Monday, April 12, 2010

Child Sent Back To Russia

I’m sure most of you have heard the news story this weekend about the adoptive mother who put her 7 year old son on a plane and sent him back to Russia. Both the United States and Russia are in an uproar over the event, and Russia may even suspend any future adoptions by the US. The adoptive mom said a lawyer she met via the Internet told her she should send her son back.

According to the mom, the child was very violent and she was scared of him. She said he attacked her several times, and that she caught him trying to start a fire in his bedroom. While these accounts may sound far-fetched to most, I understand exactly what was happening. I believe the boy suffered from Reactive Attachment Disorder.

My daughter, Jessica, is diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. The story told by the mother of the young boy sounds eerily familiar.

I have had several friends who either wanted to or actually did adopt children from Russia. The children were all in orphanages. My friends believed that all the children available in the US had serious emotional issues. The believed that they could get a young child from Russia, a young child of their dreams. Unfortunately, my friends have realized that the children from Russian orphanages have not escaped emotional upheaval either.

Reactive Attachment Disorder is in my opinion one of the most difficult issues a family can face. Like the boy in the story, people outside the family may not see the issues. RAD children are very good at covering up and presenting a charming face to people outside the family. But for the family, rage, aggression, injury, false accusations, killing animals, starting fires, etc. are a daily occurrence.

I in no way condone what the mother did. But I do know that the young boy needs some immediate and serious help. I hope he gets that before another unsuspecting family ‘rescues’ him. The mother and the rest of the family also need immediate and serious help. If anyone is at fault in this situation it is the ‘system’.

Potential adoptive parents need to be brutally educated. They have to know how damaged many of the children in our foster care system and in the institutions of other countries can be. It doesn’t mean these children should not be adopted. Rather when they are adopted, everyone in the family needs constant support.

Jessica is proof that a child diagnosed with RAD can mature and lead a good life. But, the issues are always there. Jessica has learned to recognize times of difficulty and to ask for help. Those around her have also learned to diffuse potential triggers for her negative behaviors. I’m proud of her for all she has and is accomplishing, but she could not have done it without intensive supports from the very beginning of her time with us.

I just hope that people who do not know about Reactive Attachment Disorder will not judge either the child or the mother. Just understand that desperate people do desperate things. We, as a society, need to offer assistance before the desperate acts happen.


Azaera said...

I am so glad to have you to give some insight to this story.

HennHouse said...

I love the term "brutally educated." Two of my children have reactive attachment disorder. And because it is a spectrum disorder, it is easy to see that they are on different ends of the spectrum, but it doesn't make dealing with it any easier. And I agree, RAD is probably the most difficult thing we deal with as a family.

I sure to hope we meet someday...