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Russian adoptions 101: Why sending the boy back was the worst possible plan

For couples or single parents wishing to adopt from abroad, the process is lengthy and often expensive, but well worth it if proper planning and preparations are made. The return of a seven-year-old Russian boy last Friday has catapulted the issue of foreign adoptions to the forefront of the news.

It may raise a number of questions among those currently considering adopting from Russia. However, one thing is clear in this situation, the adoptive mother was clearly unprepared for a young boy with adjustment issues.

When preparing to adopt, the photo of a young child in need and available for adoption sets the mood for powerful instincts to be unleashed. Often the prospective parent sees an opportunity to be the rescuer and fulfill the need to make a difference in an orphan's life. Adoption becomes a very personal goal, the parent is ready to begin the process.

What comes next?

First, contact an adoption agency that has experience in placing adopted children from Russia in American homes.

Learn as much as you can about the child that is available for adoption. Ask questions that will help in the preparation and and decision making process. Find out the child's age and how long they have been in an orphanage. Ask why the child was placed in the orphanage?

In Russia, it is common for children to be placed in an orphanage due to parental neglect and alcoholism.

Locate an adoptive family who has successfully adopted a child from Russia or adoption support group, forming a network of experienced friends is absolutely invaluable! This network will help you make a comprehensive plan and be prepared for the process.

Expect to pay to visit the child in the orphanage to meet and form an initial bond. A second trip will be needed to escort the child to Moscow and appear before the adoption court. Adoptions are officially processed in court in Moscow, and the court will not formalize the adoption unless the family declares that they agree not to return the child under any circumstances.

Adjustment Problems

One common adjustment problem is reactive attachment disorder (RAD). The therapy method is called hold therapy. The parent will hold the child while the child tries to fight, kick, bite, scratch and scream. Eventually, the episodes get shorter and less confrontational. 

Additionally, a well planned nutritional plan and medications will help control this condition. When possible adopt siblings, this will help with the adjustment process. Touching is a valuable therapy technique, and another method is swimming. 

For a child suffering from RAD, abandoning them is traumatic, sending them backwards into regression and despair. RAD is usually a lifelong condition, but with consistent behaviors from the adoptive parents, the child will be capable of a fairly normal life. However, abandoning a child with this disorder is traumatic.

The best recourse in this situation would have been to contact the adoption agency and ask for assistance. The ability to assess a child for violent behavior prior to the adoption process is virtually impossible to predict. Each child responds differently to a new environment.

Local Scene

In an interview with a local adoptive mother, Ms German confirmed that several families in Tennessee have successfully adopted Russian children. Her family adopted three siblings about 5 years ago. The children were able to enter the public school without a minimum language requirement and all had adjusted to the school system and perform in a satisfactory manner within three years. 

She recommends using a local adoption agency and networking with other families that have successfully adopted children from Russia.

Tennessee adoption agencies

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