To Russia Without Love–Who Returns An Adopted Child?!


In the papers this weekend was the article about the woman from Tennessee who adopted a Russian boy about a year ago. She says that he has mental issues and that her family was scared that he would kill them. So they put him on an airplane alone back to Russia in hopes of reversing the adoption.

Aside from the fact that the family sending the boy to Russia quite frankly caused an international incident (Russia has closed adoptions to Americans for now), they also clearly missed the key factor when you are blessed with a child through nature or adoption. And that is you don’t know what you’re going to get. A fact that even Forrest Gump comprehended.

I don’t know the true facts in the story, only what I’ve read. But I have to wonder what the family would have done if one of the biological children had behaved the way they said the adopted child did. There isn’t anyone to ship a biological child off to.

What I’m assuming is that this family doesn’t understand that adoption isn’t like buying a dress. When you are lucky to adopt a child into your life you can’t return them if they aren’t perfect or act the way you’d like. No one is perfect and we as parents need to do our best to get a child psychological help if they need it.

If the family had gotten the child help and didn’t have any other resource then I’d be more understanding. Maybe even if they’d showed some compassion for a small child when they sent him back. But they drove this 7 year old to the airport, paid someone else to walk him through security, and put him alone on an international flight. Oh and found a driver online at the destination to drive the boy to a government agency. That is just callous.

I have a feeling that the little boy might be better off now than he was living with his adopted family.


When I first heard of this story the other day, my heart went out to both this little boy and the adopting family here in the US. Reading the article, my eyes blurred with tears as I read what the boy apparently went through in his native homeland before he came to the US. Such a harsh life. Then when I read what his US family was going through, with his destructive behaviour and instilling some fear into the family, my heart went out to the parents. What had they gotten themselves into, I thought? The orphanage and doctor in Russia both said the boy was fine, so why was he acting out like this? Why the terrifying behaviour?

Then I got angry the further I read and have seen on television. Not once have I heard of this US family taking the boy to see a therapist, or to get any sort of help for him. What if it was a medical condition triggering his behaviour? What if it was a psychiatric behaviour that he could learn to reign in? What if some sort of coping skills were taught to him and his adoptive family? What if there was some medication to help?

But we won’t know now.

I hate to judge other families. And no, I have not walked in this family’s shoes. I assume it was a hard decision to send him back to Russia. God, I hope it was a difficult and torturous decision to make. But by all accounts, I don’t think it was.

I believe this family owed that little boy help, in whatever form he needed. And love. How must he feel now, to be abandoned yet again? They owed this little boy so much more than throwing him alone onto a plane to cross the Atlantic to… no one.  My heart goes out to him, along with my prayers.

I also feel bad for all the American families who were in the process of adopting Russian children, and who now, because of this family, may have had that process interrupted, stalled or terminated. They don’t deserve that.

As to the family in Tennessee, I hope they are never allowed to adopt again. As Yin said, adoption is not like buying a dress or a toy. It’s a life changing decision for everyone. Not one with any guarantees, either, but nothing in Life is guaranteed.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tracy on April 17, 2010 at 10:51 am

    I hate to say it there are always two sides to every story and the media outlet is not the best at representing the truth or even interested in digging for the truth, they are interested in one thing…selling news and advertising. The article was made to tug at the heartstrings of all the readership…oh what a terrible American family sending a poor Russian boy back to his country. The fact is that there are lots of wonderful children waiting to be adopted and there are many of those that suffer from all sorts of psychosis’ and other mental illnesses. Yes, there were alternative options for the family to take (as you both noted in your posts) but living with somebody who has a mental illness is also extremely scary (esp. IF you had your own children to protect). We also don’t know the history of this boy from 0-7, was he abused, did he have violent tendencies to begin with? I wouldn’t say the adoption process is the safest or the most honest of industries. If that was your own child, you would have known from the first day of their violent behavior that this is something to monitor and to seek help for. If the boy was ill, what should the family do? Isolate him from the rest of the group by putting locks on the room? I know this sounds extreme but having lived with somebody (my mom) who is mentally ill living in fear was very real and getting help is very difficult. I don’t blame this family for wanting to send the little boy back if the reality is that the boy is sick and a real threat but if they found him to be an inconvenience then they don’t deserve to have anymore little people in their house.


  2. Posted by yangmommy on April 25, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Your comments are very insightful and spot on. We’ve only heard one part of the story, since the mother & family in question are refusing to talk to authorities and the press. I have since learned that the boy’s Russian mother deposited him at the orphanage when he was 6; don’t know why. But there’s abandonment #1.
    What is lacking so far from the information we know is why didn’t the family take the boy in for some sort of psychological help? Maybe she did, but I would think that by now, some agency or doctor would have stepped forward. Plus, as you probably know, it does take months if not years for mental health to improve (if not through medications than through other means).
    And despite what the family here in the US went through, no matter the scares, I think we can agree on that the way the mother handled it was distasteful. You don’t just pin a note on a young child and ship them across the world, hoping someone on the other end will get him. He’s not Paddington Bear.


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