On November 22, 2004, the police dispatch officer in Plano, Texas, received a strange and troubling phone call from a frightened pre-school teacher. Though the caller refused to divulge her name, she told the officer on the line that one of the children who attended the daycare was in grave danger of being killed by her mother. The anxious caller insisted the police ring Deena Schlosser, a well known town eccentric, and ask her about the welfare of her young daughter, Margaret. Keen to ease the caller’s fears, the dispatch officer dutifully rang Schlosser and asked her if everything was alright. Deena simply sighed deeply and replied over the phone “I cut off my daughter’s arms. She is dead now. Thank you Jesus”
A police squad was immediately sent to the Schlosser house. Deena’s husband was away, and she was caring for their three children alone. When officers entered the home they discovered a very calm and serene Deena sitting on the sofa, covered in blood. She was singing hymns, stroking her arms, and seemed quite unaware of her surroundings. When police asked to see baby Margaret she led them to her bedroom, where they found the baby sprawled on the bed. Margaret’s arms had been removed just below the shoulder, and sadly she had died from her injuries. Deena was heard chanting “Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord” as police led her to a car. Two other daughters whom were in the house at the time were unharmed.
From her first interview it became apparent that Deena Schlosser was in the grips of psychosis; she talked told a psychiatrist that God told her to cut off her baby’s arms and that Margaret spoke to her from heaven. Deena spoke of seeing a news story on television about a boy who was mauled by lions, and decided the apocalypse would happen unless she “gave” Margaret to God. A look at her medical records showed a long history of depression, paranoia, and post-partum psychosis. Just a day after Margaret’s birth Deena attempted to kill herself, and had attempted to give the baby to strangers on a number of occasions. During her psychiatric assessment, it came out that Deena’s husband John had narcissistic personality traits and didn’t try to find help for her or a safe place for their children. On the day Margaret died, John Schlosser was supposed to pick her up and take her out so Deena could attend a bipolar group therapy session.
Unsurprisingly, Deena Schlosser was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a mental institution. While she was there she allegedly befriended famous child-killer Andrea Yates, and the two shared a room. Because her sentence did not carry a minimum term period, Deena was declared mentally competent just six years after killing Margaret, and sent to an outpatient program. In 2010 she completed all her outpatient programs and entered the world a free woman, albeit one that must take her daily medication or otherwise face imprisonment.
“In a context in which 95 percent of adoptees are girls, it is important to address questions of how racialized desire might intersect with the construction of Asian female bodies. Cheung (2000), for example, argues that in American cultural history Asian women have been endowed with an “excess” of womanhood (alongside the full manhood denied Asian men). And in China/U.S. adoption, mothers Deena Houston and Jackie Kovich were not alone in conjuring the image of beautiful, enthralling Chinese girls. Adoption agencies consistently use photos of cute, dolled-up Asian girls in their advertising; some use phrases such as “From China with Love” to attract would-be parents. Some of those prospective parents said they had become enchanted with their friends’ or neighbors’ Chinese girls. Margaret Jennings said she saw a photo of a Chinese adopted girl in the paper and “knew I wanted to adopt from China right then.” Some expressed embarrassment at what they suspected hinted at “racist love”— embrace of the “acceptable model” of the racial minority (Chan 1972, quoted in Cheung 2000: 309). Just days after she had met her daughter, Barbara and I were discussing what seemed among some new adoptive mothers an obsession with dolling up their daughters, when Barbara stopped to say in a low tone, “I hate to ask this, but are all the children beautiful? It seems like they’re all beautiful.”
Sara Dorow, “Why China?: Identifying Histories of Transnational Adoption,” Asian American Studies Now (2010)