No shades of gray

Blogland and Facebook are buzzing with posts and discussions about the seven-year-old little boy's return to Russia by his adoptive mother. I'm sure the forums are, too, but you know how much trouble I get into there, so I'll trust you all to share what you hear.

There were several comments in one Facebook discussion that demonstrated empathy for the boy's adoptive mother. They pointed out - rightfully so - how incredibly difficult it is for adoptive parents (I would say any parents) to raise a child with serious emotional and attachment issues. Several shared personal experiences or those of friends who have struggled for years raising children whose illness sometimes are never resolved.

That kind of pain is something I haven't shared, but can only imagine. And what I imagine is a parenting experience largely devoid of the joys that I have taken for granted watching my kids grow to adulthood. I doubt I would have had the strength to face the pain that many parents have faced as they have tried, often unsucessfully, to help their children find balance in life.

It's therefore not for me to judge the decision of any adoptive parent to terminate the adoption of a child with serious emotional illness. To be honest, it bothers me that this avenue exists for adoptive parents, and more so that there are people out there who seem to see this as perfectly acceptable in adoption. Case in point are the comments on this post, which I stumbled on in a google search for posts about this case. You'll know the ones I mean, which I'm not entirely sure don't belong to a troll. But presuming they're not - well, when people look at kids as chattel, no wonder adoption practices can be as screwed up as they sometimes are. Maybe this is the mindset that makes Sheriff Boyce skeptical about whether or not a crime was committed when that little boy was put on that plane.

But back on topic: I am unqualified to speak about the challenges of raising children with serious emotional and attachment issues. I know, though, that some of you who read here have faced or are facing them right now. I have several real life friends who have also done so. I've watched them struggle with the pain and exhaustion of it all, and with the sorrow for their children's loss of childhood and secure relationships. Even though I haven't experienced it myself, I know from what I've observed that it's very hard. But none of you or them have turned to the solution we witnessed this week.

As this story unfolds, we'll undoubtedly learn some things that may share some of the blame around with other individuals and agencies involved in this adoption. But no matter what mitigating facts may come to light in this incredibly sad story, we have to be careful not to dismiss this action because of them.

Some things are just plain wrong. Sometimes there are no shades of gray.


Jack Marshall said…
But I think we have to judge this kind of conduct, and judge it wrong. I see little distinction between what was done here and child abuse. You wouldn't say, I'm sure, "Who am I to judge what pressures and stress the mother was under before she hit her baby with a brick?" Is putting your seven year-old son---forget the adopted part, because to the child, mother is mother---alone on a plane to a foreign country more forgivable? Who are you to judge? You're a human being and a member of society, and its your duty, and everyone's duty, to judge.
suz said…
As I alluded to on my blog, this speaks to larger, equally horrific, societal issues. How does this differ from Nebraska baby dumps that allows biological or adoptive parents to abandon children?

As noted on my blog, I dont discount the horror, difficulty, etc of what was done here but we need to look at this in context of society.

Americans believe it is okay to dump kids - either by encouraging a mother (like me) at three days post partum to leave her child with strangers, allowing parents to dump children in Nebraska, or allowing adoptive parents to return defective products that did measure up to their expectations.

You can pretty it up, call the circumstances different, etc. but in the end a child is left alone.

We can do better by our children.
osolomama said…
I do understand how it may be necessary to remove a child from the family environment but divorcing them, giving up on them is itself a moral choice and not one that can ever be considered standard, even a standard end-of-the-line. Even though, yes, it will happen for some.

Yes, I believe we must hold people who do these kinds of things accountable. Otherwise we are admitting that we don't put kids first as a society.

There are no brownie points for trying. You don't get to ignorantly "try on" a kid who has issues around loss and attachment, give it a couple of months, and then bail because it didn't work for you. We can blame the homestudy, the agency, whomever, but at the end of the day it comes down to the parent. I think it would be much better if interntionally, there were standards and practices that forced people to get educated and explained that adoption is not a hobby--all that might help but it doesn't address the central issue of adoption and commitment. This is why I am against guardianships being the norm instead of parenthood.
osolomama said…
Suz, one way in which I think these situations differ is that the families who showed up at the Nebraska baby dump to relieve themselves of their adolescent kids were in desperate economic straits (I believe). Henson volunteered for her parenting stint, failed to prepare herself and then returned the child to sender like a bad ceiling fan. She heaped more trauma on this child through her actions, not because she was desperate.
Margie said…
Correct me if I'm wrong, all:

I think we're all in agreement that there really is no way to excuse or even soften our judgment of this woman - but we also see not only underlying causes that are much broader than this single event, as well as similarly egregious behaviors that society considers to be not only acceptable, but in some cases laudable.

I think this shows how out of touch the majority of people are with the REALITY of adoption. No wonder we can't get their attention on open records.
Diane said…
Yes Margie. In complete agreement. This story feels very personal to me- having adopted an older child with heavy trauma issues and behaviors. Disgusted, enraged and deeply saddened.
Mei Ling said…
Considering the uproar on the blogosphere about the child being returned to Russia, I wonder why everyone has failed to see this point, or if they have, why they have not mentioned it:

Look at the fourth paragraph.
Margie said…
If I'm reading the right paragraph, that's the reason that Torri Hansen put him on the plane. She is making the point that the orphanage in Russia knew about his emotional problems, which she believes justifies her actions.

No matter how you look at it, everything was wrong here - but the one who will suffer the consequences is Artyom.
Mei Ling said…
"After Justin learned enough English, he told of being abandoned by his mother and beaten at the orphanage and said he had burned down a building near the orphanage, the grandmother said."

It says he was beaten *at* the orphanage and burned down a building *near* the orphanage.

He is not safe to "keep" in the orphanage - if that is where he is being sent back to - and he is not "safe" to keep with his "adoptive" family.

So where on earth is he supposed to go?

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