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350-Pound Man Living as 'Adult Baby' Reserves Right to Collect Disability Checks

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Redding, CA is a bit further north than most towns that find themselves in our wheelhouse of coverage -- nearly nuzzling the Oregon border, it's a good 550 miles away from Los Angeles. But there's a story going on up there that's so voyeuristically fascinating, we thought it bore telling on the grounds that, hey, we're all Californians.

Here's the way it goes:

Stanley Thornton, Jr., is 30 years old and calls Redding home. There, the 350-pound man dons a gigantic diaper, is bottle-fed by a retired nurse, plays with action figures, sucks a pacifier and wears onesies. He calls himself an "adult baby."

Earlier this year, Thornton appeared on the National Geographic show "Taboo" to showcase his lifestyle. He claims that he was abused as a child and suffers from PTSD, depression and bipolar disorder. For these problems, he collects disability, and so doesn't hold a job.

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But here's the catch. On the NatGeo show (I know because I watched it), Thornton eloquently and thoughtfully described the lifestyle of an adult baby. He was featured designing and building extra large cribs for himself, and it later came out that he set up and runs a website that serves as a community for others living as adult babies.

When Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Republican and defender of justice, caught wind of all this, he was not happy. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Coburn wrote a letter to Inspector General Patrick O'Carroll, which read, in part:

“Given that Mr. Thornton is able to determine what is appropriate attire and actions in public, drive himself to complete errands, design and custom make baby furniture to support a 350-pound adult and run an Internet support group, it is possible that he has been improperly collecting disability benefits for a period of time.”

In response, Thornton sent a letter to the Washington Times -- the paper that ran Coburn's letter -- threatening suicide if his disability was taken away:

You wanna test how damn serious I am about leaving this world, screw with my check that pays for this apartment and food. Try it. See how serious I am. I don’t care. I have no problem killing myself. Take away the last thing keeping me here, and see what happens. Next time you see me on the news, it will be me in a body bag.

It seems as though the threat of suicide trumps the sense of injustice that rattled Coburn to the bone: according to the New York Daily News, Thornton recently received a letter from Social Security stating that his disability checks would continue to arrive.

And so, the Redding saga continues...