Apr 13, 2010

Your Thoughts. And I Know You Have Them.

If a blog is good for anything it's good for getting people together and having them discuss, talk, and wear something completely out. (It's also good for posting pictures of your kids, lets not forget.) But today? Today I want to hash it out.

You've read about it. You've heard about it. And you've seen it everywhere. But what do you really think about it?

Here is a recap from www.abcnews.com...

A Tennessee mother's decision to send her 7-year-old adopted son back to Russia, alone and with a note that she no longer wanted him, has horrified officials and adoption experts in both countries.

Outrage erupts over American woman who sent adopted son back to Russia alone. Angry Russian officials are calling for a halt to all U.S. adoptions until the two countries can hammer out a new agreement that spells out the conditions and obligations for such adoptions.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedevcalled the boy's abrupt return "a monstrous deed." The Russian president told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview that he had a "special concern" about the recent treatment of Russian children adopted by Americans.

Torry Hansen of Shelbyville, Tenn., put 7-year-old Artyem Saviliev -- renamed Justin Artyem Hansen in the U.S. -- on a plane to Moscow's Domodedovo airport with a note in his pocket saying she was returning him, that the boy had severe psychological problems and that the orphanage had lied about his condition.

"I no longer wish to parent this child," the note read, calling the boy a liability.

"This child is mentally unstable." Hansen wrote to the Russian Ministry of Education. "He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues/behaviours. I was lied to and misled by the Russian Orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and other issues."

"On every level putting a little kid on a plane and shipping them somewhere is horrific behavior. If you have a problem, you deal with the problem," said Adam Pertman, executive of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. "It is certainly the equivalent of abandoning your child."

Bedford County Sheriff Randall Boyce told ABC News that he had tried to visit Hansen Thursday and again today, but was told by Hansen's lawyer "they said they will meet with us later, sometime next week they said."

"This is a touchy deal and I'm not sure if anything illegal has been done or not," Boyce said.

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.

A Tennesee mother's decision to send her 7-year-old adopted son back to Russia, alone and with a note that she, has horrified officials and adoption experts in both countries.
(ABC News)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.

Artyem, who turns 8 next week, "was accompanied from his home in Tennessee to Washington by his American grandmother, who put him on a direct flight to Washington to Moscow," U.S. embassy officials told ABC News.

His grandmother reportedly told him he would be happier in Russia before handing him over as an unaccompanied minor for his flight to Moscow.

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.

Those procedures include not allowing an unaccompanied minor to travel on a one-way ticket and making sure the child boards the plane with signed paperwork and a name, sometimes even a photo, of who will care for the child at the destination.

The family had paid a driver $200 to meet the boy at the airport and take him to the Ministry of Education. Once there, officials found his U.S. passport, adoption documentation and Hansen's letter in his backpack.

"After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child," it read. "As he is a Russian National, I am returning him to your guardianship and would like the adoption disannulled."

U.S. embassy officials were immediately contacted and they met Artyem at the children's hospital where he was being examined. The boy is physically fine according to Russian media reports, but Kremlin's Children Rights Commissioner Pavel Astakhov told reporters outside the hospital that he is traumatized by the ordeal.

Artyem cried when he was asked about his family in America, saying his mother used to pull his hair and his grandmother always shouted at him, Astakhov said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said today, according to The Associated Press, that "we have taken the decision ... to suggest a freeze on any adoptions to American families until Russia and the USA sign an international agreement."

While he understand's the knee-jerk reaction in Russia to protect their children, Pertman said banning all adoptions isn't the way to go.

"There are lessons to be learned from this," he said. "Ensuring that all the other kids that need loving homes don't get them is not the way to solve the problem."


I don't want us to get ugly ("Death to her!" "Firing Squad!!") nor do I think we should. But I do want to know your thoughts. So many of you that read my blog are adoptive mommas; but adoptive or not we all have a feeling about this.

Allow me to think outloud for a moment: What if it were me? What if there was nothing left I could do? What if I had tried everything? What if I were tired and exhausted and yes, I'll admit it, fearful? What would I do?

Would I send him away?

What would you do?

Be careful what you say though, mommas, walking in someone else's shoes is always a dangerous thing. Because the truth is, I want to say, "would we even be HEARING about this had she not absurdly put him on a plane ALONE and sent him back with a note pinned to his backpack?? I mean, seriously??" But then I fear someday I will do something ridiculously stupid and Chris Hanson and the Dateline team will camp out in my backyard for the next three months.

So let it fly, my lovelies. This is what we in the south, refer to as "hashin' it out."


Joyce said...

Well I'm not an adoptive parent but here's a few of my thoughts...

1. I can't imagine putting a 7 year old on a plane to Russia alone. We've lived overseas and hubs has traveled to Russia...how did he manage immigration, etc. on his own?

2. I read somewhere the family paid someone a few hundred $$ to escort him thru...

3. I also read he had not been seen by a psychiatrist here in the US.

Now I don't know if those last two things are true but if they are then thats a problem for me. I have worked with emotionally disturbed children and they can be scary. I am not discounting what the mother says about being afraid. Just wondering if she leapt across some steps that might have been taken with less damage overall being done.

My heart goes out to families waiting for children from Russia who are now being told adoptions are frozen.

Its all so very sad.

MBush said...

I find this story heartbreaking. That a mother would turn her child away, send him across the planet ALONE is beyond my comprehension. I can't imagine the grandmother that would not only condone this, but help to implement it. There are so many amazing programs to help children, therapies, doctors, places that will board them, not to mention, turning him over to the state of Tennessee (which would be my personal last choice). Unfortunately we will never know the whole story, and what's even sadder is that this boy is old enough to remember this for the rest of his life. He apparently has some issues that will make his life difficult to begin with, now add the rejection in his heart from his adoptive mother and he's bound to really struggle through life.
My heart aches for all involved, the boy, the grandmother, and the mother.

Lisa said...

Anyone reading this who has had, or has now, a teenager understands the feeling of "I can't do this anymore!" Yes, there are days when I think, "Could I just send her to stay with someone till this passes? This is TOO hard. I am TIRED." But, the reality is; I am a mother. I believe that when you take a child and call him/her yours you become a mother whether that child came out of you or not. Part of being a mother is hanging in there. Pushing on and pushing through until the season you are in is over. And I am faithful that it WILL be over! I can't imagine how this child will feel now. Knowing that yet another person has given up on him. I pray that God helps this poor little boy who doesn't know the truth of who he is and possibly of who God is. And I pray for that mom; that when the guilt does set in. And it will. That God will be there to remind her that He is in control and has been all along.

There's my two cents worth. :)

Deb said...

wow...such a sad thing for the child...it could have been handled better...but we weren't there...we don't know what was going on in there family...that drove them to this...just SAD....so SAD...

Teri/oldwomaninashoe said...

Let me start off with saying I don't agree with the whole send him back to Russia alone thing. That was an extreme but you know, I'm glad she did. There's a little thing that they don't tell you about...it's called Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and it's horrible. Maybe now RAD can be discussed and the parents of those children won't be so harshly judged by family, friends, professionals and yes, by fellow Christians. Children who have not bonded, like the child from Russia, are truly a threat to the safety of those who do love them.
I'm an adoptive mother of a 6 year old boy, not from Russia but good old Indiana, who was abused severely for the first 2 years of his life and then was placed with us as a foster-to-adopt placement, with RAD. The same dx as this child from Russia. You have no idea what it's like to live with this unless you already are or have. He lies, steals, urinates on his clean laundry in the drawers, wipes feces on the walls, tormented one of our family pets until it turned mean and we had to put it down. Then he charms the socks off of family & friends. Nothing is ever enough for a RAD kid. It's always the wrong thing. Our son has threatened to burn down our house. If I make him angry, as in "No, you can't color while we eat", he tries to seriously cause me harm. He has threatened to kill me and will tell the social workers and therapists this. He has attempted to shove me down a flight of stairs. He sprayed Pam on the floor so I will fall & I did. Not hurting me seriously which really made him mad. He flooded the kitchen and poured oil and syrup in it so I would fall just this past Sunday because of the no coloring at the table during meal time rule. Our son does see doctors, therapists, counselors. He spent a week in a behavioral unit in a hospital only to have charmed them into believing he isn't a danger to anyone. Children like my Cameron and this little boy from Russia are seriously an dangerment to their families and later as adults to society. We're in the process of having him declared a CHINS 6 ( Child in need of services due to the fact he is an endangerment to others or himself). Would I send him back? Some days. After being told how much you're hated for literally hours on end, it's hard to find compassion for him. I think the mother we're all discussing had run out of options or felt like she had. I keep holding on to my son, praying that God heals him, protects us and knowing somewhere down the road we're going to have make a very real, very hard decision.

Marci said...

I have two adopted little girls out of foster care. We were lucky and got them as infants before any real damage could be done...their mom has severe mental problems and we went in knowing full well that we would probably end up dealing with some tough situations. They are 6 and 3 and we're already seeing some things popping out.
Here's the deal...these girls are my kids. I knew going in that there was going to be problems but I also have a biological teenage daughter that has problems of her own. Would I send her back? Um, is that an option? No. So why should it be an option with adopted children? That mother had to know going in that she was taking a risk with behavioral issues and if she didn't then she was a complete idiot. Seriously. Did she think she was going to go adopt an orphan and they were going to be perfectly healthy mentally?!
I agree wtih RAD mom up there. I cannot imagine anything harder than dealing with a child with RAD. And someday that mom will have to deal with some difficult decisions. But you have to love that child enough to make decisions that are the best for them. Sending a child on an airplane half way around the world with a return to sender note is NOT a decision made out of love for that child. It is a selfish, selfish act and once you make the decision to be a mom that isn't acceptable behavior. You can't be selfish anymore. There's no place for it in motherhood.

Oh sorry to rant but that story just fires me up!!!

Amy said...

I know very little about the story. All I can say from what I DO know is that at least she didn't do anything worse to the poor little fella!

A Musing Mom (Taylorclan6) said...

I wish I knew more about what the adoptive mother had done in order to keep her family intact. Had she exhausted all available services?

I do know a couple here in Utah who adopted two children from Russia soon after the border opened. The orphanage was not forthright with them regarding the abuses they had suffered. The children joined three biological brothers and all hell broke loose. The couple knew nothing about RAD but were quickly baptized by fire.

Painfully, they chose to give the older child, a boy, up for adoption in order to maintain the family integrity. It's been 17 years and she still has horrible guilt. Julia, the Russian daughter, is now in her 20s and has done wonderfully. The boy was adopted by another couple who had no other children and fully aware of the circumstances.

I just can't judge that woman. It's tragedy all around.

Melissa Lee said...

Its like you ladies are reading my mail or something. I agree with every one of you, each for different reasons.

Joyce, I don't think you have to be an "adoptive" mother to get this. Heck, I don't think you have to even be a mother to get this. It's just a natural nurturing instinct to protect, to persevere, to love without condition. Right? And yes, I read that they paid money to have him picked up at the airport and yes, it's so sad.

Teri, your response broke me. Literally. "There but for the grace of God"...is really all I thought while reading this. It could so be me, or the mom next door or the lady at church going through this. I am so sorry it is you. I don't know what I'd do. RAD is so very real. I just read an article on it not too long ago, and I can't reason in my head any kind of healthy solution. Where is the wisdom of Solomon when we need it? But know this, girlfriend, you just moved to the top of my prayer chain.

Thanks for your comments. I love hearing your voices.


votemom said...

i just can't believe that she exhausted all her resources/options, when he had not even been home a year yet.

R.A.D. or not, she made a vow in a courtroom to be his parent.

it would appear that she was not well educated and prepared to adopt a child, and she also felt very desperate. i would also guess that she did not bond with him or feel any attachment to him.

parenting based on feelings however, is a dangerous thing. parenting based on commitment and consistency and doing what is best for the child is what is expected of all parents - whether the child comes from your womb or not.

Lynda said...

I'm an adoptive mom, too - we adopted a TEEN girl from CPS right here in the United States. One thing I know is when we made the commitment, we became PARENTS. That meant our daughter was our responsibility. There was no giving up, no returning, no "buyer's remorse." Has it been easy? No. Worth it? Yes. Does sticking it out and coming from the same place birth parents do work? Yes.

Our girl turned 18 last month. She is starting college this fall. It feels like we have had her since the day she was born.

I know this is a bit off, but I sure wish Americans would adopt American children. There are SO many in foster care just hoping to get adopted. It's easy to do and well worth it. You don't have to have a newborn to feel that bond. I know... my baby was 13.

Anonymous said...

Clearly I don't think that his mother took the right course of action. My comment is a little off topic, but if this mother was indeed lied to by the orphanage about his mental state, and this has happened before, perhaps the United States should be demanding an International agreement to protect the parents. Russia is not the only country that needs to be concerned about international adoptions.

Evi said...

I wonder:
The heart of this little boy just wanted to know he's loved
...even though he was cruel and mean, yes maybe he even shoved.

Makes you wonder if he just tried to see...
would you love him still and a gracious, loving mother be...

You let him down, you rejected and shipped him away.
You failed, you're not gracious and loving.
Can you live with yourself today?

Sissy said...

I hadn't come across this story before, and I don't know what to think, really. Wow. I can't believe she just put him on a plane, but I can believe that a mother would find herself at her wits end parenting a child like that. Hmmmm. As a waiting adoptive mom, I like to think I would love ANY child, but in reality, I know that is not true. I mean, we all put on our paperwork what we will accept, and what we will not. I did not check the box saying I would accept a firestarter or a child that used sex as a bargaining tool. That paperwork was really tough to work through, because it shows you who you are.

Sigh. I just hope the child is ultimately okay, and that other adoptions aren't in jeopardy.

Anonymous said...

Here in Nebraska, for a time, they allowed parents who were feeling overwhelmed to just drop off children to local hospitals...no questions asked...just leave them and walk away....I can't begin to imagine what that did to the children who experienced that. I think we live in a society that now believes in disposable everything....and relationships are the latest casualty.

Melissa Lee said...

It's me again.

Evi...girl, that was beautifully said. My oh my.

Lynda, I feel the same way. I have such a heart for the children here - within our own country - who have no one. Who's living conditions are unlivable and whose lives could be changed. How admirable and wonderful are those adopting out of the country. But let us not forget those just down the street. And all the young mommies who are looking for families - like mine. And yours.

And to anonymouse - I agree. Is it that we have lived so long with instant gratification that we are now shackled by instant desposableness? We want what we want when we want it. And we want to get rid of what we want to get rid of when we want to. And look where we are now. Agreed!

Thanks y'all!

cndymkr / jean said...

Until recently I knew nothing about RAD. I now know more then I ever wanted to know and it is very scary. Please do not judge this mom until you know more about RAD. There is no cure and these children are beyond devious. Although I'm not sure that devious is the correct word. They are not just "special needs". Please pray for all the families out there who have such children and for the children themselves. My heart goes out to any parent who has to make such a horribly difficult decision to send her child back.

Ashley said...

My thoughts... are ugly.