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April 9, 2010 5:30 AM   Subscribe

‘I no longer wish to parent this child’ – part of the note attached to 7 year old Artem Saveliev sent back to Russia yesterday by his American adoptee mother Torry Hansen who claims she was misled by the Russian Authorities as to the boys mental stability. 'A seven-year-old boy arrived at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport on April 8 in the morning. The skinny boy had no luggage with him – he was only holding a letter in his hands.' according to the Russian Media, though other sources suggest a Russian Tour guide was located on the internet and paid $200 to collect Artem from the Airport and take him to the Russian Authorities. The Kremlin's child rights comissioner Pavel Astakhov and Russian Media in general are coming down very hard on the American mother and painting this as cruelty rather than tragedy.
posted by numberstation (207 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
one word 'disannuled'
posted by MrLint at 5:43 AM on April 9, 2010


Oddly coincidental timing. There's a story in the local paper today about the family of a boy who recently pulled a gun at school. The boy was adopted from Russia and had severe mental and emotional disabilities. Unlike the mother in the FPP, it sounds like this family gave it everything they had. Still wasn't enough though.
posted by Ickster at 5:43 AM on April 9, 2010



I have that tight feeling in my throat where you think you're about to cry, but you're kind of on the edge...

The only thing keeping me from making an arse of myself here at work is the encouragment that this poor guy is most definitely better off not in the care of that horrid woman, and the fact that she is probably sterile, seeing as she had to adopt a Russian child.

Honestly. That's American culture. "Caveat emptor?" Fuck that. Take it back and demand a refund. Even if it's people.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 5:44 AM on April 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Good lord. Nothing in the local papers yet, but I expect there will be something shortly.
posted by jquinby at 5:48 AM on April 9, 2010


The note says she adopted him in September. That's a little over six months ago.

That poor child. Uprooted, and thrown away. Sent on a terrifying journey with no provisions made for his health, and without even a change of underwear.

I hope this woman is prosecuted in the US for child endangerment. I hope.
posted by anastasiav at 5:49 AM on April 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


She did what!? How will his poor child's 'mental stability' be now hat you've sent him on a long flight all alone with a note to Russia, übermom?
posted by dabitch at 5:51 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, how in the hell was she able to put an unaccompanied minor on a flight to Russia without someone on the other side to pick him up?
posted by jquinby at 5:54 AM on April 9, 2010


The Daily Mail has more

"The child's real mother Ekaterina was deprived of her parental rights because she was an alcoholic, officials said yesterday.

She gave birth to the child at 19 and cared for him until he was six."


Yesh.

Also, the Mail article says this: "This shocking return of an unwanted child follows several appalling cases of Russian children being killed after being adopted to America.

In one case, a two-year-old boy died after his American father left him alone in a car in 30C temperatures."


Does anyone know what this is referencing? "Several" cases?
posted by anastasiav at 5:55 AM on April 9, 2010


Well, after reading the rest of the links in the FPP, (and also reading the story in the Daily Mail, which could've been included), this strikes me as yellow journalism. I agree that the mother's actions were stupid--if you can't deal with him, there are much better alternatives than just sending him back with a note--but the reporting doesn't report much more than the outrage. Of course, it also gets the obligatory CYA quotes from everyone on the Russian side claiming that the boy was just fine.

This is just a guess, and I admit I'm colored by the article I linked in my comment above, but I suspect if the full story were known, there'd be more sorrow over this and less nationalistic outrage.
posted by Ickster at 5:56 AM on April 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


anyone abandoning a child of that age has a special place in hell reserved for them.
posted by krautland at 5:56 AM on April 9, 2010


The Daily Mail was actually the link behind the other sources comment.
posted by edbles at 5:57 AM on April 9, 2010


The child's real mother Ekaterina was deprived of her parental rights because she was an alcoholic, officials said yesterday.

In another similarity, the story from here in Minnesota mentions that the adopted boy suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
posted by Ickster at 5:58 AM on April 9, 2010


The Daily Mail was actually the link behind the other sources comment.

So it was. My apologies, numberstation.
posted by Ickster at 6:00 AM on April 9, 2010


Obviously this is incredibly, unbelievably awful. You don't adopt a kid expecting they'll be perfect, because they aren't, except in that they're kids and kids can be great; a child comes into your family and you love him or her -- if you're not going to do that, don't bring a child into your family. I very firmly believe this and find the woman's actions to be completely abhorrent.

That having been said, although obviously this woman dealt with the situation in absolutely the worst possible way, I wonder if there's something more to this; if it is really the case that "he is violent and has severe psychopathic behaviors/issues", then that is also a problem. Obviously you can't just bundle a kid onto a plane and forget them and assume they're out of your life, it's unbelievable and awful and it's painful to think about, but if she really did feel a need to do this for "the safety of my family, friends, and myself", maybe there's something more happening here. I am IN NO WAY saying this is even remotely approaching acceptable, but there's another problem here. At the very least, this kid shouldn't have been put in a home with a woman who was going to behave in this way. I don't know if he has these issues, I haven't had any contact with him and it's not for me to judge (and it's not really for Ms. Hansen to judge, either, unless she had him evaluated by a doctor), but, while I think the way the woman behaved is the worst part of this whole awful situation, I think it's possible there's something else going on here if authorities actually are misrepresenting the needs of kids with severe issues and sending them to homes that aren't prepared to cope with them.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:01 AM on April 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


I want a little better source than a rag that's running this beside "Sheep Gives Birth to Human-Faced Lamb in Turkey" and "9 Worst Celebrity Silicone Busts" before I feel like I have the facts about the case.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:05 AM on April 9, 2010 [65 favorites]


Wow. As the mother of a child the same age, I kind of want to go punch Torry Hansen in the throat. Even if the backstory behind this turns out to even slightly vindicate her choice, I just can't see where six months is enough time to throw up your hands and say "forget it". Parenting is hard, hard when your children have no trauma in their background, no mental or developmental or medical issues adding to the challenge. When there are any variables in the mix that make it tougher, I feel like a parent has a moral and ethical obligation to the child to do whatever it takes to overcome them. Perhaps she had no support services available to her, perhaps there is so much more to the story than we're privy to, but on the surface this just looks really fucking bad.

I'm pretty grossed out by the possibility that this woman was allowed to adopt without thorough vetting and examination of her fitness to raise a child who just by virtue of having been taken from his biological mother and placed in an orphanage, must have had some obstacles to overcome. It sounds like balls were dropped all over the place.
posted by padraigin at 6:07 AM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


"painting this as cruelty rather than tragedy"

We have to choose only one?
posted by Iteki at 6:11 AM on April 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


In another similarity, the story from here in Minnesota mentions that the adopted boy suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

I've heard that's a common problem with children adopted from Russia. And I have sympathy for the adoptive parents. I plan to adopt, and there is just no way I want to take on a child with FAS or FAE. Even with the absolute best case scenario of excellent, loving, affluent parents who are able and willing to do everything to help their child, the kid can still be a lifelong trainwreck because he or she is simply unable to control his or her impulses and to understand consequences.

But this particular adoptive mother I have no sympathy for. At the very least she should have accompanied the child back to Russia personally. Child endangerment charges are in order here.

In one case, a two-year-old boy died after his American father left him alone in a car in 30C temperatures.

If this is the case I've heard of, this was NOT a case of the father not caring about the kid, but of simple and tragic absentmindedness. There are about 26 occurrences a year in the States of parents accidentally and fatally leaving a small child or baby in a car on a hot day. People demonize the parents who do it, but the hard fact of the matter is that the parents who do it are generally good, responsible people who just had one tragic lapse of memory, and that it could happen to anyone. The article I read about this said that the parents went through a great deal of red tape and expense and effort to adopt that kid, and that when the father called the mother to tell her what happened, all she could hear was incoherent screaming.
posted by orange swan at 6:14 AM on April 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


The woman wrote that she did not like the boy, he did not fit her, and she decided to return him like a pair of shoes.

Really, she wrote that? Keep in mind, that this article was in Pravda, which is now basically the Weekly World News in Russia - stories of aliens, flying dogs, vampire attacks and that sort of thing. If this were true, I wouldn't be astonished, but the "details" of the letter, the fact that this kid made it all the way to Russia without being detected - through passport controls and airport security and whatnot - leaves me slightly dubious. Bear in mind also, that Pravda has a kind of ridiculous, nearly tongue-in-cheek anti-Americanism and Russian nationalism to appeal to the most gullible of readers.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 6:17 AM on April 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


Children coming out of orphanages or foster care are coming into a new home with a bucket load of issues. Each child and each placement is different and different problems will be found. Six months is an insignificant amount of time to begin to address those issues. If the family was not taking advantage of getting the appropriate therapeutic interventions in place, then the six months is even less significant.

Let's assume that the Russian authorities did not misrepresent the child's issues. Then what Hansen would still have to face is a boy who is old enough to understand what is going on, who is transitioning from one culture to another with (most likely) little preparation for that change, who is trying to learn a whole new language and trying to figure out his place in the family and the family dynamics. Six months is still not enough time for just that to occur and end up with a magically perfect family.

It is stated in one of the articles that Hansen has a biological son. It was also stated that neither boy attended school. So, now you've got a transitioning child who does not get the benefit of the structure and support school can provide. You've got a child who also was apparently not getting the therapeutic support he may have needed due to his time in the orphanage or due to the events of his six years with his birth mother. Each transition is traumatic for children. In this case, the boy has lost his birth mother, lost the orphanage (which was home) and the staff and kids there, and now he's lost his supposed forever family. The poor kid. If he didn't have issues before, he will now.

Hansen should be deeply investigated by American authorities. The situation her other son is in should be closely examined. In all honesty, there's a good possibility that she could loose custody of the other boy as well.
posted by onhazier at 6:18 AM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


As someone with good friends going through the international adoption process at the moment, I'm abolutely baffled as to how a 26-year-old single woman with a biological child got approved by an American agency and Russian officials to adopt. This whole story seems a bit off to me.
posted by weebil at 6:25 AM on April 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


On the one hand, I have heard of a lot of cases of dishonesty in international adoption; one thing that several people I know on-line who've adopted from Asian countries have had happen is being lied to about the age of the child, being told they're adopting, say, a 4-year-old and having doctors here in the states estimate that the child is actually about 7. Russia has one of the worst reputations. So I would not be surprised at all if this mother was misled or outright lied to about the boy's background, problems, and behavior.

On the other hand, even a minimal amount of research or talking to people who've adopted older children from, say, foster care will give you a pretty good idea of the kinds of risks you might be taking with regard to a child having been neglected or abused, or just having ongoing problems from instability. So the mom has some responsibility if she didn't do that minimal amount of research.

And yet on an invitation-only adoption board I used to be on, parents who adopted older kids with serious problems often said that, although they'd talked to experienced parents who had serious ongoing problems with kids adopted when they were older, they didn't think the same thing could happen to them--they were sure that consistency and love would work a transformation, and they were sometimes wrong about that.
posted by not that girl at 6:27 AM on April 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


If this is the case I've heard of, this was NOT a case of the father not caring about the kid, but of simple and tragic absentmindedness. There are about 26 occurrences a year in the States of parents accidentally and fatally leaving a small child or baby in a car on a hot day.

Yes. We had a great discussion about it a year ago that I'd suggest for anyone who missed it.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:28 AM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, the Mail article says this ... Does anyone know what this is referencing? "Several" cases?
Given that it's the Daily Mail sinking it's teeth into a story about: a) How horrible forriners are; and b) POOR DEFENCELESS CHILDREN!! I'd say they probably just made it up. The Mail (and related excitable tabloids like The Express) are the UK's closest equivalents to Fox News, and should be treated with the same skepticism.
posted by metaBugs at 6:28 AM on April 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Before people run her through with pitchforks, consider that her note says that she is concerned about the safety of her family. If she has other children, and the adopted child was as violent and "psychopathic" as she says, then she may have been acting out of concern for her other children.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:29 AM on April 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


The impetus to adopt children from abroad is often the same impetus to get into a relationship with an unstable person. Both fail not because of the problems inherent to the the unstable person or the child, but because of the inflated self-ego of the "rescuing" individual who sets the whole catastrophe in motion.
posted by jefficator at 6:31 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Before people run her through with pitchforks, consider that her note says that she is concerned about the safety of her family. If she has other children, and the adopted child was as violent and "psychopathic" as she says, then she may have been acting out of concern for her other children.

I am absolutely willing to grant that this may be the case. I have relatives who adopted domestically and whose adoptive children turned out to be not quite as described by the private agency they worked with, and had my aunt and uncle not been blessed with the patience, strength of character, and quite frankly the financial ability to deal with the problems they suddenly found themselves facing, it could have turned out pretty damn ugly.

However, there had better be so much more to the story than "so she put the kid on the plane with a letter, the end". There should be documentation from experts about this child's "psychopathy". There should be evidence of the woman's attempts to deal with the child's problems. And if in the end it was truly obvious that relinquishing the child was the best thing for all considered, it shouldn't have been done in such a shady manner.

I'm willing simply to slap her with the pitchfork tines a few times, rather than run her through. But I'd really like to know the whole story.
posted by padraigin at 6:37 AM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


'A seven-year-old boy arrived at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport on April 8 in the morning. The skinny boy had no luggage with him – he was only holding a letter in his hands.'

I think I may have solved the mystery of Kaspar Hauser.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:50 AM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]




Since 1996, 15 Russian children have died at the hand of their U.S. adoptive parents. [Article is from August 2005]
posted by availablelight at 6:50 AM on April 9, 2010


link
posted by availablelight at 6:51 AM on April 9, 2010


metaBugs: Agree the Mail is not a great source but references to 'several' cases are easy enough to substantiate from a variety of alternative sources. To suggest they 'probably just made it up' is a bit much.

Couple Charged with Murder After Death of 7-Year-Old Russian Child

Russian children abused and murdered by American foster parents

The news wires are beginning to get hold of this story and whilst there were 3 articles earlier today there are currently 147 listed on the current google news feed including this one by the Irish media group RTE which also mentions other cases.

This Moscow News article (an online indepdentant newspaper) suggests 'The adoptive mother had only spent four days getting to know the boy, prior to securing the adoption.' And also that the boy was led to believe by Ms Hansen's mother that he was going on a sightseeing trip to his homeland.
posted by numberstation at 6:54 AM on April 9, 2010


Maybe she had a legitimate concern for her safety or the safety of her other children, but that doesn't justify packing him off to Russia for christ sake!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:55 AM on April 9, 2010


Nikto ne zabyt
posted by availablelight at 6:56 AM on April 9, 2010


Link to the note.
posted by Floydd at 7:01 AM on April 9, 2010


The impetus to adopt children from abroad is often the same impetus to get into a relationship with an unstable person. Both fail not because of the problems inherent to the the unstable person or the child, but because of the inflated self-ego of the "rescuing" individual who sets the whole catastrophe in motion.

I think some figures on rates of failed adoption might be of more use here than armchair psychoanalysis, but don't let me wet-blanket the general outrage. En avant, me frothers!
posted by Wolof at 7:02 AM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree with all who question the veracity of this story. And I would caution all the people who are frothing at the mouth about this woman that they should spend six months in house with a violent, psychopathic child before passing judgment. If I spend too much time in a house with normal children I start to lose it. I also agree absolutely that if she couldn't deal with the kid that she went about getting rid of him in a very very irresponsible way. But if he was violent and psycopathic, as she claims, I can totally understand her not being able to cope.
Another thing that nobody has mentioned: this 8 year old Russian boy went to the USA for six months, and came back unable to speak Russian? That's ridiculous.
posted by crazylegs at 7:04 AM on April 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


This story is very "off" so I am reserving judgement on this woman or the authorities, though being Russia, we may never actually learn what happened. (Journalists who do pursue actual news there have a bad habit of ending up dead, don't they?)

But that doesn't mean there isn't a larger problem with under-regulated foreign adoption.

A close friend of mine right now is dealing with a horrific situation; an acquaintance of hers adopted a beautiful little girl from India, but said person has always been erratic and unstable, and now appears to be abusive/neglectful to this little girl. She should never have been allowed to adopt anyone, and why she would even want to is a mystery in the first place.

My friend and several others who know this family are desperately talking to lawyers about ways to intervene that don't involve having this little girl just sent back to India; the whole thing is vastly complicated by the fact that apparently her citizenship process is not complete. In the meantime, they encourage Abusive Mom to let them babysit the little girl as much as possible. She is very attached to them as a result, and who can blame her.

The whole mess is enraging and heartbreaking and makes everyone involved want to snatch her away and go into hiding until she's 18. But of course, that's not an option.
posted by emjaybee at 7:16 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I chalked up the child not speaking as a result of the ordeal he's just been through.
posted by onhazier at 7:17 AM on April 9, 2010


Couldn't they have taken him to a psychiatrist and gotten him behavioral therapy or something? This is really ridiculous.
posted by anniecat at 7:20 AM on April 9, 2010


The adoptive mother had only spent four days getting to know the boy, prior to securing the adoption.

They make this sound like a horrible thing, but it's pretty typical in international adoption. Some adoptive parents have not met the child before they travel to take custody.

An interesting thing that may be a derail, because I don't know any details of this case, but kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder are really charming and loving to strangers and new people. If this kid suffers from RAD, that first few days may have been amazing--like falling in love, like having this kid just start loving you and treating you like mom from the first moment. I've heard stories like this from adoptive parents. The problem is that kids with RAD have trouble forming (or cannot form) real intimate relationships. I know a couple of parents of kids with RAD and they find it hard to get other people to believe the problems they have, because their children are so charming with people they are not at risk of having real intimate relationship with. So they have a kid who seems like a model kid around other people but who might be out of control, even a threat, at home.
posted by not that girl at 7:21 AM on April 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


Here's a Wall Street Journal article (AP actually) covering the story.
posted by anniecat at 7:23 AM on April 9, 2010


Torry Ann Hansen is listed as a licensed registered nurse in Shelbyville, Tenn., according to the Tennessee Department of Health's Web site. No work address is listed. Her name appears in a list of August 2007 graduates from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., with a Masters of Science in Nursing degree.

Wow.
posted by anniecat at 7:24 AM on April 9, 2010


emjaybee, I just MeMailed you.

For others: If a child in the US is at risk, is being abused or neglected, it doesn't matter if they are a citizen or not. Call the child abuse hotline for your state and report the issues. Children come into foster care regardless of their citizenship status. I personally have fostered children who are not US citizens.
posted by onhazier at 7:29 AM on April 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


She spent four full days with Artem watched by adoption workers before she was allowed to become his mother.

If this is true, then my lens of doom falls squarely on the mother. Let's imagine for a second that this boy is somewhere on the autistic / behavioral spectrum. I'm the parent of an autistic child. If you can't tell something ain't exactly right in a matter of minutes ... you suck at being a parent and shouldn't be allowed to adopt.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:29 AM on April 9, 2010


I'm pretty grossed out by the possibility that this woman was allowed to adopt without thorough vetting and examination of her fitness to raise a child who just by virtue of having been taken from his biological mother and placed in an orphanage, must have had some obstacles to overcome. It sounds like balls were dropped all over the place.

This. I know that the criteria for adopting an older child within the US includes a lot of evaluation and screening and frank discussion of the likelihood of some combination of behavioral issues, learning disabilities, medical issues, emotional trauma.

I thought that most international adoptions required a fairly lengthy residence in the child's country?
posted by desuetude at 7:30 AM on April 9, 2010


Couldn't they have taken him to a psychiatrist and gotten him behavioral therapy or something? This is really ridiculous.

Do you know they didn't? I don't know that they did, but unless I missed something in one of the articles, you don't know either.

I have a friend whose son (adopted domestically from foster care) she had removed from her home to a long-term residential facility for the safety of her two younger children, his biological half-siblings. This was after years of the kind of therapy that can be most effective for kids like him, which failed. Some kids are so damaged they can't be fixed.

I'm not defending this woman. I don't know what led her to send him back with a note instead of taking more responsible actions that would have ensured his safety throughout a transfer of custody. I don't know what recourse there is for parents who cannot deal with a child. But I'd love to see people not blame her for things they don't know she did or didn't do. There's so little real information here.
posted by not that girl at 7:36 AM on April 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Apparently the Russian foreign minister is now calling for a freeze on all adoptions by Americans. So whether the story is "off" or not, it has had a material impact.

Nothing about this in Tennessee news anywhere that I can see (the woman's from Shelbyville, evidently).
posted by blucevalo at 7:41 AM on April 9, 2010


Wow, he's only 7. My family adopted a little 6 year old girl from Russia, and it took her a while to get acclimated, so to speak.

The adoptive mother had only spent four days getting to know the boy, prior to securing the adoption.'

Adopting a child from somewhere that is not close by is hard. Compound that by not knowing the adopted child's language. You have only so much information to go on. Sure, it'd be great to spend months in Russia with the child you wish to adopt, but most people take vacation time to travel and pick up their new son or daughter, and only go the one time. Everything else is based on information handed to them, by the orphanage or some other agency. Of course the orphanage tries to make the kids look like normal kids, but they should also disclose any medical or family history they know (and it looks like they did in this case).

My parents found a local adoption assistance agency, who worked with one particular orphanage in Russia. They knew how the process worked, and a bit of what it was like at the orphanage. Someone from the agency would go over there a couple times a year, bringing clothes and supplies. We only got background information and some video tapes, to see the kids being kids (talking with the adults who ran the orphanage, playing with other kids, putting on little shows). Once we chose a little girl, my parents started the paperwork in the States, and then went to Russia to pick up their new daughter. They were gone a week at most.

We learned no Russian, not to be cruel but because we didn't put in the effort, and she knew no English when she first got here. She was pretty quiet for a good while, and seemed overwhelmed by a lot of things for a few months. Then she grew bold, and manipulative at times. She was also our little girl, and we loved her, even though there were tough periods. At one point she told me and my mother she didn't trust anyone 100%, and we were in the high 80s. Not as a spiteful or hurtful thing, but because she knew she had trust issues.

The worst of it was when she was a teen-ager. To be honest, she did stupid and reckless things with other teen-agers, and I don't think any of them were adopted. Luckily, she's grown up a lot in the last few years. I have co-workers whose biological children sound like more trouble than my adopted sister has been. And I have a cousin who was adopted as a baby, was a great kid through high-school, and with the freedom of college has become something of a mess - is that because she was adopted, or because she's like so many other kids facing new-found freedom? However it goes, there'll be a lot of stress and issues with adopting a child from anywhere, because of their personal background and because you're transplanting from what they knew to this new situation. They're probably in survival mode, not ready to jump into their new parents arms and love them unconditionally.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:44 AM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's certainly possible that a country would use adoption as a way to place children who are otherwise very difficult to care for. It's also possible that a parent would adopt a child, then wish to return him or her because they're not what the parent wanted. I have friends who have adopted children and I have some background in child services.

Children don't come with a guarantee. There have been ask.me questions about "what if my baby isn't the gender I prefer?" There are many people who want a smart, eager-to-please, good-at-sports child. And can she have Mom's pretty blue eyes? and be tall? And they don't think about the potential baby with Muscular Dystrophy, hydrocephaly, heart defect, bipolar disorder. Or the adoptive child whose birth Mom was using alcohol and/or crack cocaine, which can cause permanent damage.

Parenting is not easy and our culture doesn't reward parenting. Soccer mom, helicopter parent, smother mother. I grew up with an alcoholic, bipolar mother, but also with a neighborhood full of families, and Moms and kids at home, so that I saw other families and knew that there were alternatives. Kids had a wider range, and weren't expected to be under tight control at all times. I could leave the house after lunch and not be home till dinner, with no one knowing exactly where I was, and it was okay. It wasn't perfectly safe, but we had lots of people looking out for us. There's not much community support these days, so parents and kids only have each other, and sometimes it doesn't work.

I'm looking forward t hearing the full story. The poor kid didn't deserve this, and I hope he gets some love and care somewhere. Before i judge the family, I'd like to know more.
posted by theora55 at 7:46 AM on April 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Do you know they didn't? I don't know that they did, but unless I missed something in one of the articles, you don't know either.

Yeah no kidding. Which is why I asked. I wasn't saying that she didn't. I'm just saying that if the kid was that bad, a psychiatrist could have prescribed something to calm him down. But you're right, I don't know. And I don't know why someone would adopt without knowing that you really don't know what kind of kid you're going to get or what they're going to turn out being.
posted by anniecat at 7:46 AM on April 9, 2010


Doesn't sound nearly as bad as the Dutch couple who adopted a 4 month old Korean baby, then decided to return her after eight years.
posted by eye of newt at 7:52 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


An interesting thing that may be a derail, because I don't know any details of this case, but kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder are really charming and loving to strangers and new people. If this kid suffers from RAD, that first few days may have been amazing--like falling in love, like having this kid just start loving you and treating you like mom from the first moment. I've heard stories like this from adoptive parents. The problem is that kids with RAD have trouble forming (or cannot form) real intimate relationships. I know a couple of parents of kids with RAD and they find it hard to get other people to believe the problems they have, because their children are so charming with people they are not at risk of having real intimate relationship with. So they have a kid who seems like a model kid around other people but who might be out of control, even a threat, at home.

I heard about this through a story on This American Life that was just horrifying and amazing. My God the patience that woman who adopted that kid had. She was amazing and I'm sure the story was atypical and the lady was atypical. Here it is:

Act One. Love Is A Battlefield.
Alix Spiegel tells the story of a couple, Heidi and Rick Solomon, who adopt a son who was raised in terrible circumstances in a Romanian orphanage, unable to feel attachments to anyone...and what they do about it. (27 minutes)
posted by anniecat at 7:54 AM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


The only thing keeping me from making an arse of myself here at work is the encouragment that this poor guy is most definitely better off not in the care of that horrid woman,

No, no, he is not.

Russian orphanages are incredibly sad, sad places where the children are lucky to get two meals a day. They're lucky to get two minutes of attention from the overworked, underpaid, exhausted caretakers --- some of whom genuinely believe in the work they do but lack resources, and others who really should never be allowed near children.

If nothing else, the resources at the disposal of mother in the US are far greater than that of an orphanage, even if it's in Moscow. The wealth of resources this woman had available to her in Tennessee alone means he could have been better off, even if she is "horrid" woman, if this "horrid" woman called in all the resources she had available to her. Maybe she did, I don't know. But this child is not better off in a Russian orphanage.

The only good news out of this is Artyom may get better care now because he's famous and can serve a purpose for the government. But if he had never been adopted, if he had never gone to the States, then you can bet he wouldn't be getting attention like this at all.

Russia, unfortunately, has a law that only Russian families can adopt infants under a year old. Families from other countries can only be considered after a year has past. There are a few reasons for that law, one of which is the opportunity for the biological parents to change their minds and reclaim their child. But the other is to encourage adoption of Russian children within Russia. The result, then, are children who aren't eligible for an international adoption until after RAD develops, until after malnutrition is developed, and so forth. Many of these kids referenced in this thread, if they were allowed to have been adopted earlier, would likely have had positive outcomes.
posted by zizzle at 7:55 AM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hope the so-called mother goes to jail for this.
posted by caddis at 7:57 AM on April 9, 2010


If the woman was worried that this child would hurt her family (any other small children in the house?), then her only option is to get him out of her house. Period. She should have been smarter about it, but she may have been stressed out of her wit at that moment in time.

Even children can be dangerous. Children can brandish knives, sexually molest, etc.

If he was just being disruptive, then what she did is pretty unforgivable. If she truly felt her family endangered by an unstable minded person, then I can see how it would lead to that.
posted by Malice at 7:58 AM on April 9, 2010


"I'm just saying that if the kid was that bad, a psychiatrist could have prescribed something to calm him down."

That's a bit simplistic and dismissive of the problems that parents face in these situations.
posted by HopperFan at 7:58 AM on April 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'm just saying that if the kid was that bad, a psychiatrist could have prescribed something to calm him down.

If he had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Radical Attachment Disorder, likely not.

None of that excuses the manner in which she handled this. I can't think of anything more terrifying than to send a 7 year old from a rural orphanage back, alone, to Moscow International Airport....just 6 months after he thought he had been adopted for good. That alone is worth years of therapy.
posted by availablelight at 8:03 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief: The worst of it was when she was a teen-ager. To be honest, she did stupid and reckless things with other teen-agers


So you're saying she was a totally normal teen, then?
posted by TreeHugger at 8:08 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]



If nothing else, the resources at the disposal of mother in the US are far greater than that of an orphanage, even if it's in Moscow.

Hell, I don't know if his immigration status prevented it (article claims his visa is soon to expire), but he would have been better off in the US foster care system, or a state residential program.

Hopefully the attention he's received in the press will get him all the help he needs over there, given how high-profile this case is now.
posted by availablelight at 8:09 AM on April 9, 2010


orange swan--

Yes. Everybody should read this story from the Washington Post about parents who left their children in the car, to their death.

Probably the best journalism I've ever read. And frankly, any time I see a lynch mob around a parent's behavior, this is what I think of, and remember.

Warning, that link is not an easy read. But it is _necessary_.
posted by effugas at 8:20 AM on April 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


I have mixed feelings on this. This mother obviously should have tried other ways of dealing with the situation, and maybe she had. In any case, this seems abrupt and somewhat cruel, although I can sadly think of much worse situations. To her credit, she was probably at the end of what she was capable of if she had tried to make this work for six months.

I have a coworker who just got back from Moscow last week after visiting in the hopes of adopting a child. They'd found a possible match in a young boy (five or six years old, I believe) who is in the care of the orphanage system, along with his fifteen year old sister. They were willing to adopt the boy and his sister, if need be due to custody issues and family ties.

Unfortunately, the boy was not a good fit. He tried to break my coworker's finger. He attempted to find the pressure point on my coworker's shoulder, and hit him. This wasn't playfulness, this was outright hostility. The mother of the kids was completely unsuitable in that she refused to care for them, and was alcoholic. Their father is in jail. Their grandmother, after initially hearing that they may be adopted, attempted to take custody, but she was also an alcoholic and didn't feed them.

My coworker decided it wouldn't work, although there is another boy that they may attempt to adopt. Is he a bad person for rejecting a child who is obviously in need? I don't believe so. Now, this kid that the American mother sent back sounds like he might have some of the issues that my coworker encountered at the orphanage. For what it's worth, my friend isn't easily dissuaded from such challenges; he and his wife have fostered some children with behavior issues, although they shy away from that now because they're afraid for the safety of the kids they already have.

I just can't help but think that there's more to this story than we've heard and that the finger-wagging from Russian and British tabloids are not the final word.
posted by mikeh at 8:25 AM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Kremlin's child rights comissioner Pavel Astakhov and Russian Media in general are coming down very hard on the American mother and painting this as cruelty rather than tragedy

When you agree to take care of a child, that is a promise for life.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:27 AM on April 9, 2010


What do parents do when their biological kids are violent with and hostile to them? I think I saw a Jerry Springer or Maury Povich years ago with this but don't recall any resolution or solution.
posted by anniecat at 8:36 AM on April 9, 2010


My coworker decided it wouldn't work, although there is another boy that they may attempt to adopt. Is he a bad person for rejecting a child who is obviously in need?

There is a sea of difference between declining to adopt a specific child and agreeing to adopt a child, then giving up after 6 months and basically sending him off alone in the world.

One involves knowing what your own limits are. The other -- well, maybe she didn't know what she was getting in to, but having a child is a dice roll at best, even a biological child. Ask Jani Schofield's parents. Even if you realize after the adoption that you cannot handle the medical or emotional needs of this specific child, you have still agreed to be his or her parent and should do exactly the same things you would do for your own biological child with the same issues.
posted by anastasiav at 8:40 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


All in all, very sad.
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:56 AM on April 9, 2010


When you adopt, you never really know what you're going to get (despite what adoption reps might tell you).... just like when you give birth, you never really know what you're going to get. If you're not prepared to respond to your adopted child's surprise problems as you would respond to a biological child's surprise problems, you are not cut out for adoption. Or parenthood. End of story.
posted by Never teh Bride at 9:07 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen this one listed up there, but admittedly I skimmed, because this discussion immediately brought this story to mind:

Viktor Alexander Matthey, age 6, of Hunterdon County, New Jersey died of cardiac arrest due to hypothermia after adoptive parents Robert and Brenda Matthey locked him overnight in a damp unheated pump room.

That story still makes me cry, a decade later.

This is another NJ-based story, but luckily the kids were found before they died.

I'm only focusing on NJ because I live here, so these are the stories I know.
posted by inmediasres at 9:12 AM on April 9, 2010


Let me qualify my above comment, however, by saying that I am not suggesting she should have "toughed it out," especially if she felt he was a literal danger to her other child. Rather, she should have had him hospitalized, etc., etc. There were plenty of avenues she could have explored that would have not have involved putting a 7-year-old on a plane to Moscow with some sweeties and biscuits.
posted by Never teh Bride at 9:21 AM on April 9, 2010


filthy light thief: The worst of it was when she was a teen-ager. To be honest, she did stupid and reckless things with other teen-agers

So you're saying she was a totally normal teen, then?


Possibly. "Normal" teens take in a lot, and deal with it all in different ways. Some of her delinquent friends came from strict families and took ahold of any stupid freedom they could claim, while other friends came from wealthy families who demanded nothing of the kids, and they just did whatever they wanted. At least that's what I saw of her friends.

What do parents do when their biological kids are violent with and hostile to them? I think I saw a Jerry Springer or Maury Povich years ago with this but don't recall any resolution or solution.

This is key. Some parents do the same things for their biological kids, though in less drastic ways than sending them alone to Russia. There are military-type camps for kids with behavioral problems, but those seem to be for teen-age kids (from my quick bit of searching). Parents abandon babies on door-steps, but what for those in-between years? and if it is a case of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Radical Attachment Disorder, it's more than something tough love and discipline can correct.

Ideally, the parents would know about the kid when they adopt them (we knew my sister's biological parents were drug users, and that she was raised largely by her grandmother who could no longer take care of the child and herself, but my sister seemed well-balanced in the videos and other details). Then again, there can be issues that come up later, or in different circumstances. Being surrounded by kids your own age, in the same situation as you, who speak your language, is a lot different from being in a wholly foreign environment, where you know no-one, and don't understand what is being said to or about you.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:22 AM on April 9, 2010


Bathtub Bobsled: ...and the fact that she is probably sterile, seeing as she had to adopt a Russian child.

What an ignorant comment. Insulting to Russians, adoptees, people who choose to adopt, women...
posted by applemeat at 9:27 AM on April 9, 2010 [19 favorites]


If you're not prepared to respond to your adopted child's surprise problems as you would respond to a biological child's surprise problems, you are not cut out for adoption. Or parenthood. End of story.

Still, some such people end up with kids, either through adoption or birth. Then what? Demonize them for not knowing more, for not having parents of their own to tell them what to do with kids? Maybe the adoption agencies didn't give her enough information on potential problems that are more likely to occur with adoption, or maybe she took that information too lightly. Saying she is unfit to be a mother is too late now.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:30 AM on April 9, 2010


Bathtub Bobsled: ...and the fact that she is probably sterile, seeing as she had to adopt a Russian child.

What an ignorant comment. Insulting to Russians, adoptees, people who choose to adopt, women...


Yeah, I was just about to say the same thing.
posted by amro at 9:40 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Still, some such people end up with kids, either through adoption or birth. Then what? Demonize them for not knowing more, for not having parents of their own to tell them what to do with kids? Maybe the adoption agencies didn't give her enough information on potential problems that are more likely to occur with adoption, or maybe she took that information too lightly. Saying she is unfit to be a mother is too late now.

Of course it's too late now, in this case.

But is it really too much to ask that people do a little research before committing to be someone's parent, ostensibly for life? And then to do a little more research when things go awry? We live in the age of the Internet, of social services, of information (even if there are no services in your immediate area you can still call orgs in other places for advice).

There is no excuse for not knowing how much can go wrong with international adoptions -- I mean, where did this woman get her info about IA? From reading about Angelina Jolie in People? Not to mention that part of being a parent is that when things get really fucking tough, you buckle the fuck down and figure shit out. You do not panic, throw your hands in the air, and take the path of least resistance.
posted by Never teh Bride at 9:45 AM on April 9, 2010


I just finished reading The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff. It really drives home the importance of parental bonding in the earliest moments of life. Neglect as an infant seems to have the possibility of affecting the child forever. The case of Reactive Attachment Disorder might be the extreme consequence, but there are probably other milder ones.

Adopting children from an orphanage might seem like the best way to help children in general, but probably the better strategy would be to donate to organizations that provide birth control. There is no cure for disorders like Reactive Attachment Disorder, but children with this disorder are typically born to women who did not want them.
posted by melissam at 9:46 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


What do parents do when their biological kids are violent with and hostile to them?

They sometimes have to do this.
posted by availablelight at 9:51 AM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Came in to tell Bathtub Bobsled that nothing has kept him from making an arse of himself, but others have gotten there first with kinder words.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:53 AM on April 9, 2010


It's tragic, but sending adopted kids back isn't always headline news. Sometimes it happens in secret, and the agency tries to cover it up.

In college, I babysat a family who had three natural children before they decided to adopt a girl from China. When the parents came back from Singapore, where they picked up Lily at a halfway point, we immediately saw something was off. For one thing, she was about the size of the family's three year-old daughter, even though her birth certificate said she was only 21 months. She had severe RAD, which was normal for her situation. She was also deaf, a fact that the parents retrospectively realized had been covered up at the Singapore meeting place by wildly gesturing caretakers.

Of course, the family loved Lily immediately and the kids accepted her as their littlest sister, but the parents were still curious about why their two year-old was pronounced nearly four years old at the pediatrician's clinic. After some digging, they discovered Lily had been adopted previously as an infant and was ultimately sent back to China when she was three after her "family" in Tallahassee cited behavioral problems, disabilities, and an apparent inability to bond with her adoptive parents. When the orphanage once again had Lily on their hands, they switched out Lily's birth certificate for a younger baby who died, hid her deafness, and sent her off again to a new home. As there's monetary incentive for Chinese orphanages to adopt out the less-than-healthy kids who drain their finances, getting rid of Lily was a relief.

Lily is far luckier than Artyom because her family was perfect for a special-needs child, but her story makes me pause to vilify this American mother too much. There's so much desperation in these orphanages, and so many children who get shuffled through the system by incompetent and opportunistic caretakers. It's never as easy as sending in an application and then flying across the world to pick up your impoverished but adorable, grateful, lucky new child. Too many people, parents and orphanage workers and the media, have an idea of what adoption must "look like," how it must be naturalized and normalized, and it's too often that the victims of the reality disconnect are little kids.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:04 AM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


When you agree to take care of a child, that is a promise for life.

No.

Children are not more important than adults. They're not less important, and they're certainly more vulnerable, but they are not more important.

When you accept the responsibility of caring for a child, you are offering a great deal, but there have to be reasonable limits. Those limits include (but are not limited to) your safety and the safety of those around you, the financial burden imposed by the child and certain extremes of emotional requirement.

In nearly every other interaction between two groups, there is an expectation that both parties are acting in good faith, and no one would look down on a party for ending an agreement if it turned out that the other party used fraudulant claims to sell the agreement on false pretenses. There's no good reason why adoption should be different.

Good faith agreements require that all parties involved have all relevant information regarding the subject matter. It's quite possible that this woman looked at the information that was provided to her, weighed the difficulties presented against her ability to handle them, and made a rational judgment based on what she'd been told. None of this justifies putting a child on a plane alone, but that doesn't mean that it's reasonable to say "no backsies" if the parent doesn't have the financial or emotional resources necessary to care for the child while still caring for herself or other children.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:08 AM on April 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


When you adopt, you never really know what you're going to get

Not entirely, but she at least ought to have been warned that the kid's mother is a drunkard. Was she? She does say she was "lied to and misled" by people on the Russian end. If she knew the facts, she could have decided fairly whether to risk adopting a kid with a much higher than usual chance of having all sorts of permanent problems.

Of course she shouldn't have sent him out the door alone with just a printed Google.ru map to Москва and all of his stuff tied up in a red polka dot kerchief hanging from a stick over his shoulder, but she should have been fully warned if, as she claims, the stranger she was taking into her family is "violent and has severe psychopathic" problems.
posted by pracowity at 10:09 AM on April 9, 2010


Bathtub Bobsled: ...and the fact that she is probably sterile, seeing as she had to adopt a Russian child.

What an ignorant comment. Insulting to Russians, adoptees, people who choose to adopt, women...


"The NSFG showed that adoption of an unrelated child was most common among childless women, those with fertility impairments, White women, and those with higher levels of income and education. "
(Mosher & Bachrach, 1996).


1% of white women adopt black children
5% of white women adopt children of other races
2% of women of other races adopt white children (estimates include foreign-born). (Stolley, 1993)


The inclusion of the word "Russian" in my comment was not intentional. Aside from that, I don't take back what I said.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:21 AM on April 9, 2010


Lily is far luckier than Artyom because her family was perfect for a special-needs child, but her story makes me pause to vilify this American mother too much.

I don't know. My gut wants to believe that this mother should have done something other than send him back to Russia all alone, that there must be options. Trouble is, I can't come up with what they could be. Though I don't know what's worse, the Russian orphanages or the US foster care system. I don't know what choices she really had.
posted by anniecat at 10:27 AM on April 9, 2010


Bathtub Bobsled, you are stereotyping. You are making a lot of assumptions and you don't know the facts. You don't know why she adopted a Russian child, why she adopted any child, or the state of her reproductive organs. Also, I personally find rejoicing in the assumption that she has health problems really distasteful.
posted by amro at 10:30 AM on April 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


I and my older sister are adopted, and my dad once told me a story about the first time he and my mom went through the process. They were brought in to meet a baby girl, and while something seemed off, they were assured everything was hunky dory, the girl was healthy and such. But a nurse took him aside and told him that no, the girl had gone through some kind of brain issues and might never fully recover. They were kind of shocked by the lie -- he's still kind of bitter about it, 45 years later -- but stuck with the process and a few months later adopted my sister.

If you read into the literature and anecdotes of adoption, one of the pervasive themes is that the organizations that facilitate adoption lie, and they do it all the time. Lots of white lies and lots of deep lies, about who birthparents are, why they were giving the child up, and, of course, why adoption is the right thing. (See, especially, "The Girls Who Went Away," probably the best recent account of 1950s-1970s adoption in America, though "Strangers and Kin" is a must read, too.)

There's another book, whose title I can't remember, by a woman who adopted two girls from Russia and was assured they were perfectly healthy. Of course they weren't -- deep psychological issues and nearly impossible to raise.

Point being: We can assume the Russian agency lied to get the kid into a home. American agencies lie to get kids into a home. American agencies lie to get kids into the adoption system in the first place.

Should an adoptive parent have to carry the weight of an agency's misrepresentations? Forever?
posted by dbrown at 10:42 AM on April 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Here's a video report in English by Russia Today. The little boy (very cute) waves to all the cameras from the van. Apparently the adoptive mother was a single mom but the adoptive grandmother lived with both of them and Hansen's son.
posted by anniecat at 10:43 AM on April 9, 2010


How do we help?

This feels to me like that story about the chicago-area asshole who bit the head off a little girl who didn't want her library to close. It made me unhappy and, more importantly, it made me feel powerless to help.

How do we help these kids? How does posting this help these kids?
posted by Fraxas at 10:53 AM on April 9, 2010


If you read into the literature and anecdotes of adoption, one of the pervasive themes is that the organizations that facilitate adoption lie, and they do it all the time. Lots of white lies and lots of deep lies, about who birthparents are, why they were giving the child up, and, of course, why adoption is the right thing.

I'm not really the type to rail about the evils of postmodern capitalism and the corrupting effect of the profit motive, but I have to say I just can't believe that adoption (!!) of all things has for-profit entities involved in the process. There's not too many places where I think an outright ban on private for-profit organizations being involved makes sense, but I think adoption is right at the top of that list, for me. It's like if we allowed for-profit companies to be involved in the process of organ donation--it should take about 5 seconds for anyone with two functioning brain cells to figure out that it's a disaster waiting to happen.
posted by iminurmefi at 10:57 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's more information coming out about exactly what the boy was doing, according to his adoptive grandmother, Nancy Hansen. From ABC News:

Nancy Hansen, the boy's grandmother, told The Associated Press that she and the boy flew to Washington and she put the child on the plane with the note from her daughter.

She told the AP that the child began hitting, kicking and spitting and making threats in January.

"He drew a picture of our house burning down and he'll tell anybody that he's going to burn our house down with us in it," Hansen said. "It got to be where you feared for your safety. It was terrible." Nancy Hansen said she and her daughter, a single mother, went to Russia together to adopt the boy, and she believes information about his behavioral problems was withheld from her daughter. "The Russian orphanage officials completed lied to her because they wanted to get rid of him," Nancy Hansen said.


A friend and neighbor of Torry Hansen, who identified himself only as "Mr. Austin" said the Hansens were a nice family and the boy had been causing problems, including setting fires and trying to burn the house down.
posted by anniecat at 11:24 AM on April 9, 2010


Why do I always read stuff like this when my kids aren't around to be hugged?
posted by davejay at 11:27 AM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


and the fact that she is probably sterile, seeing as she had to adopt a Russian child.

Bathtub Bobsled, it's the fact that you hurl "sterile" as if it's an epithet that makes your statement offensive.

I can understand being unwilling to adopt a special-needs child after being lied to, if the child is violent and threatening her. I still don't understand why she sent the child back without supervision or food or clothing.
posted by desuetude at 11:44 AM on April 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


To echo what blucevalo said, the potential impact of freezing all Russian adoptions to the US is big. I can't even comprehend the pain and confusion that could be on the horizon due to that statement.

Also of note is that Russia does not participate in the Hague Adoption Convention, an agreement between countries for the overall adoption process; instead, they have another internal accreditation process. The logistics are such that unscrupulous agencies could prey on adoptive parents' ignorance. More info:
Russia is not a full party to the Hague Adoption Convention; therefore adoption agencies processing Russian adoptions to the US are not required to hold US accreditation under the Hague Adoption Convention rules. But most adoption agencies with Russian programs also work in Hague Adoption Convention countries. So, what has happened during 2008 is that a large number of US-based international adoption agencies now hold US accreditation for their Hague-governed work, whether or not they also hold a Russian Permit for Adoption Activity in order to process adoptions in Russia.
I also take great offense at the term "real mother" used in the Daily Mail article to talk of the birthmother. While the adoptive mother is, indeed, chickenshit (and arguably unfit to parent) she is still the child's mother.
posted by hijinx at 11:46 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


....and now it's on the Tennessean, including this tidbit about minors flying alone:

Nancy Hansen told The Associated Press on Friday from her home in Shelbyville, Tenn., that she put the child on a plane to Russia with a note from her daughter. She says the family paid a man $200 to pick the boy up at the airport and take him to the Russian Education and Science Ministry.

Hansen says the boy, known as Justin to his adoptive family, was sent back to the ministry because the family thought officials there could take care of him. She says it wasn't child abandonment because a flight attendant was watching the boy on the flight and a reputable person picked him up in Russia.


[...]

United Airlines requires a parent or guardian dropping off a child for a flight to show an ID and to list who is picking the child up at the destination. United Airlines allows unaccompanied children as young as 5 years old on direct flights. Children age 8 and above can catch connecting flights, as well.

United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said all the unaccompanied minors on the flight that arrived in Moscow on Thursday were picked up by the person listed on the form.

posted by jquinby at 11:49 AM on April 9, 2010


There are residential treatment facilities for children who are threatening to harm themselves or others. When a kid starts making threats like that, the child needs to be taken and checked into a hospital or a residential treatment facility to get the help the child needs. This is what parents do when their child is that disturbed. As a nurse, she should have known that! Taking him to the airport was not the right solution.
posted by onhazier at 11:50 AM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am sure there is more to this story than any of us can or will ever know.

I am sure this kid was more than a handful (as would any child who had given up by an alcoholic mother, then passed to an orphanage, then send around the world within the span of 1 year).

I am sure this woman has her own mental issues.

And I sure as hell know in my darkest parenting hours I have fantasized about putting myself on a plane to god-knows-where, but geez ... I just picture putting a confused and scared 7-year-old on a plane by himself to Russia and I feel like someone punched me in the gut.
posted by thekilgore at 12:17 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are residential treatment facilities for children who are threatening to harm themselves or others. When a kid starts making threats like that, the child needs to be taken and checked into a hospital or a residential treatment facility to get the help the child needs.

And swiftly go bankrupt. Or be denied access by the treatment center because you don't have insurance. Or be denied the third time, even if you do have insurance, because after two in-patient treatment episodes, you child is now only insured from the neck down.

Not that "DIVORCE! DIVORCE! DIVORCE!" is an option -- but it's not as simple as just putting the kid there. Obtaining inpatient mental care for children can be a pretty frustrating thing for a parent, depending on circumstances.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:18 PM on April 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Reading all the comments about what the mother should have done, I was reminded of the Sam Manzie case. Sam told his psychiatrist that he wanted to hurt a child, and yet a week before Sam murdered Eddie Werner he was deemed "not a danger to himself or others" by a psychiatric emergency unit.

When the Manzies took their son to family court, his father said was afraid of his son and claimed his son needed a 24 hours residential program (Sam was going to a 5 1/2 hour a day out-patient program.) After the judge asked Sam if he knew the difference between right and wrong, he sent Sam home with his terrified parents. Furthermore, the judge said, ''But he is their child and he is their responsibility, and he's going to get better faster if they help than they avoid it.''

This was their biological child. They took extreme measures to get him help and protect their own safety. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough and another child was murdered.

The drawings of the burning house reminded me of the Manzie case. Parents, whether adoptive, biological, or foster, dealing with children who demonstrate these kind of behaviors are in an exceptionally difficult position and shouldn't just be dismissed or vilified.

This doesn't mean the whole plane/note trick is in any way acceptable, but it's important to consider that the child may have been a very real threat to the safety of the entire family.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:49 PM on April 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


Bathtub Bobsled, it's the fact that you hurl "sterile" as if it's an epithet that makes your statement offensive.

I'm not defending the comment, but you're reading in to it what you want to. He didn't hurl it as an epithet, he was indicating that it meant she couldn't have more children, which he thinks is good because she's a bad mom in his opinion. The comment was in certainly in poor taste, and was more noise than signal, but the sexism you're claiming is a least charitable way to read the comment, and isn't really supported by the text.
posted by spaltavian at 12:54 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have tremendous sympathy for everyone involved in this case. The kid, the siblings, the mom. . . everyone.

A kid doesn't get to be that fucked up overnight, or even only due to circumstances that befell him in the womb. It takes a lot of neglect and abuse on an institutional level to generate a child with that many problems. The kid is definitely a victim here.

The mom may well have been lied to. My best friend's next door neighbor adopted a child from russia -- they were told he was seven or eight months old. He wasn't sitting up on his own yet, but they figured that was just due to neglect, and that he would come around. Finally, they took him to the doctor, where they learned that he was nearly THREE, and had terrible neuromuscular disabilities. They chose not to reverse the adoption, and now their son lives a relatively happy life, albeit non-verbal, confined to an electric wheelchair, and fed through a G-tube. But they're rich, and they have great insurance, and this child was never a threat to their other children. I can easily see how circumstances could have made that a much, much harder decision.

And then, yeah, the mom might not have been really totally up to scratch for an international adoption. It's the agency's job to find those problems and weed them out, though. My father-in-law's wife used to broker international adoptions, and she worked very hard to screen and prepare people for the process. But is it too much to imagine that an agency shady enough to lie about a child's disabilities would also fail to perform their due diligence on the parents?
posted by KathrynT at 1:09 PM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I come from Mars, and here's what I see.

A violent kid, incurably psychologically damaged, is adopted by a parent who has been lied to about his condition, the kid puts the family in imminent danger, so they give him back to the organization that lied. The parent is condemned unreservedly. The kid is fucked now - but... the kid was fucked anyway, and really? - this experience impacts the psychopathic kid ZERO one way or another - I mean, he had a few months at a place he hated so much he wanted to burn down and murder all the people there, and now he's back to his old place he probably hates too - oh, what a loss in his view that he doesn't get to go back to the place he wanted to burn. Yeah, the kid is fucked and has always been fucked and will always be fucked - that's what being incurably mentally ill means. We lock up such people, because they are a danger to all. But the adoptive parent is condemned in the strongest of terms.

Another parent comes, takes a look at the kid, decides not to adopt. This prospective parent is not condemned. The kid remains as fucked as before. This person, hasn't even given the kid a chance - unlike the failed adoptive parent above. But this person is judged better than the adoptive parent. Kid is still fucked.

Another person is asked, would you ever consider adopting a child from Russia? Person answers: I already have my own biological kid, and at least have a tiny bit of informational advantage over an adopted kid, but of course no guarantee of any kind, but adopt a kid from Russia - not in a million years - it's equivalent to jogging along the middle of the autobahn; at night; in black non-reflective clothing. This person is not condemned. This person hasn't even gone as far as be even willing to look at kids for adoption, unlike the person who went to the orphanage - and certainly hasn't given it their best like the failed adoptive parent. This indifferent person is not condemned.

Another person is asked - how about kids? Answers: don't want any - not adopted, not my own, not any period, even though I could afford one, and my decision is purely selfish or merely rational, see it as you wish - too much trouble, and rationally doesn't make sense. This person is applauded. The kid at the orphanage is still fucked.

Now I look at the fuckedness status of the kid in each of these scenarios, and conclude that in NONE of them has his status been changed. He is equally fucked in all situations. So all the outrage and all the judgments one way or another of all these people HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CHILD. NOTHING. It's not about the child.

Now I look at how we judge the people involved in each case. And I conclude that the less you exert yourself on behalf of the kid (and in the last case, any kid), the better you are judged. The worst judged is the parent who at gave it the most effort, however non-superhumanly perfect their abilities may have been.

These Earthlings are a puzzle, I tell ya. But I did learn a very useful phrase: "Think about the children" - which, from what I understand, is always invoked for dubious ends. Like in this one.
posted by VikingSword at 1:36 PM on April 9, 2010 [30 favorites]


If I adopted a kid who turned out to be all kinds of fucked up and I found out that people knew this about my kid BEFORE I adopted him, I'd be pissed and I don't know what I would do. I know what I wouldn't do, and that'd be "I'll just stick him on an airplane and I bet everything will be alright."
posted by 23skidoo at 1:43 PM on April 9, 2010


The issue of whether the parent was lied to by the adoptive agency is separate from the issue of whether the parent should have sent the child back to Russia like a sack of coal. One can feel for the mother, and yet insist that she had a responsibility to return the child in a legal and humane manner.
posted by lillygog at 1:48 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I come from Mars, and here's what I see.

A violent kid, incurably psychologically damaged, is adopted by a parent who has been lied to about his condition, the kid puts the family in imminent danger, so they give him back to the organization that lied.


On Earth, the phrase "To Whom it May Concern" is pretty much reserved for when you have no idea who will be reading the letter in question. If she was giving that kid back to the organization that lied, she should've talked to someone there, and gotten their name, and arranged a way to have the kid sent back and picked up by someone from the agency. Just because Russia is where the organization that lied is, that doesn't mean that she gave him back to the organization that lied. She stuck a kid on a plane and hoped that everything would turn out okay.

On Earth, that fucking sucks.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:51 PM on April 9, 2010


On Earth, that fucking sucks.

Exactly.
posted by lillygog at 1:52 PM on April 9, 2010


VikingSword, I'd agree far more with your comment if this were "just" about a disrupted adoption. But it isn't - it's a story about an American woman who bought her son a one way ticket to Russia and put him on the plane.
posted by moxiedoll at 1:59 PM on April 9, 2010


Here's the interview the Russian child rights minister had with the boy. They taped it and it's on YouTube courtesy of Russia Today.
posted by anniecat at 2:02 PM on April 9, 2010


On Earth, the phrase "To Whom it May Concern" is pretty much reserved for when you have no idea who will be reading the letter in question. If she was giving that kid back to the organization that lied, she should've talked to someone there, and gotten their name, and arranged a way to have the kid sent back and picked up by someone from the agency. Just because Russia is where the organization that lied is, that doesn't mean that she gave him back to the organization that lied. She stuck a kid on a plane and hoped that everything would turn out okay.

On Earth, that fucking sucks.


Interesting. Here's what I see: a psycho kid terrorizes a family for months. They send him back, but don't address the letter to a specific person - and the consequence to the kid is... ? Does the kid suffer even one tiny, tiny, microscopic bit, because the name is not on the letter? I think on any planet, even Earth, that doesn't make any sense.

So - the kid was sent back alone? Not quite: as linked above - "United Airlines requires a parent or guardian dropping off a child for a flight to show an ID and to list who is picking the child up at the destination. United Airlines allows unaccompanied children as young as 5 years old on direct flights. Children age 8 and above can catch connecting flights, as well.

United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said all the unaccompanied minors on the flight that arrived in Moscow on Thursday were picked up by the person listed on the form."


What MORE could have been done? That the parent should have accompanied the kid? The same parent the kid hates and wants to burn alive? That would give the kid comfort? Somehow, it seems, I don't know - illogical. But even if that were so, that the parent he hates doesn't accompany him on a few hours journey in an airplane is a very, very, very minor wrinkle in the life of this psycho kid - if any at all - and certainly does not justify the outpouring of vitriol on the parent.

I as a Martian, conclude that for social approval on Earth, in this situation, the parent should have bought an extra ticket and fought with screams and spitting and hitting and throwing from the kid, all the way to Moscow. Now we love ya! But for even greater social approval the parent shouldn't even have bothered in the first place - just passed by the orphanage with screaming kids without stepping in - filed their nails while remarking "too bad, so sad", and walked off to admire the old churches of Moscow. Think of all the love the parent would get when showing those pictures from Moscow - ooh, the Mausoleum! "This here? Just some orphanage. Hey, and here, look at the ice cream vendors!".
posted by VikingSword at 2:06 PM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'll point out that she DID know who was picking the child up. She put that person's name on a form, and the airline confirmed that the named person did indeed pick the child up.

I'm not arguing that it was a good or right thing to do. But if she felt the child was in imminent danger of harming her other kids and yet she didn't have any social services options for removing him, she might not have been able to think of a better choice in the time she had.
posted by KathrynT at 2:07 PM on April 9, 2010


Also, I personally find rejoicing in the assumption that she has health problems really distasteful.

Ah. I think I see what everyone was so mad about. I can see what you could've taken from what I said.

When I stated that I was glad she was sterile, I meant it as "I'm glad there isn't the potential that she could be a mother in the future and maybe treat another child with the same dismissive attitude."

I wasn't rejoicing in any potential physical concern.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:12 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]



Thank you spaltavian.


Yes, that is what I meant.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:13 PM on April 9, 2010


imho, the issue of the flight itself is a distraction from the other, perhaps more pressing concerns related to the case. speaking as a 6 year old put on an international flight alone (albeit by parents to grandparents)
posted by infini at 2:15 PM on April 9, 2010


I watched the interview excerpt. First, it's only 37 seconds long, and mostly in Russian with no subtitles, so I can't understand most of it. What I can understand is that the kid says "Bad" and then the social worker says "She was bad?" and the kid nods. Then the social worker says "So, she hit you, then?" and the kid shakes his head and looks puzzled.

That . . . doesn't appear to be particularly clarifying.
posted by KathrynT at 2:18 PM on April 9, 2010


As the adoptive parent of a girl from China, I'd like to ask for people to refrain from stupid remarks about sterility. That's one thing that is simply beyond bounds. People adopt for million reasons and her physical condition is not the issue.

That said, this adoptive mother and the agency that supposedly screened her ought to be arrested. There's simply no excuse for handling this situation this way, none.

I would not be at all surprised to discover that this poor boy has multiple problems, maybe more than she could handle, and I have a great deal of sympathy for both him and the adoptive parent, if she was misled. A lot of the Eastern European kids have been coming in with emotional/mental problems because of alcohol abuse.

There have indeed been three or four deaths of Russian adopted kids in the last decade, and this is not the first time Russia has complained. There was also the case of the adoptive father who was charged with beating his kid on the plane on the way HOME from Russia.

I had thought Russia required prospective parents to spend time with the kids in Russia, a week or so or longer, that I would think allow enough time to discover if the kid is violent. If not, and Russia is indeed offering kids who are damaged, than it's the United States should stop the program, and not wait for Russia to react.
posted by etaoin at 2:24 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


the whole thing is vastly complicated by the fact that apparently her citizenship process is not complete

I just noticed this from above. As of the end of Clinton's second term, kids adopted from overseas are automatically, instantly, American citizens. This was not the case when I adopted my daughter but citizenship should not be an issue. I suspect there might be another issue, like maybe the adoption wasn't finalized in India, which has been remarkably difficult and expensive for adoptive parents.
posted by etaoin at 2:28 PM on April 9, 2010


imho, the issue of the flight itself is a distraction from the other, perhaps more pressing concerns related to the case. speaking as a 6 year old put on an international flight alone (albeit by parents to grandparents)

In fact it is laughable. If indeed it was such a trauma, you'd hardly have airlines have standard policies which allow "unaccompanied children as young as 5 years old on direct flights" - this is an airline in the U.S. and is not run by the Gestapo, presumably this standard policy has been vetted by child psychologists.

But you are 100% right - it is utterly absurd to imagine that the major trauma of the situation is these few hours of flight. Not the months, and months of terrorizing of the family the threats to burn down the house and burn alive the whole family and the entire sad debacle of abandoned children who came into this world poisoned in the womb of the mother by alcohol and drugs, the tragedy of medical science being inadequate to answer these challenges, the infrastructure of the country that forces orphanages into despicable lies. No. The real issue are the few hours of flight. By the book. On a standard airline policy. Yeah, sounds... hmm... I think "fair and balanced" has a nice ring to it - good enough for mob justice.

I think that the tragedy of the situation - that's nobody's fault 100% - or rather the fault that's distributed along an amorphous stretch from history to politics to economy, something that cannot be corrected through some quick direct action - frustrates everyone, because it IS a tragedy. And rather than face that uncomfortable fact, we lash out at any convenient scapegoat. Like this parent. Boy, we find one tiny, tiny, tiny spec in the eye of that parent - something that they didn't get 100% right (or even if they got right, may SEEM not to on a cursory glance), and we'll stone them. Now we can all feel better. The kid? Oh, as fucked as before. It never was about the kid though, but about us and our conscience and our power to affect the world. It's ritualistic, not realistic. Which is why applying logic - as a Martian might - can only yield absurdity.
posted by VikingSword at 2:29 PM on April 9, 2010


You're right, VikingSword, the kid probably is screwed regardless, but the woman still took a pretty irresponsible way to hande the situation.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:39 PM on April 9, 2010


The real issue are the few hours of flight.

I'm not sure anyone suggested that. References to the flight are references to the act of abandonment. Had the abandonment taken another form (dropping him off in a field of daisies, say) I think the reactions would be pretty much the same. It's a horrible situation all around, and I do feel for the mother, but I don't think it's hypocritical to judge someone based upon their own responsibilities. You, me and the martian all judge the Pope - and the fact that none of us have ever run a diocese, let alone the entire Roman Catholic Church, doesn't mean we're prancing around filing our nails and should shut the fuck up 'cause at least he tried.
posted by moxiedoll at 2:48 PM on April 9, 2010


I'm not sure anyone suggested that.

On the contrary. Quoting you:

VikingSword, I'd agree far more with your comment if this were "just" about a disrupted adoption. But it isn't - it's a story about an American woman who bought her son a one way ticket to Russia and put him on the plane.

I'm afraid you specifically excluded the disruption of the adoption being the issue, and focused on the mechanics of the flight.

References to the flight are references to the act of abandonment. Had the abandonment taken another form (dropping him off in a field of daisies, say) I think the reactions would be pretty much the same. It's a horrible situation all around, and I do feel for the mother, but I don't think it's hypocritical to judge someone based upon their own responsibilities.

She didn't abandon the kid. Not in a field of daisies, or on Mars, with no one to pick up the kid. "United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said all the unaccompanied minors on the flight that arrived in Moscow on Thursday were picked up by the person listed on the form."

So is it about the disruption of adoption after all?

but I don't think it's hypocritical to judge someone based upon their own responsibilities.

Which she discharged. She couldn't handle the kid - the kid was an imminent danger to everyone - death by burning of the entire family. There are uncontrollable kids. Mentally ill kids. Kids that must be institutionalized. She handed him over. The right person picked him up. So what's the problem? Or are we back to flight mechanics? Flight mechanics for which the airline has standard policies which were followed in this case?

You, me and the martian all judge the Pope - and the fact that none of us have ever run a diocese, let alone the entire Roman Catholic Church, doesn't mean we're prancing around filing our nails and should shut the fuck up 'cause at least he tried.

The pope tried? Tried what? To cover up child rape? I agree. And condemn him without reservation. I suggest that participating in subverting the law and covering up for criminal activities is in a different universe from what this mother did. I don't need to run a diocese to understand that I must adhere to the law and turn over any cases involving crime - including child rape - to the police. You just have to understand that crime=must be reported - which, I think, they teach 10 year olds.
posted by VikingSword at 3:03 PM on April 9, 2010


Gotcha. I was using a term of art, I guess, and I was really unclear. So when I said "just" a disrupted adoption I was referring to the term used for an adoption that doesn't "stick" but that is dealt with. Go ahead and google it - one of the first links says:

In the end, Joyce and Bill were part of the process of approving a new adoptive family and transitioning Jei Win to the family.

It's a term used in the adoption world, and it's very different than abandonment. (But it was stupid of me to think that everyone would know it's an expression and not just my own choice of words).

There are uncontrollable kids. Mentally ill kids. Kids that must be institutionalized. She handed him over.

Absolutely there are kids that have to be institutionalized, and for a parent to make that choice and go down that road is by no means abandonment or an abdication of responsibility - quite the opposite. But this isn't a story about a woman who had her child institutionalized, it's a story about a woman who put her kid on a plane to the other side of the world and crossed her fingers. That's what people are troubled by. I can state absolutely in my case that it wasn't the plane ride that disturbed me about this story.
posted by moxiedoll at 3:29 PM on April 9, 2010


I don't need to run a diocese to understand that I must adhere to the law and turn over any cases involving crime - including child rape - to the police.

Me either - it's an analogy. Like how I don't have to adopt a child with RAD to understand that you can't just mail a kid back where he came from. It seemed to me like you were suggesting that anyone who didn't adopt such a child had no business objecting to the way someone who did dealt with the situation.
posted by moxiedoll at 3:34 PM on April 9, 2010


OK, how is this abandonment? She clearly made contact with someone who was expecting to pick the child up, because she gave the airline a name and that person did in fact step up to get the kid. That doesn't seem even a little bit like abandonment -- she didn't just put him in a basket and set him among the bulrushes.
posted by KathrynT at 3:34 PM on April 9, 2010


Please note that I'm not saying this was a good or even remotely appropriate way to handle the situation -- just that "abandonment" doesn't seem to be the word for it.
posted by KathrynT at 3:35 PM on April 9, 2010


it's a story about a woman who put her kid on a plane to the other side of the world and crossed her fingers.

Exactly. There were numerous ways of doing this above board -- procedures to follow, ways of getting help -- but she apparently decided that that would be too much trouble, so she just e-mailed a tour guide, stuck a letter to the kid and said, "Screw it, ain't my problem now." It's the willful abandonment of responsibility that's so troubling.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:36 PM on April 9, 2010


OK, how is this abandonment? She clearly made contact with someone who was expecting to pick the child up, because she gave the airline a name and that person did in fact step up to get the kid.

Yeah, but that was just a tour guide she paid a couple of hundred bucks. It's not like there was a plan in place. It was pretty much just, "Here's two hundred bucks, take the kid to the authorities or something." It's abandonment in that she intentionally stopped providing for the kid's welfare without putting much of an effort into ensuring his future care. It's the same way leaving a kid on the doorstep of a fire station is abandonment.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:40 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah. I thought she hired the tour guide to get him TO the airport, and then had a rep from the agency pick him up. Although, if she hired a tour guide to pick him up, surely she gave the guide a destination?
posted by KathrynT at 3:45 PM on April 9, 2010


OK, that's what I get for not reading more closely. Yeah, she totally just hired some poor schmo to take the kid to the Science Ministry. That's. . . yeah, roughly equivalent to dropping him off at the fire station. Not cool.
posted by KathrynT at 3:47 PM on April 9, 2010


Interesting. Here's what I see: a psycho kid terrorizes a family for months. They send him back, but don't address the letter to a specific person - and the consequence to the kid is... ? Does the kid suffer even one tiny, tiny, microscopic bit, because the name is not on the letter? I think on any planet, even Earth, that doesn't make any sense.

On Earth, we have this thing called "back-pedalling". It's where someone makes a bullcrap statement, another person calls them on it, and then the first person starts changing the subject. You were the one who said the mother sent the boy back to an organization, and that is totally wrong. She did not. She put him on a plane to Russia. I never said he was going to suffer for the name being left off the letter, I was just calling you on your bullcrap, martian-liar.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:50 PM on April 9, 2010


Once the child learned enough English, he told his new family about the horrors of his previous life, including being beaten at the orphanage after his mother abandoned him, she said.
He also told of an incident in which he burned down a building near the orphanage, she said.
Hansen said the child had a "hit list" of people he was targeting, including her daughter, who he said he "wanted to kill for the house." He threatened to kill her grandson for a videogame, she said.
The final incident that convinced Hansen she should send the boy back to Russia was when she caught him starting a fire with papers in his bedroom last Monday, she said. She feared the child might burn down the house and kill her family, she said.

posted by mecran01 at 3:55 PM on April 9, 2010


Like how I don't have to adopt a child with RAD to understand that you can't just mail a kid back where he came from. It seemed to me like you were suggesting that anyone who didn't adopt such a child had no business objecting to the way someone who did dealt with the situation.

This is genuinely interesting - and I don't say that as snark. First, because to me, what is important is not that we follow this protocol or that protocol to the letter. It's about the overall intent and effect. Why is it important that she hand him over this way vs that way? It cannot be purely practical - i.e. otherwise he'd be lost, because that's highly unlikely. Therefore, it must be, presumably some kind of psychological damage or hurt to the kid. Yes? And if that's the case, I maintain that it most likely made no difference to the kid whatsoever. I mean, he's deported from a situation he absolutely hated - hated so much, he's willing to burn the house down and murder all the people in it. Do you imagine for one nanosecond, that it makes a difference if the person who greets him at the airport is first a tour guide and only then an orphanage official vs immediately an orphanage official? It seems again, we should exclude the flight mechanics from this 100% - it's a distracting non-issue, and merely looks like someone is searching for a good stick to beat the parent with... and it ain't working.

And if it is about the "institutionalized" part - again, what's the difference? He's being institutionalized in the country he knows best - and the language he knows - the parent had no obligation beyond handing him over.

I mean, you can't just "mail the kid back" - this is emotive talk... facts are that at that age it is standard protocol for kids to travel on airlines. Nothing untoward. Perhaps it could've been handled better at the airport - but like I point out... what are the practical consequences on the kid's psychology? So what's this big hulabaloo about, if not impact on the kid? Sorry, I'm just no seeing this.

Finally, I think you misunderstood: "It seemed to me like you were suggesting that anyone who didn't adopt such a child had no business objecting to the way someone who did dealt with the situation." Nowhere have I said or implied this. Anybody can comment on anything regardless of their status - that's a given. I didn't object to that. I merely thought it ironic that so much - disproportionate vitriol - was poured on the parent; the parent who tried their best, even if they didn't do it all 100% perfectly - and ultimately a parent who even in the tiny mistake (tour guide first instead of orphanage official) did no harm to the kid -- this at the same time we reserve no such vitriol for people who do NOTHING for any kid anywhere ever. The kid was as fucked as ever no matter what the adoptive parent did - let's not hide behind the "think about the kids". It's not that we can't comment on the parent because we didn't adopt! It's about keeping things in perspective.
posted by VikingSword at 4:12 PM on April 9, 2010


It's odd--according to the CNN story, it appears that the grandmother took all the action. What does the actual adoptive mother have to say about all this?
posted by torticat at 4:20 PM on April 9, 2010


You were the one who said the mother sent the boy back to an organization, and that is totally wrong. She did not. She put him on a plane to Russia. I never said he was going to suffer for the name being left off the letter, I was just calling you on your bullcrap, martian-liar.

Can you do without the name calling? I didn't insult you. Why are you making this personal? I didn't lie. People may misunderstand each other's meaning without lies involved. If you continue doing this, I will no longer interact with you. I post in good faith. Take you BS somewhere else.

Now onto the merits. My saying "she sent him back to the organization" is a shorthand. She knew that that's where the kid would end up. Should she have put in an address - sure, why not, but... what ultimately matters? What matters is whether the child was in any danger of being lost. There was no such danger. So it's a non-issue. Would it have been better to write the address and name of an orphanage official? Sure, but it made no practical difference. There was no chance that this child would be lost upon return. Instead, it seems to me, people are getting hung up on technicalities so that they can get their hate on for the parent. Find a better target.
posted by VikingSword at 4:23 PM on April 9, 2010


VikingSword I think we mostly agree - I guess I'd say that my own hulabaloo is because:
With reference to the parent - parents have a real legal (and in my own opinion, ethical) obligation to not abandon their children. (And "abandon" is a legal term as well). Parents don't have to continue to parent their children and they can sever that legal relationship - but that's not what happened here.
As for the kid (and I have absolutely no credentials in any subject related to this) - RAD, like a lot of psychological diagnoses (and I don't know that he's been diagnosed with anything) is a spectrum thing. It's not a binary fucked / not fucked. Many children have attachment disorders and other manifestations of psychological trauma - it doesn't mean that they can't progress, or regress, or that they cannot be hurt, or helped. If you're interested in the subject, there's a lot about it online - and I do think that your utter dismissal of the possibility of negative repercussions to the child is off base. His prior traumas don't necessarily preclude him from being further traumatized.
posted by moxiedoll at 4:25 PM on April 9, 2010


Can you do without the name calling? I didn't insult you. Why are you making this personal? I didn't lie. People may misunderstand each other's meaning without lies involved. If you continue doing this, I will no longer interact with you. I post in good faith. Take you BS somewhere else.

What? You're not from Mars, dude. That is what I meant. I found the whole "You earthlings are crazy!" thing tired.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:33 PM on April 9, 2010


Well, moxiedoll, we can go with this in circles, and given that neither of us has all the facts including the exact diagnosis of the kid, makes this a somewhat moot.

I'll leave it with this observation: that is why we can't have nice things. Because however much one criticizes this woman, the fact is, that her "crimes" were pretty minuscule, while she took on a heck of a lot. Condemning her, and then in effect saying "you bought it, now you're stuck with it", no matter how unreasonable and how bad, is a recipe for people not bothering with such acts in the first place. If it becomes the social norm to basically look upon people who do charitable things as chumps who are stuck with a bad deal, and fuck 'em if they make the least mistake, while no opprobrium is reserved for those who don't even bother, well, you end up with a nasty selfish society... hey, wait!
posted by VikingSword at 4:49 PM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Instead, it seems to me, people are getting hung up on technicalities so that they can get their hate on for the parent.

No. People are justifiably upset that she completely abdicated her responsibilities as a parent. If it helps martian, just think of the boy as her birth child. On earth, a parent who chooses to adopt a child has the same responsibilities who a parent who gives birth to a child.

And the only BS I see here is coming from you.
posted by cjets at 4:49 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


saying "you bought it, now you're stuck with it", no matter how unreasonable and how bad, is a recipe for people not bothering with such acts in the first place. If it becomes the social norm to basically look upon people who do charitable things as chumps who are stuck with a bad deal

No need to go in circles - it's clear that we have very different perspectives as to what it means to adopt a child. If you think it's like a purchase or a good deed (and I know a lot of people think that way) then we aren't going to see eye to eye.
posted by moxiedoll at 4:57 PM on April 9, 2010


I find the comment about sterility really distasteful too, for what it's worth, and the vindictiveness therein not at all helpful to the discussion.
posted by agregoli at 5:08 PM on April 9, 2010


If you think it's like a purchase or a good deed (and I know a lot of people think that way) then we aren't going to see eye to eye.

I referred to "you bought it" not in approval, but in criticism of those who - to me - seem to treat is as some kind of a "deal" that an adoptive parent buys into. I have the exact opposite perspective - it is based on love, charity, a good deed. But agreed - we are not going to see eye to eye. Because I do indeed see adopting a child as a good deed on an individual level as well as a social good. In fact, I tried to understand your perspective... I mean what other reasons than a good deed are there to give a child in need a home? A child that is perhaps deeply troubled? It is an act of selfless love. But I get your point: you don't see any element of a good deed in adoption, like the people out there who adopt the child to satisfy their own psychological needs rather than the child, so it is not a "good deed". Fine. Yes, we have different perspectives. I prefer the one where it is a good deed based on selfless love, you prefer other motivations, and that's just a difference in how we see the world.
posted by VikingSword at 5:21 PM on April 9, 2010


I think it's interesting how the original story linked (from Pravda) is so very different than the one from the WSJ (linked later in this thread).

Pravda: "He did not have any adults with him. He was wandering over the airport alone until customs officers paid attention to the exhausted child."
WSJ: "Artyom was met at Moscow's Domodedovo airport Thursday by a translator arranged by his American grandmother. The translator took the boy to the Ministry of Education and Science...."

Pravda: "However, as soon as the boy found himself at the police station, officials of the US embassy showed up very quickly."
WSJ: "U.S. officials called a meeting with Russian authorities in Washington Friday to discuss the boy's case, according to a U.S. State Department official."

Pravda: "Artyom said that he had not been eating anything for several days. He only had several sweets."
WSJ: "[Mr. Asktakhov said] "He brought a package of American cookies and immediately gave them out in the hospital."

Pravda: "The woman wrote that she did not like the boy, he did not fit her, and she decided to return him like a pair of shoes."
WSJ: ""He drew a picture of our house burning down and he'll tell anybody that he's going to burn our house down with us in it.''

One of these news sources is not very reputable and trustworthy.
posted by Houstonian at 5:44 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Neither of them are.
posted by caddis at 6:29 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some of y'all are talking about institutionalization of the kid and getting help as if the mom could have just gone out and gotten some at the drop of a hat.

The population of Tennessee, as in many places, is vastly underserved and underinsured when it comes to psychiatric health care. Many plans don't cover it, or cover it minimally. There are waiting lists, caps for coverage, denials of coverage, etc.

I know personally of suicidal and violent patients, a day or two after they received medication and stopped having suicidal ideation, who were told or had their families told that they were "no longer covered because they are not suicidal anymore," and got kicked out of whatever institution they are in unless they were able to pay for private care. And who of course became suicidal again very shortly.

I seriously question what realistic short and long term options were available to this mom to get care for her son.
posted by jfwlucy at 6:53 PM on April 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


There are residential treatment facilities for children who are threatening to harm themselves or others. When a kid starts making threats like that, the child needs to be taken and checked into a hospital or a residential treatment facility to get the help the child needs. This is what parents do when their child is that disturbed. As a nurse, she should have known that!

As a nurse she probably knew that ongoing residential treatment facilities in the US are few and far between and that she couldn't afford private care. If that kid stayed in the US he was going to go to juvenile hall, then end up on the streets at 18 and shortly afterward commit a violent crime and be incarcerated. Because that is what happens to violent, mentally ill males in the US. A kid like that is far better off in a country that actually does have residential programs that you can get into without being a millionaire. He is going to need to be institutionalized for most of his life and she undoubtedly was aware of that.
posted by fshgrl at 6:54 PM on April 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Exactly. There were numerous ways of doing this above board -- procedures to follow, ways of getting help

Could you walk me through those ways of getting help? I'm not saying she did the right thing here, but "there are ways of getting help" is one of those things people say to minimize the difficulty of a situation they have never been in.

When my parents had to institutionalize my younger sister (by birth, not that it really matters), they had to first relinquish custody to the state, and until they were able to put that through there was a lot of talk about declaring bankruptcy. And this was after she had a violent outburst in the middle of a shopping mall and had to be picked up by the police.
posted by molybdenumblue at 6:58 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it becomes the social norm to basically look upon people who do charitable things as chumps who are stuck with a bad deal, and fuck 'em if they make the least mistake, while no opprobrium is reserved for those who don't even bother, well, you end up with a nasty selfish society... hey, wait!

I'm not suggesting we say "fuck 'er if she makes the least mistake". It definitely seems like this adoption should have been annulled, especially if the Russian adoption agency lied to Hansen.

However, initial reports (see the Pravda/WSJ comparison above) had the boy wandering around the airport alone. Later reports have him met at the gate with a random tour guide hired off the internet.

Are we suggesting that handing a seven-year-old over to a random tour guide hired off the internet is responsible?

The latest CNN story has the grandmother consulting a lawyer online and not even bothering to contact this kid's adoption agency or even the Russian ministry to which she was sending him (via random tour guide).

As to whether or not the kid was a "psycho" who was already so fucked that further mistreatment couldn't possibly hurt him -- as so well put above, it's not a binary fucked/not fucked thing, and just because he's been good-n-traumatized doesn't mean we can't add to it.

Again, the issue of whether she should have sent him back is totally separate from how she sent him back. We should be focusing on the original adoption agency, too, and conditions in these orphanages, but that doesn't mean we can't also assert that Hansen did a shitty, shitty thing.
posted by lillygog at 7:05 PM on April 9, 2010


This is a tough one, so I'm reserving judgment against anybody involved.

I was trying to make this relatable, and I was thinking what if I adopted a dog from the shelter that kept trying to eat my cats, should I return him to the shelter or put him through doggy bootcamp, then I was like FUCK

I'm comparing a kid to a dog

So I'll wait for the Metatalk follow-up post in a few years.
posted by jabberjaw at 7:31 PM on April 9, 2010


lillygog: Again, the issue of whether she should have sent him back is totally separate from how she sent him back. We should be focusing on the original adoption agency, too, and conditions in these orphanages, but that doesn't mean we can't also assert that Hansen did a shitty, shitty thing.

Did she really have alternatives? It's really, really hard to get anyone committed involuntarily in the US, and usually the police are involved (which might make it hard to invoke with small children.) I don't know how easy it is to formally reverse an adoption, but I'm guessing it's difficult to impossible, or one thinks she would have just done that.

'Protect the children' goes both ways. I understand concern for the adopted kid's mental well being, but there's also the well being of the children he was supposedly trying to kill, assuming she was telling the truth.

I'm not saying what she did was ok... just that maybe, without alternatives, I can see why she might do that.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:40 PM on April 9, 2010


I don't know why I feel the need to clarify, except that I'm neurotic, but I do want to add that I don't necessarily think it would have been simple or easy for Hansen to have found therapy and kept the child in the US, and I appreciate some of the other posters' comments on how difficult finding therapy and institutional support for children can be.

So I'm not suggesting she absolutely should have kept him here, and if the child was really threatening to burn the house down and kill his sibling, she must have been under tremendous stress. But that still doesn't excuse the sack-of-potatoes handover.

(I'm not sure why, but this is really pushing buttons for me. I do hope the story becomes more clear in the upcoming days.)
posted by lillygog at 7:45 PM on April 9, 2010


OK, how is this abandonment? She clearly made contact with someone who was expecting to pick the child up, because she gave the airline a name and that person did in fact step up to get the kid. That doesn't seem even a little bit like abandonment -- she didn't just put him in a basket and set him among the bulrushes.

from what i have read, the family found a russian tour guide on the internet and paid him to pick the child up at the airport. i would pretty much consider it abandonment to the extent that they had no way to verify the character or intentions of that person. russian authorities don't seem to have been informed ahead of time about the child's arrival; that guy could have done anything he wanted with the child. they're lucky he wasn't a jeffrey dahmer.

but also, you wouldn't think of paying a stranger on the internet to pick your child up at school.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:45 PM on April 9, 2010


And, seeing Mitrovarr's comment: I am sympathetic to what you're saying, and was thinking along the same lines. It must have been overwhelming for all involved, but I can't help but feel that Hansen, as the adult, had the responsibility to at least contact authorities in Russia for a smooth handover.

(But I certainly don't know what would be involved in a "smooth handover", and how hard that would be to accomplish.)
posted by lillygog at 7:50 PM on April 9, 2010


from what i have read, the family found a russian tour guide on the internet and paid him to pick the child up at the airport. i would pretty much consider it abandonment to the extent that they had no way to verify the character or intentions of that person.

FWIW:

"When the lawyer she found online advised her the adoption could be reversed, Hansen booked the flight and paid the fee for a steward to escort Justin through the airport, she said.
She hired a driver in Moscow she found online to pick the child up from the Moscow airport, she said. She found "safe references" for the driver online, she said.
She then prepared a letter for Justin to present to Russian officials, which included a photo of the driver, whom she identified as "Arthur," she said.

Justin "had never been happier" than when he boarded the plane for Moscow, she said."[emph. mine. VS]
posted by VikingSword at 7:51 PM on April 9, 2010


What a tragedy.

A few points of clarification. On the topic of citizenship, it's important to note that internationally adopted children do not automatically lose their foreign citizenship when they gain US citizenship. Dual citizenship is a tricky topic and while its advantages are obvious (for example, being able to vote/purchase property/do business/etc in another country in which you have citizenship, not to mention being able to travel on a non-US passport in regions which are anti-American) one of the prime disadvantages is that in the other country your local citizenship trumps the international one. In particular, you can be drafted into the army, you have to pay taxes, and if arrested you don't get to call upon the US embassy for help. So, the US diplomats are not guaranteed access to Artem Saveliev, and indeed it's unlikely he will be returned to the US.

Another point is that under extreme circumstances, some parents (both adoptive and birth) do give up their parental rights. Sometimes this is through divorce, sometimes by abandonment, other times to acquire the necessary mental health care, usually expensive residental treatment (this was a strategy that was considered, but rejected, by the parents of Jani Schofield mentioned upthread and also in this Metafilter story). One of my friends from high school was also faced with this heartbreaking decision with her schizophrenic teenager. Here's another story where the mother had to have her child arrested in order to get him the help he needed.

And sometimes, but very very rarely, adoptive parents relinquish custody either to the state or to the adoption agency (if they used one). Some agencies have specific policies of "we take care of our own" and require the adoptive parents to agree to work with the agency if it comes to that point. Relinquishments in this context are called dissolutions (the other term, disruption, refers to adoptions that simply fall through before finalization for any of a variety of reasons). Estimates vary, but some studies on some limited populations done some time ago give numbers between 1 and 3%.

Oh, and if you're looking for really depressing (as in suicidally depressing) reading, go ahead and google some of the support boards for parents of RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) adopted kids. It'll break your heart. The comment at the end of this article terrified me.

Let's be clear about what's going on here. These parents are living in hell. They're dealing with kids who beat them, attack them, set things on fire, attack their siblings, kill the family dog, and so on. It is in society's interest to protect the parents, the family, and society in general from someone who is truly this dangerous, and so we provide residential (or lockdown) treatment facilities. Not many, and they're not always very good, and they may not have any open beds, but they exist and they at least provide the message that some things just can not be borne by individuals and must be taken on by the state, in the same way that prisons and hospitals send the tacit message that we can not always be responsible for or capable of individually punishing or healing people.

So let's not be so quick to hand out the hate for parents who've reached the end of the line.

But none the less, my reaction to this story is more nuanced. Torry Hansen may have been living a nightmare, but sending a kid back to Russia on an airplane is a bad idea. As mentioned upthread, the social services in Tennessee are probably better than their equivalents in Russia. Also, Russia is now talking about halting all adoptions to Russia, which (given that more than 3000 such adoptions occurr every year) is going to have terrible repercussions on thousands of US families hoping to adopt (or in the process of adopting) from Russia.

What a tragedy.
posted by math at 7:57 PM on April 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


The This American Life episode linked above was enlightening, about the adoptive parents (mostly the mother, it seemed) who persevered through their son's struggles with attachment disorder. A few details: they bought him a puppy, and "within three days he tried to strangle it." At one point, he picked up a knife from the counter and held it to his mother's throat. Another adoptee with attachment disorder that the mother had been looking to as a success case ended up committing murder.

Now, I would argue that the couple featured in TAL had the luxury of only offering themselves up for brutal murder by persevering. The mother here had another child. If someone threatened to kill my child, they'd be out of the house, one way or another. And I have very little faith that there are really options for immediate residential placement of a homicidal 7-year-old, aside from the purely theoretical.
posted by palliser at 8:07 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the most depressing thread I've read in a long long time. Sigh.
posted by the cydonian at 8:12 PM on April 9, 2010


It sounds like Russia has already decided that it will suspend adoptions to the US, the New York Times is reporting:

The boy’s plight prompted the Russian government to say on Friday that it would suspend all adoptions of Russian children by Americans until safeguards could be put in place.
posted by anniecat at 8:47 PM on April 9, 2010



Under no circumstances should a disruption be considered without agency involvement.

* Returning the child to the country of birth, if internationally adopted, is morally repugnant, unless the agency has made arrangements for the child to be adopted there by a qualified family or relative.

posted by availablelight at 8:49 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


International adoption agencies that place high risk and special needs children with American families should make sure that each family understands the tremendous financial risk they assume when they adopt such children from other countries. There is no automatic Medicaid or adoption subsidies for these kids, and private insurance may not be up to the task of covering all of the health care costs.
posted by availablelight at 8:52 PM on April 9, 2010


Could you walk me through those ways of getting help? I'm not saying she did the right thing here, but "there are ways of getting help" is one of those things people say to minimize the difficulty of a situation they have never been in.

I don't live in her state, but at the very least she could have relinquished parental custody via the applicable laws in her home state or hire an attorney to work with the original agency and nullify the adoption.

Neither of these is great or ideal, but they're better than just sending the kid back to Russia unannounced.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:53 PM on April 9, 2010


Overwhelmed families dissolve adoptions: More American parents find they can't cope with troubled Russian children
posted by availablelight at 8:54 PM on April 9, 2010


Those Russian orphanages do lie a lot. We were told that my adopted Russian sisters' biological parents were dead, but found out years later that their mom was alive (just drunk) and the orphanage knew it. But it's easier to "sell" the kids if you claim the parents are dead.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:56 PM on April 9, 2010


Also depressing: the article availablelight links, seemingly quite timely, is in fact from 10 years ago.
posted by lillygog at 9:02 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"When the lawyer she found online advised her the adoption could be reversed, Hansen booked the flight and paid the fee for a steward to escort Justin through the airport, she said.
She hired a driver in Moscow she found online to pick the child up from the Moscow airport, she said. She found "safe references" for the driver online, she said.


Again--these are all quotes from the grandmother, no?

What do we hear from the person who actually legally adopted the child? The woman who is a registered nurse?

Does she live with her mother? Why does the grandmother seem to be calling all the shots?
posted by torticat at 9:06 PM on April 9, 2010


I don't live in her state, but at the very least she could have relinquished parental custody via the applicable laws in her home state or hire an attorney to work with the original agency and nullify the adoption.

Neither of these is great or ideal, but they're better than just sending the kid back to Russia unannounced.


At the end of the day, what is the practical difference to the kid?

1)More time spent at the home he hates while a lot of legal mumbo jumbo happens between the pathologically lying orphanage and the distraught parents. Kid is oblivious to all this - though it does give him more time to set the house of fire. At the end of this (assuming everyone is still alive, and not charcoal), the kid ends up back in the Russian hellhole.

2)He's sent directly back - should have been an orphanage official picking him up directly. Just a face to the kid. Instead, it was a driver. Just a face to the kid. Eventually, he ends up in exactly the same Russian hellhole.

In both cases the outcome - as far as the kid - is exactly the same.

Of course, with solution (1) there's no story where we can exercise our stone throwing arms. On the other hand, with story (2) - maybe, just maybe thanks to the fame he gets, he'll get better care at the hellhole.

As with the Pharisees - we are A OK with the exact same result, as long as details of some protocol are followed to the letter, even if it doesn't make fuckall of a difference to the end result. Don't send him to the hellhole like that. Send him to the hellhole like this. Red socks, people, not green! Red I said!
posted by VikingSword at 9:09 PM on April 9, 2010


infinitywaltz, I've read the Tennessee code of family law on the subject -- IANAL -- and it appears to me that there's no way to voluntarily relinquish parental rights of a child other than an infant. Parental rights may only be removed by the state, and then only if you've done something to warrant them. Nearly all the requirements involve abusing the child; however, abandonment is one that doesn't require that the kid be physically harmed.

So, ironically, this might have been the safest, easiest way to get her rights terminated.
posted by KathrynT at 9:10 PM on April 9, 2010


I don't live in her state, but at the very least she could have relinquished parental custody via the applicable laws in her home state or hire an attorney to work with the original agency and nullify the adoption.

Neither of these is anything near an immediate solution, if she really felt her biological son was in mortal danger. With two parents, you could split the children up, but as a single mother, I'm not sure how she could keep her other child safe while she waited for these options.

Also, don't you need certain grounds in order to relinquish parental custody, once you're beyond the leave-the-baby-at-the-firehouse stage? You'd have to luck out with a judge who wanted to help, because I think parents can just be told to take their child home or be charged with abandonment, if they are not considered to satisfy the requirements for relinquishing custody.

Dissolving an adoption is not an "alternate" route exactly, as it requires termination of parental rights.
posted by palliser at 9:12 PM on April 9, 2010


From math's link:

"If you are judging, you do not belong in this thread, it is specifically stating "nonjugemental" and if you "seem" to be judging it is because you are!

"People need to realize this BEFORE adopting and they do need to dig for as much information as possible so that they can be sure this child will be a good fit. Even so...problems come up. I know of several children whose adoptions were disrupted and these children are in so much pain."

I am sorry to burst your bubble, but you can NEVER know if it is a good fit. You may think it is, hope it is, pray it is a good fit, but how can you know until you live with them?

There IS often a honeymoon period where the child views you as strangers (they are charming and engaging with strangers) Let me repeat that for you you NEVER know if it will be a good fit!!! Anymore than knowing a spouse will be a good "marriage material" for a lifetime before you have lived with them, just because you loved THEM while you dated. That is why there is divorce. Now normally people do not talk about divorcing their kids. Of course we love our kids, and if we have given them a loving foundation, of course they love us back! But sometimes if our kids have come to us later, that does not always work out that way, no matter how much you work on that. No matter how much we love them, no matter what we have provided for them, no matter how much therapy the receive! Sometimes it does, but realistically sometimes, not.

I don't know the situation your kids were adopted from...but MY kids can NOT LOVE back! As if that is not difficult enough they HATE us for trying. Our love is not enough, and neither has been all the therapies we have implemented.

Don't talk about your 3 adopted children on a judgemental soapbox...your children are not our children. Are your children receiving a world of therapies, because mine are not, I am not only fighting this heinous disorder RAD on a daily basis...I am fighting a hugely flawed system that barely recognizes how pervasive this disorder is in our society. Not only amongst adoptees, but neglected and abused children living with their families! A system that does not cover the exhorbitant cost of RAD therapy and typical psycho-therapy? Well my kids lie to the therapists (those therapists, and all the others they see!)

Would you be preaching "Adopting a child is a LIFETIME commitment" and attend "family therapy" :

if your adopted son was repeatedly raping your biological daughters?

if your adopted daughter had been sodomizing your younger child with household objects,

If there was an arsenal of weapons under your childs matress, even jailhouse style weapons that they made themselves from things they have found around the house, even broken toys? So you can not make the home "child safe" from these kids, because notHing is off limits, they are so resouceful even toys and dining room chairs become a weapon?

if there was feces all over your couch, walls, pillows, in the swimming pool, and if you can't get the smell out of your nose, because even if you can't see it, there is no end to where it is smeared in your home? :(


if there was no end to the brutalizations of your other children or you? If you yourself was your child's punching bag? If your eyes were being blackened, if your lips were being busted. If there was no more money left and no governmental funding being handed to you on a silver platter for yet another Residential Treatment center that is doing NOT enough to stop the insanity and chaos your lives have become?

Would you still be saying:
"Adopting a child is a LIFETIME commitment "? :confused:

Because in my opinion if YOU felt in these situations that "adoption is a lifetime committment" where then is your allegiance to the other children in the house biological or otherwise? You are not commited enough to them to keep them safe. You are then subjecting them to abuse by proxy... by default....how is that in the "best interest" of the other children??? You are allowing them and yourself to live in an abusive situation risking they then will grow up to be abusers!

If you are not in the same boat, please do not rock it. Certainly do not add further insult to the pain we live. No one wants to be in this position or make a decision such as this. We all started this process with the best of intentions! :(

Thank you."
posted by VikingSword at 9:12 PM on April 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


Would you be preaching "Adopting a child is a LIFETIME commitment" and attend "family therapy" :

if your adopted son was repeatedly raping your biological daughters?

if your adopted daughter had been sodomizing your younger child with household objects,


I wouldn't be preaching "family therapy," but I'd sure as heck be preaching "take the charge for abandonment if that's what's necessary to keep your kids from being raped and sodomized." Seriously, what parent wouldn't risk jail to protect their children from this kind of brutality?
posted by palliser at 9:39 PM on April 9, 2010


Seriously, what parent wouldn't risk jail to protect their children from this kind of brutality?

Thus putting their natural-born children up for adoption?!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:38 PM on April 9, 2010


Oh hey, lulz. I came to Metafilter tonight to get my mind off the havoc my baby sister's RAD is continuing to wreak in my family's life.

There's kind of no reaching her, it seems. She's somewhere else. It's always been like this, at least for the past 10 years. And wherever it is she's residing in that mind, it's not a happy scene.

Assigning blame is a fool's errand. Fortunately or unfortunately, relevantly or irrelevantly, I love my sister.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:50 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The final stop for disruptive adoptees: Most of the residents at a therapeutic ranch are from abroad
posted by availablelight at 5:58 AM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


re: kids flying alone as jquinby showed United allows, I don't think United could have done much more than what they did. I flew transatlantic flights on a regular basis alone from the age of 7 and up, but unlike this little guy I had a mother who fretted and hugged me for as far as she was allowed to go at the airport, and an equally fretty hug-needy dad who picked me up.
The flight attendants and other airline people walk with you all the way through the airport assisting with various security checks and will take you onboard the flight before anyone else. Most airlines even have a stewardess assigned your case who will sit next to you the entire flight. At the age of 9 or so they had a new rule that all alone kids need to wear some day-glo tag that reads "child traveling alone" so we couldn't get lost anywhere without the whole airport knowing we needed assistance, I remember how I thought that was so embarrassing as I was quite used to doing this trek alone and "not a baby anymore", but that nifty tag gets you past all immigration lines and at some airports you'll get driven to immigration on one of those airport trucks. Any parents here wrestling with long distances and kids, please don't be afraid of using a reputable airlines services for alone travel to foreign countries when you feel your child is ready - they get red carpet treatment and it's kinda cool.

Having said that, sending this guy on a flight to nowhere with a simple note attached is in my eyes utterly inhumane. He only had six months adjustment in the states (new language!) and I can't believe that she had exhausted resources near home for help in taking care of this child. It makes me worry about her other child (Logan?) as she'll likely lose custody of him as well.
posted by dabitch at 6:43 AM on April 10, 2010


Metafiler once again leaves me with no choice but to put my Henry Louis Gates' on to bring a whole different read.

-White woman wants a white kid, goes to Russia to adopt.
-Russia, known as one of the worst offenders in human trafficking sells her a white child.
-The child is damaged goods like most trafficked humans and so she sends him back.

I have no sympathy for any of the adults involved in this case, but la Hansen deserves a special place in hell. Even as a biological mother, there's no guarantees that parenting is going to happen honky dory. As a nurse, she should have known better.

Yet the fact of the matter is that US Americans not wanting to adopt black and brown orphans in this country is a big huge no-no as a topic of discussion. Yet this case illustrates how there's such a huge trafficking industry in the guise of international adoptions.

Most white americans would rather adopt a 7 year old kid from Russia than the black orphan down the road.
posted by liza at 7:17 AM on April 10, 2010


If the adoptive mother felt that the adoption agency had deliberately misled her, would she have bothered to contact them about the situation? And would RAD have even shown up in the orphanage environment, or would it have only become apparent after he was in an actual home?
posted by dilettante at 8:29 AM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


We tell people in AskMe who are scared of other people to "trust your gut". This should not be different just because the other person in question is a potentially dangerous child.
Yes, the woman should have tried to work it out with the help at her disposal - but I don't know a) if she did and how they responded
b) whether those means are enough to allay the danger of murder and arson.
If I were scared that kid were going to kill my children and burn the house down, every minute I would be expected to share a house with that kid would be one minute too much.
posted by Omnomnom at 8:31 AM on April 10, 2010


Most white americans would rather adopt a 7 year old kid from Russia than the black orphan down the road.

I always thought that was because the adoption process at home is much more complicated, uncertain and takes years - while in countries like Russia it's easier for US-Americans to adopt a child.
posted by Omnomnom at 8:34 AM on April 10, 2010


Most white americans would rather adopt a 7 year old kid from Russia than the black orphan down the road.

I don't know if this is fair. My understanding is that it is actually very difficult for white parents to adopt a black child. I have read this repeatedly - maybe it's wrong. But you keep reading about it - judges blocking such adoptions etc. And there has also been resistance from black organizations:

"Rhetoric around the issue has softened considerably since the National Association of Black Social Workers, in 1972, likened whites adopting black children to “cultural genocide.” The group removed the genocide reference from its policy statement in 1994, but it still recommends same-race placements. And organizations like the Child Welfare League have argued in recent years that while race need not be the primary consideration in placements, it should not be disregarded.

Many blacks still worry that white families cannot equip black children to navigate the country’s complicated racial landscape."


We don't know what motivated the people here, but I'm not sure it's productive to make inflammatory statements with no basis in the actual situation here. The racial issues are charged as they are, and we don't need to bring that in here, unless there's a reason based on the actual facts in this particular case.
posted by VikingSword at 8:47 AM on April 10, 2010


There are so many pieces of information I'd like to have here. We don't know, for sure, that Artyem has RAD, and is the "psycho kid" exemplified in the comment copied by VikingSword . We don't know what steps Hansen took before putting the kid on the plane (and that whole process seems hinky, in that only the grandmother seems to be have been involved). We don't know what Artyem's life in the U.S. was like: there are reports he was never registered in school, nor was Hansen's other child.
posted by lillygog at 8:53 AM on April 10, 2010


Most white americans would rather adopt a 7 year old kid from Russia than the black orphan down the road.

What omnomnom said. And there's been considerable concern about the ability of birth parents to return and try to take the kid back if everyone's in the U.S.

Aren't most international adoptions in the U.S. of non-white kids, anyway?
posted by dilettante at 8:56 AM on April 10, 2010


Yet the fact of the matter is that US Americans not wanting to adopt black and brown orphans in this country is a big huge no-no as a topic of discussion. Yet this case illustrates how there's such a huge trafficking industry in the guise of international adoptions.

It's a complicated elephant in the middle of room, isn't it? I think you're right. And even worse, maybe, Americans will more readily adopt a black or brown child from abroad than a black child from the United States.

But I think this is an American black/white relations problem. The stubborn level of casual and subconscious racism in this country means that if you're a white person wanting to adopt an African-American kid in this country, yeah, you'd better be prepared to know what you're getting yourself into culturally and be able to wrap your mind around it calmly. If you can't do that, then yeah, don't throw a child into the middle of it.
posted by desuetude at 10:13 AM on April 10, 2010


At the end of the day, what is the practical difference to the kid?

1)More time spent at the home he hates while a lot of legal mumbo jumbo happens between the pathologically lying orphanage and the distraught parents. Kid is oblivious to all this - though it does give him more time to set the house of fire. At the end of this (assuming everyone is still alive, and not charcoal), the kid ends up back in the Russian hellhole.

2)He's sent directly back - should have been an orphanage official picking him up directly. Just a face to the kid. Instead, it was a driver. Just a face to the kid. Eventually, he ends up in exactly the same Russian hellhole.

In both cases the outcome - as far as the kid - is exactly the same.


Can you read the child's mind Vikingsword? Or are you a child psychiatrist equipped to make these type of judgements? If not, why don't you shut the fuck up already? We don't know specifically what is wrong with the child. And we're relying on the testimony of some pretty shady characters.

My son, who has autism, has threatened to kill me, I don't know, 8000 times. When he was younger, he would grab other kids by the throat. If I wanted to, I could paint a pretty grim picture of him and how he could hurt his two baby sisters. Instead, I busted my ass getting him treatment.

If single mom wasn't equipped to be a parent to the worst of kids, she shouldn't have adopted one. She clearly did not do her due diligence in choosing a child and picked one with all the foresight of a woman buying a pair of shoes. She made a commitment as a parent and should be held to those standards.

I have no sympathy for any of the adults involved in this case, but la Hansen deserves a special place in hell. Even as a biological mother, there's no guarantees that parenting is going to happen honky dory. As a nurse, she should have known better.

I couldn't agree more.
posted by cjets at 10:35 AM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


but I'm not sure it's productive to make inflammatory statements

About as clear an example of the pot calling the kettle black as I've ever seen.
posted by cjets at 10:37 AM on April 10, 2010


Can you read the child's mind Vikingsword?

No. Can you?

Or are you a child psychiatrist equipped to make these type of judgements?

No. Are you?

If not, why don't you shut the fuck up already?

Why don't you? You can fuck the right off telling me to shut up. I have as much right to speak as you or anybody.

We are all speculating here. Your speculation is no better than mine. At least I acknowledge, that we don't have the diagnosis of the kid, and that what we are doing is speculation. Not just I, but you and everybody. What I'm pointing out, is that before we decide to lynch this woman, we should consider alternative scenarios - which are every bit as valid as yours. I happen to think my scenario is far more realistic - I'm sure you think yours is.

It's a fraught subject. That doesn't give you or anybody else the right to attack another poster for posting their views in good faith. Please "Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site." Disagreeing with you, or not sharing your views is not a personal affront to you and you are in no position to tell anyone to "shut the fuck up". People have different views - deal with it.
posted by VikingSword at 11:24 AM on April 10, 2010


Most white americans would rather adopt a 7 year old kid from Russia than the black orphan down the road.
Jesus, no. People do not GET this. Listen.

If children are taken from their unfit parents, abandoned, or orphaned, the social work system does ABSOLUTELY everything it can for as long as possible to keep the kids together with biological relatives (some of whom are not fit to care for them), or in foster care (often serially) while the parents go through rehab, do time, or whatever they have to do. Many of them have siblings that they need to stay with. MANY, MANY develop serious behavioral issues or have suffered from drug use while the mother was pregnant.

By the time all avenues to keep the biological ties for the children, and the time for the parents to get their shit together has finally run out, the children are several years old, have been through multiple foster situations (some probably rather poor), and they often have attachment issues, behavioral issues, and other challenges. Not every family can cope with that.

There are not tons of infants waiting around to be adopted OF ANY COLOR.

Look at the lists of children waiting to be adopted, and read between the lines of the ad and you'll see that each child comes with some issues:

"cannot be placed with other children already in the house" (will abuse them)
"does best in an environment that does not have men, such as a single mother household"
(has been sexually abused)
"needs close supervision at all times" (has destructive tendencies)
"benefits from a very structured environment where the rules and consequences are consistent and very clear." (has serious behavioral issues)
"has been open about sharing his feelings with his foster parents and therapist." (has psychological issues)
"has recently conquered some challenging behaviors" (who knows?)

They are lovely children who deserve love, but not every family can/is willing to take this responsibility.

Of course a biological child or an adopted newborn can turn out to have problems. But at least there is a good chance that they might not.

Does anyone really have to be willing to take on these children if they want to be parents and can't conceive biologically? Is that the only path available to them?
posted by jfwlucy at 11:33 AM on April 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


the Carver's are from my area, Pennsylvania.

i just saw a newspaper article about them a few weeks ago.

today there was an update that they are being held WITHOUT BAIL in York County (PA) Prison. and their trial date was moved from March 31 to April 29.

they were apparently starving the children - his sister is now with another family.

stuff like this makes me not want to read the news somedays, but at the same i know it's the only way to call attention to these tragedies.
posted by sio42 at 11:58 AM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's what I don't understand, and I haven't seen it mentioned in this thread - if this child is truly psychotically dangerous, don't you think it's irresponsible toward the other passengers to allow him to be unsupervised on such a long, international flight? I know there was a flight attendant looking after him, but was that person forewarned of the child's psychological issues? If he set fires at home, isn't is reasonable to assume that he could have tried to set a fire on the plane? I'm sure it's fine for a child to travel alone, under normal circumstances, but this was not a normal circumstance.
posted by Ruki at 11:59 AM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's what I don't understand, and I haven't seen it mentioned in this thread - if this child is truly psychotically dangerous, don't you think it's irresponsible toward the other passengers to allow him to be unsupervised on such a long, international flight?

Kids with RAD are often charming and friendly with strangers. Note: this does NOT excuse the mother's actions.

Also, the adoption agency involved has been identified.
posted by availablelight at 12:46 PM on April 10, 2010


cjets: If single mom wasn't equipped to be a parent to the worst of kids, she shouldn't have adopted one.

I see this attitude a lot (both here and other places), but people don't seem to take into account the implications that would occur if such a policy was followed. If only the people with the ability to handle a child that displays any level of problem are allowed to adopt, you know what is going to happen? The vast majority of the kids are going to stay in the orphanage!

The number of people able to handle any potential problem that could come up in an adoption is minimal - you have to have the wealth to handle crushing medical expenses, the freedom to quit your job if someone has to give full-time care, and the skill to handle dangerous psychological problems. That number is absolutely dwarfed by the number of orphans in the US, to say nothing of the world.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:55 PM on April 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Huh. That might actually be the same agency my friend's neighbor worked through. *shudder*

One thing people miss in the "but kids are a crapshoot -- bio kids can have problems too!!" hue and cry is that, yes, your own children can have problems too, but you know SO MUCH MORE. I didn't know if my daughter would be autistic; I did know, for certain, that I hadn't consumed so much alcohol and cocaine while pregnant that she would be born with major cognitive impairments. I didn't know if she'd be born with cerebral palsy, but I did know, for certain, that she wasn't subjected to infant malnutrition in the first weeks or months of her life. Any child can develop severe psychiatric and personality disorders, but I can know for certain that my child was not beaten and neglected as an infant and toddler.

And if she were one of the unlucky few who developed such problems despite not having most of the worst risk factors, I would be in a position to see it unfold gradually, to be able to start to intervene before she was old enough and strong enough to hurt other children, and to try to ameliorate the situation as well as I could. That's very different from having a fully developed emotionally disturbed child dropped down in the middle of your life, particularly if you've been lied to about the reality of the child's condition and upbringing.
posted by KathrynT at 1:04 PM on April 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


From liza's post upthread:

...
Yet the fact of the matter is that US Americans not wanting to adopt black and brown orphans in this country is a big huge no-no as a topic of discussion. Yet this case illustrates how there's such a huge trafficking industry in the guise of international adoptions.

Most white americans would rather adopt a 7 year old kid from Russia than the black orphan down the road.
posted by liza at 10:17 AM on April 10 [+] [!]


Lots of meaty stuff here for us to sink our teeth into.

Let's begin with the tricky issue of transratial domestic adoption. VikingSword is right-on with his discussion of how it's not necessarily easy for whites to adopt blacks; the National Association of Black Social Workers' 1972 declaration of such adoptions as "cultural genocide" still resonates with many of us today (and I, for one, have not yet forgiven them for such a foolish and dangerous statement that influenced and limited such adoptions for decades). And yet, consider the history of such adoptions. Here in the US, there's the sad story of Native American children adopted out to white families in the previous century in an attempt to remove all traces of their language, culture, and heritage. In Canada, First Nations children were forcibly removed from families and placed in white-run boarding schools, again in the name of assimilation. And in Australia there's a similar history (depicted most recently in the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence). So, perhaps it's not surprising that some white prospective adoptive parents would think twice before starting down this road. Who wants to be seen as engaging in cultural genocide just for trying to give a good home to a needy kid?

Parallel to this is jfwlucy's description of what some of these kids have gone through before reaching the point of being available for adoption. I direct your attention to adoptuskids.com, the national clearinghouse for kids in the foster care system who are awaiting adoption. Here is the description of one three-year-old:

He is a strong and determined child who has been through many obstacles in his life and continues to put up a fight-usually with a smile on his face! He tolerates all of his therapies well and continues to make progress in them, which include occupational, physical, recreational and speech therapies. He has a good attention span during therapy sessions and in social play. He is tolerating short spans of weight bearing and is starting to ambulate. He currently feeds though a nasogastric tube. A forever family for Raymond will need to tend to and advocate for his medical and developmental needs.

And here's the description of a four-year-old girl who has lived her entire life in the hospital:

[She was] diagnosed with Spina Bifida and as a result she has many medical issues a family will learn about and receive training and support to meet her needs. She uses a wheelchair to help her with mobility, she has a G-tube to help her with feeding and she has a ventilator to help her with breathing. Having a parent to be at home with [her] will be necessary to meet her medical needs and it will be important that none of her family members smoke or have pets.

These aren't isolated cases, either. Oh, and you said you wanted to adopt an infant or a toddler? When I checked the web site this afternoon, there were 3730 kids or siblings nationwide available for adoption; only 85 were age 6 or under, and only nine of them were age 2 or under.

So what do you do if you're an American family looking to adopt? Domestically, you can go through the foster care system or through private/agency adoption. The latter choice means that your photo and biography goes into a large binder or onto one of the many parent profile web sites where you wait for a pregnant woman to pick your name and give you a call. You might be waiting a long time. (Another option is to become a foster parent, and if you get a kid that you really connect with, and if the parents eventually relinquish custody, then you can be first in line to adopt).

Internationally, you go through one of the Hague-licensed agencies that deal with the (usually third-world) countries that have children available for adoption. Some people adopt transracially (say, from Haiti or Latin America or Asia or Africa) but each country or region has its own issues; to take one example, China now has a 2.5-year wait.

And then there's Russia, which offers a range of children in a reasonable period of time. I'm not saying that there aren't problems with Russia (oh brother, there are BIG problems that you MUST be aware of, and liza's comment about trafficking is spot-on), but let us not assume racism just because someone's adopting a white kid from Russia as opposed to the black orphan down the road.
posted by math at 2:12 PM on April 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


And yet, and yet, and yet...

Not every child from Russia is damaged. But given what we know about the problems with children in Russia, Romania, and other Eastern European countries, with the fetal alcohol syndrome and the RAD and the institutionalization and the bait-and-switch substitutions and the child trafficking, why do so many Americans still go to these countries to adopt? Is it just because of the blond hair and the blue eyes?

Some of these adoptive parents might have Russian or Romanian heritage. Some of them might have lived or traveled there for a while and thus feel a strong connection. Some of them might feel that they're not ready to deal with the foster care system here in the US. But there are surely some of them (I don't know who, and I don't know if Torry Hansen is one of them, and if you're an adoptive parent who is reading this, I'm not saying anything about you, specifically, because I don't know your story, so just calm down), some of them who just can't imagine having a brown or black kid. They may not even be aware of their own racism.
posted by math at 2:27 PM on April 10, 2010


But there are surely some of them (I don't know who, and I don't know if Torry Hansen is one of them, and if you're an adoptive parent who is reading this, I'm not saying anything about you, specifically, because I don't know your story, so just calm down), some of them who just can't imagine having a brown or black kid. They may not even be aware of their own racism.

I agree with math, racism may or may not be a factor in unwillingness to adopt transracially. Particularly I think, people in small towns might think it unfair to bring in a child who would be the sole person of color in the area. Relatives might have issues, even if they shouldn't. And adopting even a child who resembles you is very difficult in some ways; you have to accept that you'll never see "Uncle Jack's nose" or "Grandma's eyes" reflected in your child. Having to deal with intrusive and insensitive queries ("how much did she cost?") when your kid is obviously of another color, adds to the difficulties.
posted by jfwlucy at 2:35 PM on April 10, 2010


There are residential treatment facilities for children who are threatening to harm themselves or others. When a kid starts making threats like that, the child needs to be taken and checked into a hospital or a residential treatment facility to get the help the child needs. This is what parents do when their child is that disturbed

Actually, I'm just tonight reading the book We've Got Issues by Judith Warner, which someone recommended to me in AskMetafilter last week. One of the things Warner talks about in the book is the extreme shortage of trained child psychologists and psychiatrists, and of both short and long-term residential treatment facilities. I just read a section where she talked about how many (most?) kids who are hospitalized for psych problems end up in adult wards, which are obviously not the right place, and how hard it is for parents to get help for seriously disturbed kids.
posted by not that girl at 7:39 PM on April 10, 2010


I always thought that was because the adoption process at home is much more complicated, uncertain and takes years - while in countries like Russia it's easier for US-Americans to adopt a child.

In my experience, not if you're adopting a baby of color. It was about 14 months from when we finished all our application materials, pre-adoption coursework, and homestudy until we took custody of our daughter, four days after she was born. At about the 6 month mark we matched with a birthmother who then decided to parent, so it could have been even shorter.

One reason a couple of my friends who've adopted internationally give is that it is "safer" from the perspective of being very unlikely to have birthfamily complications, like a previously unknown birthfather showing up and seeking custody.

The years-and-years process you describe is more accurate for the adoption of white newborns.
posted by not that girl at 7:54 PM on April 10, 2010


Particularly I think, people in small towns might think it unfair to bring in a child who would be the sole person of color in the area

One of my friends who is white told me a few years ago that she had a moment when she was falling in love with her husband, a black man, that if she married him she would probably never be able to fulfill her dream of living in a small town like the one she grew up in.

My partner mentioned to me a few months ago that he had realized that now that we have a black daughter, we can never move to North Dakota, where he grew up and which he is sometimes homesick for.

I was not sure, when we adopted our daughter, whether my parents would accept a black grandchild. I thought there was some chance that our adoption of a black child would result in a permanent rift with my birth family. Despite all past evidence that suggested I was not delusional in thinking this, in fact my parents and brother have embraced her enthusiastically and treated her like they treat their other grandkids. But I didn't know. It was a risk I took. Some people might have chosen not to take that risk. I wouldn't blame them.
posted by not that girl at 8:04 PM on April 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


In my experience, not if you're adopting a baby of color.

I didn't know that. Thanks.
I'm glad it all worked out for you!
posted by Omnomnom at 4:06 AM on April 11, 2010


There's another similar story in the news, but the parents did things a little differently.

They adopted a child from Russia. He'd clearly been abused. He had RAD and brain damage from fetal alcohol syndrome (both uncovered by doctors long after the adoption). He abused his siblings and threatened to cut up his parents. They brought him to specialists, and he was hospitalized many times. They looked into having him re-adopted, and that fell through because he put rat poison in the prospective parents' drinks. They then hospitalized him for 7 months, until their insurance ran out.

Public services/social services did not help out. "Their case manager seemed skeptical, they said, as if Joey's hospitalizations and his placement for readoption were evidence they didn't care for him."

Finally, the child was placed in a foster home, and the previous parents gave up their parental rights. The child is 13, and now facing multiple felony charges because he brought a .22-caliber gun to school and threatened to kill teachers and classmates.
posted by Houstonian at 9:19 AM on April 11, 2010


Coming into this very late, but a relative adopted a child from Russia several years back. He knew what he was getting into and adopted as a single parent, but his child has severe ADHD, like the worst I've ever personally seen, and I have ADD. His attention span is close to zero unless he can fiddle with something and look elsewhere, which typically makes teachers think he's goofing off, when in reality he's struggling to cope with the distractions around him and filter out what the teacher is saying. This is only after he's been put on Adderall, since a very young age, because no school would take him otherwise (he got kicked out of both a private and public school). It's almost certain he had FAS. Even so, dad's happy, because his kid is showing a strong aptitude for music (with a remarkable ear and memory), and they're learning how to communicate with teachers about how he can best learn in the classroom. Plus, dad's doing just fine financially and won't ever have to worry about that. It's always going to be a struggle, but if the kid can get on the right path to get where people value what he can offer, then I think we'll end up with a brilliant musician. Despite all this, I can't imagine his adopted dad sending him back, as I don't think he could, either.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:28 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


why do so many Americans still go to these countries to adopt? Is it just because of the blond hair and the blue eyes?

In the case of my relative, who was adopting as a single gay parent, he found his choices to be very limited, and he really wanted to be a parent for a long time and knew how to handle it. Even his gay friends were not very encouraging, as the idea of a single parent still has a stigma attached. He's a psychiatrist and is more than capable of handling a child like the one he adopted, but the barriers to adoption for someone like him are so high that he opted for an easier choice for him, one which he hoped would also benefit someone else who needed it, but even adopting from Russia was a long and difficult process.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:47 AM on April 12, 2010


New information indicates that Torry Hansen didn't seek professional help for the boy, and didn't consult nearby social services agencies either about what to do.


From the NYTimes article:

The family apparently came to its decision about what to do with the boy without seeking the help of the United Way of Bedford County, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and a social service agency in Shelbyville. All said the Hansens had not contacted them.

And the agency that conducted home visits before and after Justin’s adoption, Adoption Assistance, in Smyrna, Tenn., released a statement Monday saying the Hansens had not told its social worker about the severity of their concerns.


From the AP article linked to above:

Hansen said her daughter sought advice from psychologists but never had her adoptive son meet with one.

I also remember there was a thread on AskMe with a single mom (a few months ago?) asking about what to do with her son who had gotten aggressive and angry with her, and violent with some objects. Some commenters posted that as adolescents, the brunt of their meanness and disdain was funneled towards their mother, but they were typically less likely to defy their fathers. Maybe this kid was in need of some boundry setting by a non-female entity (my ignorant understanding of Russian culture shows that it's not very respectful of females anyway and who knows what he might be modeling after) willing to discipline him or threaten to discipline him as a force of deterrence from being violent.

Then again, maybe he does have a mental illness and attachment disorder. We don't know anything about him, other than his mother was an alcoholic and he was raised by her until he was six and then the biological mother either lost her parental privileges or willingly gave them up.
posted by anniecat at 8:51 PM on April 12, 2010


Additionally, it looks like the uncle of Torry Ann Hansen (or someone posing as the uncle of the woman) posted the following defense on someone's blog:

T. said...
As the uncle of Torry Ann Hansen, I can say this in her defense. She loved children and would do anything to make sure they were safe and happy.

She and her two sisters were home schooled, yet all three acheived a college degree with two of them becoming RN's and the third and educator.

Having raised a step-son many years ago with ADHD, and even with all the help possible, this kid threatened to do us harm and to burn down our home. Therefore; I can understand where she is coming from when you can get no help from others to resolve this. She did what she had to in returning the child for their own safety. How would you like to be awakened one night with your house on fire and no way to escape?

These third world countries are pawning off their sick and their mentally retarded kids off on us because we can not get or meet the requirements of the US.

A woman in Montana said it best, she has cared for over a hundred Russian kids that had mental problems and were droped on the US. You are accusing the wrong people here.

Tom

4/13/2010 3:55 AM


He sounds ridiculous.
posted by anniecat at 6:23 AM on April 13, 2010


Ooof, Ms. Hansen should ask her family members to please please not try to "help."
posted by desuetude at 8:44 AM on April 13, 2010


This article from the Advocate-Messenger (Danville, KY) includes an interesting press release from the agency that did Hansen's home study:
After placement, our agency understands that we have to be prepared to work with families regarding adjustment and behavioral issues. If this mother would have contacted us when the adjustment problems began, we would have worked with her on the issues or arranged alternative placement. We have done this in the past, and it is part of our services to families.
posted by lillygog at 9:00 AM on April 13, 2010


Jeez, this is getting weirder and weirder:

The Tennessee mother who horrified the adoption community when she put her 7-year-old son on a plane back to Russia was in the process of trying to adopt a second child.

Tennessee woman returns 7-year-old boy, claiming he has mental problems.Torry Hansen had turned to a second adoption agency to bring home a child from the Soviet Republic of Georgia, a source with the sheriff's department told ABC News.

She switched adoption agencies after the agency that arranged the adoption of her first child, World Association for Children and Parents, urged her to wait before adopting again, the source said. The association advised Hansen it would be best to settle in with the boy before adding to her family, the source said.


So before she even sent the Russian orphan back, she was trying to get a replacement from Georgia?
posted by anniecat at 10:32 AM on April 13, 2010


The link to the ABC article gave the name of the attorney in Russia who advised the mother. This lawyer has a website, and part of it has a question/answer section -- people ask questions and she posts her answer.

This question is: "My daughter adopted boy from Russia (she is a single mother). My daughter was lied to about the child’s behavior by the orphanage caregivers. The safety of herself and others is a major issue. She is no longer willing to keep him in her home. The child has stated many times that he wants to return to the orphanage and misses his friend. As the adoption has not worked, I would like to know what the Russian law is in returning him to the orphanage. Also, if the law allows this, how much you would charge to facilitate this matter."

Her answer was generally, these are things the Russian courts would decide, you might have to pay child support until the child is 18, and a good solution is to get another American to adopt the child.

She doesn't cite any US law (or even discuss that US law might fit into this), but she has a law office in New York. Her About Me page lists schools in Russia, but no information US qualifications. Is she allowed to practice law in the US?
posted by Houstonian at 5:10 PM on April 13, 2010


New York Times:
The boy’s plight prompted the Russian government to say on Friday that it would suspend all adoptions of Russian children by Americans until safeguards could be put in place. Russia was the third leading source of adoptive children in the United States in 2009, with 1,586, following China, with 3,001, and Ethiopia, with 2,277, according to State Department figures.
posted by grouse at 7:12 AM on April 15, 2010


Not much new in the local paper, except a few tidbits about some oddball troubles she apparently had with a neighbor a few years ago:

Hansen's neighbor troubles came to a head at 4:19 a.m. on Oct. 7, 2006, when she looked out an upstairs window of the house she shared with her parents, sister and a young boy. She claimed she saw neighbor Robert Abbott on her property at 3188 Halls Road in Chapel Hill and had him arrested and charged with criminal trespassing.

[...]

Fredia Smith, who purchased the 4,300-square-foot Chapel Hill home and 30 acres from the Hansens in 2007, remembers visible evidence of the feud well.

She keeps a picture of a trailer Hansen painted neon orange, green and purple and placed near the road, apparently to irritate her neighbors. It was loaded with video equipment and sensor-activated lighting facing the Abbotts' house. The Hansens insisted on keeping the parcel of land it sat on out of the sale.

posted by jquinby at 7:18 AM on April 15, 2010


She keeps a picture of a trailer Hansen painted neon orange, green and purple and placed near the road, apparently to irritate her neighbors. It was loaded with video equipment and sensor-activated lighting facing the Abbotts' house. The Hansens insisted on keeping the parcel of land it sat on out of the sale.

Wow. This lady and her family have some kind of disorder or their own. How weird weird weird.
posted by anniecat at 11:49 AM on April 15, 2010


*of their own.
posted by anniecat at 11:49 AM on April 15, 2010


I have a question that it's probably too late to ask, as not many people are following this thread anymore: it seems kind of weird to me to change a 7-year-old's name (from Artyom to Justin, in this case), especially along with the other upheavals in his life. Is that usual?
posted by palliser at 12:34 PM on April 15, 2010


It's perfectly usual. If you're a freakin' crazy lady.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:41 PM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


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