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September 9, 2013 9:05 AM   Subscribe

"I am totally ashamed to say it but we do truly hate this boy!" Reuters has published an investigative piece on parents trading or giving away their adopted children. A disturbing practice brought to you by the internet, Yahoo! message boards, and a near-total lack of oversight by any authority.
posted by prefpara (150 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
'"Born in October of 2000 – this handsome boy, 'Rick' was placed from India a year ago and is obedient and eager to please," one ad for a child read.'

What the everloving fuck.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:11 AM on September 9, 2013 [36 favorites]


Like the post about Issy Stapleton, I have to wonder why there isn't more regulation here, why there aren't resources to help parents (or adoptive parents) who find themselves in situations they are not prepared to tackle.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:13 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


So it turns out that having kids for the wrong reasons is really bad.
posted by Avenger at 9:14 AM on September 9, 2013 [16 favorites]


This is a huge topic, about which many articles have been written over the years. Didn't the Russians refuse to allow any more kids to be adopted in the US because a US couple sent a troubled child back a few years ago?

It comes down to the fact that adoptive parents still think that the baby they'll receive is from some white mentally healthy single woman from the 1950s. It doesn't work that way anymore, if it ever did.
posted by Melismata at 9:14 AM on September 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


That is bizarre. I had no idea this was legal (or semi-legal).

I actually know several people who work for nonprofits in the international adoption business, and the overall message from them has been never adopt a child from abroad. This might be because those people spend most of their time on the cases where it doesn't work out, but there seem to be a lot of those cases.
posted by miyabo at 9:15 AM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is a huge topic, about which many articles have been written over the years. Didn't the Russians refuse to allow any more kids to be adopted in the US because a US couple sent a troubled child back a few years ago?

From the article:

Often cited is the case of the Tennessee woman who returned a 7-year-old boy she adopted from a Russian orphanage. The woman had cared for him only six months when she put the boy on a flight to Moscow in April 2010. He was accompanied by a typed letter that read in part, "I no longer wish to parent this child."

Late last year, Russia banned adoptions by Americans amid a broader diplomatic dispute. Other nations, including Guatemala and China, have also made the process more difficult.

posted by burnmp3s at 9:19 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a famous charity slogan in the UK - "A dog is for life, not just for Christmas"

It's a sad reflection on humans that some of them don't even think that about their own.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 9:22 AM on September 9, 2013 [29 favorites]


Didn't the Russians refuse to allow any more kids to be adopted in the US because a US couple sent a troubled child back a few years ago?

From what I understand, like many countries lacking resources, Russia put many of their special-needs orphans -- ones with behavior issues, mental illness, physical disabilities, and other related issues that would make adoption for them within Russia a near impossibility -- for adoption to the U.S.

Except it turned out that American parents weren't doing that much better a job than Russian orphanages (think about that for a second), and these special-needs ended up neglected and abused, sometimes to the point of death. When Russia caught wind of it, they stopped allowing adoptions to the U.S.

On preview: The diplomatic situation didn't help at all, either.
posted by griphus at 9:22 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Author Joyce Maynard did this, but it remains one of the few corners of her life that she's not written about extensively.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:23 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


This was covered on the Today show today, and for the first time, maybe ever, I found myself with agreeing with Matt Lauer's smug, accusatory tone when talking about the folks involved.

On reflection, it's obviously a more complex issue but at first blush, oh so much anger.

On a totally weird note, the trailer park mentioned in the article is where my aunt and uncle used to live; they fostered and then later adopted a son with severe mental retardation and cerebral palsy who has now been living with them for about 30 years. This is one of the things that shapes my view of adoption as an important thing to do but also a Very Big Deal commitment-wise, so seeing it mentioned in this context is just...odd.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:25 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Except it turned out that American parents weren't doing that much better a job than Russian orphanages (think about that for a second),

What is there to think about? "special-needs orphans -- ones with behavior issues, mental illness, physical disabilities, and other related issues" are an absolute TON of work and cost a TON of money, no matter what country you live in.
posted by Melismata at 9:28 AM on September 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


I have to wonder why ...there aren't resources to help parents (or adoptive parents) who find themselves in situations they are not prepared to tackle

Because in America you're on your own. Has this not been made abundantly clear over the past few decades?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:28 AM on September 9, 2013 [38 favorites]



From what I understand, like many countries lacking resources, Russia put many of their special-needs orphans -- ones with behavior issues, mental illness, physical disabilities, and other related issues that would make adoption for them within Russia a near impossibility -- for adoption to the U.S.


They're pretty much all special needs because of how Russian orphanages fuck'em up. We're talking high rates of lazy eye because the infants spend the first two years starting at nothing but a blank wall. Lovecraft couldn't come up with what the Russians invented.
posted by ocschwar at 9:29 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can only view parts one and two, is that true for anyone else?
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:30 AM on September 9, 2013


My sister was adopted from [other country], and my parents, being busy with a bunch of kids and no internet, kept postponing getting her citizenship because Canada didn't have that expedited citizenship for adoptees thing at the time. When she was 4 or 5, they found that her US Visa had expired and after much begging from my mother, the embassy gave my sister one visa, for one trip (already planned and purchased) and said that my sister could not return to the US again until she had Canadian citizenship, because they figured that the "too lazy to fill out forms" was possibly a precursor to "too lazy to parent this child so we'll just dump her in the US somewhere".

This isn't a new problem, it's just in the news again recently. (My sister is an adult now with Canadian citizenship.)
posted by jeather at 9:31 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lovecraft couldn't come up with what the Russians invented.

Yeah the overlap of Russian child-rearing and Russian institutional care is a terrifying thing.
posted by griphus at 9:31 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


What is there to think about? "special-needs orphans -- ones with behavior issues, mental illness, physical disabilities, and other related issues" are an absolute TON of work and cost a TON of money, no matter what country you live in.

I think the comparison is based on the fact that Russian orphanages have the reputation of being really cold and sterile warehouse-y kinds of places.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:32 AM on September 9, 2013


I can only view parts one and two, is that true for anyone else?


Same here. Looks like it's an ongoing series, so articles 3-5 have not been published yet.
posted by palomar at 9:34 AM on September 9, 2013


Orphanages never worked, even in rich countries. Young kids need constant attention from a couple of caregivers, not a rotating staff of paid employees who go home at the end of a shift. The foster care system is itself deeply flawed, but it's about 10 million times better.
posted by miyabo at 9:34 AM on September 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


I have to wonder why there isn't more regulation here, why there aren't resources to help parents (or adoptive parents) who find themselves in situations they are not prepared to tackle

Perhaps because whenever "resources to help [people] who find themselves in situations they are not prepared to handle" comes up, the loudest voices are yelling "socialism!!1! " and "personal responsibility."
posted by Gelatin at 9:35 AM on September 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Holy shit, imagine being a foster or other adopted kid in one of these families, seeing your mom and dad give away your sibling for having special needs, always wondering if you'll be next.
posted by elizardbits at 9:36 AM on September 9, 2013 [32 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: "Like the post about Issy Stapleton, I have to wonder why there isn't more regulation here, why there aren't resources to help parents (or adoptive parents) who find themselves in situations they are not prepared to tackle."

Depending on where you are located, resources are definitely available. There are organizations that provide post-adoption counseling, education and support, including Catholic Charities and C.A.S.E.

Most adoption agencies will help connect parents to those resources. But the bottom line is, parents need to be told they're available and also must act to take advantage of them.
posted by zarq at 9:36 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you do adopt a child or immigrate to Canada, please don't do what jeather's parents did and delay applying for citizenship. It is far too common for a kid to get in trouble as a young adult, end up with an indictable offence conviction, and end up being deported back to a country where he or she no longer has any roots when the sentence is up.
posted by sfred at 9:36 AM on September 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


What is there to think about? "special-needs orphans -- ones with behavior issues, mental illness, physical disabilities, and other related issues" are an absolute TON of work and cost a TON of money, no matter what country you live in.

The point was that American parents -- America, warts and all, has absolutely nothing on Russia as far as government corruption, infrastructural undermining, and negative social attitudes/lack of support for the disabled is concerned -- were doing a worse job than Baby's First Gulag.
posted by griphus at 9:38 AM on September 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


There's a famous charity slogan in the UK - "A dog is for life, not just for Christmas"

Adoptions have a 20% failure rate in the UK. Adoption agencies and councils work pretty hard to make sure that this outcome doesn't happen. As a result, the screening process particularly is rigorous to the arguable point of counterproductivity (by which I mean that the length, nature and uncertainty of the process deters good parental candidates, leaving many unadopted children in care for extended periods, for a marginal gain in the rate of adoption success).

Foreign adoptions must pass a similar screening and officially are not welcomed by the social worker community - i.e. prospective parents must still be intensively screened. The only real difference is access to a larger pool of children and, dependent on where the child comes from, a higher likelihood that the child has not suffered neglect or abuse because of the dynamics of how and why children get put up for adoption in certain countries.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:38 AM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


From the article:
Some participants in that group both offered and sought children for re-homing, sometimes simultaneously. Others looked to offload more than one child at a time.
Whoa, creepy. This could be a description of human slave trade. Reading further:
The Easons were elated. They were about to get a child, for free.

...

Part of the allure of re-homing is that the process is far cheaper than formal adoptions. Adopting from a foreign country can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Taking custody through re-homing often costs nothing. In fact, taking a child may enable the new family to claim a tax deduction and draw government benefits. The Easons view re-homing as a way around a prying government, and a way to take a child inexpensively.

"If you don't want to pay $35,000 for a kid," Nicole Eason says today, "you take your chances."
It's as if they're being traded like commodities. How many years of government support benefits would it take to pay off the purchase price of the child and start generating profits?
posted by ceribus peribus at 9:38 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


My 1/2 brother was given to foster care due to our biological mother being incompetent (i.e. drug abuser). He as 5 and bounced in and out of foster care until adulthood. I was given away at birth for adoption. While my parents were extremely dysfunctional, I still had it way better than my brother.

Nothing pisses me off more than people non-chalantly saying "oh just adopt". It's not an easy process for anyone.
posted by stormpooper at 9:40 AM on September 9, 2013 [25 favorites]


"I would have given her away to a serial killer, I was so desperate," one mother wrote in a March 2012 post about re-homing her 12-year-old daughter.

What the f*ckity f*ck? This is one of the most terrible things I have ever read.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 9:41 AM on September 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


My dad worked for CPS, and after hearing some of the nightmare stories of foster homes, I wonder if (decently managed) orphanages might not be better options than a constant stream of temporary homes. In foster care, you're frequently split up from your siblings and you don't have a constant adult presence in your life at all. And, although some foster parents are genuinely awesome people, I got the impression that the majority were unprepared for the job at best and outright disinterested a lot of the time. If we could manage to establish orphanages that actually employed skilled professionals, it sounds better than foster care to me (though obviously those Russian orphanages are significantly worse options than most foster parents).
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:43 AM on September 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Honestly, despite the fact that I know someone who is a good parent to a girl adopted from abroad, I think international adoptions in general should be halted. We know that they create a "market" for babies and that as a result, children are stolen from their parents or their parents are so misled that it's pretty much the same as theft; we know that children are adopted frivolously by unqualified people and that the children often don't get stable situations; now we know that apparently kids are being "rehomed" (what a term!) with people who search for children to "adopt" and then sexually abuse; we know that many parents aren't prepared for the traumas and illnesses of the children they adopt, have no resources because we have no social safety net and then things get really fucked up; and we know that among Evangelical adoptive parents (and probably a bunch of others) children adopted from Africa are treated in racist ways.

And that's leaving out the issues that even good, sincere, responsible parents face in terms of, for instance, white parents adopting children of color and apparently not having the knowledge or the resources to keep the child from feeling violently uprooted and whitewashed.

It is too sketchy. Until it can be done right, it should be stopped, even though there are good parents who adopt internationally.

Also, this whole thing is incredibly colonialist - "hey, global south, we stole a bunch of your resources and did our best to take away your sovereignty, now we'll take your babies and shop them around amongst a perverse subculture like they're collectibles on eBay". Far be it from me to stand up for Russia, and certainly halting adoptions was a nationalist political move, but it was certainly the right call.
posted by Frowner at 9:43 AM on September 9, 2013 [32 favorites]


Some of the individual emails are really horrible and I would caution anyone here with childhood PTSD issues to think twice about reading them.
posted by elizardbits at 9:45 AM on September 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


Orphanages never worked ..
foster care ... is itself deeply flawed, but it's about 10 million times better


That's an interesting and very plausible comment. I'd love to hear more?
posted by alasdair at 9:46 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


sfred, actually, that's surprisingly easy to fight (I know from someone else who has a child in this situation) -- you can pretty much get the citizenship anyhow in this case because of the change in rules. That said, yes, you should get citizenship as soon as possible for your child.
posted by jeather at 9:46 AM on September 9, 2013


(I am referring to the Interactive: Explore an online child market section of the article)
posted by elizardbits at 9:46 AM on September 9, 2013


MuffinMan: "Adoptions have a 20% failure rate in the UK."

It's somewhere between 15-20% in the US as well. US adoption agencies often tell prospective parents this during their first meeting.
posted by zarq at 9:50 AM on September 9, 2013


But many states say they are unable to keep track of the cases because their computer systems are antiquated.

One bazillion for national insecuritaeh, but not one dime for protecting childrens? Safety! I guess cattle is better tracked.
posted by elpapacito at 9:51 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


After learning what Reuters found, Yahoo acted swiftly. Within hours, it began shutting down Adopting-from-Disruption, the six-year-old bulletin board. A spokeswoman said the activity in the group violated the company's terms-of-service agreement. The company subsequently took down five other groups that Reuters brought to its attention.

A similar forum on Facebook, Way Stations of Love, remains active. A Facebook spokeswoman says the page shows "that the Internet is a reflection of society, and people are using it for all kinds of communications and to tackle all sorts of problems, including very complicated issues such as this one."
Stay classy, Facebook.

Maybe somebody should have just posted a picture of a nursing mother to the forum and got it shut down that way.
posted by edheil at 9:52 AM on September 9, 2013 [56 favorites]


For the record, and god I hope this goes without saying, my aunt and uncle mentioned above moved out of this trailer park 25+ years ago and have no ties to anybody mentioned in this article.

Also, double-plus agree with elizardbits on the caution for those emails.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:52 AM on September 9, 2013


I tried to RTFA, I really did, but it's just too heartbreaking for me.
posted by bquarters at 9:52 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


My parents adopted my sister from Russia. My experience with the initial effort was, in retrospect, kind of surreal. My memory of going through it was odd, too. My parents worked with an adoption attorney in southern California who had a good working relationship with an orphanage (or similar facility) in Russia, so they dealt with a lot more than what I saw. They'd travel a few hours south to meet with him, but what my brother and I saw was a video tape of Russian kids being kids, and doing some cute acts (acrobatics and such - apparently this orphanage did that sort of thing to keep the kids active, and I think boosted their chances of being adopted). I think there was information to go along with each of the kids, but all I remember was the videos. It felt really strange looking at kids who could be our sibling.

My parents chose little girl, and went to Russia to complete the last of the paperwork and bring our new sister home. She was 6. I was 16, and my younger brother was 13. A few weeks after she joined our family, we went to a party-thing with other families with recently adopted Russian children. The kids all put on shows, displaying the talents they learned in Russia. It felt really weird.

We knew no Russian, and she knew no English. But she learned English, and had Russian tutors to help her learn the language and get up to speed in school. And now she's an American girl, through-and-through, raised by TV when no one else was around to play with her.

My sister is still my sister, some 17 years later. She had some learning troubles that have loosely been attributed to possible alcohol and/or drug use by her mother during pregnancy, but all-in-all, she's normal Her teenage years were a bit fucked up, but that was more an issue of parenting and testing boundaries than anything else (sorry, Mom and Dad, it's true). Now, she's pretty normal, as

I couldn't imagine trying to raise a child with special needs who grew up in another culture and you don't know their native language. The adoption process isn't quick, so it's not as easy as adopting a pet, but I can see that there's still some effort to overlook the realities of raising a child that isn't related to you. The desire to have a child to love, nurture and raise is strong, and can allow some people to put on blinders to the realities they are facing.

Then again, American parents have also given away their biological children when given the option.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:54 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


"I am totally ashamed to say it but we do truly hate this boy!"

Perhaps, not ashamed enough?

The elephant in the room here is money. It doesn't often enter these discussions but a most adoption agencies charge large fees for finding a child for prospective parents. There is a price scale - white healthy local young children at the top, older kids of colour who don't speak english and have health or behaviour issues at the bottom.

There's something really quite repellant about the fact that kids are being traded for cash in this sort of a way, which is perhaps one reason people don't discuss that side of things so much. It's too grim to think about.
posted by iotic at 9:54 AM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Rather than reading this article, I read the article linked in this Related Post. If you'd rather cry happy tears, go there.
posted by that's how you get ants at 9:55 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


This makes me want to slam my head in a door.

We have taken leave of our senses, collectively it seems, in regards to the oversight of how people behave. We're tracking minutiae that affects nothing and we're letting horrible things like this go unsupervised.

I feel like i took crazy pills.
posted by Fuka at 9:55 AM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I get that caring for children is challenging, and children with special needs even more so. I get that screening and education for international adoption varies from pretty stringent to basically nonexistent depending on country, and so people frequently are unprepared for the associated challenges. I get that resources are limited.

But Jesus, how do you justify to yourself the decision to abandon a kid who you are responsible for to strangers on the internet? Especially if said kid doesn't have other friends/family to turn to, or has physical/mental/emotional disorders, or isn't fluent in English, or some combination thereof? Especially when the forum that you're finding these folks in contains veiled and not-so-veiled references to sexual abuse? How do you sleep at night?
posted by kagredon at 9:56 AM on September 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


In fact, taking a child may enable the new family to claim a tax deduction and draw government benefits. The Easons view re-homing as a way around a prying government

Yeah, because perish forbid one should have to prove one's tax deduction and government benefits legitimate.
posted by Gelatin at 9:58 AM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


> A similar forum on Facebook, Way Stations of Love, remains active

Does it? I don't see it there. (And now I wonder what looking for it is going to do to the ads FB chooses for me.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:59 AM on September 9, 2013


I'm reading the second part, featuring a 10 year old boy who is settled into a third home, which filled me with relief. (The previous two being "the one with a pedophile" and "the one who gave him away to the aforementioned pedophile the same day they first met online".) Filled me with relief, that is, until I read about the third home: In an interview, his new foster mother said he is one of 10 children with special needs that she and her husband are raising. She said he is often combative and uncommunicative. He once asked if he could attend a school for troubled children, she said, but she and her husband insist on home-schooling him and don't believe in therapy for children.

This is like, fractally terrible.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:02 AM on September 9, 2013 [51 favorites]


I vaguely remember a one-panel comic, probably the Far Side, where a wolf family's kids are misbehaving and a parent wolf is like "WERE YOU RAISED BY HUMANS?!"

It's a little less funny to me today.
posted by elizardbits at 10:04 AM on September 9, 2013 [30 favorites]



Some of the individual emails are really horrible and I would caution anyone here with childhood PTSD issues to think twice about reading them.
posted by elizardbits at 12:45 PM on September 9 [4 favorites +] [!]


As an adoptee, I'd just like to reiterate what Elizardbits said above. Holy shit.
posted by deadmessenger at 10:07 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


My dad worked for CPS, and after hearing some of the nightmare stories of foster homes, I wonder if (decently managed) orphanages might not be better options than a constant stream of temporary homes.

Your linked article was much more convincing before he veered into the argument about how the best possible thing would be to have orphanages that were run like Wal*Mart; thanks WSJ. But the truth is that there are orphanages right now; someone foster parenting ten special needs children is for all intents and purposes operating an orphanage, merely without the professional staff or community oversight that an actual orphanage would have. (Of course, also at a lower burden to the taxpayer. *eyeroll*)
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:12 AM on September 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is one of those articles where I was expecting just garden variety horrible, not stare into the bleak abyss of human terribleness horrible.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:14 AM on September 9, 2013 [24 favorites]


edheil: "Stay classy, Facebook."

The problem is, Adoption Disruption and Dissolution happens for a variety of reasons, and not all of them have an outcome where people are putting up ads on Facebook and Twitter that say, "please take this kid I no longer want." It is traumatizing to both the kids and the parents. So people do need forums to speak about it. Without knowing what the group consisted of -- was it literal ads for kids? Was it people counseling each other? Resource exchange and support? -- it's hard to say if Facebook should have banned the group.

Correction to something I said earlier: PDFs on that page say that Disruption and Dissolution statistics are 10-25%, not 15-20%.
posted by zarq at 10:24 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Weirdly, when I read stuff like this, it fills me with a burning urge to adopt. My wife is Romanian and the orphanages there are crowded with slightly older kids who need homes. (It's tough to adopt a Romanian child for Americans, I am given to understand... by my wife being a Romanian citizen, I have always supposed it would be possible for us.)

I read awful shit like this and find myself thinking that if we could adopt one of these kids, we'd be giving our son a sibling and saving one person from being traded like a commodity by shitbirds.

The primary reason we don't pursue this is money, sadly. It's fucking expensive to have kids, and to my shame, I don't know that we could stay afloat if we had two kids instead of just one.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:25 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


What a ghastly euphemism "re-homing" is.
posted by Spatch at 10:28 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Spatch: "What a ghastly euphemism "re-homing" is."

Agreed. "Giving your kid away in a parking lot" is a bit too on the nose, I guess.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:29 AM on September 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think I'm with Frowner on this. It's something I've thought long and hard about, because I also have people in my life with success stories. A good friend and colleague worked for years to get her daughters from Haiti, and they've adjusted very well. Then again, she did metric f***tons of research beforehand about all the possible pitfalls, so she was way more prepared that anyone required her to be. And my cousin was adopted from either Vietnam or Laos as a baby, but she was practically a newborn and it all worked out.

But until we have, and are willing to spend, the resources to make double-damn sure that all prospective parents are actually, factually, well and truly prepared for the task ahead of them, we need to just shut the whole thing down. With such a hodgepodge of agencies involved, such an overloaded system, such B.S. artists looking to adopt, and budgets being slashed everywhere, it's no wonder people are getting kids who couldn't get a puppy at my local SPCA. There are enough unwanted, mistreated kids being brought into families for the wrong reasons in the U.S. without importing more.

On another point that's been brought up, if we make adoption into something that can be undone, what is the point of having it at all? Doesn't adoption then become simply long-term foster care, with the child always having it hanging over his head that it could end at any minute? I agree that parents need more resources for children who become dangerous to have in the home, but that's the case whether it's their adopted children or their biological children. If you start making a distinction between them, there's no reason to adopt in the first place.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:29 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's almost impossible right now to legitimately adopt internationally right now. Most nations have tightly locked-down their official adoption procedures. These stories almost universally involve couples going outside legitimate licensed agencies and using private lawyers or "adoption facilitators" who operate in a very gray area of the law. It's a terrible situation, which is practically a black market for foreign babies.

A legitimate agency would vet these couples and perform fairly extensive studies on them to make as sure as possible that they are ready to take on a child.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:32 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm getting a really gross but undeniable feeling that a nonzero number of families trying to get rid of their teenage girls (many of whom are weirdly and unnecessarily described as being very physically beautiful) are doing it because one of the parents is a gross creeper. Like, idk lady, maybe if your 16-year-old adopted daughter of 8 years suddenly refuses to be in the same room as your husband, it's not because she's a "problem child"?

ugh not enough brain bleach in the world
posted by elizardbits at 10:32 AM on September 9, 2013 [56 favorites]


Well, this is (hopefully) the most horrible thing I'm going to hear about today.

What surprised me most was how large many of the "families" looking to re-home their children were. I suppose I'd always primarily thought of international adoption as something prohibitively expensive and usually sought out in cases of infertility. That isn't to say that large families can't be perfectly functional, but in cases where a family has multiple biological children and then adopts multiple older children from backgrounds conducive to complicated emotional issues, I can't help but wonder how much realistic thought was given to bonding and lifelong relationships.
posted by northernish at 10:35 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, re-homing is a term for when you move to a building that doesn't permit cats, so Max needs a new home. This is more like, whatchacallit... abandonment!
posted by Mister_A at 10:39 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]



But until we have, and are willing to spend, the resources to make double-damn sure that all prospective parents are actually, factually, well and truly prepared for the task ahead of them, we need to just shut the whole thing down.


We're talking about a kind of work that nobody ever sat down in a high school study hall and day dreamed about doing.
posted by ocschwar at 10:42 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


From an email: So, they lived in utopian Ukraine and have no idea what life is like for orphans and former orphans outside that gate where there are no jobs and life on a prostitution line is the only hope for anything to eat.

Aside from the fact that I had to read the words "utopian Ukraine" a few times before such a term even made SENSE, it really seemed to crystallize a sense I got from many of those posts: namely, that a lot of the families demand a sort of Dickensian groveling gratitude from these kids, plus they expect a superhuman adjustment.

"Oh my lord, it's been SEVEN MONTHS and our teenage Ukrainian adoptees still speak Russian and not 100% english, they just don't want to learn."

I dunno. This is just to say, that every one of those emails was pretty much The Worst, even the ones absent outright abuse and cruelty.
posted by like_a_friend at 10:44 AM on September 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


We're talking about a kind of work that nobody ever sat down in a high school study hall and day dreamed about doing.

We do have social workers in this crazy world of ours, so I don't quite see your point.
posted by kagredon at 10:45 AM on September 9, 2013


UGH I KNOW RIGHT. For all these "oh the horror they haven't even learned english yet and it's been three whole months!" emails I have yet to see a single one that says "we decided to learn our child's native language in order to be able to speak with them and show our commitment to making them a part of our family".

i hate all humans but i hate these ones the most
posted by elizardbits at 10:47 AM on September 9, 2013 [30 favorites]


The family in the Reuters article, the Easons, is setting off huge child pornography alarms. They were grooming that Liberian girl, I'm sure of it. Bringing a newly-adopted 16-year-old girl into the bed with them, naked? An earlier failed adoptee reported the same thing? And the pornography in the household, left where the child can find it? That's all classic grooming behavior. If she protests or refuses, let her go; if she doesn't, proceed to the next step. Quita wasn't compliant enough, so they dumped her and moved on to the next.

And then we meet their associate, who went with Nicole Eason to pick up a previous victim, who is currently serving a federal child pornography sentence? OK, right. This whole thing stinks to high heaven. They're picking up free kids on the internet and making porn out of the malleable ones, I'm sure of it.
posted by Fnarf at 10:47 AM on September 9, 2013 [16 favorites]


Re-home is a verb I've only read in with regards to pets. As used with children it just makes me think a) is children hoarding a thing? b) do we as a culture encourage the acquisition of cute children as some kind of status statement or proof that you are a loving good person?

When I lived in Seoul, a significant percentage of my fellow expat friends were Korean adoptees, some who had had awful experiences with their adoptive parents and had cut ties with them and some who were still very much close to their adoptive families. Pretty much all of them agree that international adoptions are extremely problematic.
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:48 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


like_a_friend, aaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrgh. The "you ungrateful wretch" approach. "We saved you from a life of prostitution" line. AAAAAHHHHHHHHH.
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:51 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm with Frowner on this: foreign adoption should be banned, because it's too exploitative even when done right, which it turns out it often isn't, as well as bound up in all sorts of racist narratives "let's get ourselves a nice, decent Russian kid; she won't be disobedient, like those horrible American children". There's just too much room for abuse in the system and even without the abuse it seems dodgy.

Especially when there are tens of thousands of kids in the US orphanage systems who'd like a loving home as well.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:51 AM on September 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Actual conversation I once had about international adoption:

Me: "My wife and I have considered adopting a Romanian child. We can't have another kid on our own, for health reasons and things are really dire for Romanian orphans, so we think maybe we could add to our family and really help a kid from her homeland."

Asshole I shouldn't have ever spoken with: "That's really cool. Plus, if you adopt from an Eastern European country, you can make sure you get a white kid."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:00 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


It should be banned for a number of reasons, including the fact that people in China and India (as well as other places, I'm sure) kidnap babies from families to sell them overseas.
posted by Melismata at 11:00 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


MartinWisse:"let's get ourselves a nice, decent Russian kid; she won't be disobedient, like those horrible American children".

This is verbatim what men in the mail-order bride forums say about women. I used to spend a lot of time on VisaJourney when I was filing greencard paperwork for my husband, and I could not believe it when I stumbled upon this subculture. My husband has a coworker with a wife from the Philippines that he "met online" and I cannot get over the feeling that he's one of these misogynist creepers. International love and international adoption can be wonderful, but if you're looking in another country because all the kids/women in the U.S. aren't good enough, there's something wrong with YOU, buddy.
posted by jrichards at 11:03 AM on September 9, 2013 [17 favorites]



We're talking about a kind of work that nobody ever sat down in a high school study hall and day dreamed about doing.

We do have social workers in this crazy world of ours, so I don't quite see your point.


We do. But while we need to hire more, we can't just blithely say "hire more" and expect it to just happen the moment we allocate the money.
posted by ocschwar at 11:08 AM on September 9, 2013


When Russia caught wind of it, they stopped allowing adoptions to the U.S.

The only thing Russia caught wind of was another convenient way to distract its population from the crimes of its government by sculpting another American boogeyman (the best kind of boogeyman). Anyone who thinks that the welfare of Russian orphans was on the mind of any Russian politician or cleric is far gone indeed. By way of comparison:

Since 1998, tens of thousands of Russian children have been adopted into the U.S.; a total of 19 adoptive Russians have died. In Russia, 1,220 adoptive children died during a period of the same length. And that’s assuming that the child gets out of the foster system in the first place, which still holds more than 100,000 Russian orphans.

In general, international adoption is certainly controversial and ripe for horrific abuse, but I doubt that banning it outright will maximize happiness and quality of life among the parties involved.
posted by Behemoth at 11:12 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Part of what needs to be fixed is more help for children with disabilities, especially severe ones. There are wonderful people around who will adopt older kids who have disabilities, but not enough, and some of it gets down to stories like this.
posted by jeather at 11:13 AM on September 9, 2013


International adoption is gaining in popularity with large Christian families. There have been a few who disrupted theirs publically, writing about the experience on their blogs. In families that value obedience and conformity above all else, having a new child come in with special circumstances can be impossible to overcome. They are very willing to diagnose these kids with attachment disorders etc because they can't just line up and homeschool with the other 10 siblings. It's very sad.
posted by Biblio at 11:15 AM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


What surprised me most was how large many of the "families" looking to re-home their children were. I suppose I'd always primarily thought of international adoption as something prohibitively expensive and usually sought out in cases of infertility.

In reality, a great number of international adoptions are done by conservative Christian couples who feel they have been called by the Lord to save a child from another nation. As to why they don't focus on adopting a child at home, you get back to the fact that a licensed agency would make them undergo a vetting and evaluation. Also, the trend in US adoptions is for open adoption, where the birthmom is known to the adoptive couple and stays in-touch. These couples who go into the international gray market want exactly the opposite...No contact with the birth mother ever. Just a little saved soul to show off and act as another marker to get into heaven with.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:16 AM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


As fate would have it, after I posted my kind of ranty comment up above, I clicked on the emails and the first one that came up (I think it's random on mobile?) was one that I actually felt really bad for. It sounds like she was someone who was overwhelmed and in over her head, and I genuinely hope that posting was just a temporary moment of desperation, and that she got the help elsewhere.

On the other end of the spectrum, these people...have some teenage sons who have good reason not to trust them. They need a larger family with more activities to blend into -like a farm! We are not even sure that they need to be kept together in the same family. We actually think it might be best to separate them from the gang habits they can't seem to let go of. PLZ DIE.
posted by kagredon at 11:24 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


> The point was that American parents -- America, warts and all, has absolutely nothing on Russia as far as government corruption, infrastructural undermining, and negative social attitudes/lack of support for the disabled is concerned -- were doing a worse job than Baby's First Gulag.

I hear you, but the other side of the coin is that Russian orphanages routinely misrepresented the medical histories of the children they adopted out. You ended up with parents who, for better or worse, expected a healthy adoptee, and instead had to parent a child with, say, fetal alcohol syndrome, with attendant learning disabilities, fragile moods, and violent outbursts. These things come to light pretty well in previous threads we've had here (see).

Yes, there are many ways in which international adoption can get problematic. No, I doubt it's a homogenous phenomenon — each pair of source-destination countries is probably different. To speak to a particular case, Russian orphanages have many problems and house approximately 250,000 children. See, e.g., here in Russian Life, hardly an impartial source, from a more sympathetic time. Russian orphanages have a culture of dog-eat-dog violence that is considered natural and is normalized in Russian books, TV, and movies. Scrambling over supplies and beating the shit out of each other is "what orphans do" in the minds of many Russians.

Sure, this makes adoption a very risky and challenging process even under the best and most transparent circumstances — and it's much more perilous if the child's medical history is missing, or the orphanage never worked one up, can't speak to the nature of the children's special needs in detail, and so on. But I wouldn't go as far as to say that the solution is to leave hundreds of thousands of children to rot in Baby's First Gulag.
posted by Nomyte at 11:28 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


jeather, I'm really happy to hear that.
posted by sfred at 11:34 AM on September 9, 2013


I have a friend that adopted two Russian girls, and they had an enormous time adjusting to the US, and they had significant behavioral problems. It was a tough time for the whole family, and the girls (now in their twenties) are still not exactly warm with their adoptive parents—more like cordial. BUT they are living independently and making a go of it. I can only imagine what life was like for those girls.
posted by Mister_A at 11:41 AM on September 9, 2013


In reality, a great number of international adoptions are done by conservative Christian couples who feel they have been called by the Lord to save a child from another nation....

... a lot of the families demand a sort of Dickensian groveling gratitude from these kids, plus they expect a superhuman adjustment.

"Oh my lord, it's been SEVEN MONTHS and our teenage Ukrainian adoptees still speak Russian and not 100% English, they just don't want to learn."


Hit it on the nose. Acquaintances of mine, seven natural kids--combined marriage, decided to head out to save a little Ukraine soul through a church adoption. They bravely went to that heathen state and stayed 5 months, picking and choosing first one, then another. They may have well have saved the girl from a life of prostitution (they claim her mother was one, and she is obviously biracial) but the poor kid will never be grateful enough or compliant enough to satisfy. Her three older sisters are blond paragons of Christian virtue, cheerleaders, outgoing and popular. This little gal is dark haired, dark complected, quiet, thoughtful and very reserved. She's run away numerous times. If she can just hack it another year, she'll be out on her own. She's incredibly conflicted--she has said there's nothing for her back in the Ukraine, and she hates it here.
posted by BlueHorse at 11:53 AM on September 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


...I doubt that banning it outright will maximize happiness and quality of life among the parties involved.
...
But I wouldn't go as far as to say that the solution is to leave hundreds of thousands of children to rot in Baby's First Gulag.

Yeah at no point do I believe that banning American adoptions in Russia is justice, or contributing to the welfare of Russian orphans. In fact, the whole situation is too ethically complex for me to even begin to pass judgement on it.

Really, I'm just expressing my shock that Russia has genuine and provable grounds on which to call out America for doing a worse or equally bad job as they're doing themselves.
posted by griphus at 12:01 PM on September 9, 2013


"On the advice of two therapists, we are trying to find a new family for our recently adopted 4 yo son"

"his past year we have had an EXCELLENT psychiatrist that gets it and has really been there both for our son and us. He also feels that a new home would be the best option for our son also due to the acting out towards his sister."

"We met with our social worker yesterday for our 6 mo. post placement and told her all the problems we are having and she thinks we are doing the best thing by re-homing him."


The I-have-a-permission-slip clause is especially infuriating.
posted by skrozidile at 12:04 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


It just sounds like they are talking about animals or slaves. Bizarre.
posted by sweetkid at 12:05 PM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Re-home is a verb I've only read in with regards to pets

I'm sure I'm not the first person to think or say this when presented this sentence, but if I had to re-home my cats, the process would pretty much look like a high-level security clearance. I can't imagine what I would do for a hypothetical child in my care.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:08 PM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I know someone who works in a pediatrics office as a nurse, and she told me a story I initially didn't believe because it seemed too crazy.

A well-off woman legally adopted a baby from China, had brought it (I don't know the gender) in for a well-infant check up to get established as a patient. All seemed totally normal, this pediatrics practice is in a metro area where this kind of thing is common, and most parents are all pretty wealthy. Baby seemed healthy, except the mom was complaining that the baby "didn't like her". Then she started making sick-infant appointments, complaining of various things. This reached a head when she started complaining that the baby "had worms". The mom was instructed to bring in a soiled diaper for testing to the visit.

She brought the baby in with a live earthworm in its diaper. This manufactured "proof", to her mind, was irrefutable evidence that she had received damaged goods, and the kid should be returned. Not really sure what happened after that, though I do believe a call to CPS was made. Thank god this woman didn't get the idea to google "I don't want my adopted kid".
posted by fontophilic at 12:16 PM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm sure I'm not the first person to think or say this when presented this sentence, but if I had to re-home my cats, the process would pretty much look like a high-level security clearance.

I seriously have godparents for my cat, arrangements made at the height of my mental illness. The way in which my cat would be re-homed (and all parties understand that if rehoming is happening, it's because I'm institutionalized or dead) is not unlike the order of succession of the presidency.

For crying out loud, I underwent more background vetting as a 13-year-old kid, hoping to babysit for a neighbor, than any of these people described.
posted by like_a_friend at 12:17 PM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


These parents need to stop wanderlusting when it comes to adoption, even foreign adoption. I really wanted to have 2 kids. I really did. But due to horrible post partum anxiety and then depression, I realized you know, I'm just not made to have 2 kids. I even looked at adopting since I'm adopted feeling that perhaps an older child (2+) would be better since newborns are a lot of work and again, I snapped out of it realizing that I am having a difficult time emotionally some days with just one child (it's better now that he's 4). In other words, what do these parents expect w/ adopting, especially with unknown, risky backgrounds? I'm really sorry to stereotype but even my brother said that at 5 years old and bouncing between foster parents, real mother, real father--and their messed up lives--back to foster, etc. it was a definate emotional roller coaster for him resulting in defiance, trust issues, authority figure problems, etc. Are these parents just plain stupid thinking "oh look foreign kid who speaks no English, never had a trusting adult, we have zero clue if they were abused; yea this is going to be easy peasy."

And then to turn around to strangers on the internet and not once thinking the effects it would have a on kid? I get that parenting is damn hard, but don't get into a difficult situation knowing that it can be near impossible w/out fully accepting the responsibility. I think these parents looking for an easy way out should be held accountable for criminal neglect.
posted by stormpooper at 12:27 PM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is all heartbreaking, given how there are plenty of kids in the U.S. itself, perhaps in the same city as many of these families, who could use a home.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:36 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Those Easons people need to be investigated in a serious way.
posted by aramaic at 12:39 PM on September 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is all heartbreaking, given how there are plenty of kids in the U.S. itself, perhaps in the same city as many of these families, who could use a home.

Honestly many of the people described here have no business caring for any child from any nation. The woman chiefly profiled, Eason, had both of her biological children removed from her custody due to abuse and neglect.

I suspect many of the writers of those "take my dreadful child" emails turned to international adoption in the first place because no regulated, safe, domestic adoption agency would EVER have given them a child.
posted by like_a_friend at 12:40 PM on September 9, 2013 [20 favorites]


Ugh, this is winning the "most depressing thing I've read this year" status for me. I think I will need to grab a fluffy blanket and hide in my closet for while, or something like that.
posted by Iosephus at 12:41 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really, I'm just expressing my shock that Russia has genuine and provable grounds on which to call out America for doing a worse or equally bad job as they're doing themselves.

I'm not sure I'm understanding you. There are people in the US capable of doing a worse job caring for a child than a state-run Russian orphanage, but is that an argument? Planes sometimes crash and routine surgical procedures sometimes lead to death too.
posted by Nomyte at 12:44 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


My wife and I are foster parents. We initially went through licensing so that we could care for a friend's kids who ended up in foster care while said friend figured their shit out. We ended up getting licensed (it's not a quick process, at least in this state) about the same time friend got kids back.

Now licensed and with our friend's children back in their home we got a call to take a temporary, ~2 week, placement who has now been with us for 16 months. It has been a stress filled, arduous, draining experience. There have been days when my wife and I contemplated picking up the phone so we could tell our placement's social worker that we were done and they were going to need to find a new home STAT. We didn't do that and instead talked through our problems with our social worker and the support structure that was built to help us. Slowly as the months have progressed the most severe problems have subsided and this little one has transformed from an angry, explosive child into a mostly manageable silly little guy. It took a year of a stable, loving environment to work out some of the largest issues. For the most part I consider my wife and I fully functioning, steady, loving, and stable parents who willingly took advantage of every support structure that existed to better help us parent this little guy and yet we still contemplated throwing in the towel.


I'm not trying to blow my own horn here (my wife's maybe, she's fucking amazing). I think in some sense we got very lucky because it didn't have to get better. We know others who seemingly do everything right, seek help from everyone they can, and still make little to no headway. It's hard for me to imagine people being successful without those opportunities when even in the best of cases it's not enough.

At this point our foster child will be transitioning to an adoptive household so we've started spending time at the new parent's house in hopes that the transfer will go as smoothly as possible. Even so we're still seeing regression and behavioral problems as we attempt to integrate our two households. This is of course expected. We're shattering this little ones world view just as everything has stabilized a bit. So think how much damage moving kids around does when they've never been in a stable environment and the reason for moving them is because the kid's behavior is so bad the parents who cant handle it.
posted by Quack at 12:47 PM on September 9, 2013 [30 favorites]


And then to turn around to strangers on the internet and not once thinking the effects it would have a on kid?

I suspect that if they were able to understand the effects on children of being thrust into an unknown environment with strangers, they'd have been much more sympathetic to the adopted child in the first place.

I also found it telling that many of the parents said they didn't want any government or child welfare agencies involved in disrupting the adoption because they were scared of being evaluated themselves. Which would lend support to the idea that they chose international adoption precisely because of its lack of regulation.
posted by jaguar at 12:50 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


These people are hoarders but with children instead of chihuahuas. There needs to be some legal consequences for this. Like yesterday.
posted by fshgrl at 12:52 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I adopted my little boy from Guatemala. (He wasn't stolen from anyone, btw.) How many foreign adoptions, or other adoptions end up badly vs. how many work out? How many biological parents are abusive? I don't want to get in a defensive tizzy and of course, these things are atrocious, and it pisses me off royally, as an adoptive parent, but let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
posted by cherrybounce at 12:53 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


>As to why they don't focus on adopting a child at home, you get back to the fact that a licensed agency would make them undergo a vetting and evaluation.

Adopting internationally, particularly from a Hague country, requires just as much vetting and evaluation as a domestic adoption. If not more.

Agreed with cherrybounce -- shutting down international adoption would do far more harm than good.
posted by BurntHombre at 1:00 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quack: "I'm not trying to blow my own horn here (my wife's maybe, she's fucking amazing)."

Then let me blow it for you. You're doing something incredible.

Speaking of, and I've been meaning to do this all morning, if you need to feel a bit better after this thread, check out the related post below on Fosterhood to see, essentially, the flip side of this story.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:09 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Note: this is my understanding as a foster parent and I know little to jack shit about this. Read with care.

Also to note that what these people are doing (if they cross the state line) is illegal. An ICPC has to be filled out for these children to move. Note that an ICPC must be completed within 60 days or the states who on average take longer will lose funding provided by the feds for some fosterish related services. I was told that many states miss this deadline anyway and lose funding(sooo... yay?). So while the process seems slow at a government agency level it's actually pretty quick, particularly since the courts and at least two separate states are involved. That said, the opaque ICPC process takes ~2 months with social workers and lawyers who know what the fuck they are talking doing. How many people are capable/willing to spend two months working through the court system to send a child they just can't fucking handle to someone who so dearly wants them and promises to take such good care of them?

What I think we really need are better and continued services for adoptive homes. Even in the foster system most services are lost once the child is adopted. If those services weren't there in the first place (ie international adoption), then a lot of parents don't know what the fuck to do or where to turn. When my wife and I went through foster training this was identified as one of the largest deficiencies currently in the foster system so it's probably safe to assume that it's a problem with all adoptions.

Kid's problems do not go away when they are adopted. Parents don't have all the skills they need just because a child is legally(or not legally) in their possession. Continued support, services, and training aren't there when the parents need it. That said it's probably easier to make stronger bootstraps for wee little ones than to spend tax money building the infrastructure needed to help families before they are contemplating illegally moving a child to another family as soon as possible.
posted by Quack at 1:10 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Since 1998, tens of thousands of Russian children have been adopted into the U.S.; a total of 19 adoptive Russians have died.

Well, the main Reuters article here does mention that nobody tracks them so that's only 19 that made the news, right?
posted by jacalata at 1:10 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


... but is that an argument?

Now I'm confused -- an argument for what?

My only take on this is that I am saddened that the abuse was widespread and severe enough that the Russian government was able to make a genuine -- as opposed to concocted or exaggerated -- international incident out of it. They didn't have to sculpt an American boogeyman, as one poster above suggested, as much as simply point to the facts and give America a solid (and arguably deserved) black eye on the world stage.
posted by griphus at 1:11 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's awful that so many kids are born to people who are unable to rear them properly in an atmosphere of safety and love.

At one time I was considering adopting a child from Eastern Europe (my ancestors are from that part of the world.) My Mother, was staunchly against it, because, as it turns out, the kids would probably suffer attachment issues, and physical problems and the complete lack of an accurate history of the child may impose a serious burden on me as a prospective single parent.

It turns out it was a fleeting thought, but at the time I thought my Mom was just being negative (and in truth, she probably was) but she was also correct.

It's a sad day when your crazy-assed Mom is the one with a crystal ball.

The kind of people who would go overseas for adoption, because of cost or fewer rules or whatever, are exactly the kinds of people who would try to give a kid back if the thing goes tits-up down the road.

There is a huge disconnect between the urge to love a child from a bad situation, and the realities of parenting kids with serious emotional and physical problems.

It's a shame that all propsective adoptive parents aren't required to go through a screening process before adopting a child. But then again, that's why they're overseas in dodgy places and not going through the motions here in the good ole' US of A.

Not that a domestic adoption is a guarantee of anything either.

Okay kids! You're on your own!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:22 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


>The kind of people who would go overseas for adoption, because of cost or fewer rules or whatever, are exactly the kinds of people who would try to give a kid back if the thing goes tits-up down the road.

Good grief, can we just stop with the ridiculous and demonstrably incorrect generalizations?
posted by BurntHombre at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


I would be interested in reading more about why it is that some people feel the need to collect children. I'm familiar with the Quiverfull movement but I know that's not what's driving everyone here. When asked why she wanted to be a mother, Eason said that she wanted to feel important. I would have liked it if the reporter had asked a few follow-up questions there.

That said, I feel the need to speak up for people who adopt children from overseas as that's how my cousins came to become part of my family. They're good kids and my aunt is a great mom so from that perspective, IMO, it was a win-win.
posted by kat518 at 1:33 PM on September 9, 2013


Adopting internationally, particularly from a Hague country, requires just as much vetting and evaluation as a domestic adoption. If not more.

That's true only if the adopting couple are going through the proper, established channels. I'd be shocked if this was true with the people in this story. This is back-channel baby-dealing, which is far more prevalent internationally, through religious groups and other more shadowy organizations.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:37 PM on September 9, 2013


These people are hoarders but with children instead of chihuahuas.

For an insane few seconds I read this as "with children instead of cthulus".

But that made me fantasize that people who commit this kind of practice should be sentenced to Cthulu-hoarding, as it may solve a number of ills.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:41 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


From the article:
He said he never improperly touched the boy he had babysat, and added: "I've got kids of my own I could already do that to. So why would I even try to do that to another child?"

THAT IS A TERRIBLE ALIBI
maybe the worst ever
posted by rmless at 1:54 PM on September 9, 2013 [33 favorites]


These people are hoarders but with children instead of chihuahuas.

I think Fshgrl is right. I believe that "child hoarding" exists, just like animal hoarding and possession hoarding does. I recall musing on that way back when Mia Farrow's huge adopted brood was in the news. Some of these parents who adopt child after child in huge families seem little different than people who collect more cats or dogs than they can care for.

I have chosen to be childfree. I have been called "selfish" more times than I can count. Reading these harrowing stories I think that choosing childfreedom is more often the selfless choice.

The big losers in all of this are the kids. I wish there was more emphasis on the welfare of kids whose parents can't or won't care for them and love them. I don't think orphanages are the answer, at least as they now exist. Perhaps small, stable group homes would be better. And I don't think adoption per se is bad. If it's done for the child's benefit, and the adoptive parents are screened and have support and training, it can work out beautifully. But not when adoptive parents are using children as accessories for their own egos.

And that goes for birth children, naturally. Too many kids are born to parents who only think of them as props and trophies. I think there is a fundamental problem in many cultures with thinking of children (bio or adopted) as, essentially, property, and that is what has to change, and that is going to require a major attitude shift.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:11 PM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


>The kind of people who would go overseas for adoption, because of cost or fewer rules or whatever, are exactly the kinds of people who would try to give a kid back if the thing goes tits-up down the road.

Good grief, can we just stop with the ridiculous and demonstrably incorrect generalizations?


International adoption is around 13% of the total in the US, yet the parents on the board Reuters collected statistics from had about 75% international children. So I'm not sure how this is demonstrably incorrect. (Special needs kids were also over-represented - 60% on the message board versus ~20-40% in the overall population of adopted children -- but not to the same degree.)

It seems to me like Ruthless Bunny is speaking of a specific subset of those who do international adoption: those seeking lax procedures. There are many other (better) motivations for international adoption that she isn't talking about, and I don't think that the much larger subset of people who adopt internationally for those other motivations are particularly more likely to do this to their kids.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 2:16 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


From the article:
"When Reuters first visited the Easons, Calvin wore a sleeveless maroon T-shirt with the words GOOD DADS MAKE A DIFFERENCE. He said he never improperly touched the boy he had babysat, and added: "I've got kids of my own I could already do that to. So why would I even try to do that to another child?"

Wow.
posted by diocletian at 2:46 PM on September 9, 2013


They didn't have to sculpt an American boogeyman, as one poster above suggested, as much as simply point to the facts and give America a solid (and arguably deserved) black eye on the world stage.

Banning adoptions over what can be called isolated (compared to the overall number of adoptions) cases of abuse or negligence when the adoptee death rate in your own country is two orders of magnitude higher certainly involves sculpting a boogeyman. As mentioned above, there are no perfect systems.

Well, the main Reuters article here does mention that nobody tracks them so that's only 19 that made the news, right?

This argument applies tenfold to the numbers quoted for deaths in Russia.
posted by Behemoth at 2:46 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


>So I'm not sure how this is demonstrably incorrect.

The reason it's demonstrably incorrect is because there are families out there, many of them, who have adopted children internationally and had the situation go "tits-up" because of prior abuse, neglect, etc. -- but these families had done their research, were aware of the kinds of issues that these children face, and were prepared to stay the course and seek help from professionals. They are deeply, sacrificially committed to their child's well-being. But these aren't the adoptive families who get sensational articles written about them.
posted by BurntHombre at 2:54 PM on September 9, 2013


I adopted internationally, 8 years ago.

It's a shame that all propsective adoptive parents aren't required to go through a screening process before adopting a child. But then again, that's why they're overseas in dodgy places and not going through the motions here in the good ole' US of A.


This is untrue, at least in my case. The stack of paperwork by the time we were done, including the home-study done by a licensed social worker, was 3 inches thick.

As to those asking "why not adopt in the U.S?", my simple response is "all children need parents, and it isn't your choice." We had other reasons to adopt from China, not the least of which is my ongoing interest and college major in Chinese History.

Another major reason to adopt from China was that it is institutional, rather than mediated by lawyers. Any time lawyers are the local way to adopt, you find a much higher instance of baby-selling and kid-farms. I couldn't ethically handle the chance of adopting from a child farmer, so I went with the most reputable agency in the U.S., and had a fantastic experience.
posted by Invoke at 3:27 PM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Even from my brief foray into researching on foster care, I can testify that there are certainly these kinds of practices surrounding the domestic adoption "market." Frankly, I think the overemphasis on international adoptions in the Reuters story probably comes from sampling bias: the the message boards 'swapping' domestic kids are purposefully more private (requiring passwords and so on) because they have to dodge a little more legal oversight, since kids adopted out of foster care are already in the system. It might not be right there in the open on Yahoo; I think those kids tend to travel via religious networks. But it is definitely happening.

People are right about the evangelical Christian influence, but it's even more complicated than that. It's a nightmarish confluence of religion and racism and bad psychology and the total failure of social services to meet the needs of troubled kids and their families (as evidenced by the awful Issy Stapleton story that went up the other day.)

This story didn't depress you enough? Delve down the rabbit hole that is RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and Attachment Therapy. In practice, if not in theory, RAD often ends up being a catchall diagnosis for children who are a) reacting to earlier abuse and b) failing to "bond" with caregivers, who are, frankly, utterly unequipped to care for them. So, the kid is pathologized with this diagnosis and enters this maze of alternative and often bogus treatment that involves a lot of physical restraint of the child by the caregiver and has more than once ended in death. It's scary, scary stuff.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 4:18 PM on September 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


The issues with international adoption can continue to affect a family for generations.

One of my internationally adopted cousins was prostituted out by her own mother while less than 10 years old, until the mother was killed in front of her by her father, and who then spent a year in the men's prison with her dad before being adopted out. My aunt and uncle never really managed to help her through her psychological problems, and then themselves, being very religious and conservative, kicked her out when she became pregnant at 15. She moved in with her child's father, and had another child two years later, then the father left. When she was 18 she walked out on her children and started a new life, abandoning them with a near stranger who was baby-sitting. My uncle and aunt pressured their other (biological) daughter into adopting those two toddlers against her own wishes, and the story just keeps getting sadder.

The tragic thing is that there was no way for the story to turn out well once it started off so terribly. I can't imagine any parent being able to cope well with a child from that background, although I think there might have been more hope if she had been adopted to a family with less strict religious values. On the other hand, I can't imagine how awful her life would have been if she had remained in her birth country, in prison with a man who had murdered her mother. Or on the streets. And then it's not surprising that she was taken advantage of by a man who got her pregnant while she was a young teen. And not surprising that she didn't have the parenting skills herself to look after her kids, especially when she was so young and so alone.

And now I can't imagine life being easy for those two kids of hers, growing up abandoned by their mother, adopted by a parent who resents them, and not having any connection to their cultural heritage.
posted by lollusc at 5:26 PM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think Fshgrl is right. I believe that "child hoarding" exists, just like animal hoarding and possession hoarding does.

A data point. About ten years ago, I had a child endangerment case - the child protection agency was trying to remove an infant from its mother. The woman had a history of having children, overfeeding them until they vomited, and then physically abusing them for vomiting. She was repeating the pattern with this latest baby, her sixth child in 8 years.

In court, she simply said "I'll just keep having them until you let me keep one".

The point is, some of these people - people who want kids, by any means necessary - are/may be mentally ill. This may be part of why they want to circumvent legal adoption processes (other than the cost). Maybe they realise that they would never pass the vetting.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:15 PM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Somewhat related: there is a website about foreign adoption from the point of view of some older adoptees who are against adoption: Demolish Adoption Mythologies Now! (Damn) and Adoption Central.
posted by armacy at 7:28 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Show that you care by paying top dollar! Ugh
posted by oceanjesse at 7:28 PM on September 9, 2013


Oh God, and we are making it harder for women to get access to birth control and abortions? Some of these people were giving away three and four kids. I mean, it just boggles the mind.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 7:46 PM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Speaking as an adoptive parent--it's the agencies that placed these kids with incompetent parents that should be scrutinized. Maybe the adoption simply couldn't work--the kids are far more troubled than the parents are prepared for. But the agency is supposed to step in. And the agencies are supposed to run background checks before the adoption is approved. And there are supposed to be follow-up home visits, proof of medical checkups,and school enrollment and so on. Parents go through FBI and police background checks; they are supposed to have lots of reference letters, home study, etc.

I suspect these failed adoptive parents weren't checked enough by the agencies eager to bring in adopted kids and hope for the best. And clearly the home countries don't care--they're getting rid of kids they don't want to take care of and pass them off on Americans.

I'm pretty sure i've mentioned this but when I was beginning to consider international adoption--because every singe social worker I knew warned me about troubled children who fill the American foster care system--one so-called Christian agency had a peculiar set of rules. It would not allow single people to adopt except for children with serious physical or emotional problems, something i found pretty crazy. I took it as a sign that this agency thought less of the kids, as if they didn't deserve a set of parents.

Also, I question the statement above about the price of children based on skin color. Perhaps you didn't mean international adoptions.

You can find out some interesting things about a country's values. India made a point of saying adoptive parents could not choose a child based on skin color -- I continue to be appalled by the idea that someone would try to do that--and then was told by the agency that that rule was in place for Indian-American parents, who had brought their caste standards with them.

International adoption is an incredibly complex issue. For those who think they should be stopped because they create markets, just keep in mind that the Chinese used to leave their lovely little newborn girls in the side of the road to die until orphanages were established and a pipeline developed to adoption elsewhere.
posted by etaoin at 9:07 PM on September 9, 2013


God, I'm just catching up with some earlier comments. Seriously, you think it's EASIER to adopt overseas? You don't know what you're talking about.
posted by etaoin at 9:10 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Foreign adoptions" are not uniform. The FAQ on Part 2 of the series goes into some of it:

How does an American family adopt a child from abroad?

• Ninety countries belong to the Hague Adoption Convention, a set of safeguards for international adoptions. As a member, the United States requires parents to take 10 hours of training before adopting from another member country, such as China. (There's no requirement when adopting from a non-Hague country, such as Ethiopia.) When Americans adopt children from U.S. state foster-care systems, more training is required: typically 30 hours.

• In about half the cases, involving kids from Hague countries, the adopting parents go through a federally accredited U.S. adoption agency that works with authorities in the foreign country. In the other half, involving non-Hague countries, families might go through an American adoption agency or work directly with facilitators in the child's home country.

• Some international adoptions are approved in a foreign court; others in a local U.S. court. In foreign-court adoptions, no authority checks on the child in the new home. In U.S.-court cases, the family may face monitoring by a social worker for around six months.

• Some countries require periodic reports on the child's well-being in their new homeland. Violators face little risk. A foreign country can cut off the agency involved, but has no recourse against the adoptive parents. An agency can sue a family for breach of contract. But that rarely happens.

What help is available for a family struggling with a troubled foreign adoptee?

• Not much. Some agencies provide post-adoption support to families, but they aren't required to, and many don't.

• Many U.S. states provide help to families who adopt troubled children from the state's own foster system, such as counseling or temporary placement outside the home ("respite"). But this support usually isn't available with internationally adopted kids.

• Private alternatives, such as residential treatment centers, are available, but they can cost thousands of dollars a month.

posted by jaguar at 9:17 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


In court, she simply said "I'll just keep having them until you let me keep one".

I hate to ask, because in a less awful world there wouldn't be doubt at the answer. But... did that happen (i.e. she's still birthing kids until menopause), or did anyone actually stop her from having more children?
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:24 PM on September 9, 2013


(Bad link. It looks like there isn't an anchor link, but the FAQ is on the bottom of the Part 2 page.)
posted by jaguar at 9:25 PM on September 9, 2013


We are seeking to disrupt our international adoption. We have a 13 month old adopted son who has special medical needs. We have several other children(adopted and bio) and I am pregnant. I have very limited support from my family and also from my husband. Our son has physical special needs and is small for is age. We are very overwhlemed and feel this little guy would do better in a family who had the time and emotional resources to offer him. Our son is from Africa.

Blessings :)


Fuck you and your 'blessings'.

Why in holy hell did you adopt another child when you already had 'several other' children and an unsupportive husband? And your son (because that is what he is now) has the nerve to need 'time and emotional resources'?!? Hey, it's called childhood.

How is this even legal? I am so disgusted right now.
posted by Salamander at 10:01 PM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Is this standard procedure for Reuters? I mean this presentation is pretty shitty.
posted by trip and a half at 10:13 PM on September 9, 2013


The Easons are clearly deeply twisted, as evidenced by the damning things they told the Reuters reporter. It is as if they are unaware that their lifestyle is criminal, abusive and repellant. I don't scare easy, and they terrify me. I shudder to read the next chapter.
posted by Scram at 10:22 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


In court, she simply said "I'll just keep having them until you let me keep one".

I hate to ask, because in a less awful world there wouldn't be doubt at the answer. But... did that happen (i.e. she's still birthing kids until menopause), or did anyone actually stop her from having more children?


Jen - I honestly don't know. I burned out of that job after about two years, because all the cases were at least that horrible. That wasn't even the worst one, not by a long shot. That particular kid got taken away from her, but who knows what happened after that? I doubt she could have been prevented from having more kids - what could they do? Forcibly sterilise her? That's not a thing that they do.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:23 PM on September 9, 2013


...and yeah, those ads remind me exactly of the ads for cats and dogs.

The children are all attractive and lovely, but would 'do better' in a family with only older brothers/younger sisters/younger parents/no siblings/a stay-at-home mom, etc. The children aren't bad eggs per se, they just might be a better 'fit' with another family. The parents placing the ads all feel devastated at having to make this very hard decision, but it's best for the children to find their 'forever home' now, y'know?

These people don't get it. You wouldn't give up your biological child in these circumstances, so why on earth do they think it's okay to go 'rehoming' an adoptive child? Newsflash: once you have legally adopted a child, you ARE their 'forever home', you self-centred ass. Deal with it!
posted by Salamander at 10:30 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


You wouldn't give up your biological child in these circumstances, so why on earth do they think it's okay to go 'rehoming' an adoptive child?

Some people would. And they do. Example.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:14 PM on September 9, 2013


My parents, both white Americans, adopted me from a South American country with very strict laws and regulations regarding adoption 25+ years ago. My adoption was the single most beautiful and important thing to ever happen to me. I shared this article with my parents and we cried together.
posted by OsoMeaty at 5:10 AM on September 10, 2013 [14 favorites]


Someone I know says that when he was little, kids would sometimes informally move between families, either to live with a friend, or just because the new family was a better fit. Sometimes a kid from one family would swap homes with a kid from another family.

I've encountered a small boy myself from a dysfunctional family, who voluntarily spent so much time with another local family that he may as well have moved in.

It's not a new idea for people to think that their own biological kids might be better off elsewhere. Who hasn't met a young single parent who's rehomed the kids with Grandma? This is just the first era when it's been easy to rehome your kids with people you don't know, and without anyone finding out.
posted by emilyw at 5:30 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Those of us in the adoption reform community have known about these "re-homing" horrors for quite some time. but most people outside this special group were not aware. It is gratifying that Reuters has done some investigative reporting to make the world aware of this huge flaw in our child welfare and adoption system that is endangering many vulnerable children. Our adoption system has been full of abuses for a long time. This is just the worst of them. Adoption needs to be tightly and uniformly regulated, and both money, coercion, and concept of being able to buy or trade a child taken out of it. It has to be about finding homes for children who really need them, not about finding children for anyone who wants and feels entitled to one. Adoption is not all sentimental good deeds as many see it. It has a dark underside, and this is part of it.

I am not against adoption, I know many fine adoptive parents who adopted both domestically and internationally, and I also know of situations where children are safer and better off adopted than with very dysfunctional biological families. Sadly though I also know of many horror stories where adoption was not the better solution for the child, and too many people who should never been able to raise a child slipping through the cracks and getting one or many, usually the "bargain" kids, older, abused, non-white.

Another poster mentioned the evangelical religious dimension of adoption, already large over stressed families being encouraged to adopt foreign "orphans" to save their souls. Yes, there are child hoarders just like there are sick pet hoarders, and past a certain point these homes do become de facto small orphanages, but with no supervision or professional input. and their own networks like those in the article to discard and trade kids that are more than they can handle.

At the very least, we need laws to outlaw these kid exchanges and dumping bins, that sees adoptees as people with dignity and rights, not merchandise, and to make adoption open and transparent, a good and joyful and permanent thing, not a web of secrets, shame, and lies that allows things like "re-homing to fester.
posted by mermayd at 6:51 AM on September 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


Parts 3 and 4 are online now.
posted by zoetrope at 7:18 AM on September 10, 2013


And just as infuriating.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:32 AM on September 10, 2013


From part three:

Glenna Mueller, who advertised her 10-year-old son online: "...I couldn't stand to look at him anymore… He would sit here and eat supper, and he'd scoop spaghetti in his pants pockets, or I'd find it stuffed in socks and thrown under the desk."

From part four:

"We spent the first year trying to help the child and fix the problem," Gary says. "Then a light comes on and you realize you can't fix the problem, that you need to get away from the problem."
posted by prefpara at 8:38 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have to wonder, though. A lot of these religious, conservative families that are so keen on adopting as a Mission rather than because they really want to parent another child... well, from personal experience, some of them struggle, but a lot of the mothers really do keep very nice, tidy homes, with kids who are outwardly very well-behaved. In those cases, would increased vetting really turn anything up? The Quiverfull sort of culture encourages women especially to fake being happy all the time--and kids, too--in such a way that they tend to present very well to strangers. That's the part about it that always disturbs me most.

So, okay, you catch the ones who're living in squalor, but clearly a lot of the initial adoptive parents here were not. What would you ask someone to figure this out beforehand, if they were sufficiently determined to seem like a good family to place a child in? I have a feeling that if it had become necessary, the Easons would have done the dishes, that's not really a good enough indicator.
posted by Sequence at 10:53 AM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


An article from Mother Jones about the Quiverfull movement and international adoptions.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:26 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


A surprising take on this.
When I first heard about parents trying to find someone else to re-adopt their children I was horrified and disgusted. How irresponsible? How incredibly traumatizing for the children? But then a friend and fellow psychologist told me how successful many of these second adoptions are, and I was intrigued. Could the first adoptive parents really be doing the child a favor by finding a better family?
It sounds like she says they seem really sad and after all, to get on the Yahoo group you had to be vetted so maybe this was better and now it's going to be more underground, which is a weird comment to be making.
posted by jeather at 9:17 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Easons are clearly deeply twisted, as evidenced by the damning things they told the Reuters reporter. It is as if they are unaware that their lifestyle is criminal, abusive and repellant.

I think Nicole Eason is after attention any way she can get it - just as taking on kids makes her feel important, so does having a reporter seek her out. I can't think of any other reason she'd say some of the stuff she said in the interviews. Then again, she's led a relatively consequence-free life so far, so perhaps she just feels invincible.

As well as all the other disturbing things about the rehoming emails, I was creeped out by people talking about how their adopted child just hasn't found his or her "Forever Home". Apart from the fact that the phrase is usually used to refer to pets, it seems such a weird Disney/fairytale concept. Like there's a single perfect match somewhere out there for every child, and they just need to be passed from place to place till they find it.
posted by andraste at 10:52 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


My head and heart is full of the Stapleton family, Kelli and Issy, and has been for days - so many questions, so much heartache for a woman who loves her severely troubled daughter and has fought hell and high water for her for years - and then I read this story about people who have not a hint of compunction or conscience about tossing the lives of children around like an out-of-style pair of shoes. And we'll prosecute and call for the head of Issy's mother, whose last resort effort was to get Issy to permanent safety in Heaven where she'd be forever happy and healthy; yet we'll let the Easons and others like them strut around telling their neighbors that they've been on TV - famous and proud of themselves - with not so much as a curse word aimed their way.

It takes a lot to bring me to tears, but I'm there now. What kind of dreadful creatures are these who call themselves humans like the rest of us?
posted by aryma at 11:20 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have to wonder, though. A lot of these religious, conservative families that are so keen on adopting as a Mission rather than because they really want to parent another child...

I've been thinking more about them, too. My original thoughts about wanting more preparation before adoption were more about intensive education for the prospective parents, and giving them a clearer picture of the difficulties that might lie in store. I figured this would lead to more people saying, "Wow, this is intense; I don't think we're ready for this," and not doing it. But I hadn't considered the religious angle. People who feel that it's a religious calling or duty aren't going to be be deterred.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:48 AM on September 11, 2013


People who feel that it's a religious calling or duty aren't going to be be deterred.

Right. I would think they would certainly prepared to ignore everything in the prep classes for what they've been taught about how to parent in their own community. I think the first assumption someone like that would make would be that any talk about children having problems adjusting was because those kids had parents who weren't (Real True™) Christians and/or because they weren't raised with the right methods. There's a strong element there of blaming parents when kids don't turn out right, no matter what, and so nobody ever thinks it'll happen to them.

I strongly suspect, really, given that TTUAC is not universal but the attitudes are pretty widespread, that one of the reasons the more religious types adopting older kids would be wanting to give them up afterwards is that those methods really don't work at all unless you've completely cowed your children well before puberty, and they seem to consider it a lost cause to actually reason with any child who does not obey immediately and cheerfully. Of course, given that, it would be better to get the Bad Kid out of the house before they start giving the other children ideas about independent thought.
posted by Sequence at 6:28 AM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The fifth part of the series is now online, if anyone is in need of additional sadness and rage. Here are two of my "favorite" quotes:

Although she hasn't seen the Whatcotts in years, Inga still reaches out to Priscilla.
"She says, 'Tell dad I love him. When are you going to come visit?'" Priscilla says. "I say, 'That's not possible right now.' She has a fantasy about our family."


and

To punish Nora, who was disabled by polio as a child, Schmitz took away the leg brace that she needed to walk.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:32 AM on September 11, 2013


The abusers are horrible, but the coldness of some of the not obviously abusive parents is also horrifying.

Today, 16 years on, Whatcott still compares adopting Inga to buying "a pig in a poke" or being "sold a bill of goods."

Priscilla Whatcott said life was so bad that she wondered whether Inga would simply be better off dead. "Some days I think that the very best answer is for God to take her," she told the AP.

Whatcott's solution was tougher liability laws. "Clearly, we would have avoided much of this heartache and tragedy if consumer protection laws pertaining to international adoption had been in place," she wrote in testimony submitted to Congress in 1999.


And I'm sure this woman thinks she is a very good, moral person.
posted by andraste at 1:35 PM on September 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


That Whatcott lady blows my mind. It takes a very special kind of person to lobby Congress for what is essentially a lemon law for kids, and to show off how terribly, terribly "Christian" you are by telling reporters that the kid you don't want would really just be better off dead.

And by "very special" person, I mean "soulless and dead inside".
posted by palomar at 1:59 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Could the first adoptive parents really be doing the child a favor by finding a better family?

Yes! Let all of these assholes advertise and give these kids to someone else. They don't deserve to have kids, and god knows, the kids are better off without them.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:13 PM on September 12, 2013


OMG from Part 5:

Sent to a Michigan psychiatric facility at the age of 13, Inga says she had sex again – this time with her therapist. Michael Patterson, the therapist, was acquitted of first degree criminal sexual conduct and remains a licensed social worker in Michigan.


Wow. I was going to write more but just...oh my god.
posted by sweetkid at 2:17 PM on September 12, 2013


Here's the story behind the story from ProPublica - MuckReads Podcast: The Story Behind ‘The Child Exchanges’
"One of the most valuable things I think about this project is I worked with our database team. We basically did a deep dive on one of the Yahoo groups where this - it's called re-homing - activity takes place. And we scraped all 5,000 messages going back five years and built a database where we were able to quantify what was going on. We logged every single offer of a child that was being made over a 5-year period and we found that on average a child was being offered up once a week."

Twohey added, "It's interesting to note too that the term ‘re-homing’ was first used to describe people seeking new owners for their pets. And some of the ads read remarkably similar to the ads that you'd see for people trying to find a new home for their pet. Some of the ads would describe kids as being obedient, eager to please, or talk about them being pretty."
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:29 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


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