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Ann Gentry is a social worker wracked with guilt about a severe car accident with serious repercussions for her husband. She gets assigned to a new case: the eccentric and mysterious Wadsworth family. She quickly reveals that she has a special interest the family's youngest member—a seemingly mentally impaired adult man in his 20s who does not have a name and is called only "Baby." Mrs. Wadsworth has been extremely overprotective of him ever since his father left shortly after his birth, she will not let another caregiver interfere. The family's life revolves around Baby's care, and they are dependent upon Baby's disability payments as their main source of income.
Ann wants to work with Baby, who still acts and is treated like an infant by his mother and two sisters, thinking that with the proper treatment he might begin to behave more appropriately for his age group. She soon discovers that Baby's infant-like state is not caused by any physical or mental conditions, but because of the Wadsworth clan's profound neglect and abuse. Baby is never permitted to speak, walk, or do things for himself, receiving negative reinforcement in the form of beatings or restraints whenever he attempts to try. Baby has been forced into his state of perpetual dependency and infantilism since his actual infant-hood.
The Wadsworths grow tired of Ann's meddling and try to dispose of her during a party. Ann manages to escape, stealing Baby. Ann keeps Baby in her care at her house, rather than turning him over to a professional facility. Eventually, the Wadsworths break in to Ann's home with murderous intent, goaded by pictures Ann sent of Baby doing 'adult' things, such as standing. The Wadsworths fail to steal Baby back, and Ann, with the help of her mother-in-law, kills them all, first stabbing Baby's two sisters and burying Mrs. Wadsworth alive into a swimming pool Ann had been building.
Ann's interests in obtaining Baby are not as pure-hearted as they've seemed: now that she has him, she does not want to rescue or rehabilitate Baby. She sought Baby out so he can be a playmate for her husband, who was left with the mental capacity of an infant after his accident, becoming Baby's new (though kinder) jailor.