Postcards from Mommywood: Adopted Children Don’t Come With Guarantees
The ‘lies’ about Torry Hansen’s Russian son were the ones she told herself.
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.
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.