No "forever family" for one Russian adoptee

Horror and shock. That's what I felt when I heard about the plight of a 7-year-old child who was sent packing back to his birth country by his adoptive mother. The details are coming out but what is apparent is that adoptive mother Torry Ann Hansen of Tennessee, seems to think that children can be returned like a defective piece of merchandise.

Read this NY Times article for the full story, but here's the brief rundown:

Hansen adopts a child from Russia. She thinks the child has severe psychological problems and claims she fears for the safety of her family and friends. The child is transported back to Russia with a note from Hansen that read: “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.” Arrangements were made via the internet for the boy to be taken and dropped off at the Education Ministry in Moscow (for $200) so the family claims they did not desert the child.

The results of this action by Hansen is that Russia is now calling for the suspension of all adoptions of Russian children to the U.S. How heartbreaking for the families who are currently in process. Russia placed over 1500 children in American homes in 2009.

I could comment on this woman's actions, and there's plenty of room for criticism and blame there. Having an uncontrollable child, violent child, or one with psychological/emotional problems is something that scares lots of prospective adoptive parents. Biological parents are probably scared of the same thing.

But how the parent handles a child with those issues is really what we should be concerned with and we should hold adoptive and biological parents equally accountable.

It just doesn't seem like that's the case here. Unfortunately parents abandon their children in this country every day. This woman did what thousands of parents do regularly (although I concede, the way she did it is extremely unusual.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending this woman's actions. They are deplorable.

But because she's the adoptive parent who then abandoned her child, that seems to elevate this situation in the eyes of the public to a more heinous level. That and the fact that she'd just ship him off to Moscow. That's pretty cold.

Perhaps it's the journalist in me, but I have lots of problems with the actual reporting of this story. No mention was made of the father. Did Hansen adopt as a single woman? How old was the child when she adopted and how long has she had him? Does Hansen have other children? Has she adopted previously?

Information that will hopefully be revealed in coming stories is: What kind of post-placement support did this family receive, if any? Did Hansen attempt to utilize any of her local family services? Can adopted children be surrendered to the local foster care systems?

Stories like these just make me shudder.

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