Posted by: laughs4dads | April 21, 2010

Many Happy Returns

There’s been a story in the news that I’ve been trying to ignore because my aim in this blog is not to be particularly topical. Or timely. Or enlightening in any way.

But the story isn’t going away, so I’ll address it today.

I am referring of course to the woman in Tennessee who decided to return her Russian-born adopted son to his mother country.

This has caused quite an uproar, presumably because she didn’t have a receipt.

In the aftermath of this event and the media frenzy surrounding it, Russia has suspended all adoptions to the U.S. It’s hard to argue with their thinking: a kid is obviously better off growing up in a Siberian orphanage than in Tennessee.

As you’ve probably read, the boy’s mother, Torry Hansen, put him on a United Airlines flight from Washington to Moscow, along with a note. I do not know if the note was in Russian, but, apparently it said that the boy, aged seven, was psychopathic. I also do not know how this made him different from other seven-year-old boys.

I won’t get into the rest of the story, like the bit about the mother finding someone on the Internet and paying him $200 to meet the kid at the airport in Moscow. (Where do you find people like that? Ivan’s List?)

What’s clear is that the whole situation is the result of a misunderstanding. Ms. Hansen was simply mistaken in thinking that an orphanage is the same thing as an animal shelter, only without the neutering.

You go to the local pound, you pick out a cute mutt, you take it home, and it starts eating your sofa, or maybe your children. So you take it back and say, “This dog really isn’t a good match for my family. I believe I’ll pick out a nice plush toy instead.”

Torry Hansen evidently did not see why it should be any different with a child. Her note to Russian authorities said: “I was lied to and misled by the Russian Orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and other issues.” I don’t know what the other issues were. Possibly the kid only wanted to eat blini and she couldn’t find any in Tennessee. Or maybe he preferred vodka to Jack Daniels.

Regardless of her reasons, should she be allowed to return the boy as if he were some mixed breed terrier or, perhaps, a defective TV purchased at Best Buy? Or should she be forced to keep the kid and love him the best she can, which probably would not be very well? And what would be more damaging for the child, being returned to sender or speaking Russian with a Southern accent?

Some dear friends of ours have adopted three children and have treated them like any average parents treat their children, including buying their daughter a horse. Well, okay, it was only a share of a horse, but it’s not like they would have bought a whole horse if she wasn’t adopted. They simply didn’t have room in their garage for an entire horse. Also, there’s no hay delivery in our town, and there’s really strict pooper scooper laws.

But I digress.

The point is, I’d like to think that most families wanting to adopt children are more like my friends than like Torry Hansen. So I don’t agree with the Russian authorities who are suspending adoptions (and the lives of the families and children about to be connected).

On the other hand, is the thinking that “once a child is yours, he’s yours” correct? The whole idea of adoption is to place the child with a caring family that will provide all the love and nurturing and cell phone plans and tuition money necessary to raise a child these days. But if you end up with a mother who would put you on a plane to Moscow alone, maybe you are better off in an orphanage.

As long as it serves blini.




  1. What I don’t get is, if you uproot a kid used to snow, authoritarian leadership, and lots of words with the letter “z”, and throw him into Appalachia for the sole purpose of “raising him”, who wouldn’t consider the possibility that things like “adjustment” may be difficult?

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