There are troubling questions surrounding Devonte Hart, his five siblings and his adoptive parents who were in an SUV that went off a cliff in Northern California on March 26. His adoptive parents Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both 39, and three of the children, Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14; and Abigail Hart, 14, have all been reported dead. Their three other adopted children are still missing, identified as 16-year-old Hannah Hart, 12-year-old Sierra Hart and 15-year-old Devonte, who is known for a viral photo in which he is hugging a police officer in November 2014. However, they are presumed to be dead as well.
Three of the adoptions took place in Houston, Texas, even though they lived in Minnesota. In 2006, Abigail, Hannah and Markis, who are all siblings, were adopted. In 2009, another trio of siblings—Sierra, Jeremiah and Devonte—were adopted. The Harts were able to adopt three more children even after police in Alexandria, Minnesota questioned them about child abuse. The Oregonian reports, “An Alexandria police report obtained Tuesday also shows a different daughter told authorities in 2008 one of her mothers bruised her with a belt. Asked by police about the beating, Jennifer and Sarah Hart said the girl had fallen down the stairs days before, the report shows.”
It’s unclear why the women adopted the children from Houston, Texas—which is over 1200 miles away from Alexandria, Minnesota. However, reports have come out claiming the women made a hefty profit from the Black children. San-Antonio Express News reports, the Hart women “likely received more than $270,000 from the state of Texas to help care for the children” and the state “paid a Jennifer Jean Hart monthly adoption subsidies for her children over the past decade. Hart got nearly $1,900 each month, most recently in March.” The outlet continued, “Most families who adopt children out of foster care from Texas get monthly payments that range from $400 to $545 per child to help cover care costs until the child turns 18.”
There are so many questions to ask. Is there a reason they adopted Black children? Some reports claim adoption in Texas is less expensive than the national average and, sadly, adopting Black children is even less expensive. Was the Hart’s home properly searched? Why did the state allow the women to adopt six children like they were purchasing property? Clearly, the system failed Devonte and his sibling. Two days ago, an unidentified body was found near the Hart crash site, and there is suspicion the body is one of the three missing children.
Below is the famous photo of Devonte Hart.
Our condolences go out to everyone affected by this tragedy.