To Top

Caretaker Who Saved Siblings From Dire Adoption Conditions Reunites With Them On Dr. Phil

A caretaker had plans to help a couple take care of their adopted children. With years of experience, he believed he would be a perfect fit. However, after visiting the family’s home, he actually ended up saving these kids from unbelievable conditions.

No Ordinary Interview

In 2003, Carlyle Smith had an in-person interview with Michael and Sharen Gravelle at their home in Norwalk, Ohio. The couple needed a caretaker to help take care of their adopted kids. Carlyle had plenty of experience as a home-care specialist and youth sports coach. Though the couple had 11 kids, he knew it would be no problem.

YouTube / Dr. Phil

Minutes into the interview, Carlyle was stunned at the Gravelles’ parenting style. Sharen used racially charged language to talk to the children. Michael himself had a make-shift chapel in the backyard, believing he could lead the children to the “promised land.” The absolute final straw was hearing that the children lived in cages and had cuts on their fingers from trying to escape. To no surprise, Carlyle quickly turned down the job. However, he couldn’t just walk away.

Taking A Stand

Carlyle went to his supervisor to discuss the family. His supervisor brought the issue to Child Protective Services, who didn’t immediately remove the children from the abusive home. In fact, it took three years before agents would investigate again.


In 2006, a CPS agent found Carlyle’s original testimony and looked into the Gravelles. Sure enough, the abusive environment was discovered and Michael and Sharen were arrested. After a long trial, the couple each received two years in prison for child endangerment and neglect. After a decade of legal battles, the Gravelle children were also awarded $3 million. Years down the road, Carlyle wondered what had happened to these precious children.

An Emotional Reunion

After the story of the Gravelles made national news, many were interested in hearing more of the children’s story. One person, Dr. Phil, brought two of the children, Simon and Abba (now teenagers), on his show in 2017 for an update. The two admitted that they were eternally grateful for the stranger who had saved them from such horrific conditions.

YouTube / Dr. Phil

Unbeknownst to them, that stranger, Carlyle, was waiting backstage to meet them. Dr. Phil brought him out, moving Simon and Abba to tears. Carlyle himself was emotional as well and glad to see that the teens and their siblings were thriving. “It’s absolutely amazing [to see you],” he said. “I’m so proud of you guys.”

Watch the heartwarming reunion below:

More from IcePop

More in Impact