The Crazy Mothers Club IV

Has everyone read about the woman from Tennessee who sent her adopted son back to Russia after deeming him too psychotic to handle?

People are up in arms about this, primarily against the mother, who put the 7 year old on a plane, alone, with a note pinned on him. Authorities haven’t decided what to charge her with. Russian officials are threatening to halt adoptions of Russian orphans.

The woman, who is single, refuses to comment, but her own mother says that the boy was violent and had threatened to burn down the house. She also says they were lied to by the Russian agency that arranged the adoption. Many of the orphans in Russia (and elsewhere) who’ve spent their lives in institutions are described by experts as “feral” (i.e. completely unsocialized.) Many have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

If you adopted a child and discovered that he was emotionally disturbed or mentally ill, would you want to send him back, like a defective product? What about if he was violent enough to make you fear for your life? What about if he turned out to be schizophrenic or autistic? What if you kept the child to fulfill your moral obligation but forever regretted the adoption?

I once knew a woman who adopted an infant that turned out to be severely autistic. When I met them, he was about four. He was an unattractive, whiney child who tried to stick his finger in my eye when he noticed I wore contact lenses. When we took him out to a park, he attacked another child. Once, while I was driving, he grabbed my hair from the back seat and yanked it with all his might. He was the most repellent kid I have ever come across, but she adored him. I felt, secretly, that if it were me, I’d send him back.

I know another mom who adores her biological child but sent him to a residential treatment center after he hurt her during one of his rages. It wasn’t an easy decision. But she didn’t want to risk further violence.

I feel bad for the woman in Tennessee. I’m assuming that she wanted a child more than anything, but didn’t have the fortitude to care for a deeply damaged kid. I feel bad for the boy, who most likely has been abused and will be further traumatized.

Should the mother be prosecuted? Should there be better screening of adoptive parents? Should society have some mechanism for mothers who aren’t equipped to mother,   that would absolve them of blame and spare a child from neglect or abuse?


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45 Responses to The Crazy Mothers Club IV

  1. Sad story whichever way you look at it :/

  2. Hard one. I actually only like my own and am fairly ambivalent about all other children, although I often do like other kids in small doses. I can also appreciate cute ones but I have no global maternal instincts. I’m fairly strict, very responsible and have a lot of fun with mine when my nice mummy button is officially on.

    I would have communicated and sort help if I’d adopted a difficult child. I would have used kindness, love and endeavour to turn the situation around and if I could no longer have coped and no one would assist I’d probably might have thought about putting him on a plane with a note but would not have done it.

    He is just a child there is hope and actually the biggest challenge is when they get a older when you cannot be in charge and be bossy.

    In reality it is only boyfriends/husbands/lovers/whatever that you can get rid of without recourse. Children are for life!

  3. dexter vandango says:

    ..and what about the crazy mothers who love their brats too much?

    I’m thinking of the mother who, enraged that her two children were not given a prominent enough place in the grammar school orchestra(!) snuck over to the music teacher’s home and poured poison in the woman’s air conditioner nearly killing her.

    I could imagine Joan Rivers doing that for her Melissa..

  4. Marmalade Wombat says:

    i must be callous bitch as i had two thoughts 1. Send them back! They got a mini-holiday anyway. 2. Better safe than finding yourself living with a sociopathic dwarf with child’s features … like in the movie Orphan –

  5. E says:

    I think there should be more awareness about what it’s like to adopt a child. It’s not all Saint Angelina stuff with a rainbow family. My boyfriend’s brother is adopted, he came to NZ from Romania when he was three. He’s never adjusted, he’s got zero bonding and coping mechanisms, despite being given an outstanding upbringing. He’s not bad or violent, but the lack of socialisation at an early age has damaged him irreparably.

    Still, I think that this woman is a bit of a cunt for sending him back like that – it seems almost too callous to comprehend.

  6. Sheri says:

    This whole process can only work if there’s awareness and honesty on both sides.

    Granted, unless you’ve been a parent, you can’t possibly imagine what it really involves; the only way our species is protected from extinction is this one fact (although the world’s species might be better protected if we did become extinct, that’s another topic entirely).

    Russia is all up-in-arms over this act of betrayal; this from a country that can’t manage to adopt its own orphans, exploits the opportunity to make money “under the table” with every adoption (the corruption and required bribery involved is scandalous), and neglects its orphans to the point that they become sociopaths (the politically correct term is personality-disorder with nonattachment or some such).

    And the woman didn’t send him back callously. She did her best, feared for her life, and arranged for him to be supervised on the plane and met at the airport in Moscow.

    Is a woman a terrible mother if her biological son threatens to burn down the house and she has him committed to a mental institution? She would probably be seen as doing him, and the world, a favor by protecting them from his psychopathy. I don’t doubt for a minute that the Russian officials involved in this boy’s adoption were perfectly aware of this boy’s problems, and deliberately hid them from her. Let them find a way to take care of him, except they won’t. He’ll be put back into the same neglectful system from whence he came until he turns 18, at which point he will be put out on the street with no education, job training, or means of support.

    It’s a lose, lose. Something should be done.

  7. this is heart breaking.

    Filipinos are not much into adoption, given the poverty rate here and the high fertility rate of “poor” couples so obviously why adopt? And this country is Catholic so they hate condoms and all forms of contraceptive.

    Sometimes I hate being Pinoy. Okay i hate Philippines.

    That being said, Filipinos are not into adoption cos of the family history of the child. What if the parents of this kid are criminals or has a mental illness. Those things…

    I have a friend who has an adopted brother and according to them he’s a “demon”. He never liked school. brawls a lot, doing drugs, steals from them, took home a pregnant girl, now he’s a dad but has no work at all. He ‘s the biggest problem of the family.

    I really don’t have any decent answer to this… i just want to share those stories.

  8. M says:

    That is an awful lot of assumptions to make for people who hav never lived with or met the child or the mother. The boy has made his own statements about abuse he suffered, but I guess children lie and parents tell the truth? If you adopt a child from Russia and think it is going to be a walk in the park, you are a naive idiot no matter who is at “fault”. I also get the sense we’re being hard here on the kid because he is Russian. Can’t imagine this much hate and judgment for American children.

  9. Dru says:

    Stories like this form a part of the reason why I never want to reproduce. I’m still trying to wean my mother off referring to future grandchildren, or the possibility of any- it’s nice of her to accept it though, given that I’m an only child and in a country where women are regarded as objects of pity if they’re unmarried at 30/childless. I am simply not maternal enough to care for a special needs child, and entirely too selfish to be any kind of parent to any child.

  10. I don’t understand why Americans are so into adopting children from other countries when there are so many kids here who need a good home and parental love and guidance. Not being xenophobic here (I’m second-generation American, so I’m familiar with other countries, LOL) but I think that the adoption agencies here are probably more trustworthy than those in a country that is strange to you. And if you think there is a shortage of children who need to be adopted here, I know of two couples, one being my sister and her husband, who went through the process and were able to adopt in a relatively short period of time.

    Maybe some Americans are under the mistaken notion that they can save the world by adopting children from exotic locales. A noble cause, but mistaken and misguided nonetheless.

  11. annemarie says:

    No she shouldn’t have sent the kid back. When you have a kid or sign up to adopt you have to be prepared for the fact that you CAN’T CONTROL how that human being behaves or even whether of not s/he loves you.

    Which is why I NEVER WANT KIDS.

    I’m sorry, boo hoo for poor lady, she must be a complete fucking idiot-toolbag.

    As if the poor child wasn’t fucked up enough already…

  12. As a mother and someone who adores kids (um most) I feel so terrible for that little boy. I can’t imagine how scary it was for him to come to a foreign country and try to acclimate. I’m sure he had been traumatized and perhaps abused previously, which would obviously lead to a child acting out. Couldn’t there have been some sort of support, shrink, group to help? It just seems heartless to send a small child back with a note pinned on him like he’s chattel. I can feel empathy for the mother as well, as I know people with autistic children that have an extremely rough time of it. But they find support groups, educate themselves, and love their children in spite of their “faults”. Shit look what you did SW, now I want to to get him! Too bad I’m too old to take on another one ): (I can barely keep up with my 10 year old!)

  13. rebecca says:

    M, I think if it were an American kid threatening to burn the house down and being violent, he would have been sent back too. Adopting a child isn’t, or shouldn’t be like one of those deals where you pay a certain price for a bag full of goodies but don’t know what’s in the goody bag until you get it. It’s a human being that has already been molded (and quite often somewhat traumatically) before it gets to you. Three of my siblings are adopted, from Ecuador. My parents went to Ecuador to get them all, met them, hung out in the town, met the people who ran the orphanage, saw the culture that they were coming from, and then brought them home.
    Did she mail order a child? Is that how she didn’t know about his psychotic-ness beforehand?

    Traumatised child. Woman who just wants a child (and probably spent a lot of money for one). Woman traumatised by child, child traumatised by woman. Now both worse off than before. Sad situation all around.

  14. Anqui says:

    My mum used to work with institutionalized children (in Eastern Europe!) and from what I know adopting a child- especially an older one- will always pose some issues. These kids will almost always need therapy and/or counseling.
    What baffles me in this case is that the woman only had the child for half a year or so before sending him back. She apparently had him home schooled together with her birth son and didn’t really ask for professional help. I also think her age (she’s only 26, I’m 25 and can’t even handle having a pet!) and the fact that she didn’t speak any Russian nor did the little boy speak a lot of English might have furthered their problems. I’m pretty convinced she made a terrible mistake but I don’t think she bears all the blame. Somebody should look into the dealings of the Russian Adoption Agency. I remember some years ago Romania was rocked by an adoptions scandal when it transpired that officials received bribes in order to speed up the adoption process, qualify the would be parents for adoption and improve the medical reports of the children.

  15. Anqui says:

    Ups, my bad- according to the LA Times the women is 33, not 26. Still, doesn’t change the story.

  16. Artful MJ says:

    Mister Robert – based on observing family and friend adoption decisions, I’m pretty positive that Americans like to adopt overseas because there is NO chance of any contact with the birth family, ever. Go domestic and you might have to allow letters and contact with the birth mother – go to China etc. and you can cut off all contact forever. Of course you’ll also know nothing about medical history, etc.

    Query the various lines of thinking that go into this, and the wider effects, but I believe that this is it. Except for anyone who wants to follow St. Angelina – I can’t predict them.

  17. theresa says:

    Wow. Im lost for words on this one.

    I’d say adoption screening should be stricter- but I know its already fairly strict…so…

    Russia is to blame?!

    I’s say society already has a tool for defunct mothers: school. Public schooling/preschools need to be revamped. money should be POURED AND LAVISHED upon America’s schooling systems. This has always been my number one political issue.

    From elementary school all the way to college I’ve adopted COUNTLESS parent figures who have mentored me and kept me sane despite insane/depressed/anorexic mommy.

    But I don’t claim to have a very sophisticated opinion about this particular adoption issue. parenthood is just on the periphery of my thinking at this point, adoption seems even more confusing.

  18. theresa says:


  19. Bessie the Buddha cow says:

    You don’t have to adopt a child for the child/parent to become traumatized. There are lots of traumas in life. Children/parents need to be given LOVE/skills/support from family/friends/community/government/social institutions regardless of where the child/parent comes from or what issues the child/parent may be dealing with; however, the bottom line, in most countries, is not in protecting the child/family. It’s about making money. I’m sure the mother had good intentions (and you know what they say about those), and the child needed more support than the adoptive mother could provide, and she needed more support than she was given. It was a bad situation for both.
    I have two friends that were in foster care since they were wee little things. One was in a Dickensian type foster/group home where she was forced to clean/scrub/cook (so the owners of said home could save money on not hiring people to clean/cook etc). She ended up going to Paris to study art, got a degree, and made a life for herself (though she does have a mental illness issue). The other person was in a religious, money hungry foster family that treated the foster kids with contempt while showering praise and money on the biological children (when this person turned 17, he ran away, turned in the foster home for financial abuses (it was shut down), and was emancipated). Both are doing what they want to do in life (art), both are as gentle as human beings can be, both are vegetarian, both care deeply about family, community, society, animals, the environment (so not all orphans, no matter how traumatic their experiences can be, come out as sociopaths). A lot of children regardless of being adopted or biological are damaged goods by shear planned obsolesces of the societies they live in. Parents can’t control peers, drugs, alcohol, neighborhood peds, financial woes, and other problems that impact a child (divorce, bad relationships, malnutrition, poverty, and poor and substandard educational system). They can’t control the social and moral zeitgeist (does that sentence make sense? As in different eras, different mores would produce a difference ???).
    I would not give up being a mom for all the resources in the universe. AND I also strongly think that LOVE can conquer all, especially in sci-fi flick; however, I find blame in the corporations that push their vodka/cigarettes/fashion magazines/consumerism on people to keep them from focusing on the really important issues of life. The media for making us think that if something can’t be solved in a few minutes, it can’t be solved. I think our society, as a whole, suffers from ADD. We want immediate gratification and if we don’t get it there’s always a return policy.

  20. WCGB says:

    I bet if that poor mother had felt like there were services available to help her child (and help her deal with him), she wouldn’t have sent him back. She needed high-level speciality care and bizillion dollars to pay for it. Neither of those things were available to her.

  21. Eliza says:

    Mister Roberts – it’s a matter of cost and politics. Foreign agencies charge fewer thousands of dollars than those stateside, have shorter waiting lists, and most don’t have to deal with the far-reaching consequences of gay adoption bans that also restrict adoption by single heterosexuals.

  22. Y says:

    I think only those who have cared for psychotics have any basis for judggement. The US gives people little to no viable options that do not leave someone worse off.

  23. dust says:

    Sounds like a system error, the despair of mother, child without future, many other wrong things that led to this particular tragedy. The system failed to compute human factor and left them helpless, instead of helping the woman to become a mother by more financially flexible and secure options at the first place, but, at the same time, it allowed her to import, all legal.
    When system fails, people manage to find weird loopholes….So, now, she’s gonna face the criminal justice and child, I’m afraid to ever know… These stories are terrible, never a happy ending.

  24. aimee-WTF says:

    I knew someone who sent back their adopted child simply because their other adopted child didn’t like him.

    So this actually sounds a little mroe rational to me.

  25. Beck says:

    Kids tend to be up for adoption because their biological parents can’t care for them adequately for whatever reason . . . and it usually takes everyone around the child and their parents quite a while to work this out once and for all; meanwhile the child gets neglected, messed up, lacks good role models etc . . . so it sort of seems obvious when adopting a child they’re likely to have issues – whether through your own country’s adoption system or elsewhere. This case sounds awful for everyone concerned. I can’t blame her and I feel really bad for the child.

    On another, admittedly sreamingly vacuous note in context (sorry, I do feel a little Jane Sea of Shoes cutting to trivia like this, but can’t seem to resist): Sister, that glasses blog you mentioned a while back was my husband’s! I was thrilled and even emailed him at work, like a goon. I am embarrassed to overshare like this but I just drank a big glass of wine quite quickly before dinner. Ugh.

  26. Alicia says:

    Honestly, I can’t wrap my head around why she needed to seek out a Russian child to adopt. If she really just wanted to be a mother, she could have gotten a kid from this country. There are plenty for the picking and the two plane fares could have been avoided.

  27. M says:

    Rebecca, once again, you’re basing this on the mother’s (hard to call her that…err, child renter?) story, which isn’t fair to the child or fair to the adoption agency. I read Russian news, and they’re showing a completely different side of the story, one that involves physical abuse of the child. You can say they are liars, sure, but don’t bash the child after reading some CNN or Huffington Post that quotes the mother and mother only.

  28. JK says:

    Whenever I come upon a story like this Sis, I can think of nothing appropriate. So – in that spirit:

  29. HelOnWheels says:

    @M – “I also get the sense we’re being hard here on the kid because he is Russian. Can’t imagine this much hate and judgment for American children.”

    Stop putting judgment statements into our words. No, we’re not being hard on the kid at all. He is not responsible for having become a sociopath because of the awful system into which he was placed. Russian orphanages are some of the worst in the world these days. Russian adoptions are notoriously corrupt affairs. There are numerous cases of very sick (physically & psychologically) Russian children that are adopted without the proper disclosures made about the children’s conditions.

  30. Brie says:

    The child had only been with her since Sept. of last year. So, not only was his English level low but he was still suffering cultureshock and adjustment issues. Add to that he came from an orphanage (and is an older child) and you have a kid that needs to be put into therapy, as well lots of close attention.

    I do not think she should have place dhim on a plane and sent him back like defective merchandise. That makes her a sucky, evil, person. Now the kid gets to add to his issues that he wasn’t “wanted” by someone who chose he as her son!

    I think she should have some sort of charges against her because what she did was awful. Yes, the kid may have major issues but what she did (sending him back like that) is not the answer for them.

  31. OMGGMAB says:

    I’m waiting for my kids to send me back to somewhere on a plane with a note. Can I request somewhere warm? How about Guam or Tahiti?

  32. Bessie the Buddha cow says:

    OMGGMAB, thanks for the laugh! Can I join you!

  33. Clara says:

    Sister Wolf, just stopping by to thank you for creating the Crazy Mothers Club. I’m a newish part of your readership, so I missed the inaugural post. Typically I come here to snicker at ridiculous fashion shit, but I really appreciate your more serious posts too. Just thanks.

  34. kate says:

    Every time I hear someone report an ugly baby or unattractive child, I wonder how this is possible. Only adults are really and truly ugly.

    This woman should have been less desperate to adopt, should have interacted with her potential adopted son prior to the arrangement, etc. Pinning a note to someone is obvious passive-aggressive bullshit. She is the adult, no matter how scary the little Russian boy was. She committed to being his mother.

    It’s amazing how people disrespect the institution of adoption, pretending it isn’t as serious as “real” parenthood. Too often like family planning, adoption is a somewhat vain decision. Parents think they’ll be saving their adopted kid’s life and feel very good about that. That honeymooning is an embarrassment. They should consider fully the possibility of psychological damage to children who went through hardships–that means money for therapy, lots of patience, being super-mom. Parenting is not charity and definitely not a rent-a-kid-so-long-as-he’s-normal service!

  35. Andra says:

    OMGGMAB & Bessie
    I’ve been to Guam ….. make it Tahiti ….. Bali is even better.

  36. Cybill says:

    Just to give us some perspective here is a link to a beautifully and painfully written article by another blogger who had to give her adopted child back – there is even a word for it, it’s called ‘disruption’

  37. M says:

    I didn’t put judgment into someone’s words–I’ve read tons of comments on many blogs saying the kid got what he deserves because he is from a Russian orphanage, so naturally he must be nuts. I didn’t say the comments were made here, but they exist and that’s the general air. You are calling the kid a sociopath when you haven’t gotten the full story. All the news sites have only been reporting on the words of the mother and the grandmother. Don’t you think that’s hell of a judgment to make when you’re hearing only the story of a woman who put a kid on a plane and sent him back like a defective purchase? I would take anything she says with a grain of salt, but maybe I’m too judgmental…

  38. i’m a radio listener and today on cbc… there was a piece on the haitian children that have recently been adopted into canadian families. there is some sort of program here where adoptive families can attend classes and have counseling about the adoption basically until the child is an adult. i can’t see people making it through these situations otherwise. especially when the child is from another country.

  39. Hammie says:

    I think she’s wrong. If you have the need to adopt, you should make sure you have enough love for whatever comes of it. That’s how biological parenting works- you don’t have a returns desk.
    Having found the means and ability to undergo adoption, could she not use the same resources to secure help and support? And qualified intervention-?
    I think she’s wrong and probably mentally and emotionally delayed herself. So WTF was she doing taking on a child?
    Adoption Agency #FAIL
    Airline and immigration authorities #FAIL
    US social services #FAIL

  40. Constance says:

    I think the woman should be Cunt of the week really. Adopting a child should be exactly like having a child. If you can handle the problems they may bring don’t have them or do not adopt them. If being a good mother is conditional to how cute and how healthy a kid is, she’s clearly unfit.

  41. JK says:

    Well then, what about Trigonometry?

  42. ismecrazy says:

    I am not on the mother’s side. Having a child or adopting one is not something that one can reverse as easily as returning it or walking away from it. BUT, why are we not hearing more disapproval for the Russian government or agency for purposely deceiving adopting families by giving them false information? Do they really think that this is the solution? I’m sure there are plenty of orphans without mental problems they can send to foreign adopting families. I would think you’d want to present your best so you’d appear credible and honorable to the world.

    Imagine you are told you are getting one thing and you open the box to find that you were lied to. Now imagine that deception has huge consequences in all lives touched by it.

  43. Angela says:

    What is women calling other women ‘cunts’ as though there is something wrong with female genitalia?

  44. kate says:

    if the orphanage straight up knew about the illness that kid had and withheld it during the adoption, the mother should have a right to back out. because that’s not something you don’t tell someone. that the kid is nuts and dangerous. don’t get me wrong, i’m adopted and thankful for it, but adopting parents deserve all the information they can get so that they can create the best family possible. i mean look what happened, the woman didn’t know what she was getting into and caused a bigger problem than if she had been able to say from the get go that she didn’t want a crazy kid.
    and there are people out there who want to adopt children with these problems. i know a woman who specifically adopts abused children because she’s good at rehabilitating them and loving them as much as they need.

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