ST. CLOUD (AP) -- A St. Cloud couple is searching for answers in a failed struggle to adopt two brothers that ended with the boys being taken away and put back in foster care.
In February 1998, Pat and Carol Bohrman learned about two brothers, ages 8 and 7, who had spent three years in foster care awaiting a permanent home. They came from a troubled home where they had been physically abused.
Carol, a behavior management specialist for Catholic Charities, and Pat, who is disabled with fibromyalgia, said social workers told them the younger child had some behavioral problems but the older child did not.
When the Bohrmans learned the boys' birth father was schizophrenic, they were concerned, but figured the illness could be treated with medication if it were diagnosed in either of the boys.
On the first visit, the older boy was outgoing and charming. The younger one was shy and withdrawn.
On the second visit, the Bohrmans got a glimpse of the older boy's frightening behavior. As the two boys were swimming in a neighbor's pool, the older boy pushed his brother's head under water.
After the incident, the Bohrmans say, a representative from child protective services talked to them about their marriage, their finances and anything that might be a problem in the family.
The Bohrmans say the social worker told them the older boy had accused Pat of hitting him, a charge Pat firmly denies. The boy later denied making the accusation, the Bohrmans say.
Throughout the visitation period, the older boy's behavior grew worse. He tripped, bit and hit other kids at school. He was extremely clingy, always at Pat's or Carol's side or in their laps.
''He was always wanting closeness,'' Carol said.
The Bohrmans continually talked to their case worker about their problems. For the first time, the Bohrmans say, the case worker expressed concern that the older boy ''may have an empty hole you can't fill.''
On June 9, 1998, the brothers arrived at the Bohrmans to stay. The children were ecstatic, the Bohrmans said. They told Pat and Carol they finally were ''real kids'' with a real home and a ''forever family.''
But the older boy started fabricating stories about kidnapping attempts and children picking on him.
Pat and Carol had talks around the kitchen table about lying and trust. They called the county social workers, who set up a therapist to meet with the boys and the Bohrmans.
The Bohrmans say the therapist told them the older boy likely had attachment disorder, but he wasn't qualified to make the diagnosis.
The boy's problems got worse. He spent nine days at a hospital after putting a plastic bag over his head. The hospital's report found that the older child had the ''potential for harm to others'' and stated he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
In August 1998, he returned to the Bohrman home, but he had trouble when school started and was suspended.
Pat and Carol say they called the county and asked for help, including respite care, mental care and a medication check, but received no assistance.
Finally in January 1999, Carol found a television in the boys' bedroom balanced precariously on the edge of a dresser. The older boy told Carol he had heard that televisions explode when dropped and he wanted to start a fire.
Carol lost her composure.
''I love this kid, but he's dangerous,'' she said. The Bohrmans put him back in Fairview University Medical Center. It was the last time they saw him.
The Bohrmans say the county told them they had 30 days to decide whether they wanted to adopt the older boy. Pat and Carol say they again asked that the older boy be assessed, that they couldn't bring him home without help.
Eventually, they withdrew their petition to adopt him.
Under state law, the county is required to try to place siblings together. The Bohrmans began to worry that they would lose both boys.
Carolyn Reta from Gerard Treatment Programs recommended that Pat and Carol be allowed to adopt the younger boy, but said the older boy should not stay with them. A private therapist hired by the county recommended that both boys be removed from the Bohrmans' home and placed back in the foster home.
In April 1999, the Bohrmans say they were told the county would help them arrange and pay for the services they needed so they could bring the older boy home.
On June 2, 1999, the Bohrmans were called into the county human services department to discuss the transition plan for the older boy to come home. Instead, they say, they were told that the adoptive placement of both boys was being terminated.
To visit the boys, Pat and Carol would have to agree to several conditions, including psychiatric evaluations and another home study. Suspicious and frustrated, the Bohrmans said they wouldn't comply.
The couple eventually wrote to state Human Services Commissioner Michael O'Keefe seeking help getting more information about their case.
Last January, O'Keefe agreed that the county didn't provide them with all the information they needed to make a decision about the adoption. However, counties can interpret what data is private, he wrote.
''If Stearns County had met its obligation to give you all the appropriate information it had about the children initially, perhaps much of the pain and confusion you experienced could have been avoided,'' O'Keefe wrote. ''However, I believe that Stearns County is acting in the children's best interests in trying to place them together in an adoptive home and in protecting what it considers private, classified information about the children.''
The Bohrmans say someone else is trying to adopt the boys now.
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