Newsletter Signup

emailEnter your email address to receive our FREE weekly parenting newsletter
  View Email Archive

Sponsored Link

The Total Transformation®
Skeptical? Now’s the time to see
why parents love it!
Child Consequences Guide
Give kids consequences that work w/
James Lehman’s how-to video program.
Program for ADD/ADHD Kids
Easy 1-2-3 instructions for helping
ADD/ADHD kids. Free trial.
Get Through to Your Child
Step-by-Step video program shows
you how to change tough behaviors.

Last week, Torry Hansen sent her 7-year-old adopted Russian son to Moscow with a note that said, “I no longer wish to parent this child.” She stated that the child, Artyom Savelyev, was “mentally unstable, violent and has severe psychopathic issues” and that for the safety of her friends, family and herself, she was sending him back.

When it comes down to it, don’t understand why Torry Hansen and her mother Nancy did not see that this child, though not biologically Torry’s son, was hers legally, nonetheless, the moment she signed those papers. Experts on both sides are now debating whether or not Artyom is a U.S. citizen — and many say he became one the day he was adopted. (As of today, officials here are now saying he is a U.S. citizen.)

I am guessing that Artyom might have behavioral problems, though I don’t know that for sure. Any child who has been abandoned by his biological mother at age 6 (due to alcoholism) and then beaten with a broomstick in a Russian orphanage, as has been reported, is suffering on every level. Additionally, I’ve read that Reactive Attachment Disorder is common amongst adoptees from Russia and other former Eastern Bloc countries. My guess is that Torry Hansen soon realized she was in over her head and didn’t know what to do.

Her mother Nancy described Artyom’s outburts and said he drew a picture of their house burning down. She said the last straw was when they found Artyom trying to set fire to their house.
“We were afraid,” Nancy said, and I am guessing that they truly were. Parenting is hard no matter what, but parenting an RAD child who probably has limited English, has been abused and is already 7 years old must be incredibly difficult— especially when you don’t have a firm set of effective parenting skills in place to begin with.

To add to the story, everything seemed to be going very well up until January. In fact, things were going so well that Torry applied to adopt another child from Russia. So my question is, why didn’t they contact the Department of Human Services when Artyom’s behaviors emerged. Why didn’t they try to get some help for the boy, or send him to counseling, or even arrange for family counseling, rather than buy him a one-way ticket back to Russia and arrange for a complete stranger to pick him up

I’m not saying that these measures — counseling, and help from the school and social services — are foolproof, but at least they would have been something. Now a criminal investigation is underway in Bedford County, Tennessee, where Hansen lives. Torry Hansen might be charged with abandonment, if it’s determined a crime has actually been committed here. So far, she isn’t talking and said through her lawyer that she will not do so unless charged.

All I can think is that the problems that this boy once had are now compounded, because he’s been abandoned once again. The driver who picked him up in Moscow said Artyom was friendly and communicative, and spent most of the two-hour ride talking and playing with his Spiderman action figures. Before the driver left, Artyom gave the man two gifts: his United Airlines wings and a picture he had drawn at the Education Ministry.

There is a silver lining to the story, though — thousands of Russian families have stepped forward and are offering to adopt Artyom. Maybe he’ll find a home — and some help— after all.


U.S. State Department officials are in Russia today in an attempt to persuade the government not to freeze all adoptions to the United States. Some say this case highlights the problems inherent in international adoptions — and that it might make the rules around the vetting process become much more stringent.

Where do you weigh in? Should the Hansens be charged with abandonment? Or do you understand where they were coming from and think the story should end here?


If you find any comments that are rude or inappropriate, please contact us immediately.

  • mom1961 Says:

    Yes, I think this mother should be charged with abandonment. When I adopted my son from Irkutsk, Russia in 1997, we had to apply separately for his U.S. citizenship and this was granted a few months later. Soon afterward, a law was passed where all children adopted by U.S. citizens would automatically become U.S. citizens. So from the information I’m reading, it sure does seem like the child is a U.S. citizen (I wonder how did he get a visa to travel back to Russia).

    I have my doubts about the boy’s serious emotional problems since there is no documentation of this by a disinterested party. If he actually started to set the house on fire and they were in genuine fear, shouldn’t she have called the police, not to mention the adoption agency or contacted at least some professionals and wouldn’t there be records of this?

    I also have my doubts about the so-called fraud charge. When we chose to adopt internationally we were told explicitly by our adoption agency (a different one than Ms. Hansen’s) that we would have very little information about the child, both in terms of medical history and social background. The social worker connected with our agency did an extensive background check on us and made us reassure her that we understood that our child may have unforeseen problems either medical, psychological and/or cognitive. We also had to reassure her that we understood what we were potentially taking on and that we would seek appropriate care for whatever problems he/we may end up having. The agency also gave us tons of information about doctors, agencies, courses, support groups etc. that we could turn to for support. We were reassured that we could always contact them with any problems or concerns.

    Our adoption process was not sugar-coated at all. Fortunately, while we briefly used some of the suggested resources–more or less for preventative assessments–we have not had (so far) any problems with our son that are above and beyond those you’d expect with many biological parents.

    Like Ms. Hansen, we also live in Tennessee (less than 100 miles from Ms. Hansen) so I know that there are resources available for those in her situation and I can’t believe that her adoption agency never informed her of them.

  • Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor Says:

    mom1961: Thanks for this excellent comment from someone who’s been there. What you say makes me think all the more that the Torry Hansen should be charged. I completely agree with what you say about the fact that they should have called the police when their son attempted to light the house on fire, at the very least. (If that is even true, as you point out.)

    I’m glad to hear that your family is thriving and that your adopted son is doing well. This week I read that 80 % of foreign adoptions do go well (i.e., the adopted child adjusts well, or adjusts after a period of time). We just hear about it when they don’t, unfortunately. Thank you for weighing in!

  • Annita Woz Says:

    I’m glad you wrote about this Elisabeth. It has been troubling me for some time. My first response to the story was to think back to the time when parents were essentially abandoning their children on the doorstep of the state when they could not handle raising them as the loophole was closed in the law to prevent abandonment of newborns. There is a piece of the story missing in the adopted families story- as outsiders reading it in the paper we will never know those details- but what we can know is that parents of adopted children, parents of children in general, are not able to get help, respite, counseling, training when they need it most and it should not surprise us so much that this poor child was floundering in this family and how much more painful this “send back” must be on his poor psyche. Adoption is a much more complicated and thorough process than the one that requires only two people to make a child and bring it into the world– and still it is not adequate. I can blame that mom because she is the adult, but I also have to lay it on our own goofy priorities in this country. Parenting skills, support and children are neglected in general in our country. This is not the first child that American families have abandoned… it just took sending one to Russia to get our attention.

  • PJ007 Says:

    I am an international adoptive Mom and was just curious if the adoption was finalized? I thought Russia took longer to finalize- maybe three years?

    Also, I heard the Mom was a single parent. My son needed extra help and is doing well and it really helped that we were a two parent household.

    No matter what, the child deserved more help and more time. Hopefully he will find a loving family that is willing to dedicate the time it takes him to help him be the person he was meant to be.

  • gezzmo Says:

    I dont think we can judge witout knowing the full details of the case.

  • shoes507 Says:

    We have two adopted sons from Russia. They were
    adopted as infants back in 2000 and 2001. The process
    was very strict and the hoops were many. They are 11 and 9 today and living a happy life. As infants, there were medical problems to contend with but we reached out to the resources within our community to help us through the process.
    My opinion on this matter is that Ms. Hansen acted in a harmful and neglectful way with her son. I am grateful that a full investigation is underway. My understanding is that he is a US Citizen and all rights of his citizenship should be granted to him.

  • ilovemykids1965 Says:

    Flat out the parents should be charged. There needs to be accountability for such a criminal act. Even if this child was horribly out of control, totally unmanageable, they still had an obligation. You do not take a 7 year old child to the airport, drop him off and leave him with a note saying you don’t want him anymore. It’s cruel and dangerous, too. Didn’t the parents realize that adopting a 7 year-old child would come with a whole lineup of struggles? Why didn’t they call the police?! Why couldn’t the parents get him in a foster care situation here?? If nothing else, contact local foster care agencies for support.

    Having said all that, I will say that my heart does actually go out to this stupid mother who tried to take on the adoption of this deeply-wounded child. Taking care of an emotionally-unstable child – from another country – has got to be a frustrating and painful job. I know what I go through with my emotionally out-of-whack 11 year old. It is horrible to say the least. However, when we signed up to become parents, we agreed to the terms of childrearing: Don’t abandon your kid. Some parents, though, feel that there was also a clause in that contract that said: This contract shall become null and void if your child attempts to set fire to your home.

  • Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor Says:

    Thanks for weighing in, Everyone. I really appreciate hearing from others who have adopted from overseas in particular. Like the last poster, ILoveMyKids1965, I think that what Torry Hansen did was wrong — but I also feel badly for her. I’m guessing she was really overwhelmed and desperate and really didn’t know what to do. I’m just sorry that she thought buying her adopted son a one-way ticket back to his home country was a good idea. You’ve got to wonder where she came up with that plan…

  • Mimi Says:

    I like the comment that we can’t judge without the full details of the case. Still, I have to wonder about the support that this mother received in her larger community. I am an adoptive mother of two internationally adopted daughters. While one daughter thrived easily, the other struggled with her adjustment. She has learning and mood problems today that I suspect are related to a lack of early stimulation in the orphanage. Still, I live in Northern California where there are hundreds of internationally adoptive children. I receive listserv information everyday on issues related to internationally adoptive issues. There are workshops and support groups on how to parent struggling children. I have mothers to talk to and to cry to when things get difficult. Our family has other internationally adoptive families to recreate with. So I wonder about the support that was present to her in her community. I wonder about her own mental health and if she was able to access that support. My heart goes out to this mother, as it goes out to all mothers (biological and adoptive) who have to pave the worlds for their children who have special needs. I would hope that she would be able to reunite with her son and have a professional help them both with their attachment and bonding process. It will be a difficult process, but one that she will immensely grow from. She will need a community, however, to help her through it. And no judgment, just love, understanding and parenting skills.

  • momoffive Says:

    Years ago, my then husband and I , adopted 5 children. These adoptions were on 5 different occasions. Four were adopted internationally and one child was the result of an international adoption ‘breakdown” within the United States. After having adopted 4 children, we informed the agency, that did our original international adoption home studies,of the fact, that if there was an international adoption breakdown of an older child within the United States, that we would welcome that child into our family.
    Within approximately one year, adoptive parents, due to family issues, felt that they could no longer care for their adoptive child. They called the agency that did their original home study for the international adoption and this agency intervened. We were on the list as prospective foster parents for this particular situation and we were called.

    The older child that came into our family as a result of this breakdown was not without baggage, and I do not mean the black plastic garbage bags that held the smelly clothes and the one toy that the adoptive family provided. I mean the kind of baggage, the emotional kind, that runs deep and requires stability, love, therapy, diligence and perseverance. The adoption of an older child is much like a marriage. Having romantic expectations or preconceived notions about the adoption of an older child can be a disaster for all.

    I do understand that the adoptive mother was disappointed in learning that the agency was not forthcoming about the child’s background. Yes, I can understand her disappointment . I am sure that she spent not only a lot of time and money, but also much emotional preparation in her desire to offer this child a better life. However, I would be remiss if I did not provide you with a little more familial, non identifying information as perhaps this will also help to explain my opinions. Another one of our children was also considered to be an older difficult to place child. We knew that there was little speech and that there would obviously be developmental delays. However, after the plane had landed and we were all getting acquainted, the escort felt the need to tell us about what had occurred during the flight and that we needed to make an appointment to see a physician, preferably within the next few days. During the course of the next several months, we saw quite a number of specialists. One physician had even asked me if this adoption was finalized. I informed him, “Yes, it is.” I felt that he was trying to determine just how and to what extent he would give us the news regarding his diagnosis. As the years progressed, of course we realized that the progress would be minimal and total care would be the lifetime commitment. But giving up and considering, even in those early weeks, when I was at times overwhelmed and crying, returning the child, NO this was NEVER an option!

    Additionally, three of my children were adopted internationally as infants. One of these children arrived in the United States in an incubator. The reason for the incubator was because this child was dying. Within 24 hours of the arrival, two life saving surgeries were performed. Those surgeries and any future surgeries are only palliative. As the years went on more surgeries were necessary. Other medical, as well as emotional diagnoses, became evident. Life at times was very difficult. However, even though this child who is now an adult, requires continuous medical observation, and resides at home, due to specific medical and emotional diagnoses, NEVER would any thoughts of giving up even be considered.

    The adoptive mother from Tennessee, in my opinion, was ill prepared for what the adoption of an older child truly means. Do I feel that her lack of preparation is an excuse for not prosecuting her ? No, I do not. There are obviously many players in this situation.What about the agency that performed her initial home study? How competent was the agency? Did this woman seek out any local support agencies? What did she do to try and make their lives better? The bottom line is this: Individuals who desire to adopt and give a child a better life have a responsibility. They need to do research. They need to become informed. Adoption has no room for romantic notions. Just wanting to provide for and give a child love and a better life is not enough. The couple or individual must truly realize that a child, no matter how old, is not a commodity. They do not come with a guarantee nor can they be returned. When a couple has a child biologically, they also take a chance. The end result can be determined with the genetic roll of the dice. Becoming a parent is a serious and life changing commitment. With all that having been said, individuals need to remember this: “Adoption is not for whimps!”

  • Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor Says:

    MomofFive: Wow, thank you so much for this lengthy comment. I can’t tell you how much I admire what you’ve done as a parent of 5 adopted kids. I think your questions are all good ones — and you’re right, there are many players in this situation… you’ve really got to wonder what the whole story is. Thank you for sharing your experiences here and giving us a little more perspective on how international adoptions work.

  • Bill Says:

    I and my wife had 3 children and then adopted 3 more, two boys ages 6 and 7 and a 3 year old girl. They were all adopted from the foster care system in LA county. There are thousands of kids who need homes in just this one county! Why the heck are you going to Russia to adopt a child with all that negative history, a language barrier and the typical hostile attitudes between governments. Russia hasn’t wasted time to make political waves over this one isolated incident. We could tell you nightmare stories of what we went through finding our three precious children. I was called into school where one of our 7 yo foster kids had threatened to burn the school down, (after he had tried to burn our house down! Do you think the school system sympathized with him and kept him in class?? Not on your life! We loved him to death and wept tears when we had to let him go for our families sake and FOR HIS SAKE! He needed care we couldn’t give him and believe me we went through weeks of guilt and “what ifs”, and getting accused and criticized by social workers.

    It is amazing to me that no one comments on where were all these sudden volunteer families in Russia when this boy needed adoption? Our children are like our own flesh and blood but we have had to sacrifice and deal with deep emotional and behavioral issues unique to each child. Our oldest son is now 25 and in the Army, next son is 24 and married with 2 children, and our daughter is 18 and a beautiful and responsible girl preparing for college and a potential writing career.

    I don’t know any of the particulars of this Torry Hansen affair, but it makes good flame and blame for politicians on both sides, gives the Police and social workers something to do, provides drama for the media to rant on and you all seem to be very opinionated and quick to judge. The sad thing is…what about the children? How many of you have made a single sacrifice for a child who is not your own? We never would have guessed how many attacks and criticisms we would have to endure as foster parents and when we went through trials with our adopted children, people would liberally tell us to “send the thankless kid back”, or “That’s what you get for trying to help repair someone else s failure”, etc…No one will ever know what we have endured because we haven’t told anyone. When you love someone, that love covers a multitude of sins. But we both have no regrets and now is when we experience the blessings and reward when these precious young people are becoming responsible, honest adults who are learning to pass it on to others.

  • anotherTNmom Says:

    I am the mom of three teenage boys. One is our biological son, the other two were adopted internationally. One came to us at age 4, another at age 10. Adopting an older child can be a shock. Intellectually, you understand that there will be adjustments. Emotionally you cannot understand what it’s like to be parenting a child you don’t love, because love is not “automatic” with older children – especially ones with problems and different language. We have grown to love our boys, and I know that they love us too. But there were years of heart sickness and depression when I realized that I didn’t love him. I would NEVER have “returned” my child in spite of this, because like one of the other mom’s mentioned, once the adoption is legal that child is yours, period. Now I thank God because the biggest problem child is now our biggest blessing. The Tennessee mom was absolutly WRONG and did abandon her child, but I also understand some of her desperation. Unfortunately, if she had stuck it out through the years, I think everything would have gotten better for the boy and for her. Now they’re all in a mess.

  • nbase41 Says:

    Bottom line is that the woman contracted with the adoption agency and was lied to. Thus the contract is voidable in my opinion. She can’t be expected to fix this broken child. She didn’t sign-on to that program, hell, if believed she was unaware, and I do believe her when she said that. Does anyone in Russia say she was in warned up-front and in writing? Does this woman seem like the type who would go along with this and simply change her mind? I think not, it just doesn’t pass the Smell Test…

  • kylaney Says:

    There was no reason for Ms. Hansen to endanger this child. We adopted two boys 4 years ago from the Russian Far East. They were 5 and 9. At the same time, another family adopted two children, same age as ours and from the same orphanage. When this other family arrived home, the oldest adopted child began physically assaulting their biological daughter in spite of how well the children got along during their 1st trip to Russia. After more than a year of counseling, school intervention, help from both the church and extended family, etc., the adopted daughter had grown so large that she inflicted great physical harm to both the biological daughter and the younger adopted son (her own biological brother). Needless to say, this was a nightmare for the entire family.

    However, this family did the responsible thing. They contacted the adoption agency and took legal action to disrupt the adoption. The adoption agency found a family that was intending to adopt from Russia. They were told of the situation and since they had no biological children in the home, they re-adopted the two children.

    I don’t want to get into all the problems of adopting older children who have been institutionalized for many years, but there is a tremendous need for help for these families. While way may prepare as best we can for these children, every child is different and will respond differently to being in a family. Many factors are involved in the outcome; experiences in the biological family, age of child at removal from biological family, age of child at adoption, genetic factors, fetal alcohol syndrome, type of orphanage, temperment, brain chemistry, etc. Capacity of the parent(s) is only one factor. Our younger son, who was really a mess at the time of the adoption, is doing beautifully and has made amazing progress. Our older son, who was doing beautifully at the time of the adoption, is now becoming really scary.

    Having said all this, if this prompts good, loving, caring Russian people to step up to the plate and take these children, then GOOD! Change in Russia is needed. These children are considered refuse in Russia; Russians won’t adopt them because they have “bad genes”. They believe that the parents were “mentally ill”, which actually could be the case, and therefore, won’t take mental problems into their homes. In addition, while in the country, I cannot tell you the number of times we saw the “fathers”, and by Russian standards, these are the good fathers who have not abandoned their children to the orphanage, but, unemployed, taking their kids to the park and drinking a pint or two while their kids are playing at 10:00 a.m. There are serious, system-wide, deep-seated problems in Russia. We cannot think for one instant, these children placed in Russian homes, will be treated the same as the children placed in American homes.

    Russia is a very, very, very harsh society. Considering the staggering number of adoptions of Russian children, there have been few of these incidences. Does Russia share the number of children who die in the orphanages each year? My oldest was severely injured in the orphanage and nearly lost his life. Both my boys tell of a child who died at the orphanage and I would suspect it was a violent accident based upon their recollections. These children should not be returned. They are far better off here being re-adopted, if necessary.

  • Sonja White Says:

    Yes they should be charged. Although I do believe their report, and most of us understand how they felt,
    They should have considered these chanches
    before adopting. They
    should learn that satisfying their whims,
    puts people in harms way, just as much as robbing a bank, using a gun.

  • shalini Says:

    I agree we don’t know many details of the case but one thing we have to all agree that irrespective of anything else the little boys safety was jeopardized. Safety of a child has to be the top priority!
    It makes me wonder about the mental stability and stress tolerance of Torry Hansen.
    children as we all know take time and patience.

  • Mom of 2 Says:

    When I first heard of this story, all I could think of is ( I totally understand how painful and difficult the situation must have been to lead this woman to return the child.-(Especially given the difficulty,time,heartache,money,etc.. involved in adopting the child in the first place) It seems that somewhere in these adoptions information- is possibly being purposely left out- that may make a person think twice about adopting these children. I did not blame her at all. It is not a simple task to go through this process of adoption. I can completely understand the difficulties involved. My child has many,many symptoms, and difficulties similar, and then some- my child was Russian born.I adore my child, will never throw in the towel, but definitely have fantasized on occasion about having a “normal child.” I would not try to Judge this woman, and I do feel for the difficulties facing both the child, and the woman. All persons adopting should be aware they should consider any child being adopted will be” Special Needs” with possibly Lots of issues.And then just hope to be pleasantly surprised and feel Blessed if they don’t end up with a load of issues.

  • honuelaine Says:

    I believe the woman maybe did not fully understand all that intells of being an adoptive parent. Most children who are adopted will have special needs. Did this mom get all the support and resorces she needs to parent this child. She is aboslutely has the right if she has changed her mind, and cannot continue to parent the child. It is better to give him back, then to continue in a relationship that is not safe and productive for the child. He deserves the best possible love and care from his parents.
    Sometimes we as parents, have to get a reality check as to what is best for the child, afterall it is all about the “Child.”

  • hharbottle Says:

    Absolutely! If you are not sure that you can handle the child’s behaviors no matter how outrageous then DON’T adopt, plain and simple!
    How traumatic for a child to be abandoned in his native country, adopted by someone in a strange country and then to have them walk out of his life too. How Dare these people and then they want to adopt another Russian child? Oh Hell No! They should not only be charged with abandonment but be permanently barred from ever adopting another child as long as they live. As an adoptee myself, I find the adopted parents behavior to be unconscionable!

  • prissypants Says:

    I don’t blame her at all. I guess you could call this child a bad seed. I wouldn’t hesitate putting his butt on a plane and sending him back to where he came from if he was a threat to my family. I see a lot of holier than though attitudes on this subject. I

  • goodintentions Says:

    I have so many mixed emotions about this case. I would never have sent the child back to Russia. I have been in this position. My husband and I brought home two girls ages 7 and 10 in 94 and were so very ill prepared for what was to come. I believe the agency in this case was partially to blame. As prospective parents you are given classes that do not cover RAD or any other information. They only skim the surface of possible issues. As a foreign adoption, you don’t qualify for state psychological help for your child or family… whereas local adoptions of older children come with mental health covered until age 18 in AZ. After paying for the adoption, we had no extra money left.
    The Russian officials practically push the kids out of the country, they DON’T want them. The entire process was so crooked once we got there, it was laughable if not so scary. We had to carry $11,000 in perfect- unwrinkled bills to pay (off) each official involved. If I had it to do over again..I would not. If it were made more difficult we would not have been able to do it and it probably would have been a blessing because we are miserable now. We have raised two girls who by anyone’s view are normal respectful girls…but to me and my husband, they have used us to get where they want in life and I really can’t wait for them to turn 18 and move on. I am just as sad as when I used to feel the loss of not being able to conceive, except now there is anger for wasting the last 7 years on two children who really couldn’t care less about my husband and I on any deep level. I would tell anyone to let Russia figure out how to care for their thousands of parent-less children and keep your charity state-side where you will have the help of local social workers and mental health professionals.

  • hdkrazee Says:

    I adopted three children through foster parenting, right here in the good old USA. Two of my three children have been diagnosed with RAD, ODD, and ADHA, and one of the two with Borderline Personality Disorder. I completely understand why teh mother would feel like packing the child back to Russia, but it was the wrong decision. That child has already lived a life of Hell, with adults abandoning, neglecting and abusing him. What the adoptive mother did, was as bad, if not worse, than what has already been done to the child. Parenting a “RADdish” is very hard work! Unfortunately, most adoptive parents are not prepared to deal with the disorder, because most agencies are afraid they will scare off adoptive parents if they let them know how difficult the disorder is to deal with. I know from experience how dealing with a RAD child can disrupt family life as we know it, but that is exactly the tour we signed up for when we adopted! If teh child would have been the mother’s biological child , and had a similar conduct disorder, what would she have done? She couldn’t have sent that child to russia! She SHOULD have done what we did; kept looking, researching, talking, and found a therapist who could assist the family in helping the child accept his past, and move on to his future. it’s neer easy being a parent, especially a parent to a RAD kid, but we become parents to BE parents. No ne guarentees us a stress-free, fun-filled life, whether we have our children biologically, or adopt them. It is what it is! As parnets, we are responsible for the child’s happiness, not vise versa!

  • DDD Says:

    This story is a difficult one to speak on, but I will not pass judgment on the mother or suggest she be charged criminally for trying to do the right thing by adopting a child and providing a home for him. However, how far does one go to ‘help’ another child? Should you help another child at the expense of your own safety?

    Now several people have made excellent points on this thread with respect to reaching out for support, that would have been my path also, but I have no right to judge this woman or convict her as she is innocent until proven guilty in our courts of law, doesn’t she deserve the same here?

    The issue is a procedural one, perhaps there should be a pre-adoption phase, similar to foster care, and should assist the parents and children, if requested, with the transition to becoming a new family. Just a thought.

    I adopted an adult child who was over 18, and we have had our challenges, but she is doing exceptionally well as the years pass. In my unprofessional opinion, all children need stability in their mind, home and family. Whether it be their birth family, adopted or any other type of family. They need to become aware of their bad behaviors as a result of the abuse they suffered and want to change them. Once they realize how inappropriately they behave, and you show them how to behave by modeling that behavior yourself–they begin to heal and slowly improve their behavior.

  • 1970dawn Says:

    This is a very sad story indeed. i pray that the boy gets the help that he needs and the home that he deserves. I am in the process of adopting a child with RAD, she is 13 yrs old and she is the half sister of my youngest daughter, also 13. i was told last week that she has this condition, though i have been not so successful in finding stories of parents that have parented these children until i found this thread. If anyone can recommend a site for me i would greatly appreciate it. I am a single mom of 4, my oldest is 23 so i only have the other three at home. ages 15,13,7 and the newest one. I could use all the advice and help i can get in understanding what has worked for other parents and what to avoid. i do understand that this is not going to be easy but this child has been through a great deal and several foster homes in the last 3 years as well. I love her just as much as if i had given birth to her myself. I can not and will not turn my back on her so any advice is appreciated greatly. Thank you

  • Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Says:

    To β€˜1970dawn’: We give you a lot of credit for taking on another member of your family and looking for ways to help her. We at Empowering Parents do not have any specific websites we recommend for parents of children with Reactive Attachment Disorder. As I’m sure you know, treatment of this complex disorder involves both the child and the family with a focus on understanding and strengthening the relationship between your child and yourselves. There are no simple solutions or magic answers. However, close and ongoing collaboration between your family and a local treatment team, such as the social workers, therapists, or other local support persons involved in the care and placement of this child, will increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. We wish you and your family luck as you work through this. Take care.

  • Vic Says:

    Lately, I have been reading very helpful articles here and have been using tips that actually worked!!! wow!!! what I love most about this site is that it is open 24/7. Today I came across the “nontraditional family” topic because we adopted 2 boys from Russia, ages 6&8 now, 17 and 19. What I love about Dr. L’s site is it helped me see that biological parents have the same issues (some even worse), I will always be grateful to him for that. I will not bore you with war stories at this time, however, I am thankful that we can share them here. One benefit from what this woman did, was to bring awareness to an issue most people know little about. It sort of reminded me when I had foot surgery and had to use crutches, my eyes were opened to struggles of the handicapped. My belief was because there was a handicapped parking spot, the red carpet services would continue.Then I experienced the truth. I even had to use my electric cart as a scooter to get it back to the store because the battery ran out of power with my groceries in the cart. Thank goodness I was healthy and strong enough to push it back and I could always hop on one leg if needed, anyone else would have been really stuck. I live in a affluent area where I would never have thought this to be the case, not here.
    I suspect one would need to get all the facts
    before “throwing stones” at this woman. There is more to the “international adoption agencies” than we know. Personally, my husband was approved to adopt 2 girls from Russia for 10 weeks without my permission and/or knowledge. The hope was, that after they were here, I would want to adopt 2 more children on top of the 2 boys I had. I was livid. I had a full time job at the time. I called the agency and asked why they would do such a thing and what would the girls do here? They told me they could go to a neighbor’s or day care.??? I really was set on fire. I called the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and said clearly ,this is child trafficking . They said the agency was in good standing and they were not breaking any laws. I could not believe it!!!. I could not help but wonder how many children …… The agency sent us back our $2500 and did not apologize. I do not have the energy or qualifications to go to battle on injustices of children (now learning about all the homeless children in US, what is happening makes me sick), but there must be more than we can do to protect all children, they are our future.

  • crazy mom Says:

    I think this mother should be punished for her stupid decision. It could not have been going all that bad if she wanted to adopt another child. Maybe he just wanted to be the only one. He probably thought that he was going to be oushed aside and ignored. I think his fears were right. She thinks it is easier to get a nother one, like it is a new couch or something. This woman seems carzy and has no idea how to help her own child. Help is out there, she did not even try. Just shipped him away.

  • struggling mom Says:

    i’d be lying if i said i haven’t had fantasies about sending my son back to his birth country, but to actually do it is a completely different thing. especially on hearing that the mother didn’t try to find counseling for everyone in the family, and for the family unit too. that is CRAZY!

    but i definitely get why she did it. my son is violent, abusive of all family members, and viciously mean. he has a good therapist, we all have individual therapists, he has mentors, a Big Brother, coaches, so many caring adults, and it hasn’t made a difference. b/c what he doesn’t have is a mother’s love. i love my daughter, also adopted (aa a baby) but i don’t know how to love this abusive little boy. and then the vivcious cycle begins: i am a terrible mother and woman for not loving this boy who has suffered horrible loss and abuse in his short life, thne the guilt and shame begins. i have ground to a halt as a human being, i am stuck in my depression and shock and dislike of myself. i was an excellent mother when it was just my daughter and i, but i have said and done things i NEVER would have thought i was even capable of, let alone doing and saying. our family has been destroyed.

    it is like living with an abusive husband. if a man were doing and saying the things my son says and does to us, he would have been kicked to the curb Day One. but you can’t do that with your child, and so i don’t know what to do. i don’t know how to parent a child who is vicious, hurtful, doesn’t love us or care much about us, steals, lies… friends don’t invite us over anymore b/c their kids don’t like him, even though they miss out on my daughter and i.

    i don’t know what to do or where to turn. i know what he needs is my complete and unconditional love, no matter what his behaviors, but i am having a really hard time doing this for a child that hurts me and my daughter almost non-stop every day.

    how do you start loving an unlovable child? please help!!

  • D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor Says:

    To “struggling mom”: We appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us. It sounds as if your son has some extremely challenging behaviors. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m glad to hear you have some excellent supports in place for your son and your family. No one should have to deal with these challenges on their own. It also may be helpful to talk with other parents who are in similar situations. There is a resource available to you which may be able to connect you with other parents of adopted children. The 211 National Helpline is a great referral resource you can reach by calling 1-800-0273-6222 or by logging on to They can give you information on support groups or other resources within your area specifically aimed at helping parents of adopted children. We wish you and your family the best as you continue to address these challenges. Take care.