Victims of Attachment Therapy
Santa Barbara, California
Rescued 2006, ages 6, 9,12, 13
Note: The following account has been prepared from press reports, personal interviews, trial transcripts, and other public records. See the webography for some of the extensive news coverage of the case.
In early 2006, a California daycare provider, Sylvia Jovanna Vasquez, 50, was arrested and initially charged with three counts of child cruelty.
Three of Vasquez's four adopted children (a boy 13, and two girls, ages 6 and 9) had been locked in cupboards, living in feces, with buckets for toilets. They were fed "minimal diets" of only water, bread and peanut butter. All the doors in the house had external locks. One girl had no shoes.
The fourth child, a girl, 12, appeared a distinct contrast; she seemed healthy and well fed. But the authorities learned that Vasquez had been injecting this child with Lupron, claiming she had a growth disorder, contrary to the opinion of her pediatrician. (Lupron reduces the amount of estrogen production in females and may have been used in this case to delay the onset of puberty.) The authorities found a number of "lascivious, nude, or partially nude photos" of this child at the residence.
As her defense, Vasquez claimed that three of her adoptees had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). The press, however, conforming the Attachment Therapy’s all too pervasive mythology, described children with RAD as manipulative, aggressive and "affectionless psychopaths."
Vasquez testified that a caseworker and a psychologist had both suggested she read When Love is Not Enough by Nancy Thomas (1997). (Thomas, a layperson, is a leading proponent of Attachment Therapy/Parenting.) Vasquez referred to this book as her "Bible."
Despite the fact that Vasquez had been paid $173,637 over eight years for caring for her adopted children, she never sought help for the behavioral problems she claimed the children had.
- “Systematic Child Maltreatment: Connections with Unconventional Parent and Professional Education,” by Jean Mercer, Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice Advocate, 30(2): 5-6, Summer 2007.
- “Judge Brings Hammer Down in 'Caged Kids' Case: Vasquez Put in Slammer with 10-Years Suspended Sentence,” by Nick Welsh, Santa Barbara Independent, 11 May 2007.
- “Why Do I Care? The Vasquez Case,” by Jean Mercer, Child Myths, Psychology Today, June 15, 2009.
- “What Happened to the Caged Vasquez Children? A Little Bit of News,” by Jean Mercer, PhD, ChildMyths, 25 Feb 2016.