02/28/2011 03:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When a Kid Needs a Home, Not Just Any Home Will Do

Paige was given away at five. A story was written about her in the newspaper and interested parties were invited to take her home and see if they wanted to keep her.

The family that finally adopted Paige didn't think they'd want her at first. No one quite knew where she came from or why she had flunked every developmental exam she'd be given since birth. Somehow her above average intelligence was overlooked and she was placed in a facility for kids with severe developmental delays. In 1970 the U.S. Congress began recognizing the folly of institutionalizing children diagnosed as "mentally retarded" and consequently the facility in which she'd spent her first five years was going out of the kid business.

As Paige grew up, the folks who adopted her told her that they thought she'd be good for their youngest child. All their older children were boys and their little girl needed a "doll" to dress and feed. Reading in the article that Paige was mentally challenged indicated -- they thought -- that she would be the perfect plaything for their daughter for as long as their daughter wanted one.

Paige's adoptive dad -- I'll call him Bob -- brought 5-year-old Paige home for a trial run. The family was dissatisfied with her and after a few days she went back to the facility. Paige's lack of understanding and non-existent communication skills made her an unsuitable playmate for their daughter. It's unclear how many days went by before Bob realized that Paige's inability to speak made her the perfect plaything for himself.

Until she was in fourth grade Bob would rape Paige in her bedroom. Paige would try to stay out of her room as much as she could but like all little kids, she would eventually have no choice but to go to bed. And Bob would follow.

No longer institutionalized, Paige began to develop intellectually and started going to school. At age 10, she thought she'd met a teacher she could trust and began talking about some of the things that went on at home.

At least that's how Paige remembers it. Pictures of Paige from that time show a desperately thin miserable child. Maybe Paige didn't just tell on Bob, maybe her caring teacher figured something was amiss and helped Paige to find the words to expose the abuse.

One way or another -- a few days after breaking her silence -- Paige and the family moved. They moved away from the teacher who knew the truth and they moved away from her dad's pretense of self-control. What had been confined to her bedroom started happening anywhere anytime Bob wanted it.

If Bob's wife didn't know what was happening in Paige's bedroom her innocence then ended and -- by doing nothing -- she became an accomplice. Holding the newspaper in front of himself Bob would order Paige onto his lap in the living room while his wife prepared dinner in the kitchen.

For two more years he raped Paige randomly through the house, in the hay loft or took her for a drive and raped her in the car. Paige found a crawl space under an eave in the house and when she could, she would climb inside and hide. She would stay there as long as she could; even urinating on herself to keep from coming out of her safe spot where Bob might find her.

With no way to get away, Paige starved herself in an effort to disappear. Finally -- emaciated -- Paige realized that it didn't matter to her anymore what Bob did or told her he would do, she had to make him stop. Her threats must have worked -- or Paige had grown too developed for him -- because Bob never raped her again.

But Bob had one last abusive sexually controlling trick up his sleeve. He took Paige to their parish priest -- probably because the padre was the only adult Bob feared might act on Paige's behalf if he knew the truth -- and disclosed that his adopted daughter was a slut. Bob explained the little girl who had tricked everyone into believing that she was "retarded" had become out of control when she went through puberty. Bob's lie insulated himself from the truth.

Paige has spent the last 32 years trying to recover from her first 12. Bob and his wife and kids are all still alive and consider Paige ungrateful. They resent that she won't be a part of their family and that she refuses to bring the grandchildren to visit.

Paige works everyday to dissolve the power of her memories.