Consumer warning labels

Over the past several days, of course like everyone else, I have been catching news stories here and there about the 7-year old Russian adoptee who was sent packing back to Russia after his adoptive mom decided she couldn't handle parenting the child after a few months. This morning I happened to see both CBS's morning show and NBC's Today show segments.

What gets me is how much of a "consumer reports" story this has become. This story seems to have become about

  1. Was it right for an adoptive mother to send the child back by himself (not even as much was it right to return the child and dissolve the adoption)?
  2. Are Russian adoptees "more damaged" than other adoptees?
  3. How can prospective adoptive parents be good consumers and lessen the likelihood of getting a child with RAD or other psychological problems,
  4. Is Russia going to stop the market of children for adoption? and
  5. What about the poor parents in the process of adopting who now may either lose the opportunity to adopt "their" child or may be in limbo for a long time?

In addition to some news reporter standing outside of Torry Ann Hansen's house, the news show host often interviews some "expert" (always an adoptive parent or some psychologist or social worker who claims to know something about adoption – but there is NEVER an adult adoptee) like on the Today show when Matt Lauer interviewed an adoptive mom who wrote a book about Russian adoptions. She said the usual things, blah blah blah. Matt Lauer's questions seemed to be eerily similar to stories about consumer recalls – and both Matt and the adoptive parent "expert" dismissed that adoption "returns" happen, in a fairly nonchalant way. Like, yeah, it happens. Moving on, 'are Russian kids more f-ed up than other kids?' Matt wanted to know.

Why are no mainstream media outlets asking how this is going to affect the child in question? Why have no media outlets asked an adult person who was adopted internationally and "disrupted?" 

ADOPTEES HAVE FEELINGS! Plus, guess what? Some of us are experts in adoption disruptions. Want to know what it feels like to be an adoptee who was kicked out by their adoptive parents? There actually are a lot who could answer that question for you.

We are not packages to be sent back because we didn't come according to standardized factory specifications. Maybe we should start putting consumer warning labels on children:

Warning: Hand made. Each one is different, therefore no two will be alike. Actual product may differ from the one shown in advertisement. NO RETURNS.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

10 thoughts

  1. I completely agree. It was so disheartening that our agency’s only visible reaction to this was an email asking families to support the JCICS Call To Action regarding Intercountry adoption in Russia.
    The goals of the Call to Action don’t seem to completely jibe since the “first” goal is to ensure that intercountry adoption in Russia continues uninterrupted, while the second goal is to aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the abuse of children. Shouldn’t those be reversed?
    Again, it all seems to be about the families, those poor families that either didn’t get their dream child via adoption, or might be slowed down in their path of pursuing that dream child.

  2. Thank you Shannon and JaeRan Kim for this. I have been in deep discussion on behalf of the child’s perspective as that seems to be missing. The harash reality is that in marital vows it is death due you part, but when a child is birthed or adopted there seems to be if I don’t want you I will get rid of you. Once he was adopted he was hers to love until death due them part. As parents biological or not you are not promised the perfect child. You love them, work with them and seek help, not put them on a plane. If it was that easy I have a couple of kids(adult) that I would like to send somewhere.

  3. I’d be interested in any links/resources you have to adoptees’ blogs/books/websites who’ve experienced disrupted adoptions. Two of my five daughters (all now adults) came from disrupted adoptions, but neither is particularly articulate about that part of their experience (unlike their ability to talk about their birthfamilies, which each is very willing to do.)

  4. Superbly written. Thank you for the anger you articulate so well, and the pain you let rise to the surface, and the reminder that adoptees are PEOPLE too, and that yes we should be asking our children if we can post what we write, or at the very least imagine reading it to them out loud down the road.

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