A response from Nightlight’s Executive Director, Ron Stoddart:
When a child is legally adopted in the United States, that child bears the same relationship to their adoptive parent(s) as a biological child would to their parents. The adopting parents accept all of the rights and obligations of the parent-child relationship. When a child is legally adopted in another country to be immigrated to the United States, the adopting parents also have the same rights and obligations. Our laws allow an adopted child to be treated under the law in the same way as a biological child.
The recent case of an adoptive mother of a Russian child sending the child back to Russia, unescorted, with a note rejecting the child, sends a cold shiver through the adoption community. Does anyone have any doubt what would be done to this parent if she had gone to a far away place and left her biological child unattended with a note saying she no longer wanted the child?
If the State of Tennessee does not deal with this parent expeditiously and with the same outrage that they would treat a parent abandoning her biological child in a similar manner, then the U.S. will have no credibility in stating that adopted children are treated the same as biological children in our Country.
On April 16, 2010 the U.S. Dept of State, Office of Children’s Issues issued an announcement, stating that suspension of adoptions from Russia has not been confirmed.
While the circumstances of the event of a child being sent back to his birth country seems a cruel and even crazy act by the family who adopted him, every situation should be fully understood with all facts known before judgment is rendered. I have not walked in the shoes of this family. I do not know what steps, if any, the family took stateside to interrupt the adoption or sever the relationahip once the adoption was final. I do not know what behaviors the child exhibited which rendered him violent and a danger to the family. I do not know the thinking behind the decision to send this child back to Russia. I do not know all of the facts concerning whether or not the child was accompanied/supervised by adults while inflight and on the ground. I do not know the movements of the child once the child left his family as to whether or not he was ever in imminent danger. I do know attachment disorder is real. I do know many adoptions are completed without all information coming forth from the birth country about the seriousness of the child’s health conditions. I do know Russian children have the highest risk of having attachment disorder due to the way in which children are institutionalized in the orphanages. I do know children exhibiting extremely violent behaviors are difficult to handle by experienced, highly trained people much less a family wishing only to share love with a child. I do know children who have experienced abuse early in their lives often lash out to others in dangerous ways. I do know parenting emotionally disturbed children is very difficult. I do know we get a superior attitude – “holier than thou” – when we learn of a parent giving up on a child yet what did we do to help? There are many victims in this story. Let’s not point fingers. Let’s fix the system where children don’t experience attachment disorders, prospective parents are told the truth, support is plentiful once children arrive in foreign homes, understanding is clear not all adoptions are good matches for the child and the family, there are clear avenues of help if the family is feeling stress from the placement, and there is an articulated way out if the family decides the adoption should be reversed.
I whole heartedly agree. My heart aches for those awaiting adoptive families who are now having to be placed on hold because of this one lady’s poor judgement. To think that this could have been our family last year, as we were awaiting our daughter in the Russian court system, brings tears to my eyes. My heart also goes out to that boy – who has now been abandoned for a second time. It is very important that we, representing the “United States adoption community” send a clear message to Russia, the United States Government and the world that we absolutely REJECT the actions taken by this mother in abandoning her child. It is unacceptable and probably criminal. Our prayers are with those awaiting U.S. families and Russian adoptive children, that boy and forgiveness for that mother.