Adoptive Mother Abandons Children in Africa

In one of the more bizarre stories I’ve encountered, seven adopted American children, ages 8 to 17, were recently discovered in an African orphanage. The adoptive mother, Mercury Denise Liggins, had apparently left the children with a relative in Nigeria while she went to work for Haliburton in Iraq. After the children were discovered by a passing missionary, House Majority Speaker Tom DeLay, Senator John Cornyn and State Department officials intervened to return the children to Houston. The children, who were born and raised in Texas, were placed with Liggins by Houston Child Protective Services when their biological parents’ rights were terminated. They have complained of abuse and neglect while in Liggins’ care. They were not mistreated in the Nigerian orphanage.

7 Replies to "Adoptive Mother Abandons Children in Africa"

  • Cyn
    September 8, 2004 (12:57 pm)

    Sadly if you have kept up with the scenarios of their adoptions leading up to their abandonment in Africa you see that many adults and systems failed these children. Where will the blame fall?

  • Mitch
    September 8, 2004 (1:12 pm)

    Not to mention the fact that this woman was allowed to adopt seven children!

  • Anonymous
    September 8, 2004 (1:36 pm)

    I read this one in the Washington Post. She supposedly had put them in a boarding school in Africa and she then failed to pay the school fees so the children were put out. They were found by social service officials living in a hut, hungry and with insect bites all over them.

    You can bet she was getting adoption assistance monies for these seven children. Under IV-E rules you can continue getting subsidy payments while children are in a residential boarding school that the parent is paying. I’m sure that any annual review form she had to fill out from Texas she just checked that she was still legally responsible for the children and that they were in boarding school.

    What gets me is that she adopted two groups of kids, one sibling group of 4 from Houston and then another sibling group of 3 from Dallas. Who would place two sets totalling 7 with any single parent?

  • Aeolian M. Jackson
    September 8, 2004 (3:36 pm)

    I read earlier news account of the abandonment of these American children in Africa by their adoptive mother. After many years in the field, I am no longer surprised when I hear horror stories of children’s fate during and after their CPS experience. It would be interesting to know whether these children were receiving any agency sponsored post-adoption services and whether adequate services were first provided to preserve their natural family.

    Don’t we have the Jonestown example before us? In that instance, a number of California foster children were out of the country without the knowledge of the presumably responsible public agency. I cannot recall reading that anyone was held accountable for their absence and deaths.

    There are many caring and responsible individuals in public child welfare agencies. Most lack the authority, resources, training or institutional supports to practice their high standards. Their attrition rate is high. Sadly, with CPS the blame is usually placed with “the system,” unless some hapless low level, poorly trained worker is conveniently available for public sacrifice.

    (The recent firing of District of Columbia school administrators and a school principal in the wake of school opening chaos is a refreshing exception to that public agency line of dissembling.)

    Regularly, failed CPS administrators and managers with alacrity cite their CPS time served as a stepping stone to public office or more prestigious positions in the larger service arenas. The dismal quality of their time in the agency is glossed over by artfully presented exit statements and creative resumes. Institutional memory is short.

    Since the Child Protective Service system works very well for administrators and managers, what impetus is there for change? Regular congressional hearings, refined federal and state legislation, commissions, court orders, receiverships, and the ubiquitous memoranda of understanding are a boon to consulting groups, contractors and office seekers–usually nothing more.

    Nothing can change until and unless (1) the CPS Director is compensated according to measured (as opposed to rhetorical) success; and (2) the CPS administrators and managers are held directly accountable by a vigilant tax paying public which connects the dots between the CPS system and their communities’ social and economic well-being.

  • Oprah appreciator
    September 10, 2004 (2:40 am)

    Ok I have received a note saying that Oprah is going to do a show on this.

    I don’t have time to read even all the prior comments hear beyond noting that this has been in the news for a while being noted. I am rather concerned that the claim of citizenship for children ignores the reality of what happens to foreign children caught undocumented in America. They are simply imprisoned until deportation. These children left in a land refounded by previously kidnapped and enslaved to be Americans without rights are not old enough to second guess there adoptive even parent on the excercise of there rights to not be deported but rather be kidnapped and at best adopted again? Or am I confusing the “ia”‘s….

    The point is that if the orhanage was not neglecting them, what was the status of the rights? IS the ‘parents’ error in not surrendering her citizenship? Did her job in Iraq require her to keep it?

    I do look forward to some relevent details on this case and would have them but for at least one link here requiring signing in for junkmail etc discouraging me from glancing at the article that inspired the entry.

    I do not suggest that anyone who buys land neighboring Mexico has the right to then give it to Mexico. But if you are opposed to adoptive parents having the same rights to take the children to a foreign village as actual parents than you are opposed to the essence of adoption, as you should be.

    At the very least what these children needed was for someone to adopt them where they where. Given the concern and attention clearly there are people who would of gone there to do so but for the fact that there the fact that they had already been adopted, that they had a ‘parent’, might of mattered, as would there race.

    Parents are concerned about letting there kids goto American even Schools now. Of our Military maybe even getting there shootemup recruiting fare downloading from websites guarantee to be free from what most people would understand as bllood and guts.

  • oprapr-
    September 10, 2004 (2:55 am)

    Ok I stand by my above comment and the article linked doesn’t indicate exactly at what point there flight back to money/America occured.

    I would only ask that all the pregnant sixteen year olds who fear the loss of the child upon birth be given a similar right to be flown TO africa where formula might be thankfully too expensive to threaten and bras don’t have to be budgeted for or be in lacking the straw that a environment riddleld with toxins contributed to early sexuality and more likely cancer here.

    Regarding the clamor over the money trail foster parenting is of course a home business now and attacking her for being sole proprietor ignores her if the attacks have merit spirit of outsourcing there education to a place at least far less expensive and affordable for the half grand a month where NO boarding school in America obviously of any quality could be retained for that.

    Finally the article talks about abuse, but quotes the GAL as saying the orphanage ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE OCEAN would be better than returning them to the fake mother. Clearly the best solution would be to offer the real parents tickets to Africa if they want them and are able now to THERE be better than the contractor we hired in there place here.

    IS there a rule like for SSI that you have to be of a certain age to spend the money elsehwere?

    I didn’t read a hint of what the abuse actaully was but note that the hours where less than one per child yet the attorney spoke conclusively before having watched even half of them.

    I am not a cynic. As a single parent, she must of had some quality to be given two groups so I stand by my uninformed but not contradicted in any deep way by the facts. I find the article litself with it’s sidebar MTV like casting BIO to be in fact Bizzare.


    IF THE 17 year old was offered six grand year to live on her own in Africa, would she jump at the chance? I assume so!

  • willing to read her side
    September 10, 2004 (3:49 am)

    so i missed her press tv rounds but there residue is here and this link will remain current forever