A Little Girl Who Suffered Months of Abuse Has A New Home in East Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

07/16/02

A Little Girl Who Suffered Months of Abuse Has A New Home in East Texas

For months, Bill and Sabrina Kavanaugh of Canton wanted to adopt a little girl from Hutchins who was badly abused. Last summer, the nation was shocked to learn her mother and stepfather stood accused of locking her in a 4-by-8 closet for eight months.

The Kavanaugh's tried to adopt the girl when she was a baby living in Hutchins, Texas, which is near Dallas. But after two years of taking care of the little girl named Lauren, a judge gave custody back to her biological mother.

But tonight, the Kavanaugh's officially have back the little girl they have loved for so long. The best news of all, though, is that little Lauren is now a very happy and healthy little girl.

Just a year ago, Lauren was so malnourished and abused, doctors described her as resembling a holocaust victim.

Sabrina and Bill Kavanaugh, are determined to provide her with the safe haven she has never known until now. They say regular therapy sessions along with strong emotional support have helped build her self esteem. A child who was once forced to live in the dark in fear -- is now more secure. The Kavanaugh's say it is all thanks to love, support and the Lord.

"God is what pulled her through this. God is what gave her back to us. God is the only one who is going to pull her through the rest of her life," says her mother Sabrina.

The Kavanaugh say they are also trying to move towards forgiveness as they cope with the abuse from the child's biological mother Barbara Atkinson, and the alleged abuse of step father Kenneth Ray Atkinson. They want their child to really heal. And will try to teach her about forgiveness too.

Lauren's biological mother, Barbara Atkinson is now serving 99 years in prison for the abuse against her child. Her step father, Kenneth Ray Atkinson's trial will be held later this fall.

But for now, Lauren is in school and making great strides towards a brighter life. They say she has lots of friends and is as happy as can be.

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