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Being abused and/or neglected as a child are not the only painful and potentially damaging experiences that human beings may suffer in childhood. -- Jim Hopper

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Gravelle Family Life

Posted: April 13, 2006

The media has made a big deal out of the fact that the Gravelle's had adopted so many children. We've had people write in and question their ability to care for the children properly. Some people actually believe the lies the media have told about the Gravelle Family, so we've asked a family friend to address this issue.

An Interview with Carl and Carol Gibson

This has a very long introduction.
(Video length 1-hour; 13-minutes)

You may wonder how the Gravelles were able to manage 11 special needs children. First, when the children were smaller, they had an African-American friend who lived with them for about a year and helped care for the children. Sharen's mother, who lives next door, also helped care for the children and cooked for them every day. She had a golf cart to take the food that she had prepared to the Gravelle home during the summer. Sharen's biological daughter Lisa also helped out when needed so you can see that they weren't doing this alone.

Also, they didn't get all the children at one time. It was a gradual process just as any large family gets children so the older ones helped out with the little ones too.

There are families in the area that had 9, 10, 11 and 14 children and some of them lived in houses smaller than the Gravelles. As the Gravelles got more children they built an addition onto the house, which had a large dining room, three bedrooms and two more full baths so that there are now three full bathrooms in the home. They also added another building that was used for the school and converted a horse barn into a chapel, with a sewing room so that Sharen, a gifted seamstress, would have more room to sew clothes for the family.

Years ago, farm families had a large number of children and were isolated. They weren't considered abused because of the isolation because the children had each other to play with just as the Gravelle children did. Mike took them on field trips and there were trips to Ponderosa, McDonald's, the Cleveland zoo, and other places that parents take their children for enjoyment. The children never went to movies because it was too costly but there is ample supply of videos in the home. Does this sound like an abusive home?

These children want very badly to come home. At the last visitation, the child with Down's syndrome, who is 8 with a mental age of 2-3, said to Michael, "Dad, I want to move." He asked her where she wanted to move and she said, "I want to move back home with you."

People say the Gravelles should stop spending their money and the county's money, but I ask you to try to imagine how you would feel if your neighbor falsely accused you of abusing your children and CPS came and took them away without doing an investigation. Would you spend your last penny trying to get back the children that you love?

Please continue to support the Gravelle family with your prayers and a donation to the Gravelle Family Defense Fund at Key Bank, 11 West Main, Wakeman OH 44889 or any Key Bank.

~A Family Friend

The Rest of the Story

If you don't reside in Ohio or if you haven't been following the news, it might surprise you to find out that termed-out Governor Taft has been using the Gravelle family to influence legislation in his waning days in office.

According Governor Bob Taft, adoption agencies should do a special assessment of homes where a pending adoption would mean more than five children would live in the household. It was among a series of legal changes the Republican proposed to House Speaker Jon Husted, a Dayton-area Republican, and Senate President Bill Harris, an Ashland Republican in response to a case of adopted special needs children "forced to sleep in cages". (The Gravelle's)

Maybe the Governor should do his homework? If he did, he might find that the caseworker falsified the documents issues to obtain a search warrant of the Gravelle's home. He might also find that the police found out about it after the fact, yet made no effort to correct the documents.

Representative Jeff Wagner, (R-Sycamore) introduced House Bill 529 on March 9. A companion bill, sponsored by Senator Tom Niehaus, (R-New Richmond) is pending in the Senate.

As proposed, House Bill 529 would require:

  • Private and public child welfare agencies to share information when a family adopts a child to ensure that the agency arranging the adoption has complete information.
  • Assessments to be made in homes with five or more children.
  • Adoption assessors to conduct home visits every 30 days until an adoption is completed.
  • Require applicants to become foster parents to reveal if a child has ever been removed from their home.
  • Caseworkers to complete 102 training hours in their first year of employment. Current law requires 90 hours.

Both bills reflect recommendations made in a report issued in November by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Sixteen investigators examined more than 1,000 documents related to the Gravelle's for the report to the Govenor.

Rick Smith, deputy director of the state Office for Children and Families, testified before a House health committee in support of the House bill.

"It is imperative that Ohio ensures the protection and rights of children who are involved in the child-welfare system," Smith said in a written copy of his testimony.

What would likely be the result of this new law?

Would you be shocked if I told you that your taxes would be raised or that you would lose more of your precious privacy rights? I doubt it. As the government encroaches up your privacy, ask you yourself this - What exactly will you gain?

Governor Taft is for big business and the agencies who benefit from these expanded powers will grow at a phenomenal rate should these proposed laws pass. The Department of Human Services is a huge agency that is about as ineffective as they get. Only at DHS can it take 45-day to get emergency food services. What a joke! If I truly had an emergency, they would be the last place I would turn to for "emergency" help. Adding an addition 12-hours of training in a year won't change anything except the price tag.

Further more, caseworkers don't follow the laws they are currently working under, what exactly will cause them to obey these new laws? Absolutely nothing. It will however allow them to collect more tax dollars under the guise of providing more "services." Will this make children any safer? No. Will it "protect the rights of children who are involved in the child-welfare system"? No. But at least Governor Taft and a handful of Senators or Representatives can put a feather in their cap and say they "did something" about the "problem".

Never mind that the "problem" never existed in the first place. What's next government permission to have more than five children? Who came up with this arbitrary number anyway?

This piece of legislation is like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound after a knife fight, it just doesn't add up.

Annette M. Hall,
An ex-Ohio resident, 1979-1994