CBS4 Investigates: Happy Family Or Facade?

MIAMI (CBS4) – When the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office released family photos from the Barahona evidence file this week, people wondered how a family that looks just like any other could hide what had been described as a house of horror.

You could see a birthday party, Halloween costumes, and kids are carnival rides, but look closer.

“Somebody is asking this little girl to smile. And she is smiling, but on the inside, she is not smiling,” said family therapist Jo Ann Lederman.

Lederman analyzed photos of the Barahona family obtained from the state’s evidence file. Where you may see a happy family, she sees pain.

“It’s not a surprise to me that there was a big problem,” she said.

She pays close attention to Nubia, the ten-year-old girl found dead in the back of her adoptive father’s truck on Valentine’s Day. Police say Nubia’s adoptive parents, Jorge and Carmen Barahona, killed her.

“If you look at her eyes, they’re dull. They’re not the sparkle of joy and happiness. The tightness of her skin,” she said.

Nubia’s twin brother Victor is also here, but the state concealed his face and the faces of other children to protect their identities.

“This little girl is being asked to perform something that’s uncomfortable for her,” said Lederman.

Nubia also appears at the Miami-Dade children’s court receiving a teddy bear from CBS4’s Neighbors 4 Neighbors Adopt-a-Bear program, created to help heal abused and traumatized children.

“This picture is very painful,” said Lederman. “Because they were in front of the system, and there was opportunity for life-saving.”

Lederman also looked at adoptive mother Carmen Barahona.

“There was something dark in her face,” she said.

And she looked at Jorge Barahona at a birthday party for Victor and Nubia.

“He’s got some kind of a smile. But [it’s] hard. It’s not soft. There’s no crinkling in the eyes. There’s no joy in him,” she said.

Ironically, in the same photo, Lederman says she sees that Nubia is incredibly happy at her birthday party, perhaps seeking a sliver or joy.

“I would like to think that there were intermittent moments of normal,” she said.

  • Jamie Turner

    This is a terrible tragedy but this abuse has been happening for so long. My brother and I were adopted and severely abused and NOBODY checked on us or cared. The state never checked on our well being EVER. We were abused and thrown on the streets when our adopted mother could no longer get benefits for us. I am a college graduate and currently work in this community, also my natural daughter is a UM graduate. The state needs to be more involved in the children that is in their possession. Very, very, very sad hits close to home.

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