So is it true that the kid was like Damian?
So is it true that the kid was like Damian?
I Did Not Love My Adopted Child
The painful truth about adoption.
By KJ Dell'Antonia
Updated Tuesday, April 13, 2010, at 7:14 AM ET
"I no longer wish to parent this child."
Those words aren't mine. They come from a letter written by 33-year-old Tennessee nurse Torry Hansen, who sent it on a plane back to Russia with the 7-year-old son she'd adopted last September. But there were moments last summer, after we brought home our newly adopted 3-year-old from China, when they could have been mine. That line perfectly encapsulates the way I felt for weeks after we returned from our adoption trip (although my version would have included more cursing). I did not love that child. That child did not love me (although, when she wasn't screaming at me, she clung to me like the last tree standing in a tornado). I did not wish to parent that child, and I did not think I ever could.
Obviously, I eventually did, or the storm that now surrounds Hansen would have enveloped me instead. But without taking away anything from what her adopted son was suffering, I understand, deep in my bones, what Hansen must have been going through when she bypassed all other emergency options and put that child on a plane. In the same way that women who've experienced post-partum depression understand mothers who kill themselves and their infants, I get it. There, but for [fill in saving grace here], go I.
Like me, Hansen must have thought she was prepared. She was screened, questioned, and evaluated. She would have sat through the mandatory "adoption education" session on institutionalized children featuring descriptions of sexual and other abuses, violent anger, and unpredictable procedural delays. She would have filled out forms, she would have been evaluated by social workers, and, because of Russia's strict travel requirements, she would have traveled there twice—the first time to meet the child she would adopt, and again, after a waiting period, to confirm her commitment to parenting him and to legalize their ties. But prospective adoptive parents are either incorrigible optimists (that was me) or people of deep and abiding faith, and it does not really sink in with most of them that things might end badly—might really end badly—until it is too late.
Hansen's case isn't the first to end this way. She's not even the first parent to return her child to Russia—a couple from Georgia took a 9-year-old girl back in 2000, saying they could not get her the help she needed. Russia is notorious for difficult adoptees—its institutional system is more rigid than those in other countries and often offers less opportunity for young children to bond with a caregiver, which is considered key to transferring trust and affection to an adoptive parent later. But there are tragic adoption stories from every part of the world. A Florida woman left her adopted Guatemalan kindergartener in the airport immediately after bringing him to the United States. (He remained in foster care until she sought, and regained, custody of him 16 months later.) Not every tough case ends in tragedy or rejection, but plenty of adoptive parents (including some of my closest friends) cling to some sort of "Plan B" as they get through the first months home with what is essentially a stranger—an angry, troubled stranger that you've promised to love unconditionally for life.
Hansen adopted a 7-year-old boy from a country with a long history of troubled adoptions of institutionalized children. I adopted a 3-year-old raised in the best possible circumstances for an abandoned girl-baby in China—a foster home, with a loving couple whom she called Mommy and Baba, who'd parented her since she was 2 months old. With their help and support, she was transitioned to us with as much loving care as the Chinese government would allow. Yet we still struggled. My daughter screamed for hours for Mommy, and we both knew I wasn't the mommy she wanted. She kicked, shouted, and defied me; she slugged her new brothers and sisters when they tried (always at the worst possible moment) to hug her. She said she did not like us; she begged to go back to Baba Mike. Her bottomless well of need meant I often had to ignore one of my other three children. I was sure I had ruined all of our lives forever.
It got better—it's still getting better; we work daily for our happy ending. Well-meaning is a term that takes a beating, but Hansen (and I) obviously meant well. With some crazed exceptions, few adoptive parents go through this process intending to do harm. The problem is that harm has already been done. Even the best adoptive parent is just the clean-up crew.
The older children waiting for adoption in the United States and in other countries are children who've already been abandoned or abused. Prospective parents are warned about all that, but there is also a parallel mythology that's risen up around adoption that sounds like that of giving birth in the days before Anne Lamott and her spiritual heirs burst the bubble. The stories adoption agencies include in their material, the books, the blogs—even the very signatures of the parents on adoption forums ("mom to DD Mei Mei, joyfully home since 2007") all speak of an experience that's supposed to be wonderful. Your child is "home," his or her orphaned life has ended, your respective travels are over, and you have been united into one big forever-family. Even the politically correct terminology surrounding adoption insists that once it's legal, it's a done deal—your child "was" adopted (not "is"), and now you are its mother, amen. We do not want adoption to be a process; we want it to be a destination—and that makes us even angrier when it doesn't work out that way. Torry Hansen betrayed her son, and she betrayed our belief system. We were willing to accept him as her son, and she wasn't, which makes her the villain.
This is not really anyone's fault. Humans seem to have an overwhelming need for a tidy narrative, which in adoption almost always butts up against the uglier reality. The law understands that, which is why, however wrong Hansen's actions seem to us, putting her adopted son on a plane back to Russia does not appear to have been illegal. Rash, yes, and ugly, but not against the law—because the law still recognizes that adoptive parenting of older children is different than parenting from birth. What's next is for the rest of us—jaded but experienced adoptive parents and the adoption professionals who surround us (often adoptive parents themselves) to stop relying on adoption education and social workers to convey the darker realities of attachment disorders, institutional delays, and post-adoption depression and start talking about them ourselves.
As long as we keep insisting that the typical adoption narrative is one in which a family comes home to joy and laughter and a happily ever after, cases like Hansen's will give fuel to the alarmists who insist that all adoptive parents are naive and unprepared. Russia will seem measured rather than vengeful when it threatens to temporarily suspend all U.S. adoptions—a knee-jerk reaction that will leave hundreds of children, many of whom have already met the families who plan to take them in, waiting in institutions for months or even years while "additional safeguards" (which will probably affect only a very few adoptions) are put in place. This family is waiting in St. Petersburg to finalize its adoption. This one just arrived there. Hansen's actions—or rather, Russia's overreaction—might make their adoptions, if and when they happen, even more likely to fail: The longer a child is institutionalized or the older she is when adopted, the more difficult the adjustment for both child and family will be.
Our family's adoption was far from perfect, although for the moment it seems to have ended better than Hansen's. Of course, we still don't know how it really ends. Even if my adopted daughter turns out fine, there are the other children to consider—my 3-year-old biological son may spend years on the couch because my adopted daughter displaced him; either my older son or my older daughter could seek the love and affection they lost this past year in a cult or a series of destructive one-night stands. We won't know until we know (and we'll never know what might have been different).
With the publicity surrounding his return, Hansen's adopted son will surely be taken in by some Russian family, and no matter what's said about it publicly, that will not be a smooth sail down the Nile. Probably none of it will work out as anyone would have intended—in fact, by definition, it already hasn't. A perfect world would be one in which every child could be well cared for by the mother he or she was born to. That's not what we've got. A "successful" adoption story is one in which you can tell yourself that it worked out better than the alternative. That has to be enough.
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KJ Dell'Antonia is a writer living in New Hampshire. She writes the EcoLiving column for Kiwi magazine and is the co-author of Reading With Babies, Toddlers and Twos: Choosing, Reading and Loving Books Together.
Article URL: I Did Not Love My Adopted Child - By KJ Dell'Antonia - Slate Magazine
^^I understand what this lady is saying but I think she's offbase. The Tenn lady sent him back but was in the process of trying to get another. Kind of like returning a dress that doesn't fit and hoping the next one will.
'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin
"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." --Sinclair Lewis
Looks like this story is about to die, but I'm still pretty fired up about it. I've been reading everything I can about it. I just hate that this callous and cold-hearted woman is apparently going to get away with this unconscionable act. I don't want to repeat what everyone else said, but if the adoption wasn't working out, she should have gone through the appropriate channels to resolve the situation!
Following is a post from The Daily Bastardette, and adoptee rights blog. Apparently, the Hansen family was kind of weird and not your classic Leave it to Beaver family. Imagine!
The Weird World of Torry Hansen: An Accusation from Hayfork
This is cross-posted from my Nikto Ne Zabyt(Memoriam for Russian Adoptees Murdered and Abused by their Forever Families) blog
The Daily Bastardette and Nikto Ne Zabytis probably the only place you will find this!
Our quick-witted commenter "blueheron" caught the following comment on the Redding Record/Redding.com article, Russian boy case linked to Redding and added it to my Weird World of Torry Hansen comments (on the Daily Bastardette site.)
I'm posting it here because I think the comment deserves wider distribution and shouldn't just set as a comment.--especially since it has been disappeared from it's original site newspaper site.
We can't judge the veracity of the writer, but it's an intriguing clue to the Hansen puzzle. From what we know of similar abuse cases involving the Forever Families of Russian adoptees, social isolation plays is a key marker.
Here is a comment from the article about the Hansens in Redding and Hayfork. I can't vouch for the truth, but it is interesting. Any errors are in the original. Here's the link to the article/comments: Russian boy case linked to Redding » Redding Record Searchlight
The other part of this story has no one questioning the mother's role in this picture. The real story here is that Torry is the one with the strange, controlling upbringing. It is known in Hayfork that Erik and Nancy would enroll their children in public school and then pull them out to homeschool after some issue and would do this frequently. Another daughter got pregnant and the parents feigned the disapearance of the girl because they didn't like the boyfriend. The boyfriend filed a missing person's report with the sheriff's department and was very concerned with her whereabouts and safety. It was determined by the d.a.'s office that she actually wasn't a missing person. A child was born and that father still to this day hasn't had any contact with that child. I believe that Russian boy isn't the one with the problem here. The fact that Torry put that boy on a plane to RUSSIA! alone instead of gettinghelp from the appropriate athorities says alot more about her character. Maybe he was just stuck in a horrible situation and that was his only way to retaliate.
There is much more to this story from the Hansen AND the adoption industry side. We're doing our part to make sure it gets told.
Who says being second best is such a bad thing?
American woman who sent adopted son, 7, back to Russia alone on a plane must pay $150,000 compensation AND $1,000 per month until he is an adult
- Torry Hansen adopted Artem in 2009 and sent him back to Russia in 2010
- Must support him for the next eight years until he turns 18
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 06:41, 19 May 2012 | UPDATED: 13:59, 19 May 2012
An American woman who sent the Russian boy she adopted back to Moscow on a one-way flight has been ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in child support.
Torry Hansen will have to pay a lump sum of $150,000 to the child she named Justin but later abandoned, as well as $1,000 per month until he is an adult.
On Thursday a judge in Bedford County, Tennessee ruled that she must begin making the child support payments in June and continue to pay until the boy, who is now 10 years old, turns 18.
Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell said the $150,000 Hansen must pay includes damages for breach of contract, legal fees and support for the boy.
Tennessee nurse Torry Hansen took a trip to Russia in 2009 and met Artem, who she renamed Justin, in an orphanage. Their meeting is pictured here
Hansen sent Artem Saveliev back to Russia in April 2010 with a letter saying the child was disturbed and violent and she did not want him anymore.
The case created an international uproar and prompted Russia to temporarily halt its adoption program with the U.S.
The World Association for Children and Parents, which helped Hansen adopt the child, then filed a lawsuit seeking child support.
Hansen has since moved to Redding, California and has failed to show up at any of the hearings, said Larry Crain, an attorney for the adoption agency.
She has hired a series of three Tennessee lawyers to represent her but the most recent one, he said, has been granted permission to leave the case. She did, however, hire a court reporter to attend the hearing.
Artem, who is now nearly ten, lives in a suburb of Moscow with his foster parents and other children who are having difficulties finding adoptive parents
Hansen filed a lawsuit last month in California against representatives of a Russian orphanage saying the Russian Federation Supreme Court annulled the adoption.
'In doing so, it denied defendants the ability to recover a sum of money in the form of child support from plaintiff,' the suit says.
Hansen wants the California court to recognise the Russian decision.
Adoption advocates hailed the Tennessee court order as a measure of justice for the boy, and said the judge's decision would show there are consequences to abandoning adopted children.
Hansen apparently never told social workers that she was having problems with the boy.
Worth forgetting: A swing set in Hansen's shared back yard in Tennessee is part of the life Artem hopes to forget. He no longer speaks any English and calls his foster mother Mama
Happier times: Artem now calls Vera Egorova, right, Mama. Pavel Astakhov, left, has a special interest in Artem's case and makes periodic visits to the SOS Village in Tomilino where Artem is living
The agency sued Hansen to deter others from doing anything similar and to show the Russians that 'you cannot do this in America and get away with it,' Mr Crain said.
'It has certainly caused concern on the part of Russian officials that unless there are consequences when a parent abandons a child placed in their home, there's a need for safeguards to make sure this never occurs,' he added.
The judge said in his order that when Hansen adopted the boy she signed a contract acknowledging that it was possible the child could have physical, emotional or behaviour problems that were unreported and even unknown to the adoption agency.
Lee said $58,000 of the $150,000 will pay for the past two years' worth of support and medical fees for the boy in Russia.
Court documents say the boy was hospitalised for three weeks after he returned to Moscow, but they do not say what he was treated for.
He was later moved to an orphanage and then sent to another institution.
Read more: Russian boy abandoned: U.S. mother who sent Artem Saveliev back to Russia must pay child support | Mail Online
Good luck collecting.
These people don't give a fuck about YOU or us. It's a message board, for Christ's sake. ~ mrs.v ~
~"Fuck off! Aim higher! Get a life! Get away from me!" ~the lovely and talented Miss Julia Roberts~
I feel so sorry for kids who can't find a permanent home. Being in care and moving between foster homes is so unsettling.
Adopting a child isn't the same as adopting a pet. A pet can be taken back to a shelter when it's not working out.
She should've contacted social workers, the adoption agency, a child therapist, anyone she could, to help her with raising the boy. Yes, a child coming from a difficult background (don't remember the circumstances but couldn't have been good) and all of a sudden hurled into a completely different world could develop some issues. She really didn't anticipate that? She didn't even try, she just gave up and sent him back by himself. Dumb, heartless harpy.
While I don't doubt she had a lot of trouble with him, as its been said above, there are a lot of actions you can take in that situation, therapists available, special schools, funding available to help through multiple agencies. Putting him on a plane alone with a note that basically says, "I don't want him' is just disgusting.
There will be times you might leap before you look
There'll be times you'll like the cover and that's precisely why you'll love the book
Do it anyway
The agency clearly didn't do their homework and failed to recognise, that this woman was not a suitable adoptive parent. Why did they ever approve her to adopt a child? Because she was willing to pay them?
Or she lied during the application process and said whatever she thought they needed to hear.
"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."
-- Stephen Hawking
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