10 April 2010

Adoption - It's For Life, Not Until the Warranty Runs Out

I've been largely offline lately, owing to a recent surgical procedure and subsequent regimen of medication that has rendered me useless in any venue requiring coherence, so this morning, I thought I would catch up on some news over breakfast.

What a mistake. After seeing this headline, Russia Furious Over Adopted Boy Sent Back From US, I choked on my eggs. My blood pressure rose and parts of my body that were only throbbing twanged with renewed pain. It's true, stress and anger manifest themselves physically.

The crux of the story is this: A woman in the US adopted a boy from Russia who, after a period of time, she claims became too violent and difficult to handle. So, she bought him a one-way ticket back to Mother Russia, with the equivalent of a "Return to Sender" note pinned to him.

As adoptee, birth mother, and general advocate for adoption in general, I was outraged. I've seen it too many times in forums and in anti-adoption websites (Google it. Have fun reading)..."it" being this notion that adopted children are malcontents who come pre-packaged with issues beyond the norm and no reasonable parent-in-waiting should be asked to burden themselves. It doesn't matter whether the child is adopted later in life or as a newborn, it's an industry we must not feed, producing demon spawn that will eat our generous souls.

Adoption, whether done here in the US or overseas, is expensive. Yes. It's no guarantee of familial bliss either. I can attest to that, remembering the own misery I inflicted on my family. But they didn't send me back with a note. They rode out the storm and are still my family to this day. They, unlike Ms. Nancy Hansen's daughter, understood that family comes in all forms and that adoption is an agreement to be that family, for better or worse. It's, in fact, a larger committment than marriage. You don't normally divorce your children when they lash out. Instead, you seek help.

Ms. Nancy Hansen, the returned child's adopted grandmother, vehemently denies charges of child abandonment. After all, she claims, the boy was under the charge of a stewardess for the entire flight, and her daughter, the boy's adopted mother, had paid a stranger some 200 US dollars to pick the child up in Moscow.

Think about your families for a moment, whether blended, adopted, or biological. Think about your special needs children, your children with emotional problems - especially those of you who gave birth to those kids. Are there days you wish you could return them? Of course! Do you find yourselves clambering over them, demanding they get back to whence they came, right now!! No. Responsible, loving parents, no matter how they came to be, weather the storms, understanding that parenthood is a sacrifice, but that ultimately, they are responsible for fixing what is broken.

This Russian child has already been "abandoned" in his own mind once, by parents who could not, for whatever reason, raise him and gave him over to the state. He realized a dream that many children in orphanages around the world, including here in the US never do, and that was to find a family of his very own. Now, he's been abandoned again, by a woman who clearly doesn't understand that parenthood, whether natural or adopted, is forever, bumps, scary emotional rides and all.

What sort of precedent will this set in the end? How many children waiting for adoption will be affected by this woman's now public rejection of "broken goods"? How many other adoptive parents will ultimately follow this lead? And what sort of renewed voice will this give to the anti-adoption set?

As a mother, an adoptee, a birth mother, these questions will haunt me - as will the fate of that troubled little boy.


ericka @ alabaster cow said...

that is absolutely horrifying! poor little boy...

i'm confounded how some could easily do something like that to an innocent child.

Shannon said...

I saw this story last night on a "Dateline" type new's program (can't remember which one), and I was shocked! Atually, I got a little teary eyed. It affected me powerfully as well. This poor child is internalizing the message that love is conditional, and he is not worthy of love. That poor child. Of course he has problems: Who knows what trials he faced in Russia or what kind of emotional neglect he experienced at the orphanage. And then he gets SENT BACK because his "adoptive mother" thought she was ordering family bliss in a box. It is an outrage.
Oh sorry! I didn't mean to rant so much! This topic just really gets me riled up. I actually found you from MBC (I am new there as well). Your blog intrigues me because it is TOTALLY different from the other ones I have seen. =)

Phe said...

ericka: It is appalling and I don't begin to pretend to understand it either.

Shannon: You nailed it when you said, "Family Bliss in a box".

Thanks for the follow too. I hope to post more often than I have been, but I'm happy to know you've stumbled on something different!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't believe this crazy news either. There was a recent NYT blog post citing a study that said that moms who have recently adopted also go through "baby blues" depression. What was interesting were all the comments, and some of them alluded to the very important point that you make - that some people approach motherhood, whether it's by giving birth or through adoption as this "thing" that's going to be so perfect and make them so happy and everything will be so wonderful. And when the reality kicks in (that every second of every day isn't blissful), resentment builds that ends up scarring children for life. In this worst case scenario, a woman who didn't get her perfect child not only became resentful, but acted in a horrifyingly irrational, selfish way. I am so glad to see you posted your thoughts on this because it's definitely a topic that needs a voice: children aren't disposible. I dropped by from MBC (my blog is www.fatnutritionwriter.blogspot.com) and I didn't think I would end up spending so much time here! Keep up with your blogging - you're a great writer!

Phe said...

Fat Nutrition Writer: I saw you on MBC and checked you out too. Thank you so much for swinging by, and for your generous comments and praise.

I've come to believe that children, whether adopted or not, are still viewed as sort of "non-human" entities in our society. Court judgements, harried child welfare systems and even our schools rather bear that out. I'll certainly continue to posit my opinions when I see these things. It's important that someone recognize that they are, in fact, fully human. : )

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