Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Reflections of Adoption Gone Bad

A 33-year-old nurse named Tory Hansen took her 7-year-old son to an airport, put him on a plane, alone, to Russia. She'd adopted him last September from a Russian orphanage and her note said: "This child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues...I was lied to and misled by the Russian Orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and other issues."

This is a terrible story and there's no making it better. But it's not exactly, or not only, about adoption. It reminds me of the story of parents, biological and adopted, driven to give up their children under safe haven laws because of a lack of quality pediatric mental health services.

When parents give up kids because they can't handle them, these acts are an indictment. They show the failure of our schools, social service agencies, and medical institutions to establish reasonable methods of assessing, treating and talking about children with mental health issues--whether they're adopted or not.

(For more on the Hansen story from the adoption angle, there's a piece from K.J. Dell'Antonia here and Jezebel here. For a story of hard international adoption that seems to be working out, I recommend taking a listen to Act I of the This American Life episode Unconditional Love. Grab a hanky when you do.)

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