Today's facebook post by CanadaAdopts asked if adoption agencies lie in order to get children adopted. I have to say an emphatic, "no"! This topic came about as a result of Torry Hansen's accusation that her agency mislead her about the medical condition of her adopted child. While it is possible, from what I've read about RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), that a child may not exhibit the full extent of his or her disability until the child has been in the home for several months, I believe it is the parent's responsibility to conduct all research necessary in order to parent the child to the best of his or her ability.
What most people who are unfamiliar with adoption (especially Russian adoption) are unaware of is that while there are many children residing in Russian orphanages, the Russians are hesitant to allow them to be adopted overseas. And why not? Children, after all, are a country's most valuable resources. Any country would be loathe to allow its future to be raised in another country and culture. Therefore, many children with even mild disabilities are deemed "unadoptable" by the Russian authorities. In fact, of the 500,000 plus children residing in Russian orphanages, only about 20% are available for international adoption. Given this information, I am hesitant to agree with Ms. Hansen about her accusations toward both her adoption agency and the Russian officials who handled her adoption.
Most importantly, whenever a parent decides to adopt, it is his or her responsibility to be informed about whatever issues she may face when she brings the child home. Just as pregnant women prepare themselves for childbirth and bringing home the baby, an adoptive parent must also make age-appropriate preparations. In the case of Russian adoptions, prospective adoptive parents may bring pictures and/or video to their pediatrician in order for them to be reviewed for signs of disabilities and abnormal health issues. Also, in the event of adoption of an older child, a child psychologist/psychiatrist should be procured for evaluation of the child once the child arrives home. English lessons are also a must, as are Russian language lessons for the parents. Inability to communicate is a huge issue for these children. They need constant reassurance that they are now living in a place of love and permanancy. Not only did Ms. Hansen neglect to pursue these avenues when she brought home her child, we are also informed that she did not have him enrolled in school - not even a home-school program.
There are, however, some errors on the agency's part in this particular situation. First, agencies should not be allowed to represent an adoptive couple who lives so far away. Doing so prohibits the agency from having direct contact with the adoptive family before or after the child comes home. Our own agency, Gladney, required us to visit them in Ft. Worth a couple times before and after our adoption was finalized, in addition to the post-adoption reports required by the Russian government. Also, a first time parent should never be allowed to adopt a child older than two years old. There are indeed too many issues these children must overcome, and an inexperienced, and in this case, uninformed, parent will have too much difficulty handling all the issues he or she must face in parenting this child.
Adoption must always be in the best interest of the child, and in our zeal for finding homes for every child we must not forget this. Sometimes a parent is well-intentioned, but ill-equipped for parenting a particular child. Agencies must remain objective in this instance and lead the parent toward a more appropriate referral. Despite all the harm this woman has caused for thousands of people, perhaps this incident will help agencies take a more pro-active role in matching parents with children for adoption.