Thursday, July 19, 2012

Montana Ranch for Adopted Kids Denied License

Oh, boy, after all kinds of rave reviews of the ranch, and negative comments about the Russians for seeming concerned about kids at that last-resort Montana ranch, now this:
The Russian government isn't alone in raising questions about a Montana ranch that cares for troubled children adopted from foreign countries.

Montana regulators are actively involved in a legal battle to shut down the Ranch For Kids near the Canadian border, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press through a public information request.

Those records show the ranch in Eureka has been operating without a license since 2010. The state board that oversees private alternative adolescent residential and outdoor programs ordered it last year to stop operating until it obtains a proper license.

Ranch owner Joyce Sterkel is appealing that order in court, saying the ranch has become part of a church mission and is no longer under the board's authority. Sterkel did not immediately return a call on Wednesday.

Last month, Russian children rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov and human rights envoy Konstantin Dolgov showed up at the Ranch For Kids' gates, demanding entry to check on the adopted children from Russia in Sterkel's care. They questioned whether the children were receiving necessary care or treatment at the remote ranch.

Ten of the 25 children there are from Russia, with others from China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Haiti, Ethiopia and other countries. Their ages vary, and their troubles range from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder to the aftereffects of spending their early lives in difficult conditions in orphanages.

The Russians were denied access that day. Sterkel previously denied any claims that the children are mistreated or lacking care. Parents with children at the ranch currently or in the past have risen to Sterkel's defense, saying her program provides a necessary service for adopted children struggling with medical and behavioral problems.

But neither Sterkel nor the Russians mentioned the Ranch For Kids' dispute with state regulators that now stretches back more than two years, after the Board of Private Alternative Adolescent Residential and Outdoor Programs declined to renew the ranch's provisional license in June 2010.


Kate said...

This was a long time coming! 25 kids under guardianship with an unqualified person is a recipe for disaster. My heart goes out to APs who adopted children with severe needs that they're unable to care for or to get help for (the shortage of post adoption services is a TRADGEDY)... but shipping a kid off to an unlicensed facility cannot possibly be the answer.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of this before. I'm glad the AP brought this to light.

Anonymous said...

On the heels of yet another Russian adoptee horribly abused by his American APs:

In the very same county as little Nina Hilt (2 yr old Russia girl beaten to death by her Amom a few years back).

There has GOT to be a way to improve the screening process. How on earth can soooo many people pass sooooo many security/reference checks and STILL do this to kids they claim they DESPERATELY wanted?!?

Leah said...

"after all kinds of rave reviews of the ranch, and negative comments about the Russians for seeming concerned about kids at that last-resort Montana ranch"

I really question what I can only call your gleeful tone. The comments on your last post about the ranch were not criticizing the Russians for "seeming concerned" -- they were criticizing the Russians for affecting concern YEARS after these kids had been adopted, which, given the atrocious state of many orphanages in Russia, seems pretty hypocritical. If these kids had been appropriately "cared" for prior to being shipped off for international adoption, they might not have ended up at the ranch in the first place.

Frankly, I'm a little disturbed by the often dismissive attitude I see towards attachment issues on this blog. You love to criticize APs who are dealing with severely traumatized, often violent children, APs with few options, little hope, and virtually nowhere to turn. The truth is that you are lucky you have not had to deal with these issues in your adopted children. You are not morally superior. You are not a better parent. You are lucky. Very, very lucky. It would be nice to see that acknowledged before you unilaterally damn adoption disruption and residential placement.

city said...

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