After six years of living with their adopted children, parents from Long Island want to void adoption due to their “mental illness.” The two children are Russian-born orphans who were adopted when they were ages 6 and 8. Now the two are 12 and 14 and living in a state institution.
The New York Post reports that the couple has asked a judge to void their adoption because they allege that adoption agencies pulled a “bait and switch.” There are reportedly “disturbing facts” surrounding the adoption and public interest plays a role in the decision for Nassau County Surrogate’s Judge Edward McCarty III to go over this case, called Matter of Adoption of Child A and Child C; the parents are asking the court to void the 2008 adoption of “purported siblings.”
The children were discovered through Spence-Chapin in New York and Cradle of Hope in Maryland. At the time, both siblings were described as “healthy and socially well-adjusted.” Not long after they were adopted, it was obvious the kids had medical and psychological problems. The couple claims the children have threatened to kill them several times, according to the report.
A lawsuit against the agencies was done before when the couple says they found out after adopting the children that they weren’t related at all and had been sexually abused.
If the judge decides to “vacate” the adoption, the children would become wards of the state. The may either remain in mental hospitals or be eligible for foster care.
There’s a fear that the public case will have Russian “propagandists” depict adoptive parents from the U.S. as violent and incompetent. Another worry is that the allegations of misleading or withheld information on records will have a negative impact on foreign adoptions as a whole.
Adoption attorney, Irene Seffas, says to expect adoption agencies to have perfectly healthy kids is unrealistic.
“If agencies had to warranty that children are in good health, agencies would shut down. You can do that with a car but you can’t get a warranty with a human being. That’s a dangerous position to put an agency in.”
Adam Pertman, president of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency, says parents must be prepared for the challenges ahead when it comes to children with physical or mental needs.
“So many kids from institutionalized settings come to us abused and neglected. If the records are not accurate, parents are not prepared for the challenges they will face. They don’t get sufficient training. And they don’t get the support and services they need.”
Twenty percent of Russian children adopted in the U.S. suffer from developmental issues, and this is why the judge wants to hear the case. Judge McCarty’s opinion cites the statistic that 18 children adopted from Russia have died through violence by their American parents in the last 20 years. Seventy-five percent of those were under two years of age and died within six months of being adopted.
Identities of the parents and children will be sealed to the media, but the void adoption case will be open to the public.
This story resonates with one from 2010 in which a mother from Tennessee put her adopted son on a plane and sent him back to Moscow. NBC News reported at the time that the boy was 7-years-old and his adoptive mother claimed he was violent. In 2013, Russia banned American couples from adopting their orphans.
[Photo Credit: UC Santa Barbara Economics Dept.]