Torrey Hansen case

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Malika, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I have just applied for British nationality for J (wish me luck - it's a long shot!) and was doing some reading on the net related to international adoptions when I came across the case of Torrey Hansen. You probably remember - I had never heard of it but I gather it caused a furore in the States - that this was the case of a single woman who adopted a child from a Russian orphanage at the age of 7 and then sent him back alone on a plane to Russia with a note saying he was too difficult and violent for her to deal with (article about the issue: I understand that she has recently been ordered to pay for the boy's maintenance, although the adoption has in the meantime been annulled.
    The case raises a lot of issues and I wondered what people's opinions about it were. Do families in the US have to be screened before they can adopt (presumably they do)? Is there sufficient information given about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) in older adopted children, and help to deal with this? What are the lessons that you draw from this case?
  2. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    This was a major story in the news for quite a while when it happened but I don't remember all the specifics now. It created a furor and became a bit of an "international incident" when she sent the child back to Russia,all by himself I believe! Ordinarily in adoptions there is a very rigorous screening process that takes place. It is similar to the screening that I went through when I was going to become a foster parent - months of training, background checks, home studies, recommendations, etc. But if this was some independent agency that places foreign children with adoptive families, they may not always follow the same procedures. It would be very rare if an older child who had never lived in a family, only in an institution in a foreign country, could blend seamlessly in to a new family in a different country and have no difficulties. Usually to succeed, these families need lots of professional guidance and intervention and follow-up by the agency. And apparently that didn't happen in this case. From what they said, there was no monitoring or follow-up by the agency. And the woman did not seek out any kind of professional help for this child to make the adjustment - no interventions at all. There was lots of help available to her but she didn't take advantage of it. She just put the little guy on a plane back to Russia - by himself - saying that he was too difficult for her to handle!
  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, seems like she didn't alert any professionals or services to the problems she was having with him but just took this unillateral action and returned him to Russia - as though he were damaged goods she had bought from a supermarket. But it wasn't so much this specific case that interested me, though it was obviously extreme and one that captured the attention, but more the issue of how much people really know about and are prepared for the difficulties of children who have been abandoned by or taken from their birth mother/parents and then adopted out. I know that I wasn't at all prepared for the emotional reality, even though I had read books!
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I read one article that claimed that she had tried for ages to get ahold of someone at her adoption agency for support and that they never helped her. I think this was a desperate act by a desperate mom.

    Over 35 non-infant children were dropped off at hospitals and firehouses under Nebraska's Safe Haven law (during the very short time that it did not have an age limit), most of them having severe mental illness and parents who had no where left to turn to get their children help.

    As you say, the books do not convey the reality of the severest children. I think the books did a decent job of preparing us for 3 of our kids, but nothing short of a weekend in hell could have prepared us for Kanga.
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    My heart has gone out to her. I have not experienced this tragedy. I have experienced the total disregard for parents when it comes to the placement of a "difficult" child. Within the borders of the USA I have experienced as a GAL the misrepresentation of facts, the eagerness to get the foster child "off the rolls", the pain of emotional and sexual abuse on children who have been passed about. Among the emotional baggage the I have as a caring adult is a boy who was assigned to me by the Court system many years ago. I drove each week eighty miles round trip to fulfill my roll as advocate for a boy who had been "in the system" for decades. One day...OMG!...he told me "Mrs X I finally have a family!" (I had not heard a word thru the Court system.) I replied "Tell me about the family, son." He told me eagerly "I am moving one hundred miles from here to live with a family who really wants a son. I have met them and they are very nice."

    The blankin' "system" adopted him out to people I never met, in a location I had never visited...and checked off "a new placement for adoption". It has been twenty years and my gut still tells me he was a pawn and I was not able to protect him. So sad. DDD
  6. bigbear11

    bigbear11 Guest

    Adopting from Russia requires a huge amount of paper work and numerous social worker visits both prior to and after. When we got home with TRex, we had 4 visits from the social worker (who specialized in adoption) over the first 2 years. This is required by Russia so should not vary by agency.

    My husband and I both felt that this was horrible and inexcusable! It was all over the news. And we felt like we could relate as we deal with some pretty serious issues with our daughter. To send the child back as she did without exhausting all options was unforgivable in MHO. Not only has this boy been given up by his birth family but someone else as well. Its like Malika said... returning damaged goods like you bought at a store rather than treating as a child.

    That being said... While I loved (and still recommend) our Adoption agency, I do not feel that they adequately prepared us for the challenges that a child from that setting could have. I did research on my own but fell into the "those poor people. that won't happen with us" category. I wish the resources had been there to provide more reality to our "yea we are getting a baby" mindset. I also wish in hindsight that we had been more assertive about getting early intervention for some of her issues rather than continuing to think that it would get better on its own. Although that was certainly our responsibility, it would have been nice for the agency to recommend and encourage... getting back to providing a more realistic perspective.