The case of a 7-year-old Russian boy who was returned to Moscow by his adoptive U.S. mother has highlighted the challenges families face when an international adoption goes wrong.
For those of you that don’t know, an American woman, Tori Hansen, adopted a little boy in Russia. He had been removed from his alcoholic biological mother’s care a few years ago and put in an institution. He came to the United States, resided in the home of Ms. Hansen as her adopted son for several months and then last week, she put him on a plane back to Russia with a note pinned inside his jacket that read “I no longer wish to parent this child.” Apparently the child had emotional difficulties, was violent and difficult to control. That Hansen wasn’t aware of his potential problems prior to the adoption is hard to believe. A quick internet search of “Russia” and “older children” and “adoption” yields a host of potential challenges, including attachment disorders, behavioral problems and psychological issues. What is she trying to say? They don’t have google in Tennessee?
The problem is that you can’t put your adopted child back on a plane and send them off to a foreign country just like you can’t put your biological child on a plane and send him off the a foreign country with a note pinned to his jacket stating that you no longer wish to parent. This little boy was the subject of a full and final adoption decree in Russia. That means that as soon as he entered the United States, he became a US citizen. He has the same rights and privileges as any other American child. And his “mom” has the same obligations as if she had given birth to him. Nobody’s suggesting that she struggle along for years with a child that she cannot handle but there were resources available to her. She could have sought counseling for herself and the little boy, taken a parenting class, gotten to the bottom of his issues, or placed him for adoption with another family. The only things she couldn’t do was drive him out of town and drop him off on the side of the road or put him on a plane back to Russia or otherwise dispose of him.
There’s a lot of talk about criminal charges- abandonment, neglect etc. I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned the fact that the Russian authorities could also come after her for child support until this little boy reaches 18 (or 21 if he goes to college.) I’ve also heard that the Russian authorities are considering halting all adoptions by American citizens. I’m not sure that this is going to happen. 12 Russian children have been murdered by their US adoptive parents over the past 10 years and 3 others that I can think of were adopted by pedophiles and if that didn’t do it, I don’t know that this will either. I would definitely expect a slow down in the process. It would be really unfortunate if this turned out to be the last straw- according to the State Department 1,600 orphans were adopted by US families last year and the vast majority of those adoptions were successful. A U.S. government delegation will arrive in Moscow next week to discuss rules for American parents who want to adopt Russian children. I think everything will be ironed out. After all, Russia wants its orphans to find families. Expect further updates from the State Department.