Well, if it's an early Saturday morning, that can only mean one thing...I'm off to donate platelets!
I'm rather happy to be getting back to a regular schedule with this. As my Red Cross friends have pointed out, in my over ten years of donations, I've never given less than a "double" and now routinely donate a "triple" on the new machines. So perhaps I'm meant to be a platelet factory for all those sick kids up at Dana Farber.
If you already donate blood, why not give it a try
Ah, but now on to the matters at hand.
I'm sure you heard this week about the news that has rocked the International Adoption community. A young Russian boy by the name of Artyom Savelyev was placed on a plane back to Russia by his adoptive American mother. She claims she was "tricked" into adopting the boy by the Russian authorities, and he regrettably had some mental health issues that she couldn't handle.
As an adoptive parent of an international orphan myself....that's a whole world of wrong there.
Mrs. TriSec and I discussed the case very briefly, and we both agreed....she's nuts, and probably never should have been approved in the first place.
Ms. Hansen, who was the adoptive mother, lives in Tennesse, so I have no idea what agency she worked with or what processing she had to go through. But let me start with what we had to go through....an unfortunately familiar argument for long-time readers of this blog.
We were very lucky to have the "Wide Horizons for Children
" agency right here in Waltham. It's very highly regarded in the Northeast, and during our process, we met many couples who had come literally hundreds of miles just to adopt through this agency. There's literally dozens of pages of FAQs and other information about adopting on their website, so for a brief idea, I'll stop and have you read the Adoption ABCs
Yes, this is what Mrs. TriSec and I went through. All in all, the process took about 18 months from when we first visited the agency until we flew to Manila.
There were months of preparations and paperwork, and among the many things we had to do in order to prove we were fit parents were the following things.....(not inclusive)
A home inspection by a representative of the agency to prove we weren't living in squalor and had the living space for a child.
Letters of reference from three non-family members. We also had to identify and designate a guardian in case Mrs. TriSec and I were to become fatally deceased or otherwise incapacitated.
A year's worth of bank statements, tax returns, and pay stubs to prove we were capable of supporting a child.
A full set of fingerprints added to the Interpol database, and a full criminal background check run by the FBI.
Mandatory attendence at parenting classes.
Recommended attendance at an international adoption support group....which it turned out we didn't really need to go to.
And perhaps the one key element...a full psychiatric evaluation by a licensed PH.D in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
But because we adopted from the Philippines from a Catholic orphanage, there was more. We had to agree to raise young Javier in the faith. (Which I have since come to regret, but that's another blog.) Certification that Mrs. TriSec and I were both Catholics, and a separate letter of recommendation over and above the other three from our Parish priest.
Once all that was complete, there was one more wrinkle. Our paperwork was sitting on the courier's desk ready to fly overseas...on the morning of September 11. It sat for another two weeks while we waited and wondered what the delay would mean.
So the sorry tale of Ms. Hansen of Tennessee actually rings a little hollow. Did she go through all these things in order to be aproved as an adoptive parent?
I found a blog
that takes a similar tack...and sums up what all of us should be feeling.
I was struck by the tragedy of the case of Artyom Savelyev, a 7-year-old adoptee who was put alone on a plane back to Russia. He had been adopted by Tennessee resident Torry Ann Hansen, who, in the note she left with the boy, claimed that officials at a Russian orphanage tricked her into adopting a severe case – a child with too many psychological problems for her to deal with. Hansen’s mother spoke about how nobody could feel safe in the house with the boy, that he had threatened to burn the house down and even drew a picture of it.
I like to think that I appreciate, at least in theory, the challenge that adoptive parents like Hansen face. However, when, at the end of her piece, Tracy said:
it’s worth taking a moment to also ask what kind of desperation leads an adoptive mother to do such a thing
I had to do a double-take.
Here’s the thing – the very act of shipping a kid back to where he came from, like a gadget that broke before the warranty was up, is not desperate by definition. Relinquishing your parental rights is one thing, but the way that Hansen chose to go about it was not merely cruel – it was cynically convenient, calculated both to make an impact on the Russian authorities and, most importantly, the boy.
Hansen acted out her supposed desperation in a dehumanizing and humiliating fashion. This adopted child had hurt her, and so she hurt him back. Officials in Russia allegedly tricked her, and she decided to play her own joke on them. These are not the actions of a heartbroken parent. They’re the actions of someone who is, at best, a spoiled brat, shocked to discover that the world does not revolve around her and that there are, like, issues with raising adoptive children from volatile backgrounds sometimes!
What exactly is this damaged child supposed to do with this latest damage? That’s what I am wondering about. Assuming he was neglected and/or abused by his alcoholic birth mother, assuming he was neglected and/or abused at the orphanage, and even if we further assume that his time in Hansen’s home free of neglect and abuse (though considering Hansen’s stunt, there is room to doubt that), how is this kid supposed to grow up into even a shadow of a functioning adult in light of this debacle?
He suffered abandonment in front of the entire freaking world. Don’t tell me that Hansen didn’t know that this case would blow up in the media – of course she did. She wanted it to. She wanted to get back at those Russian officials back, at the further expense of this child’s sanity. Oh, and naturally, decent Americans whose international adoptions actually go well (or as best as they can make them go, considering different people’s circumstances) will get smeared in the ensuing mess too. Not that Hansen would care about any of that.
At the end of the day, whatever sympathy I may have felt for Hansen simply evaporates when I put her actions in context. Her act was symbolic, it was designed to hit with full force, and it succeeded. Congratulations, Ms. Hansen. You done me proud. I was just in a cab in Moscow, discussing your very case, reminding the driver that not all Americans are selfish jerks like you. The Russian authorities have every right to be wrathful. I’m wrathful too.
And I'll say it again and again and again until the day I can no longer say it. Just because you can reproduce in the normal manner
does not automatically make you fit parents. There would be a whole lot less troubled children, and perhaps fewer abortions too, if every prospective natural parent had to go through exactly the same process as a prospective adoptive parent. The Republicans can scream about killing babies all they want....but for my money, it's even MORE irresponsible and immoral to bring a child into this world that you're not prepared to support physically, financially, or emotionally. This is the real argument that should be made.
And for more information about adoption, I highly recommend "Adoption Nation
" by Adam Pertman. Mrs. TriSec and I were priviledged to meet Mr. Pertman when the book was first published, and we have several autographed copies.