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Horizon Family Solutions, LLC

When Most Parents Adopt a Child, They Think Love and Care Will Be Enough

What happens when it’s not?

Five. Whole. Days. And they were ready to give up.

I imagine most people have trouble wrapping their brains around rehoming scenarios.

How does a parent dump a child? Even when the child is not responding to love or seems heartless, how do you hand them off to a stranger?

I don’t think people travel to Africa, China, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Ethiopia and Siberia with bad intentions.

In fact, people wanting to parent an orphan likely begin with a heart full of love and optimism. But when they return home with their child and the excitement dies down and the troubles begin, they cannot handle the child and their dreams turn to muck. They find themselves alone, frightened, bereft, and full of regret. How they may behave might not only surprise the world, it may also shock the parents themselves. There is no quick fix to this, but here’s what I think people need to be talking about: Many—maybe even most—adoptive parents are not really prepared for the ramifications of parenting a child who begins life in an institution or orphanage.

We’re ill-equipped to handle reactive attachment disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, or violent, self-injurious children. It’s the dirty little secret of adoption from Russia: Roughly once a year, an American adoptive parent kills an adopted child. There have been 15 confirmed such homicides since 1996, from Russia alone.

Of course, Americans have adopted more than 50,000 Russian children during that time—the country has been in or near the top three sources for American international adoptions during that time—but that is a horrific number nevertheless.

Most adoptions are successful, but the primary reason that placements disrupt or dissolve is “inability to attach,” according to the Attachment Trauma Network.

How have you handled your child’s behavior problems in your home, especially those that were becoming more threatening to your family? Have you ever faced judgment regarding the parenting of your adopted child?