Opinion: Adoptive Mother Should Be Sent to the Gulag

Filed under: Adoption, In The News, Weird But True, Opinions

Like pregnancy, when you're in the process of adopting a child, the journey into the world of motherhood spans a matter of months, and in some cases, years. Both Mother Nature and the adoption process give would-be parents the time to get used to the idea and do some advance planning.

For Torry Ann Hansen, the time between "I'm thinking about adopting a child" and "Welcome home, Son" was probably not filled with anything remotely resembling preparation. Had this woman, a nurse, no less, spent a couple of hours at a book store thumbing through the many adoption books on the parenting shelves, had she done a simple Google search to find single moms who've paved the way before her, had she picked up a phone and asked her adoption agency for advice, things might not have turned out the way they did.

The way things did turn out was monstrous, a word used by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to describe Hansen's actions. The Tennessee woman had her 7-year-old son, Artyom Savelyev -- the boy she'd adopted six months earlier -- put on a plane and sent back to Russia. Give her props for the backpack she filled with some coloring supplies, a few cookies -- you know, in case he got hungry -- oh, and a note to give to whichever grown-up happens to question why the young lad was wandering around the airport in Moscow.

Da svidan'ya, little comrade. Or, more likely, she said something along the lines of the more permanent American version: Hit the road, Artyom. And don't ya come back no more.

Monstrous is a perfect word. Disgusting is what my mother and I called it over brunch this weekend. As an adoptive family for the past 13 years, we can't conceive of a parent doing something so heinous.

"When you got a problem, you pick up a damn phone and get help," my irate 76-year-old mother blurted out a wee bit too loudly for a restaurant.

No matter, she's right.

Oddly, though, some see it differently. Because Hansen referred to Artyom in that note as violent, it stands to reason, others believe, that it was in her family's best interest to rid themselves of this child in the same way you would ship back a pair of shoes from Zappos that just don't fit. These people say that we, the judgmental types, don't understand what it's like to live with an adopted child with issues.

True. Our household is fortunate. But, we have had our share of problems with biological members of the family. And guess what we did? We called social services for help. There was plenty of upheaval to go around, but we took steps to fix the problem, not discard a member of our family. It took time and patience, but we got through it. And that beloved child who had these outbursts is now a very solid and thriving member of the grown-up world who others turn to for help.

That's how good parents do things. We work on the problems, even when they're hard and take a long time to heal. Even when the answer requires a multi-pronged approach, which is often the case when kids hit emotional or developmental obstacles. We stay in the game no matter how many times we strike out.

And we certainly don't make a federal case out of it.

Hansen, in her attempt to throw the baby out with the bathwater, has caused an international incident. Now, the good folks in charge of the orphaned children of Russia are seriously considering shutting down their adoption program with the United States.

Thousands upon thousands of kids have been adopted from Russia over the years and are living wonderfully loving lives. That Hansen's cold-hearted and callous actions could be the end of Russian adoptions, even temporarily, is something that should weigh heavy on her conscience for the rest of her life. Hopefully, she and her mother, who assisted in this premeditated, despicable scheme, will be convicted of a crime. Murdering a child's spirit deserves life in jail. If I were the judge, I would make her read letters every day from would-be parents whose adoptions were halted because of her actions.

But the best revenge would be having Artyom grow up and write a best-seller about what really happened in that house in Tennessee. And, since he's an American citizen, let him come back stateside and find out that the vast majority of us would have never done that to him.

To little Artyom we say, na zdarov'ya (translated: to your health)!

Related: Adoption: Finding the Right Agency and Attorney

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.