Leslie Cook

Should Adopted Children Be Treated like Dogs?

In In My Opinion... on April 27, 2010 at 4:41 am

I’ve been following the story about a Tennessee women returning her adopted 7-year old son because she was in fear for her safety.    Ahhhh where to start with this story.  My initial reaction was one of shock.  How can any parent, adopted or natural, just drop a child off at an airport with a note in his pocket like a dog being dropped off at the pound?  I searched news stories looking for information, trying to figure out Torry Hansen’s reason for doing what she did.  It turns out that she didn’t do the deed herself, she worked with her partner in crime, her mother, who took the child to Washington D. C and dropped him at the airport.  Why did they do this?  Because he had “behavioral problems.”  Behavioral problems?  Gee I wonder why.  He was transported from a Russian orphanage to a home in Tennessee.  He didn’t speak the language, and was living with women he probably didn’t know that well.  At 7 years old, I’d have behavioral problems too.

Ms. Hansen included a note which stated “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.  As he is a Russian National, I am returning him to your guardianship and would like the adoption disannulled.”   Ok, here’s my disclaimer.  I’m not a parent, and I have no idea how hard it is to parent a child.  I’m sure Ms. Hansen went though lots of trauma adjusting to her new son.  From reports, the child does sound like he had issues that needed to be worked out .  A neighbor says that that he set fires and tried to burn down the house.  That had to be difficult for her and her mother.  And she was apparently a single mother with only the support of her own mother as assistance.

In such a situation, I’m not sure what I would have done.  I know that I would not have adopted an older child from a foreign country as a single parent.  It’s not fair to the child and it’s not fair to the adoptive parent.  Parenting is a difficult job and best done by 2 people… or a village.  If for some reason I did go ahead with the adoption, and received a child that was experiencing problems adjusting to his new environment, I’d seek help for him.  If I had a child that was showing violent tendencies, it would help to have him checked out medically to find out if there are physical reasons for his behavior .  If he were physically fine, I’d seek out psychological help to assist with his transition and to cope with any real problems he may have.  I would have sought out help for myself as well, to see how I could better cope with this troubled child.  I’d like to think that I would have thought about how hard it would be for a child to transition to a new environment at 7 years old before adopting him.  I know I would not have shipped him back alone with a note like an unwanted puppy.  It doesn’t appear that Ms. Hansen thought about or acted upon any of these things.  Of course we don’t really know for sure because, as of today, she’s not talking. And apparently trying to return a minor that you’ve legally adopted to his country of origin isn’t a crime.  But morally, it’s an outrage.

And, in a twist apparently Ms. Hansen was attempting to adopt another child when she surreptitiously returned Artyom Savelyev (http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/mom-russia-adoption-scandal-child/story?id=10358887 ).  The more I find out about Ms. Hansen, the more she looks like Nadia Suleman (Octimom).   When will people learn that children are not accessories?  They’re living breathing human beings.

What’s the solution?  Possibly better vetting of adoptive parents, although I’m sure Ms. Hansen went through extensive vetting to obtain a child.  Maybe additional psychiatric evaluations might be useful, or at least counseling by the adoption agency to let the adoptive parent know that child rearing isn’t a piece of cake.

In the long run, perhaps it’s better that Ms. Hansen did return Artyom Savelyev.  Her actions may have averted real harm to the child, the family, or to the community.  With any luck, this women will not be able to adopt again.  Her mother says that she wanted “…a child to love.”  Perhaps she should have started with a puppy.

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