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

A. Nusman

April 12th, 2010
6:53 am

What”s wrong with adopting babies from this country?

M. Ruiz

April 12th, 2010
7:05 am

Nusman, just try and you will find out.


April 12th, 2010
7:11 am

The alarming part to me is: “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.”

If the agencies know this up front the better question is *do they do anything to help integrate the child to the new family. Do they offer assistance in various therapy? Is it a communication issue (do the perspective parents speak the native tounge)? Does the child just show up in the US with the new parents and are expected to “get with the program”?*

In short are the parents and children set up at the start to fail?


April 12th, 2010
7:23 am

Children who never have a parent to bond with at birth are more likely to develop an attachment disorder which sounds like what this child has. It’s hard to treat but there are programs.

What’s awful is the fact that this little boy has been treated like garbage since his birth. He was born without parents and left for years in an orphanage. His adopted mom seemed not interested in helping him or she was not provided with prior knowledge of potential disorders and where she might get services to help the family.

I pray that someone who has the love and patience to have this boy in his life adopts him. All children deserve to be wanted and have parents at birth and not to start their life alone and unwanted.


April 12th, 2010
7:25 am

An adoptive parent of a child from Russia here. This whole situation is heart breaking. I think there is a lot of blame in this situation. The Russians did probably hide some information from the adoptive parents (we had that happen in our situation). The adoption agency and the social worker that did the home study should have prepared the adoptive parents for all situations including the worst. They also should have given the parents more support once the child was home, that is if the adoptive parents asked for help. Ultimately, the adoptive parents should not have under any circumstances put the child on the plane to Russia by himself. Legally he was their child and they were abandoning it. Tragic!
In our particular case we have used services just like any one would for their naturally born children. We used Babies Can’t Wait, counselors, doctors, etc. No one has any guarantees whether they give birth or adopt. You just do the best you can.


April 12th, 2010
7:27 am

Good questions FCM, but I don’t think they’ll be answered, unfortunately. Adopting in this country has become such a nightmare that parents go outside. It’s called human nature; all else being equal, do it the easier, cheaper way.

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.


April 12th, 2010
7:33 am

I can’t believe this story. Did parents just put a child on a plane with a note in hand? They should be prosecuted for that. It is like buying a product and then returning it for some reason. I don’t buy their excuse. So many birth parents deal with similar issues. It is called parenting. These parents do not have an option to return kids. We had to attend some mental hospital outpatient sessions because we had some challenges with our middle one, and let me tell you that there were so many non-adoptive families dealing with similar situations: suicidal kids, kids who put houses on fire, kids who threaten to hurt parents, etc.
If there was a problem, they should have dealt with it and if the problem was too big to deal with, then they should have contacted an adoption agency and perhaps tried to place a child into another family. Putting a 7 year old on a plane back to Russia is irresponsible.


April 12th, 2010
7:34 am

I am not advocating anyone “getting rid” of a child. That is a horrible thing.

Here is something I wanted to share. Many of you know the story of our dog who was run over just about 2 years ago in front of our house, by a neighbor. My daughter was so distraught and weeping every day. A friend told me to get her a new dog…which was no small feat ( sp?) as I was on the road traveling. I did a lot of research and checked places via the internet. My sister, husband and daughter went to the look at all of the dogs. Several dogs had serious issues and the folks wanted to get rid of them. Others were at puppy mills, pet shops and breeders with cages everywhere. We finally found our schnauzer at a home breeder with 2 moms and 2 dads who live inside the house and are treated as loving pets. They had a big back yard with lots of toys. We paid quite a bit for her but she is a wonderful dog and we are thrilled to have her.

My point…if animals have issues from neglect and abuse….children certainly have more difficulties in this area. CHILDREN ARE NOT THE SAME AS DOGS AND I KNOW THIS.

My heart goes out to any child who does not know love or how to interact with a family.
It may be easy for us to judge the Mom who “sent him back” but the circumstances may have been much more that ” No, I do not want to brush my teeth…” Children are a product of their environment….I see this every day. Sad story for everyone.


April 12th, 2010
7:54 am

First of all, I didn’t think that children could be “returned” because “it didn’t work out”. They are not pieces of furniture or dogs (as MJG pointed out). I mean, if I had a child and he had problems that I couldn’t handle, it’s not like I could just go to Northside Hospital and say: Sorry, but he/she has too many issues, here take him back. So that right there, pisses me off. That woman should have known that adopting a child is a Big Deal.

Second of all, it is possible the Russians didn’t disclose all. Again, sometimes you have a child by birth and they have things you couldn’t have possibly know.

And thirdly, it really bugs me that because of this woman’s actions, hundreds maybe thousands of willing parents will have problems completing THEIR adoption process.

And to the person that asked why not adopt an American child: I know several couples that went through it and it is not only outrageously expensive, but long, riddled with red tape, heart wrenching, stressing, complicated, and half the time the birth mother changes her mind and your heart breaks. A lot of people go abroad because is faster, not as expensive, and (yes I know it is sad), most of those children have already been abandoned so there is no birth parents to contend with.


April 12th, 2010
8:13 am

This is a sad case. I know first hand from going through the adoption process in this country that everything is NOT disclosed to the adoptive parents. I could only imagine what is hidden in international adoptions. I do believe that this child did have problems that weren’t disclosed to the adoptive family. I don’t think that returning him with a note however was the appropriate response. But, that family must have been really pushed to its limits to resort to such a drastic measure.

I am concerned that the agency that handled the adoption had no idea that there were problems in the family. I would think they would have a responsibility to follow up with the family, especially since this child would have to become acclimated to a foreign country.

Carmen Speranza

April 12th, 2010
8:14 am

Hi my name is Carmen and I am from Melbourne, Australia. I have been following the reports on the poor 7 year old child that was sent back to Russia by the American adopted mother. I must admit it shocked me!!!! Surely the adopted mother could have tried to help the poor child in some other ways through some sort of professional intervention than simply shipping this boy back to Russia alone on the plane!!! Not only is it bad enough that these poor russian children and other orphans throughout the world have gone without parents or personal traumas but they are not disposal toys where we can play with as we like. These children are human beings without parents, no belongings and no future. We must bear in mind that if any future potential international adoptive parents are thinking of adopting these children from overseas we must also take the responsibilites of what comes with it and the challenges that lie ahead. I have been reading a lot of Russian and Ukrainian Adoption Blogs by American families and it is nice to see the development between the adopted parents and the children. I wish international adoption would be more readily available to Australians but it isn’t. It is very hard for Australian families to adopt internationally and it is virtually impossible for Australians to adopt Eastern European children and Central European children.


April 12th, 2010
8:23 am

I am an adoptive mother of a now 10-month old…adopted domestically at birth. Fortunately, I have not had to deal with attachment or behavior issues. However, given the limited medical history I have received there really is no telling what might be in the future. THAT could be the case for me even if I had a biological child.

To this isse….For most, the adoption process whether domestic or international is a long process filled with paperwork, preparation, and interaction with adoption social workers. As part of that preparation, I do think many agencies fall short on counseling parents on the “what if”. What if your child has learning disabilities? What if your child has behavorial issues? What if the birth family doesn’t reveal a chronic illness? What if something happens in their health that you were not prepared for (as if you could be prepared for everything)? These are questions any parent – whether through childbirth or adoption – should ask themselves before they become a parent. We can’t possibly control nature and expect a perfect child. There is no such thing. HOWEVER, if you go into a situation and are looking to adopt an older child you MUST deal with the what ifs early. To not do so is just ignorant. Ignorance is not bliss in this situation. Agencies fall short in stressing this need….you have to be your own advocate and prepare. You also can’t possible prepare for every situation.

I am sad for this little boy. How could any responsible adult place a little boy on a flight all by themselves? No matter how frustrated or scared they supposedly were of the boy?

Mark H

April 12th, 2010
8:23 am

The problem here is two-fold: adoption agencies in the US are obviously not preparing parents for possible mental problems, and the parents are obviously not doing their homework.

Anyone who adopts a child over 2 years old who has been living in an orphanage since birth, needs to know that this child will likely have some mental/emotional issues, and they need to be prepared for the worst. I am sick of seeing stories like these where parents jump into the complicated matter of adopting a child from an orphanage (especially an older child) and then act surprised when there are issues.

This is reality: these kids are damaged goods. It is not their fault, and they need parents who are prepared to deal with their issues. That means pre-adoption counseling and learning how to face potential problems. If the potential parent can’t handle even this much preparation, then they have no business adopting in the first place.


April 12th, 2010
8:29 am

This is a tragic story indeed, and we have yet to learn the full story. I am an adoptive mother myself. I think putting this child on an airplane by himself was a travesty. I also agree that this family has caused undue setbacks for families waiting to adopt children from Russia. All that said, I hope the some good will come from this case in getting people to understand RAD — Reactive Attachment Disorder, which is prevelant in children who are institutionalized and/or abused. My daughter suffered from RAD — we were completely unprepared for dealing with her issues. It is SO true that love simply can’t conquer all. It is frightening parenting a child with this disorder, especially if the child has passed the age of three (it’s much harder to effectively treat it after this point due to brain development). While this case is truly shameful, there are countless families out there struggling with similar issues. And many, like us, weren’t prepared. I am proud to say that my daughter no longer suffers from RAD, but I must add that it took years of intensive therapy, doctors, etc., not to mention the expenses. If you haven’t lived it, you might not be able to understand just how challenging it is.


April 12th, 2010
8:45 am

I grew up in a family that included an “adoption gone wrong” (adopted siblings). But it was a domestic adoption. Same story, though: neglect in infancy, the trauma of extended foster care, severe psychological issues, violent behavior and acting out, and the complete disruption to our family. It was a nightmare. Although the adoption wasn’t reversed, it caused trauma to our family that still affects us today – decades later. It can be a BAD situation for everyone involved. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know what the problem is in a very personal way.


April 12th, 2010
8:47 am

If this was ten years ago, I could understand how the adoptive mother wouldn’t be prepared. But his information about the difficulties that families who adopt from the former Soviet Union countries face is very public, very well known, and frankly, expected.

There has been no mention of a father in this case, is there one?


April 12th, 2010
8:48 am

@adoptivemom: while I cannot TRULY know ow challenging it can be, I do know that lots of biological parents deal with lots of severe issues with their biological children. With adoptive children it can be RAD, with biological children it can be autism, it can be Down syndrome, it can be ADD, what have you. Having said that, I applaud you!

What this woman did is child abandonment, plain and simple. And it not only affects this poor little boy, it has severe ramifications for the countless couples that are awaiting to adopt from Russia as well.

Children are not pieces of furniture you return because it didn’t work out.

t. powell

April 12th, 2010
8:53 am

This is not ‘normal’ in anyway! People look at a little sweet child and think it’s the parent’s fault there are problems. Many parents suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after trying to love and parent these children. Parents can definitely do wrong things b/c of the child’s actions but burning down a house w/ the parents in it…..are you kidding me? Why doesn’t the media cover RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder)? It should be covered regularly so the word would get out to Americans. International adoption agencies will lie just to get the money! Why should that surprise us? A friend of mine spent time in an African ‘orphanage’. There was no supervision…no adults stayed on the property! There was little food and no electricity. It was only ‘housing’ for orphans and every night…the older boys raped the younger children. The only reason for it’s existance was the orphanage owners received money for the adopted children.
All people see is the romance in adoption but they either don’t know or don’t want to know what can happen. Adoption can be wonderful but it can also be catastrophic. RAD kids kill pets in the home and sometimes family members. They have no conscience. Without treatment, it is always a tragedy. They hate the ones who love them the most b/c they believe love hurts. It hurt them when they were infants and it takes intensive, expensive treatment (that many times bankrupts the adoptive family) for them to be able to accept love now.
*** I can’t believe anyone would compare a child’s trauma and needs to a pet’s….what an insult! ….give me a break and step into reality! THERE IS NO COMPARISON!***

t. powell

April 12th, 2010
8:56 am

“With adoptive children it can be RAD, with biological children it can be autism, it can be Down syndrome, it can be ADD,”

This statement shows a complete lack of knowlege of RAD.


April 12th, 2010
9:00 am

I think these parents weren’t given the full story nor put in touch with resources that might have helped them cope. However, I take objection to the implication that children are somehow a commodity to suit the parents’ needs and are therefore exchangeable or returnable when they’re not.

My mom said it took me a long time to warm up to her and there were times she was frustrated trying to get me out of my shell. I wasn’t fussy or demanding, but I also was not affectionate towards her. I was 7 months old and hadn’t had a consistent mom; how could I have had some automatic bond with her that was going to make her feel complete? Thank goodness she recognized this.

Granted, in my case, I was just a confused 7 month old baby and didn’t have special needs otherwise. However, adoption is no different from natural birth – you can’t give your biological kids back; you cope with their issues like parents should.


April 12th, 2010
9:01 am

We are friends with 4 families who have adopted from Russia and our cousin recently adopted from China. Why foreign? Because adopting locally is actually more difficult and poses risks of parents who change their minds and want the child back.

That said – the two families who adopted “babies” – less than 18 months old – are thriving. The 3 families who adopted older children – both from Russia – have experienced heartaches beyond belief – although they have found joy in these children. Two were found to have hearing issues from prolonged untreated ear infections. Two acted out to the point of busting out tv’s, turning over a refrigerator, turning on bath water and leaving it running to flood on purpose, stealing from other homes visited, trying to stab a sibling at the dinner table with a knife – and the list goes on. These children are all “taking advantage” of government entitlement programs in the schools and for healthcare. Their needs too many for the parents to meet financially without taking those programs.

I would love to see the orphans in our own country addressed first. We could become foster parents almost immediately without much checking verification being done, but, once we began the process of adoption – our home was inundated by social workers – even as far as because we were on a septic tank instead of sewer, having to have the system pumped and water testing done. The majority of problems the children here in the good ole USA experience are in the foster homes. Help speed up adoptions here, quit allowing people to “retrieve” their children – one case in place – my neighbor who has fostered a child for 22 months but cannot adopt because the parents want the child or want the child with family, but no one can pass a drug test on a regular basis – but these people are given 100 chances to do so – meanwhile, my neighbor loves this child, but cannot give this child all they want to because they can’t adopt.

This incident – while sad/tragic – should act as a wakeup call to everyone to stop foreign adoptions until all of our USA babies/children have homes.


April 12th, 2010
9:06 am

Enter your comments here That the adoptive mother went about ending the adoption the wrong way — no argument! That she might have had reason to end the adoption – quite possibly. If the child was truly a RAD child, I can understand her feeling she must do something. Read the RAD boards — parents who alternate sleeping so that one is always awake and on guard for fear a child (not a teenager, a child!) will set fire to the house, torture a pet, attack and injure or attempt to kill a sibling.
Professional help, if you can find it, costs $1000s a week, is not covered by insurance, and usually is not successful in changing the child. It just keeps him/her out of the family home.


April 12th, 2010
9:18 am

I find it amusing/infuriating that Russia can piously proclaim that they are “worried” about Russian children being “mistreated” by adoptive parents, when in fact a Russian orphanage is one of the more horrifying places in the world to grow up. My daughter spent a spring break working with an orphanage in one of the former Russian provinces, and two years later still tears up when she thinks about the toddlers that were chained in their beds, babies that were three and four to a bed, etc., etc. She ran into some of the attachment disorder issues even during the week — a child, in particular, who would scream and hit at anyone who tried talk to her. Now, you have to figure that this was probably one of the BETTER orphanages, if they were letting American school kids work there. The one you didn’t see were probably horrific.

While I feel for the frustration this adoptive couple must have gone through, I think they made a completely wrong choice in how to handle it. Let’s face it, they didn’t just plop the kid on the airline — they had to have made arrangements with the airline for the child to fly unaccompanied in the first place. I’m sure there is much more to this story than meets the eye. However, just because one wacko family did the wrong thing doesn’t mean that there aren’t thousands of other families out there wanting to embrace a child.

And yes, I DO think that the orphanages held out on vital information in order to move the kids out. What kind of sanctions can be pursued to an orphanage or state institution that deliberately LIES to adoptive parents, especially from half a world away. They do it because they CAN, and they know the repercussions will be slight, if any.


April 12th, 2010
9:34 am

Not sure about foreign adoptions or the fostercare care systems in other countries but I know first hand that agencies do not disclose all information on the children that they are placing.


April 12th, 2010
9:45 am

We have adopted three children very, very easily from this country. We also have 2 biological children. Mine are all great, but I do know some people who have adopted children that have virtually destroyed their entire family. Biological or not, I will not allow one child to totally disrupt and threaten the lives of others. I have seen it first hand so I feel total empathy towards this lady. She might have been better off dealing with DFCS in this country though.


April 12th, 2010
9:46 am

Also you never know what you will do unless it happens to you. I am not saying that she was right for sending him back to Russia on a plane by himself she was wrong for doing that but I also think that it was a drastic measure and maybe she was at her wits end.


April 12th, 2010
9:47 am

This story infuriates me and makes me want to cry. I get the adoptive parents being scared and upset and feeling like they were possibly mislead, but how much due diligence did they do when adopting from Russia -PARTICULARLY an older child? I have no plans to adopt, and even I know that Russia has a horrifying rate of orphaned children with fetal alchohol syndrome and their state run orphanages are legendary hell holes. If I DID adopt from there, I would be expecting some issues, and if I adopted an older child from ANYWHERE, I would be expecting to go through counseling, get the child psychiatric care if needed, etc. It sounds to me like these folks thought -”OH -if we take him to WalMart and Chuck E Cheese a few times, he’ll be so happy to be here -that will solve everything.”

The fact that anyone would put ANY child, no matter how horribly behaved on a long, international flight “home” by themselves with a note makes me want to bawl! How horribly sad. Whatever this child’s problems were before, now they’ve been compounded quite a bit. I don’t think Russia is blameless. They probably do hold back as much as possible when adopting out children. The adoption agency along with the prospective parents should have really been proactive as far as evaluations and possible therapy needed.

It’s just a terrible shame. The people who put that child on the plane should be shamed forever.

LaToya Mack

April 12th, 2010
10:10 am

I hope the important questions are going to be raised. (1) What resources are available to adoptive parents when dire financial circumstances arise? When parents voluntarily relinquish rights to their biological and adoptive children, they are being failed. I distinctively remember parents crossing state lines to take their children of all ages to hospitals when state laws changed to allow for such provisions with no legal ramifications…. (2) Is it true a child in the US can be of legal school age and NOT attend – not even be considered ‘home schooled’?


April 12th, 2010
10:18 am


Why not adopt kids in this country?

Well a lot of people are looking for the blond, blue-eyed baby and they do not want children that are beyond the toddler age, a child with a mild disablity or different skin tone. There are plenty of American children here, but our society wants the description posted earlier or an “exotic” child from a different land.


April 12th, 2010
10:21 am

My sister’s best friend adopted from Russia. Both boys have mental issues.

Professor II

April 12th, 2010
10:34 am

Professor you couldn’t be more wrong. The problem with adoptions here are the fact that the parents giving up the child wants them to be open adoptions so they can participate without having to be responsible for the child. Also the laws here continue to favor the birth parents later on when they “decide” they want the child back.

David S

April 12th, 2010
10:37 am

Unmentioned and uninvestigated in all of this is exactly what it does take to adopt a child in this country and why so many people find it EASIER and cheaper to adopt a child from another country.

Adoption in this country is political, and whenever the government gets involved, nothing ever gets better. Not that is free from politics in other countries. That is part of the problem there too.

Blaming this parent for taking responsibility for the realities of her circumstance combined with what appears to be a misrepresentation (far too common) is not the answer. Taking a bigger look at how the “system” makes it so difficult to adopt in this country would be far better use of investigative journalist efforts (if we actually had any of those left in this country).


April 12th, 2010
10:41 am

Anyone ever see the movie “Orphan”?


April 12th, 2010
10:49 am

@Cammi317, Yes, I saw the movie.


April 12th, 2010
10:54 am

MomsRule was that not the first thing that came to mind when you read where the child was from and the description of the child’s behavior?


April 12th, 2010
11:20 am

I read that she changed the name of the boy, a 7 year old boy! She changed the kid’s name!

lynda fory-stevens

April 12th, 2010
11:23 am

This story is a tragedy.No matter how badly behaved this child was,there is no excuse for sending him off alone.The child is seven years old…seven.Do you know any seven year-olds able to cope alone for even an hour?The “mother”talks of threats and houses burning etc.I would like to know:in what language were these threats made?Did the child speak English,does this woman speak Russian. Do these people in Tennessee know anthing about the culture etc of any foreign country?.I would like to see what would happen to any child from the states suddenly whisked off to another country expected to melt right in…this is child abuse.It is never up to the child to complete the rosy picture of the perfect family.It is up to the consenting adult in an adoption to do as much as possible to make the fairy tale come true (the same has to be said when an adult woman decides to have her own child.) the child owes nothing to the parent who decides to give birth.I speak here of one parent as there is no father,only a woman and her mother. I am the mother of three biological children who are fine adults.Due I like to think thanks to good parenting but surely to a bit of really good luck as well.If things had not gone well I could not have just decided I had made a mistake and returned “it” to the hospital. I am appalled that anyone could not blame these people for what they did. In America there is help,counseling coaching and schooling available.They have no courage,no heart and no soul.Can they even feel remorse or regret?


April 12th, 2010
11:42 am

Professor II Please list your stats and references, because there are plenty of non-white babies in America waiting for a home and there parents are not asking for “open” adoptions.

Have you ever listened to 98.5 the lady in the evening Daliah (sp) talks about this freely on her show and she has adopted several “American” children?

Jesse's Girl

April 12th, 2010
11:47 am

There simply don’t seem to be enough adoptive parents….the VAST majority of which are white…that are willing to adopt and parent a child of another race. One of my dearest friends adopted all 3 of her kids. The girls are bi-racial and the boy is white….though getting him happened because the agency they used were so impressed with them as parents that when his adoption became a neccessity because of abandonment…they immediately turned to them. He was older, 15 months at the time. The point is my friends were desperate for ANY child. And there doesn’t seem to be a long line of adoptive American parents ready to raise a child of another color. Not to mention how criminally expensive it is. Which is why so many turn to international adoption. Its cheaper and faster….and often times, the parents can get a child of their “color”. But you absolutely take your chances on disclosure. Its a risk that needs to be weighed properly and with massive forethought.


April 12th, 2010
11:49 am

@Jesse’s Girl my point exactly a lot of parents do not just want ANY child they are looking for certain children.


April 12th, 2010
11:51 am


Your question is inappropriate. It simply is not your business why people choose to adopt internationally versus domestically. Each family makes the decision that is right for them. If you decided to adopt domestically, I would applaud you for giving a child a home. I adopted from China (not for an “exotic” baby — hugely insulting — as was the comment about blue-eyed beauties) because 98 percent of the children in orphanages there are girls. My family wanted one less girl in an orphanage there and one more in our lives. There’s no need to be so judgmental as it is a deeply personal choice and, frankly, not deserving of your scrutiny.

The issue here is RAD, and I am so relieved to see that so many of you truly get it.

And I think it’s fair to say that NO ONE feels that what this woman did was proper. What I said was that I’m hoping it shines the spotlight on a condition that not everyone knows about.


April 12th, 2010
12:00 pm


Please read me again, because I did not say blue-eyed beauties. I guess the truth hurts. I state fact I was not being judgemental, and the fact is there are American children that can be adopted. If you look at the blog I did not ask that question, but provided an answer.


April 12th, 2010
12:01 pm

***I stated a fact***

Jesse's Girl

April 12th, 2010
12:07 pm

I will not sit in judgement of this woman’s choice. I did not live her experiences with this child. He may very well be the antichrist. And its just as likely that she wanted to be a mommy and thought this was the easiest and fastest way to do that. Whatever transpired…she for sure did not do her “homework” on adopting an older child….especially a boy. While I cannot say with any degree of certainty that I would have acted differently…I would obvioulsy like to think I would. I would like to think that I would have taken him to a specialist and just dealt with it the best way I could. This kid needs love. Its just a damn shame no matter how you look at it.

Warrior Woman

April 12th, 2010
12:09 pm

The problem is more likely American social workers insisting on placing the child with a family of the same race and ethnicity, even if it means continued foster care instead of adoption. Further complicating matters is the stance of favoring biological parents’ “rights” over the child’s well-being.


April 12th, 2010
12:10 pm

Your answer (below) to the question, Why don’t people adopt kids from this country? insults me as an adoptive parent. What you state are facts are subjective. You simply cannot speak for why people adopt — you can only speak for why you adopted. Anything else is speculation (and judgment).

“Well a lot of people are looking for the blond, blue-eyed baby and they do not want children that are beyond the toddler age, a child with a mild disablity or different skin tone. There are plenty of American children here, but our society wants the description posted earlier or an “exotic” child from a different land.”


April 12th, 2010
12:15 pm

Well adoptivemom it is your fault that you are insulted. We can agree to disagree because I stand behind my answer.


April 12th, 2010
12:17 pm

My immediate concern is for the fact that American law officials are not stepping in and charging this woman with child abandonment……..if she was engaged in a legal adoption of this boy and just placed him on a plane to rid herself of him without following a protocol then this may be child abandonment. My other concern is how did this boy make it to a plane when he is 7 years old. The age requirements for international travel for unsupervised children is …I beleive to be much older than 7. It seems that there are several pieces missing in this puzzle and ofcourse what is this woman’s motivation for adoption…… she wanting to help others or gratify her own world. Maybe she has JOLIE syndrome where she views children as means to gratify her over inflated ego.

Professor 3

April 12th, 2010
12:20 pm

Why do you care who adopts and what their preference is???? I mean, really, how many American kids have you adopted? Tell us so we might understand better your hostile bigotry.

And what business of yours anyway if somebody wants to raise a kid who matches their own color?

Jesse's Girl

April 12th, 2010
12:29 pm

I kind of get what he’s saying…re-read his comments and don’t see any hostility. There is a socio-economical element going on. We have an over-abundance of black children in foster care waiting for a family. But the families that can afford to adopt are very often white. And for whatever reason(s)….a lot of these families want a child that “matches” Sad to say…but it is one of the truths in a lot of these cases. I am big enough to admit that adoption is likely not something I am meant to be a part of. I would have trouble treating the adoptive child the same as my bio children. They would always be my priority. Doesn’t make me a bad person…just truthful. However…if I were unable to conceive, I’m sure my tune would change. The entire process needs to be reevaluated. Children need love. I am thankful and grateful to those of you who are called to do this.

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.