Postcards from Mommywood: Adopted Children Don't Come With Guarantees

The 'lies' about Torry Hansen's Russian son were the ones she told herself.
1 / 2

Postcards from Mommywood: Adopted Children Don’t Come With Guarantees

The ‘lies’ about Torry Hansen’s Russian son were the ones she told herself.

-Diane Clehane

Children Don't Come with Guarantees

Ever since I learned Torry Hansen had returned her adopted son to Russia like he was a handbag she’d bought and later realized she couldn’t afford, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the story.

Now, one woman’s desperate and selfish act has caused Russia put a halt to adoptions with the United States, preventing a reported 3,000 American families from completing their adoptions.

While virtually all the parents I know – both adoptive and biological – have expressed outrage over this, I’ve noticed a troubling tone to much of the media coverage.

I saw two television segments this weekend that cautioned prospective adoptive parents on “what to look for” when pursuing foreign adoptions. “Be sure to find out all you can about the child’s background and origins,” counseled one ‘expert.’ Another advised, “Look for red flags in videos and medical reports.”

While all this advice is well-intentioned, I’m sure, it struck me that these people were doling out the type of advice you would give to someone buying a car. The problem is, they don’t give out Carfaxes on adopted kids.

Read Postcards from Mommywood: When An Adoptive Mother Rejects Her Child

Six years ago, when my husband and I began the process of adopting a child from China, I was guilty of the same consumerist mentality. We chose one of the most established – and expensive – agencies in New York City. My thought process went something like this: If we were going with the best and paying the agency top dollar we could expect the very best, even if I didn’t know what that meant as it related to adopting a child.

I found out pretty quickly. Our adoption agency’s first priority was the children, not their “clients.” After my husband and I submitted our application and we hadn’t heard after a few weeks, I called only to be told that there were some questions about our application and someone from the agency would be calling us for an interview.

I was dumbfounded. Why were we being singled out? I thought indignantly. We’d been married four years, both had good jobs and were in good health.

When the phone interview finally took place, the conversation between the agency representative and my husband and I went something like this ”Why haven’t you tried IVF?” Answer: Because I never wanted to.

Then, ”Why did you feel the need to get counseling?” Because after two miscarriages and losing both my father and beloved grandmother all within a nine-month period, it seemed like a very good idea.

follow BettyConfidential on... Pinterest

Read More About...
Related Articles...

0 thoughts on “Postcards from Mommywood: Adopted Children Don't Come With Guarantees

  1. In Tory Hansen’s defense, Russia and the former Soviet Union has been knowingly misleading american adoptive families for the better part of 25 years on these damaged, violent children. If you are a normal family looking to adopt a normal child, that is what you should get. If you are one of those called to adopt troubled or physically disabled children, then you already know what you’re getting into. The US State Department requires immigrants to prove they can earn a living here and not be a burden on our social system. But we don’t require the same standards for adoptive immigrants? Our government is already on the brink of bankruptcy. Furthermore, why don’t these people adopt right here at home? Is it because they wanted a white child?

    If you look just slightly below the surface, you can read thousands of stories about families who thought they were getting a normal, healthy child from a russian agency. These families suffer more than you can ever imagine when they have to sleep with their doors locked for fear of their new “child.” Some of these children have set their homes on fire, killed the families pets, injured other children and adults in the household, stolen, damaged property beyond all immagining… do I need to go on?

    All Russian adopted children are not like this, but we should not be blind to the possibility. Nor should we fail to hold Russia accountable when they deliberately mislead unsuspecting American parents.

  2. I also think Torry should have been better screened as a potential parent. She clearly seems to have been unable to handle the situation in a proactive way – taking the child to a therapist, talking to a social-services agency.

  3. I’ll never understand why Torry Hansen didn’t try taking her child to be evaluated by a therapist first. Whatever issues this poor boy had before have like been compounded greatly by Hansen’s actions.

  4. Since Torry Hansen hasn’t said anything publicly, it’s hard to know what she really experienced with this child. Clearly, for whatever reason, she felt overwhelmed trying to handle this child and his problems — and she didn’t feel like she had anywhere else to turn. While I feel terrible for that poor little boy, and I think Hansen acted completely irresponsibly as a parent, I really lay blame at the feet of the adoption agency, who HAVE to know that these types of problems aren’t uncommon with children from Russia. Why weren’t they checking in with Hansen regularly, or at least letting her know where to go for help if her (or other clients) if she encountered problems?? At the end of the day, it’s just another business, right? Ugh…

  5. So if we take Torry Hansen’s example — then what do we do when our own biological child gives us problems? Seriously, I thought when you adopted a child, you became that child’s mother or father, biological or not. You can’t just go around handing kids off because they aren’t fitting in to your picture of happily ever after. She should have sought help for him. he is young enough, i believe he could have been helped. None of us really know the whole story, so it is not safe judge, i suppose. But I still feel like she should have reacted like a mother with a child and sought help for her child.

  6. The last letter writer hit the nail on the head. There are no guarantees even with your own biological children. If you want children, you take what you get. No receipts, no returns.

  7. Maybe Barb could explain to everyone what “normal” looks like and just who precisely gets to deem a child as “normal” or “not normal.” Are you the expert on all things normal? Is it your version of normal that we are setting the standard at? Or is it mine? How about the guy down the street from me? What about a Russian official?

    Just because there are issues with ANY adopted children (no matter what their nationality) does not mean that the bigger problem was not with the adoptive parent then the system. If I get pregnant tomorrow and at the end of my pregnancy I find out that I’m pregnant with a disabled child (or whatever else falls into your narrow definition of “normal”) then I should be able to say “NO WAY! Screw this! This is NOT what I signed up for. I signed up to be a NORMAL parent, to a NORMAL child!” and then I dropped my child at an adoption agency with a note attached explaining how the child was not what I expected, in my opinion defective and since I couldn’t get a refund I fully expected the state to take over and raise him so that I could try to go fulfill my dreams to have a “normal” child, you wouldn’t think twice about calling me a monster (I wouldn’t either- but of course thankfully I’m not the same kind of person that YOU sound to be from your post either).

    Children do not come with guarantee’s. PERIOD. You get what you get, you are thankful that you are blessed with whatever you recieve. You count those blessings, you suck up the hardships, you learn to see the joy in the little things and YOU MOVE ON WITH YOUR CHILD THE BEST YOU CAN. You want to know how *I* know this? My oldest son has autism. I didn’t sign on to be the Mom to an autistic child. When people asked me during my pregnancy if I wanted a boy or a girl- my reply was always “just healthy.” But I am thankful every day that I was given a beautiful soul to cherish. That I am able to truly appreciate the small things, the little triumphs, the million ways that I can advocate for my child and try to change stereotypes and misconceptions about disabilities. I didn’t sign on for it, but if I would have known how much I’d receive in dividends from my child, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

    That vile woman who sent her child back like damaged goods instead of even really TRYING to help him, or work with the agency so that someone who WAS willing to take on the challenge had the opportunity to do so- infuriates me. You justifying it prove that you are cut from the same cloth. Children and adults with disabilities are less than to you and deserve to be discarded like so much trash because they’re not “normal.” Most of us do not sign on to be a parent to a disabled child, we are lucky enough to be chosen and we reap the rewards that come and are brought out of our ignorance into the light- people like you have no clue how horribly ignorant, and sad you sound. How much WE pity YOU for your narrowly held view on life, and the blessings that are sometimes not labeled as blessings but turn out to be the best gifts you can recieve. You’ll never know that, you will spend your entire life viewing people based on what they can’t do, or what they are NOT to see all the fantastic things they can do, and the wonderful people they ARE. You ma’am more than anyone deserve everyone’s pity. It sucks to be you. Sorry ’bout that. As for “normal” I’d argue that my beautiful, wonderful, sweet, conscientious autistic son is way more “normal” than you’ll ever have a chance of being with all that bigotry you’ve wrapped yourself in.

Leave a Reply

top of page jump to top