons, and a buffalo, in addition to more typical domestic animals such as dogs, cats, goats, and cattle.
At one time, investigators say, the family kept up to 20 primates, and the 14-year-old girl and another child both say they were attacked and bitten by a spider monkey living in the home. They told deputies that they never received medical attention for the animal bites, and that Matthews stitched up their wounds with a needle and thread.
The 14-year-old girl was removed from the home by Sheriff's deputies, who overrode DHS authority when they investigated the abuse and neglect claims but failed to remove the children from the home. DHS approved the removal of the remaining children by their father, Jerry Matthews.
The above descriptions certainly does not sound like an award-winning home. Unfortunately, addiction can have terrible ramifications not only for the person consumed by drugs, but also for everyone around him or her. If the allegations are true, it is regrettable that the mother of this family could not receive appropriate help or treatment to end her painkiller abuse before it rendered her unable to care for her children, causing her to neglect them and endanger them.
In cases of addiction, child abuse, and child neglect, the best possible outcome is for all of those who have been harmed to get the treatment and care they need for the fullest recovery.
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