Secret of the Wild Child

56 minutes 7.5/10

In 1975, Genie was returned to the custody of her mother, who wished to care for her daughter. After a few months, the mother found that taking care of Genie was too difficult, and Genie was transferred to a succession of six more foster homes.

In some of the homes she was physically abused and harassed, and her development regressed severely. She returned to her coping mechanism of silence and gained a new fear of opening her mouth. This new fear developed after she was severely punished for vomiting in one of her foster homes; she didn’t want to open her mouth, even to speak, for fear of vomiting and facing punishment again.

Genie now lives in a sheltered accommodation in an undisclosed location in Southern California; it is at least her sixth adult foster home. Her mother died in 2003.

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  • Hib

    Heartrending. :'(

  • andreja

    what a beautiful girl.
    sad story.
    and that b**** of a mum. to dare to make a lawsuit… and to say all those people didn’t care for genies welfare? not as well as she did, that’s for sure.

  • L. Celmer

    Did anyone ever hug her and tell her she was loved and a beautiful child? Shame on anyone who ever exploited her and bless those who truly cared about her.

  • Maestra Sierra

    Truly…it’s stories like this one that makes me despise humanity. People like Genie shouldn’t exist yet thousands are now (this very hour) in the process of being forced to take that same pathway…. sadly. :(

    This is why I believe in the power of touch. Touch is the most powerful of senses and the first one we develop and master from the womb and then out when we’re born…. later throughout our lives. Heartwarming touch can encourage and develop longing trustfully relationships, while the touches of being hit or beaten can conjure feelings and behaviors which results in inappropriate behavior or… like Genie… total isolation and disconnect with others. What happened to Genie is unspeakable and I hope those who have harmed her are living their remaining lives in tubes and horrible conditions. I truly hope those horrible people die a miserable, slow, painful, cruel death so they can feel the same emotions, thoughts and feelings as what Genie went through.

  • poppins

    I work with children and this case is very famous in childcare as it sparks some interesting questions
    and answers few. I will never understand how no one kept this beautiful child although she was hard work she had a wonderful personality and soulful eyes. Hope she is finally happy to the extent she can be as an adult with so much suffering weighing on her.
    As for the mother and the lawsuit it borders on laughable if it was not so inexcusably sad.

  • Ron Johnson

    I found this sad and with very little value for foster parents. Genie’s case is one that would have required her to have special treatment for her entire life in a professional assisted living facility, with trained professionals. No foster care family could have ever given this child what she needed. That opportunity was squander by her birth parents not getting professional assistance at child birth. To me, it is extremely sad that she was placed in a system that gave her back to her birth parent as soon as the funding was denied. Shame on them; The birth parent was the initial problem…shame on a system that allowed her to be acquitted because she blamed her suicidal spouse. They both were at fault. Then to place her in foster care, where she would be abused even further!!! Foster care is not a solve all. If a family isn’t fully trained and on board…meaning whole heartily willing to make the necessary sacrifice to nurture, love, bond, and protect any foster child, then they shouldn’t be in the program. I know the system is not perfect, but this child should have never been in it in the first place. She was too unique and important not to be in establishment which would provide for her special needs. Talk about an experiment gone bad!!! I’m praying for her soul!

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