The stories adoption agencies include in their material, the books, the blogs—even the very signatures of the parents on adoption forums ("mom to DD Mei Mei, joyfully home since 2007") all speak of an experience that's supposed to be wonderful. Your child is "home," his or her orphaned life has ended, your respective travels are over, and you have been united into one big forever-family. Even the politically correct terminology surrounding adoption insists that once it's legal, it's a done deal—your child "was" adopted (not "is"), and now you are its mother, amen. We do not want adoption to be a process; we want it to be a destination—and that makes us even angrier when it doesn't work out that way. Torry Hansen betrayed her son, and she betrayed our belief system. We were willing to accept him as her son, and she wasn't, which makes her the villain.
This is not really anyone's fault. Humans seem to have an overwhelming need for a tidy narrative, which in adoption almost always butts up against the uglier reality. The law understands that, which is why, however wrong Hansen's actions seem to us, putting her adopted son on a plane back to Russia does not appear to have been illegal. Rash, yes, and ugly, but not against the law—because the law still recognizes that adoptive parenting of older children is different than parenting from birth. What's next is for the rest of us—jaded but experienced adoptive parents and the adoptive professionals who surround us (often adoptive parents themselves) to stop relying on adoption education and social workers to convey the darker realities of attachment disorders, institutional delays, and post-adoption depression and start talking about them ourselves.
6 days ago