Adoption nightmare at 30,000 feet

I decided today that I would blog a little tonight. I'm actually putting a toe back into the waters of adoption tomorrow, and will be going to the Barker Foundation's annual conference.

Didn't have to look far for material. This has me speechless.

The how and why and who of the story have been rolling around in my head since I read the first article - there are a gazillion out there, including this one, which points out some critical information: a young Russian boy was adopted in September of last year and seen by social workers, who found nothing of concern, this past January. Eight months total in which to decide a seven-year-old child is beyond help, and to place him on a plane to fly back to an uncertain future.

The Voice of Russia carries several articles: here and here, and this reaction from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

With respect, President Medvedev: An intergovernmental agreement isn't what's needed. The human will to overhaul adoption practices, domestic and intercountry, to ensure they focus on the needs of children who truly need families is needed far more - as well as the bureaucratic balls to get the savior mentality out of adoption so prospective adoptive parents can enter into it with realistic expectations.

I do not deny that the adoptive parent in this instance may have found herself in a situation she hadn't anticipated with a child who needed more help than she could provide. But to condemn such a young boy and move in such a short timeframe to the dramatic action she chose - something is just plain wrong about that. No matter her fear, the a-mother made a commitment to this child that she clearly took lightly.

What really scares me, too, is this, from the ABC News article:
This is a touchy deal and I'm not sure if anything illegal has been done or not," Boyce said.

The sheriff said, "Our plan is to have the adoption agency check with the people in Moscow or whatever part of Russia they're in and check with this child and see if they see signs of abuse."

Boyce said he intended to move slowly and carefully in his investigation.

"We're breaking new ground here... There may be no crime at all when you really get down to it. Maybe some bad judgment in the way she turned this child back," he said.
"Bad judgment?" Does Sheriff Boyce honestly believe it's OK to put seven-year-olds on one-way flights without assurance that they will be cared for when they arrive at their destination? This little one wasn't flying to Dubuque to see grandma - Grandma put him on a plane all by himself, with a note telling a driver they had hired at the other end to take him to Russia's department of education. Imagine a seven-year-old arriving at Dulles, being picked up by a strange driver, taken downtown and dropped at the front desk of DoE - it's mind-boggling. And it's abandonment.

Or does Sheriff Boyce somehow see this as less-than-criminal because this child was adopted? I shudder to think that's the case. It is certainly not outside the realm of possibility for a biological parent to do the same thing to a child with a passport from another country. I wonder if Sheriff Boyce would consider the same action criminal in that case. If so, then the whole thing makes me sicker still.

The adoption of an older child is a serious and complex undertaking. It should never be considered by someone whose eyes aren't wide open to the possibility that the child could experience serious emotional illness. Clearly, an adoptive parent who gives up on a seven-year-old after eight months was unprepared, no matter how you look at it.

Unbelievably sad, most of all for this child.

Reactions from a few adoption organizations:

Joint Council on International Children's Services
National Council for Adoption


Mirah Riben said…
Marley on Bastardette and I on FamilyPreservation have been following this story. Jose Soll and i were both interviewed by Russian-American TV.


and follow here for updates.
Mom2One said…
Excellent post, Margie! I too believe the process has to change. APs must get rid of that savior mentality and as you said, go into the situation understanding all the things that could/might result. This is an extreme case of unpreparedness but I see it all the time in the APs and PAPs I interact with. I don't know if they're in denial or aren't being educated at all, but some link is missing somewhere. I feel so sad for this boy, and can't imagine what additional damage this has done to him.
osolomama said…
Margie, was that you commenting here?

Whoah! I could NOT believe some of the comments.
Margie said…
That was me, Osolo :) I think that blog is going to be an interesting one - the author is an ethics attorney and professor, and an adoptive parent. He commented on the post following this one, and I really want to get his take on the open records issue. Hopefully he'll do that.

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