10 April 2010
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.