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Sociopath Foreign Exchange Student - Update!

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I think our foreign exchange student is a sociopath. Here's the story in it's entirety:

A few days before Christmas Break, my husband, a high school physics teacher, was approached about taking in a 16 year old foreign exchange student immediately, as she was in a very shady situation. The home she was with was unsanitary, there was no food, she even said that they would not call her by her name and just referred to her as 'New Girl'. Horrified, we immediately agreed that we would do whatever we could to help, despite having a newborn and two older boys in elementary school. Within a day we had rearranged our office, brought in a loaner bed, bought new sheets, comforter, etc, and had everything ready for her. She arrived the day we were celebrating Christmas with my family, and my parents even stopped along the way to buy her a gift. 

Over the next few months we did everything we could to make her feel welcome in our home. We even adjusted our eating habits to support her pescatarianism. We heard horror stories of how she was treated at her other home. She told us tales of how in her native country she enjoyed going to clubs frequently, and drank with friends regularly even though the drinking age is 18 there. We learned how she didn't really miss her family. We were made fun of when we tried to pronounce words in her native language. She made fun of overweight people, or people who were unattractive. Not having much experience with teenage girls, I assumed it was just part of being 16. 

In late January I had a birthday celebration and we had a few of our friends over. I told her about the party and asked if she would like to attend, or if she'd rather spend the night with a friend. She said she'd love to attend and would enjoy meeting our friends. So, we had the party. A few of us had cocktails. My husband played some music. It was a small, great time. Towards the end of the night I noticed our exchange student standing in the middle of a room singing loudly. A couple of my friends approached me, saying that she had been drinking. One friend informed me that she had told her that I had said it was okay if she drank, as long as I didn't see it happening. We were shocked, as she had assured us that she understood that she was not allowed, and that we would not be okay with it under any circumstances.

As soon as we could, we called her program coordinator to report the incident. I wanted her gone. She'd shown us her true manipulative, lying colors, and I didn't want my children exposed to that. Her coordinator came to our home and we all sat around and discussed the incident. The girl admitted to drinking, but lied about how much. She was excused and the coordinator convinced us to let her stay, and that moving her AGAIN would be traumatic for her. We begrudgingly agreed.

Fast forward a few months: I assumed all was forgiven. We took her on Spring Break with us. We had found a rhythm all together as a family. We'd learned to look past her trash-talking. In mid March, we were informed of a new coordinator with the exchange program. I emailed her about the drinking incident, wanting to make sure that everyone was on the same page. Apparently, the first coordinator hadn't even reported it. No one knew it had happened. The girl was approached, she once again admitted it, and that was that. 


The same day she went to one of her art teachers and told them about the horrible conditions she was living in. She spoke of being sexually harassed by my husband's brother (who is GAY) and uncle (who was never alone with her). She spoke of the birthday party and how everyone was smoking weed. She spoke of all the illegal things my husband does and discusses. All of it are absolute and total LIES. The art teacher had to report it as a mandatory reporter, despite not believing a word of it.

She was removed from our home that night. When the coordinator brought her to pack her things she was laughing and joking like nothing was wrong. She will be moved to her next family, finish the year, and be sent home. Meanwhile, we are facing a home inspection (which is fine, we have NOTHING to hide), and our kids possibly questioned about conduct. My husband might lose his job. She will spread these rumors about us to her new host family, as she did to us about the family before us. 

I am so, so angry. And I don't think there is anything I can do. She has absolutely NO regard for what she's done. Has anyone ever had anything similar happen? I feel sick about the whole thing, and could really just use some advice on how to calm down about all of it. :(


Last Friday, DSS and the police came to our home for an inspection. My husband was the only one there, and of course our house was a mess. They asked a bunch of questions about the birthday party, and seemed genuinely concerned that there were 4 beers in the fridge and his batch of homebrew going in our laundry room ("Do your CHILDREN have access to this?!", etc). They said they wanted to come back Monday morning to talk to me and also our children. After freaking out all weekend long, we contacted a lawyer Monday morning. They advised that we were in no real danger with DSS, and that it sounded like everything was done, mostly. They went ahead and opened a file on us just in case this girl tries to start stuff again in the future. 

When DSS came that evening, we found out that the police were there on Friday on their OWN investigation, and that they had spoken with the girl earlier that day and decided really from that point on that there was no real case. The woman from DSS told us right away that she was filing it as unsubstantiated, but that she'd still like to speak with our boys privately. When she came from their room all she had to say was "You must make a mean steak!". :)

I'm so, so glad this is done. Things are calming down, my husband won't lose his job, and she'll return to her home country in just over a month. 

Admittedly, it's frustrating that she is still getting away with this, but our lawyers told us to just let things go so I'm trying to work on that now. :)  Thank you all for your support!
by on Apr. 4, 2013 at 4:33 PM
Replies (11-15):
by on Apr. 6, 2013 at 9:16 AM

This is not good, has anyone had her in for an evaluation on her mental state....I hate a liar and I do not like a sneaky person. My heart goes out to you and your family. Keep us posted.

by on Apr. 6, 2013 at 9:17 AM

Quoting Barabell:

I don't know what to say, but given her track record of changing houses should speak to your side of the story. Plus, you have all those witnesses at the party. I hope you're able to easily disprove the lies and that your husband's job won't be in jeopardy. Why is it a possibility that he'll lose his job over this?

Yes! Yes!

by on Jan. 29, 2014 at 5:43 PM

My heart goes out to you!

We went through something very similar. Our exchange student was an "emergency transfer" from another state. We took  her in without going through the normal introduction process of exchanging letters and making sure the student would be a good fit.

Very, very long story short, our exchange student turned out to be a sociopath with a history of major psychological issues. Her parents in her home country used the exchange program as an opportunity to  'take a break" from their psycho daughter. The experience cost us thousands of dollars in lost wages and legal fees, and the stress impacted my health for over a year later.

My heart goes out to you, and the best advice I could give any family considering hosting would be this:

1) Document EVERYTHING! Keep a journal of your interactions with your student. Note all odd behavior, no matter how small.

2) Do not allow any adult or teen male family members to have any private interaction with a female exchange student. As much as you want this person to be a part of your family, they are not - they are strangers about whom you know very litte. You will have ZERO protection against false accusations.

3) Do not take in an "Emergency" case - Thorough mental evaluations of a student should be conducted prior to placing that child with a new host family.  The student should return home and go through the normal process to start a new exchange with a well-matched family. After the girl moved in with us, we requested the contact information of the previous family - we were never allowed to have that information.

4) If you do host a student, make sure you have a good umbrella insurance policy. Standard insurance will not protect you from civil suits if your student comes to accidental harm while in your care, or causes issues that you may be sued for.

5) Do not EVER loan money to your student, for any reason. If you give them money, consider it a gift and do not ever expect to get it back. We bought a plane ticket for our student for a spring break trip after an emailed agreement that her parents in Germany would wire the month to cover the cost. Never happened.

6) Demand what you need from the exchange program. Do not hesitate to assert your needs firmly and in very specific terms. We were able to get our exchange program to pay for counseling for our family after the trauma of our experience.

I wish you, and anyone reading this who is considering hosting a student, the very, very best of luck. I was an exchange student in the 80s and had a wonderful experience.  Most experiences do go well, but I certainly learned my lesson about what to avoid if we ever (doubtful) consider doing this again.

by Susie on Jan. 29, 2014 at 6:41 PM
I was always under the impression from exchange students here, you drink you go home the next day.
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by on Apr. 20, 2016 at 9:29 PM
Oh my gosh... I'm so glad we are not the only people who went through this. I found your post through Google and had to get on here to reply and tell you my story, a student my family hosted, also from a former Soviet Union. I am a senior this year and our horror student moved out only a few days ago.
In the beginning of 2015, my older brother joined the Air Force (He had been in college a year before and, while he was gone, my family and I hosted an exchange student from Tajikistan who was having troubles with her first host family; we are still very close). My brother and I are very close and I was sad he would be so far away (I live in Idaho, he is now stationed in Alaska). The day my brother and his wife left, I thought it would be a good idea to host another student so that I would have a buddy my senior year. Also, since we had hosted a FLEX student who was Muslim and that went relatively well, I thought we should try it again.
My parents went out that day, so I looked through all the students and found the 'perfect student' from Kazakhstan. She played guitar like me, liked the same music as me, liked animals, we own a farm with lots of animals, etc., all of her hobbies matched me and my parents.
So, we agreed to host her in early June and she would arrive in late August, we had plenty of time to become acquainted with her, and since we had had our first student, I had found a love for the Russian language and started learning it, I was excited to be able to speak in it with her.
The weeks passed, and she didn't communicate with us much, but what she did, she seemed polite. We would always ask to Skype and she would say yes, but last minute change her mind. That started to raise some warning bells, but we assumed she was just nervous.
So, August comes and that's when things go bad... The day our student boarded the plane my dad decided he didn't like my mom and I (I know, it sounds crazy, but that's what he went; crazy!) and up and left.
I did not have a good feeling about continuing to host this girl when my dad had done that, but my mom said it wouldn't be fair to our student and her family to back out after she had already boarded the plane! So we kept our cool. We stayed calm and did our best to make a nice home, and we pulled it off! At first we thought my dad would snap out of it. He would come to visit on the weekends and things were relatively normal. But he started getting nastier and nastier and would only come to harass my mom and I.
As I said, my mom and I were pulling it off though. We still provided a loving and safe home for her and she and I had become very close. But, some things unsettling about her were starting to rear their ugly heads in... Like, she lied on her whole profile... The whole thing was a lie, and she had lied to us through message about what she was like until the day she got here. My mom informed the coordinator, but we weren't too worried, because she still seemed to be nice to us regardless.
Her birthday was in mid September, the same as my other brothers wife. We did a birthday party for both of them, my dad came and completely forgot our student. When my mom and I told him, he didn't care. We felt so bad, we decided to get her a present and make it look like he got it for her so she wouldn't feel bad, which I will regret probably for as long as she still lives in my community.
Another thing about our student was she had absolutely no friends. She would talk to my friends on the occasion I would go have lunch with her (I'm homeschooled, so I wasn't at school with her. But I did spend the first 2 days with her and I go to the choir class so I'm there a lot), but only at my prompting. Again, I thought, "well, maybe she's just shy", but she was 100% dependent on me socially (if someone asked her a question, she would look at me to answer them for her; even with my mom!).
In late October, my mom had decided to take a week to visit my brother in Alaska (since we live on a farm, it's kind of hard for us all to be away for a long period of time) and since my dad was still being relatively ok at the time, he said he would come stay with us.
She would always go to youth group with me at my church because she seemed interested in learning how we believed. That meeting the week my mom was gone, the youth pastor had said that anyone who didn't believe in Jesus was "a zombie; dead inside". Of course, my student being Muslim was devastated and, since I am very loyal, I was so upset and haven't spoken to the people in my church or stepped foot there since then.
Things seemed to go relatively well the next couple months. We had a very nice Thanksgiving and Christmas; things were good.
In the end of January, our student, and all of the other students were supposed to take a trip to our state capital. Her coordinator told me I was welcome to come and I had planned to. A few days before we were going to go, I got very sick (I have battled with low immunities my whole life) and wasn't able to go... But somehow, my dad convinced the coordinator to let him join. That weekend is really when everything changed. When she came home, she acted like she hated my mom. I know she was texting my dad almost on a daily basis and, everyone else I have talked to have agreed that it is VERY inappropriate since he doesn't live with us anymore and is nothing more in our life than a terrorizer. The next couple months passed and she continued to act like she hated my mom; she would not speak to my mom or ask her permission. She would ask me and, as soon as my mom left, just talk nonstop (also, she made fun of my accent in Russian, so I pretty much never spoke to her in Russian, which was a HUGE letdown).
My health continued to deteriorate, so there were lots of doctor visits and tests. about a month ago, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. She started to act like she resented us both after that. Also, we found out my dad was pumping her for information, basically to spy on my mom and I through her.
Anyone who has hosted a FLEX student knows they have to have volunteer hours and have three projects. Now, her first two projects, she totally lied on and cheated through and the program just swept it under the rug. Her latest project was due last weekend and it was the "big project', the most important one ( for those who don't know, she is supposed to organize an even that is to benefit the community in some way and she needs to get volunteers; it isn't the outcome that matters it's the preparation and effort).
So, about three weeks ago, my mom and coordinator talked with her about how lazy she was and didn't help us and needed to help us a little more around the house (I think she washed dishes 5 times, cooked 4, and cleaned her room once... the They said she took it very well and was very gracious, and without my mom or the coordinator saying anything about the project, she says on her own "I want to do my project to help raise money for my host sister's treatment". We were all so happy that she was so sweet and wanted to do something like that.
A week passed and she helped for like, a day. Then went back to being lazy. There was no mention of the project, but my mom and I decided to not push it. That weekend, I was feeling well enough to go out and so went into the city with a couple friends. On our way home, my student says "are there any nursing homes in our town?" So I told her which ones there were and wanted to know she wanted to volunteer there she said "no. It's for my project". I was kind of stunned, she at first wanted to help me then wants to do something for the nursing home. When we were dropping off my friend, whose family is interested in hosting next year, so I was showing them how to look at students. In the midst of it, my student is saying "did my profile say things like that?" She didn't even know what her own profile said! And earlier on in the year, she had admitted to writing someone else's who is applying for 2016-17 school year, so apparently, it's common.
That Monday, she texted her coordinator and told her she was just going to bake cookies for the nursing home for her project and the coordinator and my mom were both upset she had changed her mind. They both talked to her and the coordinator gave her the option either to do as she had originally said and have a fund raiser to help me, or, set up a table at the grocery store to try to get people to host exchange students. She said "I will rather get people to host". I was very taken aback. I loved her so much and was so loyal to her... I CANNOT stress enough, IT WAS NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. The fact that she wanted to do something so sweet for me, and then changed her mind absolutely devastated me.
The next day my mom told the coordinator that I was devastated and so she wanted to talk to our student and I that night. She called my student and said to both of us "I want you to fix the problems there are and mend your relationship. I'm going to get off the phone and I just want you two to open up and just show each other how much you love each other". That being said, after she got off, my student says very indignantly "first thing, I didn't even know you knew I was going to do a fund raiser for you and I know it won't work because when I tried to do one in my city, no one would help me. I told her, "this is not your city, this is my city. These people know us. They WILL help you". So we sat there awkwardly silent for a bit and then I said "ok, you want me to open up and I want to fix this, I'm not picking on you because I love you. But it seems like you take your scholarship for granted. I don't know if you mean to, but that's how it comes off". (FYI, the FLEX scholarship is a $22,000 scholarship entirely funded by the US. $22,000 is only one person; you do the math). At that, she just looked at me like she hated me and rolled her eyes. End of conversation. The next day she informed my mom that she was going to move out and "she knew she was an awful student" and "Sorry she disappointed us...?" That was the last communication I had with her personally.
So on Thursday, I had to go to the first of my treatments. As I sat there with an IV in my arm, feeling very sick, one of my best friends is texting me, wanting to know why my student is saying bad things about my mom and I at the school and why she doesn't like us anymore. I was so upset.
Friday came and she was supposed to do her project. When my mom took her down to the store, two of my other friends asked the same thing my friend on Thursday did... I was absolutely crushed. Heartbroken.
I called my mom and I told her; I was sobbing and probably half incoherent. She rushed home and called to coordinator and said our student couldn't stay for one more night. When my mom got her from the store and told her she needed to pack her things, she showed absolutely no emotion.

I'm sorry my story is so long. It's so fresh in my mind, I guess I haven't figured out the shortened version yet. But I hope you see where I definitely relate to you and your family. My advice to anyone is, DON'T get a FLEX student and DON'T get anyone from Former Soviet Republics. In fact, if you feel there is any risk, don't host period. That is my advice. Our coordinator is never letting anyone in her district host someone from Kazakhstan ever again.
I feel a weight has been lifted since she moved out. But the pain she inflicted is still fresh. And it's not fair that she will probably suffer no repercussions for this.
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