Why and how did 13-yr old Ethiopian adoptee Hana Williams die? A vigil and questions

Hana's remembrance vigil, Aug. 21, 2011

Hana's remembrance vigil, Aug. 21, 2011

This evening K and I went with our friends to a candlelight vigil
and remembrance for 13-year-old Hana Grace-Rose Williams. Hana, born in
Ethiopia, was adopted into a Sedro-Woolley home in Aug. 2008, along with her
younger brother. She was found dead in her yard on May 12th this
year, with the coroner concluding she died of hypothermia in the approx. 40
degree rainy weather. At the time of her death, sources said she had significant
weight-loss. Child Protective Services (CPS) has taken custody of the other 8
Williams children. The case is currently with the Skagit county prosecutor’s

There are many questions that people, primarily the Ethiopian
community, are asking: why was Hana out in the yard, in the cold and rain? How
could a 13-year old child from an orphanage in Ethiopia lose significant weight?
Did no one notice anything odd about Hana’s situation before she died?

Mulu Retta, from the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association
(ECMA), Seattle, spoke at the vigil, as did David Guterson (author of “Snow
Falling on Ceders,” who has an adopted Ethiopian child himself). Guterson laid
out the known facts, and the unanswered questions about Hana’s death. To
paraphrase the speakers, it’s not clear if there was any wrong-doing, but if there
had been any wrong-doing, appropriate action needs to be taken, to protect the
other 8 children and to prevent anything like this happening again. A prayer
was said, three poems were read out (one in Amharic and two in English), someone
played “Amazing Grace”, and candles were lit. It was a somber night, with lots
of tears all around. One interesting thing was that no one at the meeting knew
Hana – but there was this shared grief and a commitment to improve matters.

I hope there is a full investigation into the reasons behind Hana’s untimely death. And I hope as a society we work together and do what we can to ensure that Hana’s death is
not in vain.

Rest in Peace, Hana.

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About Chandra

Interested in people, language, ideas, technology and their interactions.
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6 Responses to Why and how did 13-yr old Ethiopian adoptee Hana Williams die? A vigil and questions

  1. No Need says:

    Message body

    I have a friend that I used to homechurch with that recently lost their 13
    year old girl they adopted from Ethiopia 2 years ago..
    She died May 12 but now they took all the 8 children from the home. They say
    it was suspicious and the girl was starved and left outside and she died of
    hypothermia. Well I have a hard time believing it was hypothermia in May
    here but whatever.
    I saw her in May and she was telling me how much she HATED this little girl.
    She said she was ruining her family. 😦 I remember thinking how harsh she
    sounded. She was a Pearl Method fallower.
    But I think took it to the extreme.
    I am asking for prayer because I thought of calling her today as the local
    news has it all over the place. honestly I really have always suspected
    harsh discipline with her kids. I remember my sons telling me they felt
    uncomfortable around their kids because they said they seemed like scared
    little robots.
    So I pray the truth is exposed.


  2. No Need says:


    I think the hard part here is that everytime I saw her or even any of her
    close friends saw her she would go on and on and on about how much she hated
    having these kids. She basically said ALL THE TIME that they were making her
    life a living hell. It was obvious she had no idea what she was getting
    She did tell me some things that I thought were harsh punishment. The 13 yo
    would pee on the carpet, refuse to eat then steal food in the middle of the
    night. She did all sort of odd behavior.
    being a foster mom myself I KNOW how hard it is. I had a child with RAD for
    4 years and honestly I couldn’t stand her much of the time. 😦 She totally
    disrupted my family. I had her removed eventually. But I never abused her.
    But last month when my friend and I were talking I told her I can relate to
    alot of the frustration she was telling me but I saw in her eyes ANGER and
    much bitterness like no tomorrow. Apparently I am not the only one she has
    shown her frustration too. I just found out that there were several reports
    recently about how their family treated the adopted kids. So I KNOW there is
    abuse of some sort to their adopted kids. I do not believe they abused
    their 7 bio children however. What a HUGE price to pay for trying to do
    something right in the eyes of God. They messed up and now they are loosing
    all their children and may spend time in prison.
    I feel so sorry for the girl that died. She used to say how much she wanted
    to go back to Ethiopia.

    My friend adopted these children when she heard about Nancy Campell and
    other AR ladies adopting children from liberia and ethiopia.
    She couldn’t have any more of her own children due to her tubes being taken
    because of ectopic pregnancies. so she wanted to adopt. She had good
    This is so sad for both parties. I know she has done some wrong and there is
    NO excuse for it but my heart also goes out to my friend who will never have
    her children again likely and she did have such a heart for children. Its

  3. Rally says:

    No Need, it sounds like you have some important information that could help in the police investigation. Please share what you know of the family and how they came to adopt to the police so that justice can be served for Hana.

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