The Russian Adoption Problem
The woman who sent her adoptive son back to Russia with a note stating that he was a sociopath is hardly a woman who snapped after singing "I'm a little teapot" one too many times.
She has done what so many parents who have adopted from Russia have been tempted to do. (To read more about this, go here and here).
The sad truth, and one that has been known for years, is that most children from Russia (or many other third world countries) come with problems. It's easy to see why. Here's the recipe:
1. Go to a third world country (and parts of Russia are just that)
2. Take one child being generally unwanted
3. Institutionalize that child for a long time
4. Couple that with him moving to another country and being forced to assimilate the culture
And voila! One freshly made (you choose):
B. Child with severe attachment disorder
C. Hell on wheels
D. All of the above
I've read of these cases for years, and I'm shocked that it's taken this long for anyone to take real notice of them.
What's amazing is that it took this one incident to put the spotlight on an issue that's been going on for a very long time. And truthfully, there's no solution. If you want a child desperately enough, you may want there to be a solution, but wishful thinking can't change facts.
Studies repeatedly show a child's personality is developed between 3 and 5 years of age. And these formative years are usually filled with trauma in the case of an unwanted child.
Now other sympathetic families are weighing in, telling of their miserable Russian adoptions. Some have rationalized, some have muddled through it all, but most speak of the toll it takes and the burdens they must carry due to the children they took on.
We are exporting other countries' problems when we take on their children, with rare exceptions.
Years ago I had acquaintances who chose to adopt from India because they felt specially attuned to that country (due to the whimsical fact that the husband played the Sitar). They went through a long and painful process, sending money to India, getting pictures, etc.
The baby was a girl. She had been raised since birth in an orphanage run by nuns, but the problem was that the orphanage had very little funding. Therefore, the children often didn't receive proper nutrition.
When this couple received the baby, she was about 8 months old, had been held rarely (so her head was somewhat deformed from being left in the crib so much), and she was severely thin and undernourished (she was the size of a newborn). As a result, their pediatrician warned them that there was likely to be brain damage or at least mental development issues.
The parents joyfully announced all this to us because, frankly, it was new. And any experience, when new, is something you think you can happily overcome, slogging through mountains and singing the theme from The Sound of Music. It was A Challenge, A Rite of Passage, A Chance To Show Off Parenting Skills.
But that child is now about 18 and I wonder how she fared. And if she lived. And whether or not the marriage survived. And when the bloom fell off the rose, did the Sitar playing husband leave or did he merely sink into despair? For usually it's the wife who takes on the true burden of raising a special needs child.
It is often very hard to bond with a child that is not your biological child, for the simple reason that hormones play a factor when a baby is born. Without your hormones singing that child's praises, it's much tougher to get past the bumps in the road, let alone the crevasses.
Thus, an adoptive child does not have the advantages that a biological child has. Over the years, I have had close friends who were adopted, and not one of them ever felt that bond. And, may I venture to add that it's because their parents apparently never felt that bond, either.
I am sure that there are exceptions: For instance, if a parent adopts a child right after the loss of a child, they may be able to transfer the bond. And there are parents who may truly believe that they are as close to that bond as they can be. One adoption site says that research shows that adoptive families bond as closely as biological ones. I'm not disputing that bonding occurs, but I question to what degree it occurs.
Adoption and assimilation of children is tough enough as it is, without adding other problems to the mix. Although we certainly don't have enough children to adopt within the USA (due to abortion and restrictive laws), going outside of the country isn't a better solution.