You may have heard this weekend about the Tennessee family that returned the 7-year-old boy they adopted from Russia back to Russia. The family says they were mislead about his health and that he is violent and has severe psychological problems.
Russians are outraged about the child being returned, especially alone on an international flight, and are threatening to cut off foreign adoptions.
For me, the case leads to lots of questions about foreign adoptions and how they are handled.
Here is the background on the case:
“A 7-year-old boy adopted by a woman from Tennessee was sent alone on a one-way flight back to Moscow with a note saying he was violent and had severe psychological problems.”
“The boy, Artyom Savelyev, was put on a plane by his adopted grandmother, Nancy Hansen of Shelbyville.”
” ‘He drew a picture of our house burning down and he’ll tell anybody that he’s going to burn our house down with us in it,’ she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. ‘It got to be where you feared for your safety. It was terrible.’ ”
“Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the actions by the grandmother ‘the last straw’ in a string of U.S. adoptions gone wrong, including three in which Russian children had died in the U.S.”
Some more background on adoption problems in general:
“Adoption experts generally agreed that an abrupt return was cause for concern. The adoption agency that worked with the Hansens, Wacap, the main office of which is in Renton, Wash., released a statement on Friday that said in the 1 percent of adoptions that do not work out, the agency focused on moving the child to a new family, not returning the child. It was unclear whether the Hansens had asked Wacap for assistance.”
“But, Adam Pertman, executive director of Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, said the Hansens had a responsibility to seek help. He acknowledged that adoptive parents often have incomplete histories for the children they bring into their homes. And he said that for children like Justin, born Artyom Savelyev and raised in a Russian orphanage for much of his early life, the challenges can be immense.”
“Institutionalized children in particular tend to act out, he said, with the worst cases involving verbal abuse or children striking parents with heavy objects. “Kids who are beaten and neglected in foster care; kids whose parents drank heavily when they were pregnant; kids with severe disorders — they can cause real disruptions in a family,” Mr. Pertman said.”
“ ‘You need help if you’re having problems,’ he said. ‘There is this weird lingering myth that love will conquer all. Guess what, it doesn’t in biological families and it doesn’t in adopted families.’ ”
Lots of issues here to discuss:
1a. Do you think countries knowingly pass off children with problems without revealing them to the adoptive parents?
2. What kind of counseling, support or advice to adoptive parents get to help them deal with transition challenges such as if a child was in a group home? Or was mistreated in a foster home? Is that just all on the parents to deal with and pay for privately?
3. Similarly what recourse or support do parents have, especially with international adoption if things don’t go well? Or it just too bad, you’re now the parents deal with it.
(It’s interesting to think that parents who give birth to their child don’t know what health problems, behavior issues, or school issues their child may encounter as they develop.)
I really agree with The New York Times expert who points out that love doesn’t conquer all and sometimes parents (birth or adoptive) need a professional to help their child and family. So what do you think?