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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 (11-14):
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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