Torry Hansen: When an Adopted Child Hates You

Other parents who have struggled with violent adoptive children agree that Hansen acted irrationally, but they understand the pressure to cope.

Parents Struggling to Cope Say They are Not 'Demons'

"I don't blame this woman," said Kathy Cox, a Rexburg, Idaho, mother with two biological and four adopted children aged 5 to 19. Two of her children came from an orphanage in Sierra Leone.

"Something must have snapped," she said. "I've been too close to snapping myself to judge. Being a parent is hard."

One of her adoptive children has brain damage and is medicated for violence and bipolar disorder.

"I felt very close to him, yet he never quite attached to me," said Cox. "I chose to do this. But I am stuck in the hardest position I have been in my life."

"I am not a demon," she said. "But I can be drained of sanity by children knocking holes in walls, threatening bodily harm to me and their siblings, foul and hateful language shouted at me and each other, starting fires, seeking porn, peeping tom stuff, dressing like a hooker, and manipulation."

Cox credits the agency that handled the adoption from the U.S. as "honest, yet inexperienced."

"I would feel better if they would acknowledge that attachment problems do exist in overseas kids," she said.

Adoptive parents say prospective parents need to know more about the risks of international adoptions, where children may have been abused, exposed to alcohol prenatally or lingered in institutions.

Both Skeirik and Cox -- strong advocates for adoption -- say more education is needed for the American families who adopt more than 20,000 international children each year.

"We believe there is a culture of secrecy surrounding adoptions so as not to impede the flow of adoptions happening, but in the process, thousands of families are traumatized and scarred," said Skeirik. "We believe it is possible to be both an adoption advocate and honest about the significant costs."

Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, agrees that all agencies, institutions and countries involved in adoption need to be more forthcoming with information about children.

He said support is needed for all families -- those with biological, foster and adoptive children.

"There are insufficient resources for parents who need help with their kids, period," he said. "It's not about scaring people off adoption, but helping people do a good job as parents."

Pertman said parents looking to international adoption need to "know what you are getting in to -- and not in a negative way."

"If you had a kid with diabetes, you would want the best possible information and real resources to help you as parents," he said.

The story of Justin Hansen is "a cautionary tale -- not about adoption, but about learning how to take care of the kids you have."

"Whether you are the biological or the adoptive parents, you are legally the parent of that child," he said. "Biological parents have a difficult time with kids, they wind up on the street and in institutions and we don't say, ' Look what happens when you give birth to a kid.' You are making parenting decisions if they are born or adopted."

Parents Say Giving Up a Child is Excruciating

For Debbie Bettiol, a 54-year-old former nurse from Salem, Ore., the decision to send her violent adoptive daughter to a residential treatment center was excruciating.

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