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The Hard Realities of International Adoption

Torry Hansen's story and the ensuing Russian adoption freeze might make some families reconsider.

A Tennessee woman's decision send her troubled 7-year-old son, Artyom Savelyev, alone on a plane back to Russia this month with a note saying he had psychopathic issues has turned the international adoption world upside down and seems to have frozen adoptions between the two countries. It has also unleashed a wave of resentment from Americans who feel that Russia passes severely disturbed children to foreign adoptive parents because the country lacks the will to reform an orphanage system that's an international disgrace.

As the mom of a 5-year-old girl adopted from Kazakhstan in 2007, I belong to five different adoption list serves, most of which lit up when the news broke. The overriding sentiment on the list serves was that, as awful as Torry Hansen's action was, Russia is in no position to be pointing fingers. Yes, about 16 Russian adoptees have died in the U.S. since 1996 (out of 60,000 total adopted), but at least 15 adopted children die each year at the hands of Russian parents, ...

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