Adopted Russian boy’s return prompts many questions

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:

From the Associated Press story:

“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:

From The New York Times:

“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:

  1. How do you evaluate how healthy a child is in a foreign adoption? I think people are willing to take children that may have disabilities or need extra help. They just want to know as much up front as possible.

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?

84 comments Add your comment

Professor 3

April 12th, 2010
12:35 pm

Sure he’s hostile-towards people who don’t adopt from this country. The rest of his blanket “facts” are nonsense. This person certainly doesn’t know too many adoptive parents. So, again, how many children from the US has Professor adopted??


April 12th, 2010
12:44 pm

WOW! I didn’t realize that ANYONE would think that sending the kid on a plane alone was a good idea. I cannot believe how many posters chimed in on that part. OF COURSE you don’t send your child alone…the 14 yo girl on the Delta flight getting molested, or the 7 yo boy on an international flight should not be the “wake up call.”

The real problem remains in that people just decided to plug a child into their lives to fill some hole without regard to the real undertaking. This doesn’t matter if the child is adopted, IVF, or natural…and apprently it happens across a wide spectrum of socio-eco development.

The real concern is once you have taken on that responsibility (as a couple, a single parent, or CP/NCP situation)that you fulfill the obligations to the child. Period.

Just wanting and loving a child is not enough as any parent will tell you.

In this case though, I still wonder if both parent and child were set up to fail from the get go. Therapy? Better Transition plan? Better screening? There just isn’t enough in the story to go on except that honestly if this person is the type of “parent” who would let a 7yo ride alone on an international flight, then the kid is better off without her.


April 12th, 2010
12:48 pm

Jeff at 7:27am
Adoptive parents need to be realistic. A significant number of these children will have serious issues. Yes, there are good kids to adopt. It’s probably statistically as prevalent as the hooker with a heart of gold or the single mom just dancing to put food on the table for her kids. They both exist but not very often.

Maybe not having kids is not in God’s plan for you, I don’t know. We’ll never know. If you are willing to bear the burdens that come with the adoption, you have may full support, but you can’t go crying about the downside if you also are enjoying the “attaboy’s” for adopting.

I am an adoptive father and don’t want or need anyone’s attaboys for adopting. Frankly that is condescending and rude. I am no saint. I did not save any of my children.

This analogy that the kids are like hookers with hearts of gold is also flawed. I know that you are not comparing the kids to golden hearted hookers, but getting a “good” or “normal” child (whatever that might be) is not rare. It happens in the vast majority of cases (98%). Some children come with more challenges than others and often these are not disclosed either they are not known or hidden from the adoptive families. A good agency provides resources to parents to meet these challenges and attentive parents seek these resources.

The woman in Tennessee seems to have not asked for any help, but instead tried to return the child like a pair of jeans that does not fit well. She has a great deal of blame in this by abandoning her child. There are instances 2% or so where a child does not fit in a family. There are means to terminate the parent’s rights and place the child in another family.

Professor 3

April 12th, 2010
12:50 pm

I know I sound even more hostile than PROFESSOR, but s/he is really making this hit dog holler. As you can see I know my colors and I know what matches me. Look my shirt matches my socks.

Sorry for the anger issues. Personally I HAVE NOT DONE anything for mankind that I can think of.

Professor 3

April 12th, 2010
12:55 pm

Oh look! Someone just hijacked my posting ID. Must be the Professor with all the American babies!

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 12th, 2010
12:56 pm

I think adoptive mom, and professor, and many other posters here are all correct.

Are there legitimate reasons (red tape, open adoptions requirements, legal recourse for custody after the adoption, etc) for not wanting to adopt domestically, absolutely.

Are there hopeful parents domestically who do not want to adopt older children, children of certain races or socio-economic backgrounds, we’d be naive to think otherwise.

However, any reason for adopting any child from anywhere is so personal (just like the reasons to have or not have biological children under any circumstances) that I’m hard pressed to make a judgement one way or another to say whether someone is or is not moral or ethical for choosing the path they choose.

However, once you’ve got the kid and you’ve accepted all legal and emotional responsibilites for the child, it would seem to me the ethical and moral route is to stand by the kid just as you would a biological child. If you can’t realistically commit to that, then you need to not adopt. My fear is that adoptive parents get so caught up in the emotions of having a kid that they might have a tendency to ignore or not fully explore red flags that should concern them.

We saw it here when the Haiti earthquake hit in January, Theresa led the discussion on just how bad she felt for the babies and how they needed holding, etc. The bandwagon was ON and the emotions were HIGH with more than a few people saying “sure, I’d adopt one, who do I call, they need holding and love, and to escape their horrible conditions”…..that motivation and emotion run amok, albeit well intentioned, is bound to occasionally lead to what we have with this Russian kid.


April 12th, 2010
1:06 pm

A. Nusman @ 6:53 am

What”s wrong with adopting babies from this country?

It really is none of your business why a family makes a decision to adopt internationally. Would you ask a family why they are driving a Toyota when GM is broke and needs to sell cars?

However, to answer the question. Families who adopt internationally take this route after a careful decision process. There have been too many stories on the news magazine shows about children placed with families who will foster them as a step to adopting the child or children. Then comes the father who know one has heard from in 5 years or the mother who is clean and out of jail for 30mintues back into the picture. This mystery Dad or newly released Mom will go to court and completely tie up the foster (potential adoptive) parents and child in an emotional tornado for over a year before a bleeding heart judge will send the kid back to their birth parent.

This is more common than you think. Also it is very hard to attach to a child and have the child attach to the parents only to be ripped away by the courts who will give 35th chances to birth parents and then put them on double secret probation for their poor life choices.

Most, but not all international adoptive families have seen this pattern or even been a part of the system to adopt in the US only to see it not work for them.

It is not a question to ask a family with an internationally adopted child.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 12th, 2010
1:07 pm

I wrote……..”My fear is that adoptive parents get so caught up in the emotions of having a kid “…

let me restate…my fear is that SOME adoptive parents.

For the most part I feel as if MOST adoptive parents are really well intentioned, intelligent, well reasoned folks engaging in a very selfless and admirable endevour.


April 12th, 2010
1:08 pm

@Cammi317, while that was a bizarre movie, my first thoughts were to my own parents and my older brother (all bio). He was a monster, lighting fires in the middle of the night, striking out, dangerous to me and our younger brother, violent to my mother, etc. He rec’d counseling, was put in foster care for a while and a residential treatment center. My parents did a lot to try and help him but they never abandoned him.

I don’t have nearly enough information about this scenario but I can’t get my head around putting a 7 year old on a plane by himself and sending him off to another country with a note. There are options in the USA to help with disturbed children.

Lori Olson

April 12th, 2010
1:28 pm

For all the Nora’s in the world, I’m going to go against the crowd and say, I might have done the same thing. I’ve lived a life of health issues and stress. Now I choose to simplify in order to survive. I’d do anything to protect my natural born children and family,.. including sending a threat to my family,..back where it came from. Blessings to you, Nora!


April 12th, 2010
1:29 pm

MomsRule, Wow! I hope that your brother eventually calmed down. I definitely do not agree with tossing the child on a plane with a note. I am not judging them because I did not live through it, but I have to believe that there was some other option that they over looked.

I have a Korean friend who was “given back” at age 6 after only a year by the 1st American family that adopted her saying that she was “not the right fit” for their family. She was adopted again by a family who had 3 older boys. Although they kept her the relationship was strained and they pretty much cut all ties to her after she graduated high school. Issues of abandonment can do a lot to a persons psyche, but she turned out to be a great overall person. I have to say she is probably one of the best parents that I have ever met. She definitely has more patience with her child than I have with my own.


April 12th, 2010
2:13 pm

33 or 34 year old SINGLE ( sure, a child does not need a father!)woman adopted 7 year old orphan… Is she absolutely naive? (too old to be naive…) Was she unconscious wnen she made such decision? We can blame the russian orphanage, the agency, the rules, and etc. SHE did this irresponsible “move”.

dixie pixie

April 12th, 2010
2:23 pm

My husband is Caucasian and I am Caucasian/Native American. We have an approved homestudy and have been trying to adopt an older child from anywhere in the US for over three years. Still no success. We have been made to feel like we are less than dirt because we want a child that looks like us. We are still firm in that belief and will continue to wait until GOD places a child or children in our lives.


April 12th, 2010
2:26 pm

In later articles, it appears that a Russian lawyer advised the family that this was the proper way to cancel the adoption after other resources failed. They hired a driver for him in Moscow and an escort through the airports.

It still was obviously a bad idea, but it also isn’t a random drop at the airport. I could see them believing this after a lawyer advised them to do so, with some effort to have him guided through the trip, if all this is true.

It really looks like there is just a lot of information still unclear.


April 12th, 2010
4:18 pm

I have two sets of friends in the process of adopting from Russia. One was far enough along in the process that they will be able to continue and bring their children home next week. The other was not as far along and may now be unable to finalize their adoption. It is very sad that a little girl who is waiting for a home here will possibly be stuck in Russia for much longer due to the thoughtless actions of this ‘mother’.

There is a long process to adopt from Russia, it’s not a ‘pick out a kid and have them shipped over’ deal. You have to travel to Russia 3 times. Once to visit the child and spend time reviewing their medical and psychological information, meeting with a Russian social worker and starting the paperwork. Once to visit, finalize paperwork and see a judge to get the adoption approved. Then finally, one more time to get visas, updated birth certificates and to finally bring the child home. Yes, the Russian officials probably lied about some of the child’s issues. Yes, he may have acted out more here than in Russia due to frustration and attachment problems. But, this was not a completely unexpected event and should have been anticipated by the mom. She should have sought counseling for herself and the child and contacted the original adoption agency to seek help.

Sadly, many Russian orphans are told lies about adoptive parents from the US. Some are told they will be sold as slaves or that their parents will sell their organs. They are often told that the parents will not actually finalize the adoption. They are hopeful and want to come to the US but there is a lot of fear also. This latest fiasco will just reinforce some of these lies and cause more trauma and uncertainty in the lives of these children.


April 12th, 2010
4:49 pm

I adopted from Russia as I stated before. I honestly like the idea of me having more choice in choosing the child I’m going to add to my family. That is the way it is done in foreign countries. In the US however, the birth parent(s) gets to pick the adoptive parents. I personally wonder why they get the only vote. That is why we chose an international adoption versus domestic. I would love to adopt domestically, but our government and adoption agencies make it more difficult.

Oscar Greasemanelli

April 12th, 2010
4:59 pm

…the 14 yo girl on the Delta flight getting molested,…

Correction: allegedly molested.

Carry on.

Reality Check

April 12th, 2010
5:31 pm

Lets get real people. Fact: Russia is facing a severe population decline. In fact Putin has implemented a number of programs aimed at INCREASING the Russian birth rate in order to increase the country’s dwindling population. If we accept the fact that Russian authorities are deeply concerned with declining population it makes sense to also accept the fact that the children being offered for adoption are all “compromised” in one way or another and Russia is pawning them off on the rest of the world. Russia has one of the highest rates of alcohol abuse and highest percentages of smokers in the world. It makes sense to expect that the children of drunken, drug addicted skells are going to be mentally and physically defective. Lets wake up and face the facts if anyone is to blame its the Russians.


April 12th, 2010
5:31 pm

@penguinmom: hence what I stated earlier. This is going to affect tons of families; not just this woman (who may God have mercy on her soul, cuz I sure won’t) and this little boy.

@PHR: I have heard that a lot. The constant presence of birth parents here in US makes the process very difficult. From what I hear, abroad that’s not the case. Which, yes it is sad for the child; but it does speed up the process.

Polytron/E2M Sucks

April 12th, 2010
5:45 pm

What”s wrong with adopting babies from this country

Oh no, not this tired old line again.

This is the same crap as: “What’s wrong with finding a wife from this country?

If it’s not immoral or unethical, who the hell’s business is it where they adopt from?

It sure ain’t mine or yours.


April 12th, 2010
8:24 pm

What about the mom who drove to Kansas or Nebraska and dropped her kid off because she couldn’t handle him and hoped someone would take care of him? And I can tell you many parents abandon their kids, even if they live in the same house.

Thank God children usually come to us as babies! Then we bond with their helplessness, and they cannot carve up the cat or set the house on fire. If we all got our babies as older children or teenagers, most of us would give them back!

I think almost anyone adopting domestically or foreign should be prepared for their child to have problems. It’s tough enough when you know about their medical history (they share it with you/your husband) as you do with a biological child, but you don’t know how an adopted child has been treated or whether the mother was ill or alcoholic or a druggie. It seems safer to me to assume the child has problems, and then you can be pleasantly surprised if things are okay.

kathy cale

April 12th, 2010
9:51 pm

while I agree that the adopting mother should have been more prepared to deal with a child with serious emotional issues, I don’t think this should result in a life sentence for her and her family. I have a really hard time believing that only !% of these international adoptions are terminated. The enormous emotional and financial costs of dealing with adopted RAD children have devastated many well meaning families. Now the US taxpayers are bearing the costs because these families cannot afford the kind of continuing therapy these children need. Anybody who thinks RAD is just another hiccup in childrearing is sadly mistaken. Before everyone judges this mom too harshly do some research on this issue. Yea there probably was a better way to terminate the adoption, but if it is so horrible to put an unaccompanied minor on an international flight, the airlines wouldnt be allowing it. And I for one am glad that this is one less psychopath criminal in the making that we as taxpayers wont have to pay for. We have plenty of home grown kids who need intensive intervention to try to prevent a lifelong pattern of sociopathic and criminal behavior.

WACAP Supporter

April 13th, 2010
11:31 am

My wife and I successfully adopted from Russia through WACAP three times, yes 3 times! WACAP laid everything they knew out for us. We got medical documents and photos. We went to Russia to meet the children — all this before we accepted the referral. Older children are tough and WACAP explains this. They require that adoptive parents go through training. I believe that the mother and grandmother were unprepared for the work they had before them – and child rearing is work. They were NOT unprepared because WACAP fell short. WACAP works hard to help adoptive parents to prepare.

For those who feel that international adoptions should be terminated, you need to see the conditions that these children will have to live in if they are not given the opportunity to be adopted. Russia first gives their citizens the opportunity to adopt these children before allowing international adoption. These children are not desirable to the Russians.

For those who say we should have adopted in the US, we tried but were told we were too old at 38-years old.

As for abuse to Russian adopted children in the US: How many Russian children are abused by Russian parents. How many US children are abused by US parents? Fifteen cases of abuse or worse of Russian out of 15,000 successful adoptions. Even 1 is too many but put this into perspective.

My heart goes out to Artyom.

Personally, I say, G-d bless

David S

April 13th, 2010
12:34 pm

It hardly seems like abandonement when you purchase an expensive ticket, make sure the flight attendants are ready for the child, hire someone with references to pick the child up and arrange to make sure they are delivered to a child services agency at the destination. Plenty of kids in this country get less attention from their biological parents every day of the week.

She got advice from a lawyer that was absolutely spot on correct. The child is back in Russia and isn’t coming back to her. That was her goal, she is not asking for a refund of any of the money she put out, and she has done what she felt was necessary for her situation.

In GA we allow parents to drop their unwanted children off at hospitals, etc. with no cost to them or responsibility.

Give her all the crap you want, she showed more responsibility than the ones who just dump and run.


April 13th, 2010
3:04 pm

Can someone explain me why she changed boy’s name?… He had his own name for 7 years, and …OOPS!!! Obviosly, she did not like his name and she did not like him. You know, I don’t like her name also. Let’s give her a new name: MUPSSYA…Why not? I don’t care if she does not like… This morning news: she wants to adopt another child from Georgia… I am seriously concern about her mental health.


April 13th, 2010
8:45 pm

Yes, U.S. birthparents do not know whether their child will have a physical deformity or illness, but unless the birthparent was an alcoholic, drug addict, etc. the chances of that child having a severe psychological problem, to the point that the parent literally fears for their live and the lives of their loved ones is minimal.
The issue in this case is that Russian authorities routinely withhold important information about a child’s past to unknowing foreigners looking to create a family through adoption. They do so to pass the burden along to others, for if they shared all information about the child, the child would not be adopted. The unknowing families who end up with the child have not been prepared for the tremendous struggle necessary to parent a severely emotionally disturbed child.
The deception that has taken place to get the adoptive parent to adopt the child must be taken into consideration in determining whether an adoptive parent should be able to “return” a child.

Individuals not aware of the problems associated with an international adoption can, out of ignorance, be misled into thinking that there is a huge support system out there for parents who find themselves in the predicament that Peggy Sue Hilt did. There isn’t. Adoption agencies generally consider their job done once they place the child. Medical professionals in the U.S. are often unfamiliar with the medical problems that an institutionalized child or child coming from another country may have. Early intervention agencies have been known to resent providing services to children adopted from foreign countries and school officials also use a child’s adoption status to withhold support that a child may need.

Adoptive parents, having gone through what they have to complete an international adoption, have an abundance of love, tolerance and determination. Unfortunately, there are cases where this is simply not enough; sadly love doesn’t always heal all.


April 14th, 2010
9:51 am

How could this seven-year-old child be such a dangerous threat?
Did he crash land as a baby in a spaceship from the planet Krypton?

[...] this week we talked about the 7-year-old adopted child who was returned to Russia by his mother. The Russians were so [...]


April 15th, 2010
10:29 am

Oh grant that I not judge my neighbor UNTIL I have walked a mile in his shoes

John Raible

April 15th, 2010
5:59 pm

I know firsthand the heartbreak of raising difficult and wounded adopted kids. Both my sons were adopted from foster care at older ages (6 and 13) so you can well imagine they came with lots of “issues.” But as challenging as things got at home, and there were times when one or the other had to live somewhere else TEMPORARILY, I never once thought of abandoning either of them or severing my ties to them. Not because I am some sort of hero. But because I chose to become their dad. I’m their father, for better or worse, in sickness and in health. Until death do us part. As an adopted person myself, maybe I’m more sensitive to the adopted child’s fear of being abandoned all over again… You can read my blog on little Artyom here:


April 16th, 2010
12:16 pm

Hum coming to the surface” Adoption Returns” 30 day free trial…Well its been going on for years right here in the good old USA its just not talked about and kept silent.. Catholic Charities is a prime example of placing unwanted children that had been adopted and returned into foster care and some to catholic boarding schools going back decades keeping it all covered up.How can this be true? and covered up all this time and how do I know about this Return Adoption Policy.I was a return adopted child and sent off to a boarding school to be raised..Have a look .

Fortunately for me I found my biological family helped me and put closure to my lost child hood …


April 16th, 2010
1:15 pm

It is hard to think of what to say and how to say it. Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get. I don’t know what measures are in place to help both the child and the parents adjust to one another and cultural changes. I think love can fix so much, but not always the way one thinks it will. I think if you adopt, there should be so many qualified people helping you through the transition for a long time. This should be part of the package deal of an adoption. People twenty four seven, available if you need guidance or support. Adoptive parents are doing something to hopefully better someone’s quality of life and future. You are bringing a child into your home, which may have no idea what love, caring etc. means. Everyone is different in how they care for, love and handle things. I cannot cast a stone to anyone, if I have not walked in their shoes. No one would go through all the hoops and spend all that money, if they didn’t want to adopt and care for child. I always believed the parents were screened and hope it isn’t just who can spend the most money. Having money doesn’t mean you are the right choice. I bet there are people who cannot afford to adopt, and there is a child out their missing out. It sounds to me like this woman had more than she or her family could handle. How she went about things and planned is very strange, but the boy is unharmed. I am grateful for that. If someone is at their wits end the decision process isn’t always rational. You never know what issues and adopted child will have regardless of where they came from, and how equipped you are to handle them.


April 16th, 2010
4:43 pm

Quite a few years ago, I was given the opportunity to adopt a 13-year-old lad. I had met him through some neighbourhood children, who thought if I talked with him, I could help him. His parents were getting a divorce, and he was blaming himself for that (not realising that, often, people have more than one relationship with another person). He was drinking, breaking into houses, taking drugs, and skipping school–not all because of the divorce, but the divorce was a contributor. He as an insecure child, who needed extra attention, reassurance, and parent who did exactly as they said they would. Eventually, I curbed the crime way, and began to sort him in the other problem areas. When the mother could no longer deal with his neediness, she asked if I would take him. By that time, the lad though I was perfection–a clear case of being a role model for the lad. Since I was a single man, who worked for myself, I felt confident that I could handle things. The lad was easily persuaded as he wanted to “belong” with his peers, he was selfish, although reasonable considerate, and generally a nice person, impassioned by skateboarding. There were legal problems, problems with school, behavioural and social problems, but we tackled them all one by one. The basic rules were simple: 1 I love you: that is a constant, no matter what; 2. if you are in trouble, you are never alone, it is something we can try to address together; 3. ask any question you want, as long as you aren’t afraid of hearing the answer. Generally, it was giving attention, listening, observing, and being supportive that made it work. Eventually, I had his friends coming to me wanting to talk about things they should have discussed with their parents. I found too many parents were too self-absorbed and considered their children to be like other possessions: visible and able to be displayed for their status quality, but a hindrance and inconvenience, if there was a problem. Too many of those lads just needed to be loved.

If someone thinks they will be getting a problem-free child, they have looked at themselves enough to realise what trouble and pain they were to their own parents; and how much/little their parents were involved with them. How could they possibly expect to have the responsibility for another human being, and not be willing to accept that responsibility? Many parents haven’t a clue. I see too many of them and their running, screeching, demanding brats in public. Often trying, belatedly to impose discipline half-heartedly or without compassion, or understanding.

These people who sent that Russian lad back to Russia, are a much too large symptom of a nation, who wants something, but doesn’t want the responsibility, nor is willing to accept that something might pose a problem or have needs beyond their own. And where are the role models? Politicians who are self-absorbed, greedy CEOs? There are plenty of role models for the dysfunctional, the greedy, the deceptive, the callous, the arrogant, et al., but finding some role model that embodies honour, honesty, compassion, etiquette, charity, et al., is like finding a chicken with teeth. Is the USA so dysfunctional?


May 10th, 2010
11:00 am

I am a mom of a child adopted from China who is now 10.

When I was considering adopting, I looked into domestic adoptions first. I sat in on a county adoption seminar. Our county requires prospective adoptive parents to foster children first. Then, if everything goes right, you may adopt the child. The catch is that the county will not allow a person who is single to adopt an non-special needs child. Single parents all must adopt special needs. Does that make any sense at all?

I also interviewed some people who had done “private” domestic adoptions. One couple had wanted to adopt a baby, and agreed that a mixed race baby would be okay….caucasian with something would be fine. They waited and waited. They got a call from their agency that a caucasian baby had become available, but they would have to cough up thousands of more dollars. They took another loan from their parents and adopted the baby. Turns out, the baby was not caucasian, but was indeed of mixed race… just appeared caucasian at birth, and I guess the birthmother just hadn’t been sure of the father’s race. The family accepted that the child was mixed race, and certainly love him, but the whole process certainly left them feeling kind of “had”.

During this era in domestic adoptions there were lots of instances of court challenges where birth mothers wanted their children back from adoptive parents. I did NOT want to go through that at all, so for the above reasons, I chose not to adopt domestically.

Our Chinese adoption experience was seamless and exactly as had been described to us. It did not cost us more money than they had told us. Our daughter is/was beautiful and is the light of our lives. She has had some emotional problems that we have sought help for. Our counselors have said that no matter how well things go in an orphanage, children from these circumstances all bear some wounds from institutionalization. All of my daughter’s problems has manifested themselves at night, and some of them have been painful to deal with, but we have made it through. Our daughter’s problems are relatively mild, as she has not had RAD or any of those significant attachment problems.

I suspect the situation with the Russian child is one of 1) deception on the part of the orphanage about the child’s needs and condition as well as 2) lack of support from the adoption agency to the family. Unless this family has other children and the perspective that might come from that, I doubt they were at all prepared for what came with this child. I feel sorry for these people, but I agree that what they did is awful, scary, inappropriate, all the above. And yes, it makes all of us in the adoption community look bad because these people handled their problem so badly.

I am not sure what I would do given the circumstances this family faced. Given that they probably had not bonded with this child at all, and only received threats from him, I can’t imagine what that would feel like.

The reaction from the Russian adoption authorities were equally as absurd. Shut down all adoptions from the US? What good does that do? This kind of thing could have happened with any adoptive country, not just the US. And, it’s a lot of cutting off their own noses to spite their faces. They COULD make it the law that there is significant post-adoption followup, particularly with the case of special needs or older child adoptions. It isn’t hard. China did it, and required a post adoption homestudy kind of thing. I didnt’ mind it at all, and it was required because China wanted to ensure that the placements worked. If Russia was all that concerned about the welfare of their children, they would do something like that, not shut down adoption programs.