Monday, April 12, 2010

A story that many of us international adopting parents live

Here is a story regarding a tragic situation with a 7 yr old Russian boy. The sad thing is that the parent didn't go for help anywhere. There are resources out there, but you definitely have to hunt and find. But for parents of biological children have a hard time understanding why we go to the lengths we do to help our adopted children. I have actually had someone tell me "if you would just take your kids out of therapy and let them just be kids they would be better off. They don't stand a chance with a parent like you". This came from someone with a biological child/ren who didn't have a horrible time raising their child/ren. I really felt it unfair for them to say this comment when they had no idea what we were going through with our children. Especially since they had only seen my kids a couple of times. So here is the story below. The drastic measure isn't that common, but sadly the story is. As a parent to one or more of these hildren, it is exhausting and makes you constantly question yourself as to if what you are doing is the right thing. But then you have to snap into reality; is your child better here or back in their home country. These kids don't stand a chance over there.

(April 12) -- When Torry Hansen sent her 7-year-old adoptive son back to his Russian homeland alone on a one-way flight last week, part of her note to authorities said the boy had "severe psychopathic issues" and she no longer wished to parent him. Hansen's mother, Nancy, later told The Associated Press her adoptive grandson threatened to burn down their house and kill their family members. Adoption experts and psychologists now say Hansen had several options in coping with Artyom "Justin" Savelyev's alleged behavioral problems, including consulting her adoption agency, family pediatrician, social worker or even Tennessee's child protective services."If you're in crisis, you need to reach out," Sue Gainor, national chairperson of Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption, told AOL News. "Nobody should be alone in crisis, because it results in rash decisions."

Rossia 1 Television Channel / AP
Artyom "Justin" Savelyev, the 7-year-old boy sent back to Russia by his adoptive American mother last week, gets into a minivan outside the police department office in Moscow on Thursday.As Russia weighs a freeze on adoptions in the U.S., the Hansen case is shining new light on "disrupted" adoptions, which occur when a family decides to relinquish custody of an adopted son or daughter. Though experts said statistical data are spotty in recording the number of disrupted international adoptions in the U.S., Nashville adoption attorney Bob Tuke, a longtime member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, said broken adoptions like that of Hansen and Savelyev are generally uncommon."It's so rare to hear about anything as extreme as the Hansen case, but sometimes disrupted adoptions do happen," Tuke told AOL News. "In the very few times I've seen it in my experience, it's been because the parent simply could not parent the child. There was an inability to deal with the child physically or emotionally."Children adopted from Russia can come with severe emotional and psychological problems stemming from their time in the country's orphanage system, where children may suffer neglect and abuse. Fetal alcohol syndrome is also a prevalent problem among Russian orphans. These circumstances could lead to attachment and behavioral disorders among Russian adoptees that may make it difficult for them to bond with the American parents who adopt them."Some of these children have never been loved, since birth. They haven't been held, and they aren't allowed experiences that help them develop their senses. ... They don't even know what a parent is," Chuck Johnson, vice president and chief operating officer at the National Council for Adoption, told AOL News. "We bring them to the U.S. and put them in a brightly colored room with lots of noisy toys, and we think that's supposed to make them happy when, really, it can hurt their integration process."Hansen described her adopted son as "mentally unstable" and "violent." Such behavioral problems are consistent with special-needs children transitioning out of international orphanage institutions. Development delays, attachment disorders and problems with self-control and aggression are among the difficulties international adoptees confront, according to Joseph LaBarbera, a clinical psychologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who works with international adoptees.Parents are often unprepared for the challenges of raising a son or daughter recovering from severe trauma. Hansen's mother said her daughter was lied to about Savelyev's well-being because the Russian orphanage wanted to get rid of him."A subset of these kids are very difficult to deal with. ... The usual interventions like counseling or medication or brief hospitalization are sometimes not sufficient," LaBarbera told AOL News. "Certain kids are born in this world that are damaged by their early treatment, and years later those problems come home to roost."Nancy Hansen also told the AP that her daughter did not seek professional psychological help for Savelyev before sending him back to Russia. Adoption advocates like Johnson say that was a grave mistake."We know that they had options. They did not have to resort to these drastic measures," Johnson told AOL News. "Here she is, a nurse. ... She could have talked to a pediatrician, received a referral for a child psychologist, reached out to her placing adoption agency. There are programs for families who want to disrupt their adoptions."All of the experts interviewed by AOL News pointed to educational resources at their Web sites for parents of international adoptees. They also pointed to state protective services as last-ditch efforts."What you don't do is put your 7-year-old adoptive son back on a plane to Russia," Tuke said. "It often takes work and help. ... We think love conquers all, but sometimes love needs a little help."Despite the outcry over Hansen's actions, LaBarbera cautions against rash judgment against her."The woman was vilified, demonized for what was obviously not an ideal solution to the problem, but the problems are often very difficult to deal with," he said. "Some of the parents, their lives have been dramatically changed as a result of these very impaired children who were damaged in orphanages. They deal with some pretty difficult to control kids, and I feel sorry for them."Gainor stressed that the majority of international adoptions are success stories."Individual crises occur and they're tragic, but the larger outcome is that thousands of children have been adopted into loving, happy homes," she said. "Most parents work really, really hard to help their children that they love. We don't want one crisis to paint a very broad picture of adoption."The Russian government hopes Savelyev will be welcomed into a loving home back in his native country. Three families have come forward voicing their desire to adopt him.That wish was echoed by Johnson. "My hope is that the child can find a home that will meet his needs," he said.

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