Returning an adopted child

Thanks to Peach for first posting this story, another in what I call the “buyer beware” category.

From ABC News: Oklahoma couples wants to return adopted child to the state.

I’m wondering why the family doesn’t believe the residential treatment center who says the son is no longer a danger.

I hate that the video clip begins with the mom acting all caring, talking to their son on the phone (if she’s really doing that, my hunch is it’s set up to elicit sympathy for the mom).

This is the part that gets me – and it’s not that I’m not sympathetic to the family. I’ve worked with children who have been abused and neglected. I do understand that some kids have a hard time blending in to an adoptive family.

The article states,

There are 11,0000 children in Oklahoma’s adoption system. This year, only 13 adoptions have been dissolved — an expensive and lengthy legal process that’s similar to a divorce.
The Wescotts can’t afford it, so they’re trying to have the law changed.

The Wescotts are part of a group seeking changes in state law that would allow adoptive parents to return custody of foster children to the state in certain circumstances.

“If a family can show that they have exhausted every resource… every opportunity they can … to save their families and this is what they’re left with, then I think they should have this as an
option,” said Tina Cox of the Adoptive Parent Support Group. “No one should be held hostage in their own homes.”

Listen to the commentary afterwards too.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

5 thoughts

  1. While I don’t agree with the proposed law, I don’t find it surprising that a family wouldn’t agree with an RTC. I started off our adoption process with a very high level of trust in mental health professionals and currently have maybe a tenth of that left. They constantly screw up and misdiagnose.
    Maybe they’re wrong. Maybe the RTC is wrong. I don’t know.
    I disagree with their proposed policy change and don’t think it would really help children. I think that both bio AND adoptive parents should have way more support than they do now, in order to prevent stuff like this happening, but when it does happen, that there should be parity when it comes to termination of parental rights.

  2. While I do not think such a law is a solution, I also do not share your faith in residential treatment. As a family law attorney and the mother of five adopted daughters, most of whom have varying degrees of RAD among other diagnoses, I have been sorely disappointed in RTC’s. They tend to have inexperienced and ever-changing staff. Worse, they also find the kids miraculously ‘cured’ when the money runs out or the child proves too difficult even for them. And finally, they are way too eager to blame the adoptive family for every symptom the child displays. They seldom ask why they have so many adopted children among their clients, and they rarely think that the models they use need to be adapted for the adoptive family. All my children are adults now, and all but one are functioning members of society, but none of that is thanks to anything they or I got from an RTC. Frankly, I wouldn’t trust most RTC’s to rear a guppy.

  3. Maybe I should have been more specific or explained better my comment about the RTC, since people seem to think I have higher regard for RTC’s than I actually do.
    When I worked for the County, on average about 2/3 to 1/2 of the kids on my caseload lived in RTC’s. I do not think RTC’s are a good place to raise a child. They are institutions, and from my experience not a lot different then detention centers except there are therapists on site. Most of the time.
    Anyway, I just think that parents often find RTC’s an easy scapegoat. I don’t think RTC staff know how to work with adopted children and they often have things institutionally set up that are barriers to working with adopted children.
    I believe that RTC staff often said and did very similar things as foster homes, especially “therapeutic foster homes.”I think these are problems – period – with any kind of out-of-home placement.
    In this story, I want to know more. I want to know why the parents don’t believe the child is ready to come home. Has another therapist or have others who worked with this boy expressed the same concerns? How well is the RTC and the parents working on transitioning the child home? What else is going on here?
    I don’t want people to think I have some extraordinary “faith” in RTC’s. But I also don’t think they are any worse than most other areas of “the system.”
    I have heard the same things said about/to children from therapists, foster parents, prospective parents, guardian ad litems, judges, county attorneys, and social workers that I have observed by staff at RTC’s.

  4. Hey there,
    I was just reading through your blog. Adoption is a subject I feel all social workers could use more information on. I invite you to share your work on My Social Work Network ( It’s a free resource where social workers can create a professional profile, network, blog, search social work jobs, keep up to date on news, share resources, etc. We are looking for active social workers who like to blog and participate. You could also use the site as a tool to increase readership of your blog.
    Feel free to visit the site and if you feel it adds value to the work we do, please help to spread the word.
    Happy Blogging!
    Michelle C. Bussolotti, MSW

  5. I recently came across your blog and have been reading about Child Custody. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often..

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