The notorious case came to the public’s attention in 2005, when a whistleblower stepped forward to report that the adoptive parents of 11 children were forcing some of them to sleep in cages.
The Norfolk, Ohio, case enraged parents around the world and came to be known as the “Caged Kids” case. Officials investigated those claims as well as other reports that adoptive parents Sharen and Michael Gravelle beat their children and even flushed their heads in a toilet.
The Gravelle’s lost custody of the children in 2006 and were convicted of child endangerment and abuse. They served two-year prison sentences, and the children won a combined $3.2 million settlement from the counties where they had lived before being placed with the Gravelles.
10 years later, two of the children– Simon and Abba– were reunited on the Dr. Phil show.
During the segment, they talked about the misery they suffered at the hands of their adoptive parents, and expressed gratitude to the whistleblower who came to their aid.
“If he was here right now, I would gladly give him the biggest hug ever. He saved my life, he saved her life,” said 18-year-old Simon, nodding toward his sister, Abba, “because who (knows) what they could’ve done to her.”
“Well, he told us the same thing,” Dr. Phil replied. “He said if he ever got to meet the two of you, he would give you a big hug, too. So let’s let that happen. Carlyle, come on out!”
The tearful reunion that follows is truly beautiful.
Carlyle Smith had arrived at the Gravelle home in 2003 to interview for a job that involved helping take care of the 11 special-needs children, whose ages ranged from 1 to 14 years old. During the interview, Smith told authorities, one of the children soiled himself and Sharen ordered him to lock himself in his cage; meanwhile, her husband openly discussed how the children were able to escape from their cages.
“(If not) for doing what you did, one or both of these young people might not be here today. How’s it feel to see these two young people now?” Dr. Phil asked.
“Amazing. It’s absolutely amazing,” Smith said, his eyes brimming with tears. “I’m so proud of you guys.”
Watch the video below to see the heartwarming reunion, and share this beautiful moment.