Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Not sure who annoys me more: Mercury Liggins or her lawyer
Photograph of Mercury Liggins
Texas foster mother Mercury Liggins excelled in home studies, and was allowed to adopt not one, but seven children.
And she continued to collect $3,584 a month for their care during the ten months after she had abandoned them in Nigeria.
The children were found living in a Nigerian orphanage, by a Texas missionary. He first suspected they were from America when he saw them playing 'Go Fish.' His suspicions were confirmed after hearing them sing 'The Star Spangled Banner.
By the time the children were discovered, they were suffering from malnutrition, malaria and typhoid. Three children were too sick to walk.
Defense attorney Michael Delaney, tried to paint Mercury out to be the victim, and blamed the situation on her brother-in-law, who lived in Nigeria. "She trusted the wrong person. She feels badly for her kids."
Did Mercury feel badly when she physically abused the children in her care? Prior to her abandoning the children, child welfare officials investigated five complaints of abuse, between 1997 and 2003.
At the time, the children kept silent because Mercury had threatened them. After being returned from the Nigerian orphanage, the children reported that Mercury struck them with a black belt and an extension cord nicknamed the 'persuader.' Mercury also had repeatedly threatened to send them to Africa.
When Mercury was ordered by State District Judge Sherry Van Pelt to repay the money she had received for the children's care, her lawyer complained that, "It's a lot of money for someone who is disabled and jobless at this point."
Too bad Mercury didn't put some of that money in a mutual fund. $512 per month for each child might have added up to create a nice nest egg for her.
Before adopting the seven children left in an orphanage in Nigeria, Mercury also adopted two other children from a man she was married to from 1979 to 1990. She also has two children of her own, who reside with her ex-husband. A relative reported that Mercury treated her biological children well, but was miserly toward her adopted children.
Richard Laballo, a laywer at Advocacy Inc., has suggested that the inspector general take a closer look at 'collector families' who adopt large numbers of hard-to-place children and receive financial subsidies.
For a recent update on this story, please visit this link: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA010807.01A.brandy_talks.3003d6d.html
Adoptive mother says another relative deserted her kids. Louisiana Weekly. August 23, 2004.
American children abandoned in Africa, forced to beg for food. Louisiana Weekly, August 23, 2004.
Hughes, Polly and Melanie Markley. Latest crack in faulty system: Nigeria case furthers scrutiny of child services. Houston Chronicle, 2004.
Langford, Terri. 'Y'all are going to Nigeria.' Houston Chronicle, January 7, 2007.
Report: Abandoned children suffered abuse. Nigeria Daily News, August 22, 2004.
Doesn't seem fair, does it?
Some states are trying out different methods to address the inconsistencies.
I will keep you posted about which (if any) are successful.
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