We Were Once a Family : A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in AmericaBy
The story of a murder that claimed the lives of six children, and an indictment of the foster care system.
On March 26, 2018, rescue workers discovered a crumpled SUV and the bodies of two women and several children at the bottom of a cliff. Investigators soon concluded that the crash was a murder-suicide, but there was more to the story: Jennifer and Sarah Hart, it turned out, were a white married couple who had adopted the six Black children from two different Texas families. Behind the family's loving facade, however, was a pattern of abuse and neglect that went ignored as the couple withdrew the children from school and moved across the country—with fateful consequences.
In the manner of Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family and other classic works of investigative journalism, Roxanna Asgarian’s We Were Once a Family is a revelation of vulnerable lives; it is also a shattering exposé of the foster care and adoption systems that produced this tragedy. We follow the author as she runs up against the intransigence of a state agency that removes tens of thousands of kids from homes each year in the name of child welfare, while often failing to consider alternatives. Her reporting uncovers persistent racial biases and corruption as children of color are separated from birth parents without proper cause. The result is a riveting narrative and a deeply reported indictment of a system that continues to fail America’s most vulnerable children.