As a Mother...

Forgive me for interrupting my adoption story again, dear readers, but several people have asked me what my thoughts were about the current adoption situation going on in Russia, and I thought it was time to give my two cents on this issue.

 

For those of you who don't know the story, last week, a Tennessee woman put her 7-year-old recently adopted son on a plane back to Russia by himself. In his backpack, she had tucked in a note stating she did not wish to parent the child any more because he had psychological problems and she felt she was lied to by the Russian orphanage she adopted him from. As a result of her actions (and other events in the recent past regarding adopted children from Russia), Russia has put a halt on all adoptions to American families until it can reach an adoption agreement with the U.S.

 

Every time I hear about this situation, my blood starts boiling. Not only can I not fathom how this woman could do what she did to her child, I cannot fathom how she was able to adopt a child in the first place. It's not like adoptive parents just decide to hop on a plane and visit the nearest orphanage we can find. We go through a rigorous screening process that involves parenting classes, social worker visits, medical and psychological evaluations, background checks, etc. We are told what to expect when adopting children internationally, and whether the child comes from a baby house, orphanage or a foster parent, I have never, EVER seen it written anywhere that the child you will receive will not have any delays or problems whatsoever.

 

In fact, older child adoptions come with even more warnings, and anyone with half a brain can imagine that the more years a child spends in an institution, the more issues he or she may have to deal with. Not to mention all that could have happened to him before he arrived in the orphanage, as not all children are babies when they are placed in these institutions.

 

Not every adoption has a happy ending. Sometimes, the children are so affected by their pasts they cannot assimilate into their new family lives. Sometimes the parents realize they are unable to provide all the help a child needs in order to thrive. There are ways to get help, including contacting the placement agency, receiving treatment (either for the child or as a family), contacting a social worker, or in extreme cases, taking steps to dissolve the adoption. It doesn't appear that this woman did any of the above and instead took the "easy" way out after having this child at home for a very short time and without much consideration as to what kind of added psychological damage she will be inflicting on this child through her actions.     

 

Because of her unconscionable act, hundreds of families' dreams of having a child will now be shattered. Already there are rumors in the adoptive community that this situation will also affect adoptions in other countries. International adoption avenues are becoming more and more difficult for hopeful parents, for many of whom adopting domestically may not be an option (more of this on a later post, but now is not the time to enter into an international vs. domestic adoption dispute).

 

Although our situation with our Colombia adoption was completely different, as someone who has dreamt and hoped and fallen in love with her future child AND his/her culture of origin, only to be told that this dream will not come true, I can understand the heartache these people are going through. It is what we adoptive parents most fear, that our child will be taken away from us.

 

As an adoptive mother, I know the fear this woman's actions have struck in many people's hearts. As an adoptive mother, my heart bleeds for all the families out there waiting for a child to love. As an adoptive mother, I cannot help but wonder at the implications this event will have for all future international adoptions. As a mother, my heart breaks for that poor boy sent back to his country of origin like an unwanted package. As a mother, my heart cries at the thought of all the children who will now be deprived of the loving families they deserve. As I mother, I can't help but hug my son a little closer to me and give a prayer of thanks that he is no longer at the baby house but at home with us where he belongs...

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  • I was wondering what you thought about this story (even though I didn't get to ask you). As you did a good job sharing, a very sad story- for so many. P.S. See you soon & hello to your parents!

  • In reply to kathikubal:

    It is truly tragic. This woman has no idea how much she has impacted the adoption world. Thanks for your comment, and can't wait to hear all about your trip!

  • I am standing and cheering for you on this one. Well done. I am so glad you have such a great forum to let this out.

  • In reply to kmccarron:

    Thanks, Kelley! I'm glad I have this forum too :-) It was a difficult topic, but I think it was important to talk about it.

  • In reply to kmccarron:

    I'm am an adoptive parent. We went through the now defunct Catholic Charities Foster Care program. Our son was just 3 months old when we got him. We had to wait three years for an infant to foster with NO guarantees of adopting. The whole process is gut wrenching as we never knew if the birth parents would return. We did that for 2.5 years before his adoption was final. As our son has grow he is showing side effects of his rough start. He is ours son and we are committed to him for life as if he was ours genetically. That's what a parent does. Anything short of that is criminal or should be.

    No child, born or adopted, comes with a guarantee. Ask any parent and they'll tell you parenting is the hardest yet most rewarding job there is. I don't know the woman who returned her baby to Russia, but I can tell you she would have cracked somewhere down line.

    This story opens many streams of thought.

    1. She should be charged. Legally, that's her child. She abandoned and endangered him.

    2. The many many risks of foreign adoptions. She may be the first to send a child back, but I'd be willing to bet not the first to have a child with issues.

    3. Local adoption. I know first hand the desire to want a child to love. I know many have turned foreign adoptions into a status symbol. Having a foreign child, to some, is better than a domestic. There are thousands of children in this country that need and want to be loved just as much as the imported children. There are fewer hoops to jump through and the rewards equal.

  • In reply to markploch:

    Thank you for that very intelligent and insightful comment, Mark. I completely agree with you, this woman should be charged with child abandonment and endangerment. It will be interesting to see whether the authorities actually charge her or not. It will open up a whole new debate whether adoptive parents are treated differently than biological parents.

    Any adoption, foreign or domestic, carries its own risks. She is absolutely not the first parent to have a child with issues, I have read many a blog where parents adopt older children as well as infants and have dealt with many difficult problems. Not one of them, though, would even THINK about sending back or giving up on their children.

    Again, thanks so much for your input and for reading the blog!

  • In reply to markploch:

    Estoy de acuerdo contigo, la accion tan irresponsable de esa madre quedara otra cicatriz marcada en la corta edad de esa criatura. Tantas horas en ese vuelo para Rusia, ese nino solo, que pasaria por su mente. Porque tanto rechazo? Las autoridades deben de penalizarla.

  • In reply to Valmir:

    Uno solamente podria imaginarse las cosas tan horribles que deben de haber pasado por la mente de ese nino. En verdad que la senora actuo de malisima manera, y como dije en el comentario de arriba, deberian de cargarla con abuso de menores y abandonamiento de un nino. Vamos a ver en que termina todo esto...

  • In reply to Valmir:

    I would like to speak with you about an opportunity to blog about Raging Waves water park in Yorkville. We would like you to attend a media day event where you could experience the park with your family.

    Please let me know if you are interested. You can drop me a line at cameron.w.oconnor@gmail.com.

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  • In reply to Valmir:

    Khadine-- what a horrible, horrible thing this mother did. I just am beyond shocked. I hope she gets charged. I also pray that this will not affect the adoption process that much. I really do. Anybody who would be in charge of making any changes to the system, must see that this woman is unstable. If this mother is ready to put her child on a plane without a second glance, I think she is the one that needs changing, not the system. I am not very educated in adoption, but my guess is that the odds are against a parent pulling this move, not for.

  • In reply to Valmir:

    You're absolutely right, Anita. This case is the exception rather than the norm. Unfortunately, it's usually the exceptions that get the media's and the world's attentions. There have now been 3 or 4 cases of harm against children adopted from Russia (I think one even involved murder), and this was the straw that broke the camel's back. Hopefully Russia & the US will be able to come up with some guidelines soon & adoptions won't be too disrupted.

  • In reply to KhadineKubal:

    Oh...how horrible, all of it. I hope you are right and they come up with guidelines soon. I feel for anyone in the adoption process right now. What a nightmare these other few people have created. I agree; it is the exceptions that ruin it for everyone else. I just pray that this situation with these crazy parents ends soon. How did these people even get through all the screening? How? That's what I want to know.

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