Mother Accused of Putting 6-year-old Daughter Under Hundreds of Unnecessary Surgeries

A 31-year-old Washington State-based mother, Sophie Hartman, faces domestic violence and assault charges, as she was accused of putting her 6-year-old adopted daughter through surgeries and medical procedures that are unnecessary.

The prosecutors alleged that Hartman forced the child to undergo at least 473 unnecessary medical procedures, according to the court documents. The charges include assault on a child in the second degree and domestic violence.

The list of procedures, which date back to 2016, included a hormonal implant, a feeding tube placed directly into her stomach, and total parenteral nutrition (TPN) to flush her intestines, among procedures. Against the doctor’s advice, Hartman also forced the child to use leg braces and a wheelchair. 

According to a 2019 interview with a local news outlet, Hartman, who is white, adopted her two Black daughters from Zambia. The court document showed that the police discovered a search history on her iPhone and iPad that include “making a pretend model of hearing aid,” “cochlear implants Black child,” “how to get paid to take care of a member of a family with disability,” and “funeral songs.”

When Hartman’s daughter was admitted for a 16-day stay at the Seattle Children’s Hospital in February, the doctors were alarmed after reviewing her extensive medical history despite the child’s healthy state.

Dr. Rebecca Wiester, the Seattle Children’s Hospital director, wrote a letter to the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, asking for a deeper investigation into the case of the 6-year-old. The letter stated that the doctors believed that at the hands of her caretaker, the child is at profound risk.

“All the available evidence obtained during the course of her admission suggests [the child] is a healthy young 6-year-old who would continue to benefit from de-escalation of medical support and normalization of her childhood experience,” Wiester wrote in the probable-cause documents.

After the child was weaned off from all medication, the prosecution said she had made a steady recovery and no longer requires her feeding tube, TNP, wheelchair, or braces.