‘Forever Families:’ What happens when adoption does not work out?

The author with son Noah, 7.

The author with son Noah, 7.

By Lorial Crowder

On November 27th, an Ohio couple returned their 9-year old adopted son to Butler County Children’s Services with claims he was “displaying aggressive behavior and earlier threatened the family with a knife.” The boy was adopted and raised from infancy, according to reports.

The couple was indicted on “misdemeanor counts of nonsupport” and a Butler lawyer considered their actions as “reckless abandonment.”

I read the article in disbelief, wondering what was going on in the minds of the parents and how this could happen.

The sad truth is that even adopted children are not protected from such selfish and inhumane treatment. Ever so often there are shocking headlines that question the core and purpose of adoption. You would not think that adoptive parents would commit such atrocities but unfortunately it makes the headlines more often than needed.

In 2010, the international adoption community was shocked to hear the news of a 7-year-old boy who was issued a one-way ticket back to Russia by his adoptive mother with a note saying, “ I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child. As he is a Russian national, I am returning him to your guardianship.”

The international adoption community was rightfully disgusted with the actions of Tennessee mother Torry Hansen and although she was fined $150,000 and will have to pay $1,000 a month for child support the little boy Artyom Saveliev now in Russia will have to live with the reality that he was abandoned by a woman he once called ‘Mom.’

As an adopted Filipina, there has not been a day where I do not think about my own journey into adoption. It does not define me but it is an extension of who and how I identify myself. And now as a mother to my 7-year-old son, I could never imagine the thought of sending him to some far away strange country because I as a parent was not equipped or did not have enough support to make a rational decision for his well-being.

Is there a moral to these two stories?

Adoption, both domestic and international, have and will always have a myriad of complexities; layers that seem to normalize the life-long process for both the adoptive parents and adult adoptees yet also challenge the ideology of family. The “forever family” or “chosen family” was coined to give a sense of permanency or belonging for all the members involved in the adoption. It was a means of identifying adoption as an act of creating a family.

I do believe that in order for “forever families” and “chosen families” to flourish, the life-long journey is not only for the adoptee but also the adoptive parents. Adoption agencies must put more emphasis on the need for post-adoption support services. To provide more educational workshops, support groups, counseling services for adoptive parents who require support just as any parent would seek for their child, whether adopted or biological.

Lorial Crowder is co-founder of Filipino Adoptees Network, a web-based organization created in 2005 to provide support, resources, and a networking system for Filipino adoptees and their families.

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