Social Question

Rangie's avatar

Is there any legitimate reason, to return an adopted child?

Asked by Rangie (3656points) April 12th, 2010

After hearing about the 7 year old Russian boy that was returned to Russia, caused me to consider my pros & cons about this particular case. What are yours.

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69 Answers

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Maybe he was defective.
What were the circumstances of the return?

rahm_sahriv's avatar

I have not heard of that specific case, so I cannot comment. As far as legitimate reasons in adoptions in general, yes there is. If the adoption was not legal, if the parents were tricked into giving up the child, then yes, the child should be returned.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t know what case you are referring to, but if I adopted a hellion, and I had the choice to return him/her after failing to change the child myself, I would do so.

Ludy's avatar

I have no idea, just wanted to tell you that is a very good question ;)

netgrrl's avatar

There are many links, but here’s one: link

rahm_sahriv's avatar

In some states, if you have a problem child, you can just leave him or her at an ER with no questions asked. Not sure which states though.

dpworkin's avatar

In the case of fraud, or perhaps in the case of incapacity to parent, but there should be a formal procedure.

Ludy's avatar

well actually, would you consider him your son and if so, would you return your son ?

marinelife's avatar

Some Russian children have attachment disorder, which causes very painful feelings for the family, but it hardly seems like a child should be like a purchase to be returned if inconvenient.

Ludy's avatar

and by the way, why was he returned?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues/behaviors.

Not all parents can hang with that. Sounded like this one couldn’t.
I’d rather the boy was sent elsewhere instead of beaten.

Sad that kids can be returned in such a fashion. It makes me wonder about the character of the parents.
It’s the responsibility of the parents to ensure the welfare of the child which means if you cannot take care of them long term, you need to make sure they are at least taken care of in the interim.

I don’t know that putting a 7 year old on a DC to Moscow flight with some cookies and a coloring pen achieves this.

alive's avatar

i don’t know what case you are talking about, but once a child is adopted you are the parent. therefore it is not “returning,” it is abandoning.

rahm_sahriv's avatar

If documents regarding the child’s health were falsified and the adoption had yet to go through, as it sounds like, as they said the child was a ‘Russian national’, then yes. Better than beating him to death.

liminal's avatar

It seems to me the parents did not well prepare nor were they prepared.

I am surprised the agency didn’t have a process to train the parents and guide the parents towards making choices that would be the least traumatic for the child. The article makes it sound like a very stoic and sterile exchange took place where the welfare and transition of the child made it to the bottom of the list.

Ponderer983's avatar

In my opinion, you should only be 100% sure that you want to adopt a child. If not, then you are either not ready or serious enough about it. Doing that to a child could ruin them for the rest of their lives.

KatawaGrey's avatar

This is terrible. Unless the child was adopted illegally or there was something else wrong with the adoption process, then the parent should not “return” the child. If there were health issues that were not addressed, then I believe the parents should try and help the child rather than just sending him back. What did they think, that a child they were adopting from another country who was much older than a baby would be malleable and well-adjusted to American life? The way I see it, if they absolutely could not deal with the child, then they should take him to a proper care facility in the United States rather than sending him back like a defective internet order.

summerlover's avatar

I know of a family this happened to. They had three adoptive children but had to seek a change of placement for one of the children due to violence against the other children. This was not easy for them and I believe they tried everything they could to make things work prior to the change.

rahm_sahriv's avatar

@KatawaGrey Thing is, he was a Russian national, would he have been given the care? There is process in adoption, you just don’t sign papers and go. My aunt adopted two children from India and two from foster care here in the US. None of them were simple procedures and took time. I think we had her youngest boy for over a year before the adoption became final.

Thing I don’t get is he is described as a Russian national…. when the adoption papers were finalized, only six months after receiving my oldest cousin from India (it had taken over a year and half before that to get approved to adopt), my cousin was naturalized and became a US citizen. Is it different for older children? Why wasn’t he, after a year, considered an American citizen? Seems there is much to this story we are not getting.

alive's avatar

checked out the article, sounds like the mom was the crazy one, not him. poor kid.

Trillian's avatar

As I understand it, the agency made false claims to the parents. This attachment disorder is the root cause of some serious socialization issues. I don’t know all the ins and outs of this particular case, as I also heard that the adoptive mother was maybe abusive.
That said however, not everyone is equipped to deal with this type of thing. Better that the boy gets the professional care that he needs. If it turns out that the mother was abusive, she should have to answer for it and it’s better for the boy that he was rescued.

filmfann's avatar

It is not unusual for Russians to put their sick children up for American adoption. They figure their health care system will not take care of their kids, and the Americans will.
Most American adopters know this.
The parents here must have thought this was a treatable condition, and ran out of ideas.
It’s too bad for everyone involved.

rangerr's avatar

If you chose to adopt a child, whether from your home country or elsewhere, you should know that you have a responsibility for that child.
Even if he does have mental issues which are expected coming from an alcoholic family, it is completely unethical to abandon a child like that. When you adopt especially from another country, of course you’re not going to know the entire life history of the child.
Adoption gives children who already feel horrible that their own parents didn’t want them/abused them hope that somebody will take care of them and WANT to be a parent to them.. You adopt a child to become that person. You adopt to become their parent. Not only did she give up on a child who has already gone through so much, but she “returned” him alone on a plane like it was no big deal.
A child is not a toy, a child is not something you can just play with until you are dissatisfied.
There are TONS of places in the US that could have helped that boy.. now he’s just going to be placed back into an orphanage and possibly have to go through the adoption process again. Imagine how shitty he must feel right now.

It took me a few years to go through court systems to be adopted… I just don’t understand why somebody would go through that process to adopt a child and then just “return” them… and think it’s okay.

Ludy's avatar

I agree with you @rahm_sahriv it takes time, it is like the old times when you used to get married without knowing the person, now you have a choice, but you got to be sure to the marriage, it is for life, or is supposed to be, of course there are divorces but it’s not meant to be like that, we are talking about a life here, not a car or some clothes, also that was not the way to handle things. OK you don’t want the child but at least make sure to do the proper thing and not send him alone and unprotected.

rahm_sahriv's avatar

Adoption is a legal transaction, feelings and emotions aside. If there were falsifications or the person or orphanage mislead the adoption agency or lawyer, then the adoption should be null and void.

It is nice if a family wants to take a trouble child, commendable even, but not everyone is equipped for it and like I said, if the mother was misled in anyway, she was right to return the child, like I said, better than beating or abusing the child. I don’t think sending him back on a plane was the smartest move, nor the nicest one, but better the child be out of the care of the parent.

talljasperman's avatar

people are not property to be returned….adoption should be left to the seriouisly commited mature prepared adults

wonderingwhy's avatar

To the general question:
Buyers remorse. It sounds horrible in those terms but it seems like a child remaining with a family that has decided they don’t want them after all would be better off getting a chance with another family. Either way the child will lose but the chance to be placed with a family that actually cares about them I would think far outweighs staying in a setting where they are potentially going to be ignored, neglected, and abused (even if many sum up the foster system in just those terms).

To this case specifically:
I don’t really know squat about adoption, but I’d say if the mother was lied to either directly or though omission about the child’s mental state that’s grounds for ending the adoption. On the other hand, there MUST be a better way than dumping an 8-yearold on a plane by themselves and sending them “to whom it may concern” in another country, even if it was that child’s original country, to address the matter.

rahm_sahriv's avatar

@wonderingwhy Exactly. Put much better than I.

cazzie's avatar

I know of a case… an old case, where the mother thought she would not have children. By the time her Korean daughter was delivered, she had one son 3 years old and another about to be born. She suddenly had three children. The Korean daughter was with the family for several years, until the mother could no longer cope. She was given up to the State. She didn’t go back to Korea, but was put under foster care and was eventually adopted. This left huge holes in the lives of the two boys who knew this girl as their sister for several years. The mother claimed that the girl had issues that she couldn’t deal with.
Even when we have our own children, we don’t know what we’re going to get. How anyone can ‘return’ a child after years…. well… it much be really really bad.

ragingloli's avatar

That story reminds me of the fairy tale called ‘Hänsel und Gretel’.
You can not just stuff a child you do not want into a plane and ship it off to the other side of the world. What if he fell into the hands of a murderer, child trafficker, child molester or black market organ crime syndicate? What if he had frozen to death or died from starvation? It is completely irrelevant why someone would do it. If that child had died, the adoptive parents should have been jailed for reckless homicide, at the very least for neglect.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@rahm_sahriv: I understand that the parents were mislead but this wasn’t as if after a few weeks they did something. This was a year. Even if the adoption hadn’t been legally finalized yet, would every mental health facility turn away this boy because he wasn’t an American citizen?

Bottom line is that people treat adopted children differently than they treat biological children. If this child had been hers biologically and had the same issues and she had been having as much trouble trying to deal with this, she would not have been able to just send him back.

rahm_sahriv's avatar

@KatawaGrey Agreed. I notice the difference in how my aunt treats her adopted children, whom she claims to love and how, for example, I was treated by my mother who gave birth to me. Even though I come from a family that has adopted children, and I would not trade my cousins for anything, they are more like siblings than cousins, I would not adopt, nor would I suggest it.

lilikoi's avatar

I don’t understand why people are so shocked. Don’t children get sent back to orphanages all the time? Obviously this can’t be good for children, but is this really news?

escapedone7's avatar

I think they should have tried getting help from special education program at school, specialists, psychiatrists, social workers, and finally called child protective services out of concern for his safety and others around him before making that step. Perhaps a social worker could have helped them find help. Last resort would be a special boarding school for extremely troubled youth. I think returning him on a plane was unacceptable.

The fluther town hall meeting is starting right? I think it is really important we all attend. The chat room it will be here .

jbfletcherfan's avatar

This kind of thing puts me on my soapbox. First off, my patience is short & I KNOW it! It sounds like this child had plenty of problems that this mother was not informed of. From what I heard on the TV news, many of the Russian children are in this situation & the adopting parents aren’t told a thing about it. From the way he was described as acting, I sure wouldn’t want to continue to struggle with him, either. Plus, there are thousands of US children that need homes. Why not adopt our OWN kids here?

lilikoi's avatar

^Yes, I have always wondered this…

ragingloli's avatar

Don’t children get sent back to orphanages all the time?
Not comparable.
The kid in this case was basically dumped in the woods with virtually nothing.

liminal's avatar

@rahm_sahriv My children are locally adopted. They both have diagnosed attachment disorder issues. My passion and love for them is as certain as it can be. Surely, while some adopted children are treated poorly by parents not all of them are. I wonder if your story is most reflective about the difference in parenting, I wonder if more people like your mom need to adopt.

Cupcake's avatar

My younger adopted sister has reactive attachment disorder. It’s been a long, difficult, bumpy road with her. But the thing is… she’s my sister. You don’t “send back” your family.

I cannot fathom putting my kid on a plane to go halfway across the world. There are local resources. Use them.

alive's avatar

if the mother had the cash to put the kid on an international flight to moscow. then she could have spent that money on some psychiatric help for the boy. a parent that honestly cares about their kid would have helped the child adjust.

i think it is the mother with psychiatric issues, not the boy. who just takes a kid to the airport and puts him on a flight to moscow all alone???

the boy is reporting that she used to “pull his hair” that is most likely the surface of the abuse this women was doing to him (physical and mental). im sure that as this story unfolds more some dirty dirty stuff is going to come out.

JLeslie's avatar

I think adopting an older child is much different than adopting a baby. If the chid has problems they should be disclosed to the adoptive parents. This Russian boy was violent and threatening scary things. It is of course upsetting that this young boy may possibly have more pain and emotional scarring from this, and the idea of just putting a young child on a plane for such a long trip alone really bothers me. But, I am empathetic to the parents also.

josie's avatar

If the adoption contract has a provision for it, yes. If not, no.

cak's avatar

I read this article over and over. At first, I was so livid – probably because of my feelings of wanting another child and not being able to have one or adopt. I thought about this situation all day.

If the mother was truly lied to and it wasn’t disclosed that this child has severe psychological issues, then she wasn’t fully informed of the details when she adopted and was not truly able to make the decision based on the child she thought she was getting. Had she know all of this upfront and still adopted the child, I would say she had all the information and now is looking at a lifetime of helping this child. Without prior knowledge, I think that though not something I can fathom doing, it’s not without cause.

I do feel that the way it was done was callus. One of them – the mother or grandmother should have accompanied this child on the return flight.

This woman didn’t adopt a newborn. She was trying to adopt a child that is usually deemed “less” or “impossible” to adopt. Clearly, things were done wrong; obviously, she wasn’t cut out to parent a child with difficulties.

Sad situation.

jca's avatar

i didn’t read the links provided above, but i did see this on the news, and from what i saw, the adoptive parents stated the kid threatened to burn down their house, and it got so they were afraid to sleep or to be with the kid. if that’s an accurate description, i would have been afraid too, and that’s not a way to live. some of the answers above suggest they should have gone to therapy, etc. but what to do in the meantime? stare at the child 24/7? how should the parents sleep? who would babysit if the mom had to work? someone who was ready to risk having her house burned down?

i don’t think we should be so quick to judge harshly.

alive's avatar

i have worked for the district attorney’s office/with social workers who deal with child abuse of all kinds on a daily basis. parents are always trying to come up with excuses for treating their kids badly. there is no excuse. kids are kids. they need to be taught and helped how to control their emotions. as adults who are adopting a child you must own all the responsibility.

becoming a parent means sometimes you are going to have to stay up all night with your kid. it means that if you only have enough money for one meal, that meal should go to your kid first. there are a lot of sacrifices that parents need to make because it is not the kids choice what happens to him. he did not choose to be an orphan. he did not choose to be adopted by people in a whole other country. (or if he was a biological kid, he did not choose to be born) adults are making all these decisions, therefore the adults need to take all the responsibility.

even if the mother was “lied to” which wasn’t suggested by the news reports, she should not have abandoned the child.

i hope she faces some kind of legal penalty for what she did.

Seek's avatar

The crazy woman dumped the kid on an airplane with a note pinned to his jacket and instructions to get into a particular car that would dump him at a government office.

She should be facing jailtime right now. Period.

trailsillustrated's avatar

very very sad. I think she was wrong- don’t know much about this particular case-

plethora's avatar

I know a couple who are friends who adopted from Bulgaria two boys about 5–7 years old, who turned out to be absolute hellions who totally destroyed their parents lives, threatened the lives of both of them (not innocent meaningless threats), and who were eventually taken by child care services and the parents (gladly) signed away the relationships. Having seen it with my own eyes, yes, there could be a time to send them back. (I thought adopting them was a bad idea because of the possibility exactly this kind of issue. Two kids who have spent their first 5–7 years in a Bulgarian orphanage cannot be expected to the mentally healthy..and these were not)

Rangie's avatar

That is a great example. What happened to the boys after they gave them up? Do you know?

plethora's avatar

The last I heard, one was locked up in a psycho hospital and the other was in jail.

Rangie's avatar

@plethora that is so sad. It is too bad people don’t adopt babies right here in our own country. Not that they wouldn’t have problems there too. But, I think charity and responsibility should begin at home.

plethora's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Given my personal experience (see above) I think she was smart.

Seek's avatar


You’re right. Obviously the child was defective. It’s lucky she got it back before the warranty expired.

Rangie's avatar

I am glad the boy is no longer in her home. However, I highly disapprove of the way she did it. If it is true that the boy has problems, she most likely compounded them.
I don’t know just what the problems were, but apparently he was taken from his natural mother when he was 6 years old. He couldn’t have been happy about that. He is just a little kid. So here is a now disturbed child after loosing his mom and now transplanted to another country and he is only 7. He must have been thinking he would never see his natural mother again. That might be enough to bring out some hostility in any child. She should have gone to the proper authorities with her concerns. She gets goose eggs from me.
I wish I knew more of the story, but I am sure we will become privy to it.

plethora's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Perhaps you didn’t read my post. You’ve read a brief newspaper/web report. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes. The really dumb part was adopting them/him in the first place.

shalom's avatar

I know cats and humans are not the same but I can’t even give up a “troubled” cat after caring for it for a few months what more a human being. Who is the adult here – the one with more power and authority? It’s the adoptive woman, of course. Anytime we hear a parent complain about their kid we know it’s saying nothing about the kid but everything about the parent’s own character / attitude. From my experience, there is never anything wrong with children, only the adults in their life. So if the Russian boy came broken it doesn’t mean she can return him damaged.

Parents who adopt must know the child, for sure, will come with issues for the simple fact that intelligent/ moral / secure parents, however destitute, will find a way to keep their family together.

JLeslie's avatar

Even if you have a bilogical child, if they are out of control somethng has to be done if their behavior shows mental instability or violence. They might wind up as psychiatric inpatients or in jail. I don’t quite understand why people are so critical of parents who WANT children, I mean they are paying a lot of money, spend a lot of time in the process, probably have all good intentions, and are probably willing to deal with some troubles a child has or develops. I can’t imagine anyone adopting a child over the age of 5 does not understand that there will be some emotional issues. But, threatening to burn down the house seems a little extreme. These specific parents might be awful, I don’t know, but I can understand why an adoptive parent might not want to sign up for having their life threatened.

plethora's avatar

@shalom I don’t have the answer here, but I am wondering if you would keep the cat if it had turned into a wild animal that destroyed everything you owned and threatened to kill you and other members of your family?

plethora's avatar

@JLeslie Agreed. Adopting a child over the age of 5 often brings far more than the parents bargain for. And adopting out of a Russian orphanage is guaranteed to bring even more.

Seek's avatar


Actually I’ve been following this story for days through several different outlets, because child abuse and neglect is a very, very touchy point with me.

This woman abandoned the child that she wanted, that she agreed to support and parent. She was, legally, that child’s guardian, and she abandoned him, when there were obviously a multitude of better ways to handle the situation.

Couple that with the fact that this child has been undergoing constant supervision and evaluation since returning to Russia, and he has displayed none of the behaviours this insane woman is accusing him of.

shalom's avatar

@plethora : Yes, I would. People / live beings are more important than things. Even if my cat destroyed my $10,000 dollar massage chair or $10,000 Japanese negative ion bedspread or that beautiful black piano – things are just things. Things can never be more important than the feelings of a living being.

I’ve watched documentaries on how they rehab-ed dogs who were about to be put down for being “violent” and I’ve dealt with quite a number of crazy cats! So it can be done.

No matter what, this is a child. We as adults have the power and capacity, not to mention resources and authority to find it within ourselves to heal this child with love and compassion. What the child needs most is a model of what functioning human behaviour is : Patience, unconditional love, gratitude, grace, compassion, love, etc. Setting conditions on “love” is not a functioning adult behaviour.

liminal's avatar

@plethora I don’t think it is an issue of it being wrong to adopt such children to begin with. It seems more an issue of having the right people adopt children who have attachment issues or other special needs.

I think the agencies that oversee adoptions have culpability when parents find themselves in over their heads. While properly screening, training, and matching children with families doesn’t guarantee proper placement, or eliminate the exhaustion and hard work of raising children with special needs, it does help make things possible to navigate. Part of that navigation process may end in terminating parental rights and turning children into wards of the state, yet, even that, can be a process that is honorable.

The termination of the parent child relationship in the original OP was not handled honorably.

plethora's avatar

@liminal I agree. Great answer..:)

plethora's avatar


Re return of the Russian child

escapedone7's avatar

@plethora, YOUR friends actually let professionals step in and help. The children were not just put on a train with a note taped to them or something. If these parents felt unsafe and could no longer control the child they could have called in a social worker, child services, mental health, or tried to have him placed in a facility or program for children who need intensive therapy. There may have been other options.

In the case of your friends the children were taken by professionals. They probably were under professional and adult supervision the whole time. They were placed into a setting that the case managers thought would be most beneficial. They were not just left unsupervised on a plane to Abu Dhhabi or something.

The answer to the question is of course, sometimes an adopted or even biological child needs placement in a different setting. I know a biological child that raped his sister. He ended up in a home for boys after some psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation. He was never totally abandoned by his parents. They came to his group living home and brought him presents, visited him on weekends. They did not just throw him away. However there are times when one child does have to go to a different setting for the safety of the others. Leaving a kid that is already unsafe to fend for himself is ludicrous. Dropping them off at the bus stop is not the way to handle it. This kid was 7!!! He probably knew little English to ask for help on the plane and most likely couldn’t even read signs. The least she could have done is accompany him back and make sure he arrived at whatever version of child protective or orphan services they have there.

My argument is NOT that children never need removed from their homes. Guess what. It happens all the time. My complaint is there is a right and wrong way to handle that.

plethora's avatar

@ I agree My friends did take the right approach and putting one on a plane back to Russia is not the answer.

Seek's avatar


_ He probably knew little English to ask for help on the plane and most likely couldn’t even read signs_

This is precisely true. He had spent a year in America, knew little English, but had already forgotten most of the Russian he knew. He was almost completely incapable of communication.

JLeslie's avatar

I wondered about the English, another reason he might have been acting out. Frustrated not being able to communicate, but supposedly he “threatened to burn the house down” which I took as a verbal threat? And, I know lots of kids who are thrown into a new language, and they did not act out violently. Most were around the age of 3 or 4, but I know one girl at the age of 8 came to America, and she adjusted without a lot of problems. I don’t see how a 7 year old can spend a year in America, I assume he went to school, and not speak English, at least have the basics?

JLeslie's avatar

I just saw on TV that the boy was possibly home-schooled, so it is possible the language made things much more difficult.

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