Tuesday, April 20, 2010
To Russia...With(out) Love?
Like many others in the adoption community, I am saddened that Russia has suspended all adoptions to the United States in light of the situation with Torry Hansen and the poor decision she made in sending back her adopted son, Justin Hansen aka Artyem Saviliev, to Russia by himself with a note stating that she no longer wished to parent him.
Of course, since Ms. Hansen refuses to talk to anyone unless a charge is filed, we might never know the whole story. Or, as one person pointed out, maybe she's going to write a book on her experience and make lots of money (please...don't go buy it!). Anyway, back to my point, there is a lot that we just don't know. But here are some things that I do know.
1. One of Ms. Hansen's arguments is that Russia, its officials, and orphanage workers lied about the mental/emotional stability of Justin. And maybe they did. But here's the deal: regardless of whether or not this 7 year old had real issues, his adoptive mother accepted responsibility for him upon adopting him and should have sought professional help from other sources. Why didn't she exhaust every option to get him help? It appears that Ms. Hansen's agency, WACAP, was unaware of any difficulties she was having with Justin. See their comments here (note: this is very informative on adoption protocol in general...I say it's a must read). So...the question is, did Justin REALLY have issues, or was he just a confused kid who was trying to adjust to his new life in the U.S.? I mean, who actually believes that you can take a child from a different culture, stick him in a new place with new foods, systems, languages, people, etc., and not expect some type of behavioral issues? But seeing as how no professional help was sought, I guess we'll never really know if Justin's issues were truly as severe as Ms. Hansen claims. And, to make matters more interesting, it seems that, at least from one source, Ms. Hansen was pursuing a second adoption through a different agency. If things were really SO bad with Justin, why immediately start another adoption process? Is it just me, or does that make no sense at all? Oh, so many questions!
2. When you adopt a child, it's not like bringing home a dog from the pound. If things don't work out, you don't just take it back to where you initially got it. The child is legally yours! Just as with a biological child, you can't send him back. There are no guarantees when it comes to children...regardless of if they are biological or adopted. You can't guarantee that they won't have physical, mental, or emotional issues. Children are risky business! But as their parent, you accept the role of loving them, caring for them, and doing what is in their best interest. And when it becomes too overwhelming for you, you get outside support and help. Reaching out to others for help doesn't make you a bad parent. Sending your child alone back to another country by himself because it was all too much for you? Well...that's another story.
3. Oh, and by the way, for those whose only comment about this tragic situation is that all children from the U.S. should be adopted before international adoption is even considered, you should know that there are many different reasons why people adopt from other countries and EVERY ORPHAN (whether in the U.S. or somewhere in the rest of the world), deserves a loving family. Maybe your passion for the children here in the U.S. is God-given and YOU should be the one to give them a forever home.
My heart goes out to all of the families who are in the process of a Russian adoption. Families that have already met their new son/daughter and are waiting to bring them home. Families that just received their referral and now wonder if they will ever meet the sweet little face in the picture. Or the others who have been laboring over mounds of paperwork only to wonder if it was all in vain. It's beyond amazing how one person could create such an international disaster. Let's just pray that Russia will re-open adoptions to the U.S. sooner rather than later for these families and children alike.
Posted by Austin & Brittany at 8:00 AM