Russian officials call for suspension of adoptions to U.S. parents after death of Dillsburg-area boy

Date: 2010-03-05

The Patriot-News

The death of a Dillsburg-area boy has prompted Russian officials to call for a suspension of adoptions to U.S. parents and sparked demands for an investigation into whether the Russian-born boy’s adoption was legal.

The beating death of Nathaniel Craver, who was born Ivan Skorobogatov, was called “an outrage” Thursday by Andrei Sitov, bureau chief for Russia’s ITAR-TASS wire service. The state news agency and independent news media from that country have been following the story, with interest so high that some news outlets sent crews to York County.

“Obviously, the biggest concern here is that it [deaths of Russian adopted children] keeps happening,” Sitov said. “The latest figures we’ve seen is 15 or 16 in the last several years.”

Nathaniel Craver was adopted from Russia by Nanette and Michael Craver along with his twin sister in 2003.

Nanette and Michael Craver of Carroll Township are charged with killing Nathaniel, who died Aug. 25. The 7-year-old had 80 wounds in various stages of healing, according to authorities. The couple were charged last week.

Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported that the Investigative Committee of Russia’s prosecutor general’s office is planning to investigate the legality of the adoption of Nathaniel and his twin sister, Elizabeth, from that country.

RIA-Novosti also reported that a Russian senator had proposed a temporary ban on American adoption of Russian children in response to the Craver case.

It would not be the first time Russia has imposed restrictions or suspended adoptions.

In 2007, MSNBC reported Russia suspended adoptions temporarily to allow implementation of new rules on foreign adoptions, changes created in light of previous abuse deaths.

The changes were in line with tightened regulations for adopting from China and concerns over Guatemalan adoptions.

Nathaniel’s death, Sitov said, is eerily similar to the death of Viktor Matthey, born Viktor Tulimov.

Viktor and his twin brothers had been adopted by Robert and Brenda Matthey in 1999.

By 2000, Viktor was dead, starved and neglected by his adoptive parents in New Jersey.

After the Mattheys’ conviction, Robert’s mother, Phyllis Matthey-Johnson, adopted the twins and eventually moved to Carroll Township

“I just keep going over all the similarities,” Matthey-Johnson said. “I plan to go to as many of the hearings as I can. It’s really sad and I have a lot of questions. How were these children allowed to be returned?”

Police reports indicated York County Children and Youth had briefly removed the children from the Cravers' home, but then returned them. After the investigation was concluded, the Cravers removed the twins from public school to home school them.

Adopting a child from Russia is no easy task.

That’s why Rachel Kuhr, director of adoption services for the Jewish Family Service of Greater Harrisburg, said she was very concerned about what might happen to local families who have adoptions in process.

The U.S. State Department will notify her of any changes or suspensions, she said. Often, when Russia suspends adoptions, they rewrite policies to add additional protections to children.

Russian adoptions require at least three visits to the country, intense scrutiny, training sessions, a mountain of international paperwork and tens of thousands of dollars.

“There is a high level of commitment families have to make,” said Kuhr.

The parents are subject to a home study before the adoption and periodic check-ins during the first years of the child’s residency, Kuhr said. In some cases, parents are required to send yearly pictures back to Russia.

Between the travel costs and the adoption itself, it’s common to spend a full year’s salary to bring a child home.

“That’s a lot of money to get a child in order to not take care of them,” she said. “It’s a huge commitment, and you have to convince a lot of people you’re going to do a good job.”

Sitov said, according to his research, the Cravers passed Russia’s requirements for post-adoption evaluation at 6, 12, 24 and 36 months following placement.

Staff writer Daniel Victor contributed to this report.


A call to suspend

I am truly getting tired of the pattern that takes place each time a call to suspend international adoption (in a particular country) is made.

Over and over again, the immediate reaction made by anxious purchasing AP's revolves around the highly-spirited orphan crusade, which goes a little like this:  international adoptions need to keep going because orphans deserve a home, a home where there is love.

Russian adoptions require at least three visits to the country, intense scrutiny, training sessions, a mountain of international paperwork and tens of thousands of dollars.

“There is a high level of commitment families have to make,” said Kuhr.

The parents are subject to a home study before the adoption and periodic check-ins during the first years of the child’s residency, Kuhr said. In some cases, parents are required to send yearly pictures back to Russia.

I won't even begin to discuss the horrific ways in which many home-schooled adopted children are treated...

All I will do is ask readers, if you were a so-called orphan, living in Russia, awaiting adoption, how many would want to find themselves in any one of these pre-screened, pre-approved adoptive homes?

Those who follow and criticize the adoption industry fear what the orphan crusade is going to do to children obtained for adoption.  [The money made from child trade is enormous!]

Those of us who have been abused by new owners adoptive family members know thorough, comprehensive investigations are lacking, and need improvement.

Would suspending international adoption, so long-term child safety can be better ensured, really be such a sin?

The russian children

It's understandable Russian authorities have somewhat lost track counting the dead adoptees, exported to the West.

“Obviously, the biggest concern here is that it [deaths of Russian adopted children] keeps happening,” Sitov said. “The latest figures we’ve seen is 15 or 16 in the last several years.”

Going back to 1996, the year of the first known death of a Russian adoptee, 19 adopted Russian children have been put to rest on foreign soil. One child was beaten to death in Canada, the other 18 died in the US.

David Polreis, Jr.


David Polreis, Jr: age 2, of Greeley, Colorado was beaten to death. Over 90% of David's body was covered in cuts, which his adoptive mother, Renee Polreis, claimed was due to the boys severe RAD. Renee stated that David would hit himself with a wooden spoon. Husband, David Polreis, Sr. was out of town at time of attack and was not implicated. Rene Polreis was convicted of child abuse resulting in death and sentenced to 18 years in prison. David was adopted from Tula, Russia 6 months before his death.

Logan Higginbotham


Logan Higginbotham of Shelburne, Vermont died of massive head injuries. Adoptive mother Laura Higginbotham, stated that Logan fell and hit her head on the floor of an upstairs bedroom. It took 3 years for the medical examiner to determine whether the case was accidental or homicide. In 2004, Laura Higginbotham pled no contest to a charge of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 1 year in prison.  Logan was adopted from Smolensk, Russia  in May 1998 and had been in the US for 7 months. Logan's younger sister Layne was adopted  at the same time.

Viktor Alexander Matthey


Viktor Matthey: age 6, of Hunterdon County, New Jersey died of cardiac arrest due to hypothermia after adoptive parents Robert and Brenda Matthey locked him overnight in a damp unheated pump room. Viktor was also severely beaten by his adoptive father. The Matthey's attended a Pentacostal (AG) church and homeschooled their children. Both parents are sentenced to 10 years for confining Viktor to a pump room, 10 years for excessive corporal punishment and 7 years for failing to provide medical care. The sentences run concurrently. Viktor, along with twin bio brothers,  was adopted from Blagoschevensk, Amur, Russia 10 months before his death. The twins are now adopted by Robert's mother who has disavowed her son. Both Mattheys were released from jail in Fall 2008.

Luke Evans


One-and-a-half-year-old Luke Evans, adopted by Steven and Natalie Fabian Evans, died of massive head injuries, shaken baby syndrome, and poor nutrition. Natalie Fabian Evans, stated that she couldn't wake Luke one morning and so placed him in a tub of water to "stimulate him" where she says he may have bumped his head on the tub. The authorities took a year to investigate the case. On June 30, 2006 Fabian Evans was found not guilty. Luke was adopted from Inozemtsevo, Stavropol, Russia and had been in the US for 6 months prior to his death. Luke had a brother Alec 3, who was adopted at the same time as him.

Jacob Lindorff


5-year-old boy adopted from Russia by James and Heather Lindorff, died of blunt force trauma to head. He also suffered from 2nd degree burns on feet, hemorrhaging in 1 eye; bruises, and seizures. Heather Lindorff was found guilty of 2nd degree endangering, aggravated assault and sentenced to 6 years, she claimed the injuries were accidents. James Lindorff was sentenced to 4 years probation and 400 hours of community service for child abuse. Jacob had only been in the US 6 weeks before he died. Jacob was adopted with his two brothers from Pskov, Russia in Oct 2001. Lindorffs had adopted 3 sisters from Russia in early 2000.

Zachary Higier


2-year-old boy adpted from Orenburg Russia, died of severe head trauma. Adoptive mother Natalia Higier, stated that he had fallen out of his crib or hit his head on the floor. She later admitted to tossing him into the air and he hit his head on the coffee table. Zachary sustained a bilateral skull fracture, strokes, brain swelling, and detached retinas. Natalia pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail with 18 months balance of sentence suspended for 4 years.

The agency failed to note that Natalia Higier, a Latvian native, took out a restraining order against her husband in 1995, but dropped it a day later. Her husband, Louis, had also taken out a restraining order against his wife in the past.

Sacha Vallée


4-years-old boy adopted by Marie-Claude Vallée, was beaten to death by his adoptive mother’s boyfriend, Éric Grenier. The corpse of the child was covered with 72 bruises. October 21, 2004, Grenier was found guilty of non-premeditated homicide.

Sacha was born in Russia in 1998. He had spent the first year of his life in a Siberian prison where his mother was imprisoned and where she died; the orphanage where he was transferred put him up for adoption. In August 2001, he was placed with Marie-Claude Vallée.

This is the only known case outside the United States

Yana and Anatoli Kolenda


Two 11-year-olds, adopted at age 7 in Russia, by Richard and Gienia Kolenda, died in 2002--nearly five years after their arrival in America. Their adoptive father stabbed them and his wife to death at their home in Westfield, Mass., then fatally shot himself. The Kolenda's were both Polish immigrants, and had financial troubles.

Maria Anastasia Bennett


2-year old Maria Bennett, adopted by Susan Jane Bennett, died from shaken baby syndrome. Susan Jane Bennett, said that she had tripped while carrying Maria and had dropped her. Medical evidence proved otherwise. Susan Bennett pleaded no contest to 1 count of reckless homicide and was sentenced to 3 years in prison. Maria was adopted from Primorye Krai, Russia 9 months prior to her death. Maria's older sister, also from Russia is cared for by Bennett family members.

Jessica Albina Hagmann


2 year old girl from Moscow, Russia adopted by Glenn Robert Hagmann and Patrice Lynn Hagmann. Her adoptive mother claimed that she accidentally killed Jessica while trying to stop her from having a tantrum. Patrice Hagmann was sentenced to probation and to 2 suspended 5 year terms.


Liam Thompson


Liam Thompson: age 36 months, of Columbus, Ohio, died from scalding and neglect. His adoptive father, Gary, placed him in a tub of 140 degree water. He recieved 2nd and 3rd degree burns. His LPN adoptive mother, Amy, neglected treatment for 2 days, then treated him with Tylenol and Vaseline. She took Liam to the hospital only after he went into respitory failure. Amy was sentence to 15 years for child endangering and involuntary manslaughter. Gary received 15-life for murder.

Liam was adopted from Blagoveshensk, Amur, Russia 5 months prior  to his death along with his older bio sister. His sister has a new adoptive home and is doing well. Thompson's also had a 3.5 yr old bio son and a 15 yr old bio daughter of Amy.

Alex Pavlis


At age 6, Alex Pavlis of Illinois, was beaten to death by his U.S. adopted mother, Irma, 6 weeks after his Novemeber adoption from Yeysk, Krasnodar, Russia. Adoptive father was Dino Pavlis. Alex, who was adopted along with his 5 yr old bio sister, was found to have 32 bruises, scars, and cuts. Irma had a difficult time with Alex. He banged his head on the walls, floors, and defecated and urinated on himself. Reports indicate that his injuries could have been self-inflicted. The children were temporarily homeschooled until a school would be chosen. Irma, a Mexican immigrant, was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Dennis Gene Merryman


8 year old boy adopted by Samuel and Donna Merryman. Died after suffering cardiac arrest brought on by starvation. He weighed 37 pounds, 2 lbs less than his weight at adoption. Both adoptive parents were arrested and charged with manslaughter and first degree child abuse resulting in death and reckless endangerment. He was adopted along with his older brother and 2 older sisters from Ochyor, Perm region, Russia almost 5 years before.

Nina Hilt


2-year-old girl adopted by Chris and Peggy Sue Hilt, died after suffering several blows to her abdomen. In March 2006, Peggy Hilt plead guilty to second degree murder to avoid a charge of first degree murder. She said that she was frustrated due to the lack of bonding between Nina and herself. May 25, 2006, Peggy Hilt was sentenced to 35 years in prison with 10 years suspended. Nina was adopted in January 2004 from Irkutsk, Russia. Nina had an older sister adopted in Ukraine.

Isaac Jonathan Dykstra


21-month-old boy, adopted by Brian Dale Dykstra and Lisa Dykstra, died of head injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome, as well as bruising on his torso and legs. On August 7, 2008 Brian Dale Dykstra, 31,was charged with 2nd degree murder.

Isaac was adopted from Krasnoyarsk, Russia and had lived with the Dykstra's for three months.

Nicolai Emelyantsev


14-month-old Nikolai, who was adopted in February 08 from Moscow City, Russia by Fyodor and Kimberly Emelyantsev— died March 7 at Primary Children's Medical Center. An autopsy determined the child had died from a skull fracture that doctors said was the result of blunt-force trauma, police and court records show. The infant also had a bruised face, head, knee and anus. Kolya, his adopted brother Luka (also from Russia), and one of the Emelyantsev's bio children had Down's Syndrome.

Chase Harrison


21 month old boy from Russia, adopted by Miles and Carol Harrison. His adoptive father left him in the car for hours while being at work, causing Chase to die of the heat. He'd been adopted only three months before.

Nathaniel Michael Craver


Seven-year-old boy, adopted from Russia by Michael and Nanette Craver, was beaten to death by his adoptive parents. Together with his twin sisters Elizabeth (Dasha), the boy was adopted from the Chelyabinsk region, in 2003. Both children were home schooled.

Nathaniel body had nearly 80 external injuries – 20 of them to his head.

The Russian children who died because of the abuse or neglect of their adoptive parents usually receive all the attention, while there are also several non-lethal abuse cases. Unlike the fatal abuse cases list, which is likely to be exhaustive, the list of non-lethal abuse cases is likely to be just a tip of the ice berg.

Girls adopted by Karen and Richard Thorne


Adoptive parents were found guilty of abusing 2 Russian children they adopted in Voronezh, Russia, on the plane ride on the way home from Moscow. The girls were returned to live with Karen and Richard Thorne of Phoenix. The Queens Family Court Judge ordered that the Thornes would be subject to unannounced visits by Arizona Child Welfare authorities and undergo psychological evaluation as a condition of regaining custody.

Kelsey Hyre


Twenty six month old Kelsey Hyre was permanently paralyzed September 26, 2002. Kelsey and her brother Nathan were adopted from Amur Russia, probably Blagoveshchensk, 8 months earlier when they were 18 and 22 months old. Her spine was severed after her adoptive father Gerald Hyre slammed her on the floor. Adoptive mother, Bonnie Hyre, who was at work at the time, took her to hospital when she came home. Ms. Hyre had previously suspected her husband of abusing both Kelsey and her adoptive brother Nathan, 3, and had taken photos of other injuries, discussed suspicions with co-workers, but after husband's arrest she destroyed pictures and did nothing.

Gerald Hyre was sentenced to 16 years for felonious assault and child abuse. Bonnie Hyre was sentenced to 2 years for permitting child abuse and evidence tampering and served 10 months. Kelsey has been adopted by another couple and is reportedly responding well. Nathan was placed temporarily with Bonnie Hyre's mother, but now Bonnie has custody.

Children adopted by Theresa and Reed Hansen


Theresa and Reed Hansen, of Saratoga Springs, Utah had been accused of felony and misdemeanor charges for withholding food, sometimes for days at a time, from two of their three children adopted from Russia, who were of pre-school age at the time. The abused boy and girl were bio siblings adopted 2 years after the first. All three adoptees were removed from the home in 2002 and have reportedly thrived since in new adoptive homes.

Children in care of Diana Lynn Groves


13 to 16 children, mainly internationally adopted, were neglected by Diana Lyn Groves (aka Diana L. Roll) after she was granted custody of them though private arrangements with the adoptive parents. She bound children with duct tape, beat them with a tennis racket, and disciplined 1 girl by putting her in a clothes dryer.
She was also previously charged with felony theft in 1989, fraud in 1991 and a felony charge of failure to appear in court in 1992

There were Russian children in the care of Diana Groves, it's unknown how many.

Girl adopted by David and Holly Meyers


4 year old girl adopted as an infant in Russia was molested by her older brother from Romania adopted at age 7. The boy spent his first 2 years tied to an orphanage crib, and was beaten and molested at a state-run orphanage and foster homes. He repeatedly sexually assaulted his sister and threatened to kill her and their mother.

Girls adopted by John and Marian DiMaria


Marian and John DiMarias, conservative evangelical Christians, adopted 21 girls from third-world countries. The adopted girls were all impaired; most were deaf. In February, 2003, the State of Vermont learned that John DiMaria had been sexually abusing the older girls for years. He was convicted and jailed by the State.

During 1999 - 2003 DiMaria and her husband, John DiMaria, lived in Jericho, VT  and operated the Gypsy Grace Ranch, advertised as "North America's Largest Breeder" of Gypsy horses, an expensive English draft horse. The DiMarias moved to Vermont from Kentucky, where they also operated a horse farm.

In 2002 and 2003, after the DiMarias had exhausted Marian DiMaria's trust fund of over $7 million, they deceived the Mellon Bank in Pennsylvania, a trustee of the adopted girls' trusts, into sending them $168,000 for fictitious expenses. Further investigation revealed that DiMaria had received and spent $96,000 from one adopted victim's trust, and had defrauded the Social Security Administration of approximately $13,000, after she learned that her husband had been sexually abusing the children.

At least 2 girls were born in China, and Ukraine, at least one girl from India, Russia, Brazil, and Bolivia. (1996 they had 8 from: China, Russia, India, Brazil)  - (Olivia, Hannah, Rikki, Tressah, Anya, Elizabeth, + 15 more)

Masha Allen


Masha Allen was adopted  in 1998 at the age of 5 from Novoshakhtinsk, Rostov, Russia into the US by a single male pedophile, Matthew Mancuso. Masha was sexually abused for five years and also became the subject of child pornography. In 2006 she testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committy. In 2008 the news broke that abuse supposedly had again taken place by Faith Allen/Lynn Ginn, the woman who had adopted her immediately after Masha's "rescue" from Mancuso.

Children adopted by Tom and Debra Schmitz


11 children adopted by Tom and Debbie Schmitz were abused by their adopters. For years the Schmitzes took in disabled and otherwise troubled children in their home and were part of an under-ground network of people taking in children from disrupted adoptions.

As adherents of Attachment Therapy, they beat their children, locked them up in cagelike bunk beds, forcing one child to eat his own vomit; holding another child's head underwater as punishment; sitting on a girl and urinating on her; and hurling a wheelchair-bound girl into a swimming pool; placing a hose in a girl's mouth and turning on the water, and lancing a boil on another child with a box cutter as she screamed in pain; forcing children to dig what they were told were their own graves.

Seven children in the "care" of Tom and Debra Schmitz were illegally placed.

There were Russian children in the care of Tom and Debra Schmitz, it's unknown how many.

Girl adopted by David and Karen Gilmore


9-year-old girl adopted by David Charles Gilmore and his wife Karen, was sexually abused by her adoptive father. The Gilmore's have four biological children under the age of 10 and three children adopted from Russia. Gilmore was a music teacher and a former Friends (Quaker) youth pastor. Gilmore is serving 30 years.

Rashid, boy adopted by Robert and Tracy Lynn Beatty


A three year old boy from Surgut in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug was allegedly grabbed by the throat to keep him quiet and mistreated by his newly adoptive mother in a Moscow Hotel. The American couple had adopted Rashid a few days before and were still in Russia at the time of the event.

Boy adopted by Jane and Timothy Cochran


4-year-old boy from Taganrog, Rostov, Russia, adopted by Jane and Timothy Cochran. The boy had severe bruising, cuts from head to toe. He'd been beaten by hand and with a wooden spoon and had been cut with scissors. Allegedly he was beaten because he couldn't say his prayers properly. Jane confessed her crimes to her Catholic priest prior to being arrested.

Six children adopted in Lapeer County Michigan


Six adopted children from Russia were allegedly physically and mentally abuse. The investigation began when two 19-year-old women claimed their adoptive parents from Burnside Twp, Lapeer County abused them and their four adopted siblings. Authorities say the investigation is in its early stages.

This family is alleged to belong to the Truth Fellowship group.

Girls adopted by Edelwina and Steven Leschinsky   2010-01-12

Three girls, adopted from Stavropol Russia by Edelwina and Steven Leschinsky in 2005, received unusual and cruel punishment for years at the hands of their adoptive parents.

Girl adopted by Theresa McNulty


4-year-old girl, adopted from Russia by Theresa M. McNulty allegedly suffered bruises, welts, cuts and burns to her face and upper body from scalding hot bath water.

Kristoff Beagley (Daniil Bukharov) 2010-11-17 7-year-old boy from Magadan (Russia), adopted by Gary and Jessica Beagley, was forced to drink Tabasco sauce as a disciplinary measure. Beagley, a member of the LDS church, talked about her parenting style on the TV show "Dr Phil", November 17, 2010.

2011-3-28: Update of tables in this post to include recent cases

Thanks for the break down of Russian adoptions going south

Good job with keeping track of Russian adoptees that have ended up in not so "happily ever after"


Russian Adoptions should be toughened

International adoption should be toughened

Mar 11, 2010 21:53 Moscow Time

Pavel Astakhov. Photo: RIA Novosti
16 Russian children adopted to the US were killed during the recent 16 years. Russia's Children Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov sounded this sad statistics at a press conference in Moscow today.

According to official data, currently more than 45 thousand Russian children were adopted by foreign families. The adoption procedure in such cases is regulated by Russian laws. In theory, the legislation is aimed at promoting children's rights and providing for the worthy living. Unfortunately, things turn different in practice. Some children get lost. Some of them are beaten, starve, some even die. Another sad example was the case of a seven-year old Vanya Skorobogatov from Chelyabinsk adopted by the US couple. Last August, the child was brought to hospital in very bad condition. Boy's head and body were covered with more than 80 bruises. Doctors didn't manage to save Vanya's life. The incident was made public only 6 months later and now his foster parents the Cravers are imprisoned and accused of murder.  Russia's top lawyer Alexander Treshchev expresses his opinion how to avoid such tragedies in the future:

"Our children adopted by foreigners can be protected by removing gaps in legislation, which hinder children's safety. The greatest problem is, as usual, human factor. These are corrupted and indifferent officials who sell children without following the current legislation. Foster families are underchecked. Recently, the cases of violence and even murders of adopted children have increased. It is necessary to change the legislation, to strengthen control, to interact with the police, to prevent our children growing in such bad conditions.

Measures proposed by the lawyer concern mostly Russia. However, foreign partners involved in the adoption procedure should also bear responsibility. Legal base is needed for this.  Russia should sign agreements on mutual aid in civil and family cases both with the US, and with other countries where adopted Russian children live. Only recently human rights of small Russians have been violated in France, Finland and other countries. Thus, a tougher mutual control and desire to act, first of all in children's interests are necessary

Russia now investigating Boy's Death in York County

Russia Now Investigating Boy's Death in York County

Reported by: Ewa Roman
Last Update: 3/13 6:20 pm

Russian newspapers report the Russian Government is now opening its own investigation into a homicide in York County.

Last August, seven-year-old Nathaniel Craver was allegedly killed by his adoptive parent's in Carroll Township. An adoption expert CBS 21 News spoke with Saturday says this isn't the first time an adopted child from Russia has died in the U.S. And says if Russia closes it's large program, it'll force people to adopt kids here in the U.S.

In 2003, Nathaniel Craver and twin sister, Elizabeth, were adopted from Russia by Nanette and Michael Craver of Carroll Township, York County. The couple now sits in York County Prison, accused of Nathaniel's murder.  Autopsy reports show the boy had 80 visible injuries to his body, 20 of them to his head.

" One of the things we always say is that we don't have a crystal ball. We'll never really know what could happen. But we need to plan and predict what may happen and support the families as best as we can so types of deaths like this don't occur," said Elisa Esh, Diakon Adoption and Foster Care.

Elisa Esh is with Diakon Adoption and Foster Care, an agency that used to do international adoptions. They did not handle this case. She says that most of the time, Russian children end up back in foster care, because their original adoptive parents had no idea that they would have special needs.

" Often, some of the international families perhaps aren't prepared to deal with those special needs, because we don't have the information from international countries about their social background and their medical history," said Esh.

Esh says there are 500-thousand children in foster care in the U.S. 126-thousand of them are available for adoption.Those children do come with background information. In Nathaniel's case reports say the Craver's insisted the boy had a predisposition to destructiveness and self-mutilation. Still, no excuse, Esh says, for what happened to Nathaniel.

The York County District Attorneys Office tells CBS 21 News that The U.S. Department of State has called them asking questions about this investigation.

The couple is scheduled to face a judge in a preliminary hearing at the end of this month.

Great Job

Great job on keeping track of these incidents of russian adoptions. I have been involved in both sides of the adoption process, both Russian and state side. The problem is in the trainig for foreign adoptions. Parents go to Russia believing that the children will be better than those in the U.S. and have few problems. Parents are not trained like one would be trained in the U.S. Those adopted from Russia have issues just like the children in the U.S. Potential families that want to adopt from Russia should be required to take actual classes in person at a county agency that teaches how to deal with non typical children. Russia has a high number of children in orphanges with Fetal Alcohol and Fetal Alcohol Effects. Unless you are trained in this, one will go crazy and do the unthinkable. I have a fetal alcohol child (adopted state side) and I go crazy with the training that I have had. Thank God that I come to my senses because of the training that I experienced. Also children with Fetal Alcohol will not be able to be home schooled in the traditional sense unless the parents have had extensive training in Fetal Alcohol. This is also true with attachment disorders and defiance disorders that most children who are available both in the U.S. and foreign coutries have higher incidences of. The training not the home study is what is important and the fact that most social workers who do the home studies are not trained in problems with children. I am in process of becoming a social worker because I beleive that adoption both foreign and local is great priveldege, however, I know for a fact that training for foreign adoption children is non existent to the extent that it does not give proper education on how to deal with non typical children. Adoption is harder than having your own birth children but it is worth it. As I am in college, the topic of children with extensive special needs is not discussed in depth. Math is more important and so is biology, both are of little importance but are a requirement. Training with children with special needs not a course, ah their is no course work in Fetal alcohol at the college level. This is why social workers do not have a clue. I hope to change this in the future.

Special Training...

In our state, to become a Foster Parent, you are required to take training.  The training was/is extensive in that it focused on children with difficult  challenges, including FAS and FAE.  The problem with all of us who were taking the training was our "mind-set."  We couldn't see the forest, for the trees.  Our goal was to adopt... AND after 4 years in Foster Care, a lot of us went overseas to adopt...  with the clouded view that "all Asian girls were/are princesses, and all Asian boys were/are brilliant."  We were even told NOT to have that "mind-set," but most of us were only seeing the pictures of beautiful babies, and not thinking the process past those adorable pictures.

So I would go a step further and state that BEFORE extensive training, there needs to be psychological work-ups done on the PAP's to weed out those who are looking for perfect children who will come home and solve all their problems.  And you know what? There are a lot of people who should be denied going any further into adoption. 

Also, I believe the Home Study should be a lengthy process where a Social Worker would hopefully get past the "front" that all PAP's put up when applying to adopt.  Those "group meetings" and "office visits" should not count as part of the "requirements" for the Home Study.  IMO, it is too easy to slip past the overwhelmed Social Worker, and them not "catch" something important that would otherwise disqualify the couple from adopting.  And I believe this is what could have happened in the Russian adoptions
presented here.

Excellent point....

...I would also like to add Post placement real ones...over a long length of time. Every effort must be made to ensure the SAFETY of that child and the known whereabouts of that child after they are adopted. SW need to interview the teachers of the child as well and to learn if any other person is living in the house post placement that the agency is not aware of. Too many children are being trafficked using underground "yahoo groups" aka adoption disolvements with no authority knowing who and to where the child is then going to.

I agree more extensive training of both social workers and APs is needed, though does a person really need a class to learn not to abuse or kill a child? Seriously? But sadly it seems so. Maybe profits should not drive the adoption biz...maybe the well being of a child should be the driving force.


People DO need training in how NOT to abuse or neglect a child!  Confronted with every horror story that has ever happened in adoption/foster care, PAP's should be asked up-front, HOW would you handle this situation...
And YES, to the Post Placement visits:  NO stopping by the office while you are in the "big city" shopping should EVER count as a PPV!  It happens all the time; and sometimes the child is not even with the big-adoptive-family, or the father or the mother... and it's called a PPV because the SW is so over-loaded with cases AND the people seems so nice and trust-worthy.
I like the idea of the teachers being asked to fill out a monthly form with Q&A pertaining to what they have noticed that month that might be a red-flag.  These are called BOUNDARIES!  Children need these built-in boundaries to protect them from what MIGHT happen.
Another thought:  PAP's should willingly sign a release form, like we do every place else, stating that it is okay to be checked on... that way there would be no law-suits that would hold water.  UP FRONT!   That's how the protection should be put in place.  Always up-front.

Establishing boundaries

In another thread, [based on the article, Adoptive parents decry DHS' long, intrusive process ], more detail is given into complaints made about the adoption process.  One of my personal pet-peeves is the lack of standardization in the licensing of foster/adoptive parents.

In terms of foster care in the United States, according to a pdf titled, Foster Parent Training in America, every foster parent must have a license to foster a child.  Mandatory minimums vary by state, and some of these mandatory minimums are just that - bare minimum requirements needed to foster (and still receive subsidy payments), but as of October 1, 1999, federal law requires "before a child in foster care under the responsibility of the State is placed with prospective foster parents, the prospective foster parents will be prepared adequately with the appropriate knowledge and skills to provide for the needs of the child, and that such preparation will be continued, as necessary, after the placement of the child."  Rules for private and international adoption, of course, differ, depending on the agency and the number of services it provides.

[From: Choices and decisions ]

Coupled with this goes the issue that many PAP's (and dare I suggest SWs) don't understand the true reason and purpose behind the Home Study.

It must always be remembered, the home-study process is done for the sake of the foster/adoptable child who may eventually live there.  If the home-study is for adoption purposes, parents must remember, licensed, trained professionals need to assess how "permanent placement" will look, through the eyes of a child.  Some professionals really know what they're doing, and the adoption-story speaks for itself.  Other less than professional people paid to conduct a home-study ought to have their livers fed to them through a straw.  [It is positively shocking to see what gets passed and approved by a social worker and an adoption agency!]  What may seem crazy or ridiculous to some PAP's makes perfect sense to a parent with kids, or to a person who has personal experience with serious injury, neglect, or sexual abuse in a home.

Throughout PPL, we feature cases and examples where the failures of social/adoption services have been colossal.  "Oversight" is a gross understatement.  And this lack of transparency goes both ways.  I have heard from many AP's offer the same complaint -  the adoption facilitators they worked with gave no indication the child "chosen" for that adoptive family had problems and pre-existing conditions that neither AP was prepared for.  That's not to say the AP's would have rejected the child, but it would have made future considerations much easier, for all involved.

It's not fair to ANY child to have an unprepared parent.  [Isn't that why so many children go into care in the first place?  (The parents were unprepared, and unable to do a good job.)]

PAP's should willingly sign a release form, like we do every place else, stating that it is okay to be checked on... that way there would be no law-suits that would hold water.  UP FRONT!   That's how the protection should be put in place.  Always up-front.

It's been my experience, the good parents are often the first ones to agree to accept outside help/assistance or agree to be evaluated because they truly DO want to do a good job at parenting.  They WANT to be excellent parents... they want to ask questions, and learn.  Sadly, ironically, these are not the parents who need to sign a release form.  The parents who are NOT upfront always manage a way slip to the side and back of the classroom... they get lost in the shuffle, because they don't speak and they don't ask questions.  And then years later, when the report comes out, are the results all that surprising?  [These are the "illiterate students of foster/adoption parenting classes.]

In another post, I presented a hypothetical situation where the chosen "adopter" would be nothing more than a short-term benefactor, who would be financially responsible for all health-care needs for mother/child eligible for adoption support.   One has to imagine how many potential agreeable participants (PAPs) would be submitting their applications to their local adoption agency... the agency that finds foreign "orphans" with a living parent.

I think we're onto something about adoption reform needing/including transparent requests and demands, made on behalf of the parents and children.  Such a move could at the very least weed-out some of those who don't want people peering into closets with lots of skeletons in them.  The way I see it, anyone who opposes high-standards in adoption practice is in adoption services for the wrong reasons.


"I think we're onto something about adoption reform needing/including transparent requests and demands, made on behalf of the parents and children.  Such a move could at the very least weed-out some of those who don't want people peering into closets with lots of skeletons in them.  The way I see it, anyone who opposes high-standards in adoption practice is in adoption services for the wrong reasons."

Amen, sister.

O/T for a few moments...

Contrary to how I post, I truly do not like to get emotional, or show others my true feelings...

I HATE when I get all teary... it shows weakness, and my Adad taught me never to show weakness.

<hard swallow>

<cough, choke>

<deep cleansing breath>

Had my Amother shown a modicum of interest in my adoption issues; my grief, my loss, my need to heal from harm done to me...

Well, my relationship with my Afamily would be very different.  And my children would have grandparents around to celebrate holidays and birthdays.

I am surprised how humbled I get when I see the response from an AP who wants to right the MANY wrongs found within the adoption industry.

I wish my Amother had the balls.  Instead, she worried more about preserving her own reputation.

Good moms make a difference... they really do.

All we need is a few good men to make our voices something of real value.

<sobbing at this stupid F'ed up world>

Double checks and balances

There also have to be additional safe guards in place. The nice SW who does the post placement supervision may likely be a friend of the abusive AP. How closely are they really going to look at the child and how he or she is doing? Or the "social worker" could be someone like Donnie Hedstrom who sold used cars prior to approving families to adopt and conducting post placement visits.

Faux SW's

True about Donnie Hedstrom (Tedi Hedstrom's now ex-husband), and it's public and documented in Florida DCF files, that he used to conduct home studies with the only credential being a car salesman. That's right, the guy had no social work degree in any shape or form, but was approving people to adopt (if they could write a check or wire money it seems).

Adoption agencies also have favorite social workers. These gems will write a homestudy for just about anyone (and later, even be on adoption boards! Think the FOA crowd!). The Hedstroms (Adoption Blessings, Tedi Bear, etc), had a social worker who either lost her license, or never had one to begin with, and she was recommended to any client who may have difficulty passing scrutiny of a credentialed social worker. The woman's initials are S.T., and she was even recently working at One World Adoptions in Georgia, where a couple former Adoption Blessings employees now work. Allegedly S.T. also wrote all of the Hedstrom's homestudies for 10+ adoptions. Tedi Hedstrom was recently herself accused of abuse, and the children are now in custody of Donnie the car salesman (who now claims he's retired).

One World (who has Hague accreditation) took S.T. off their website when allegedly a disgruntled AP made a complaint at perhaps the COA. But, apparently, the COA doesn't believe that employing a non-credentialed or non-licensed SW is enough to take away the coveted Hague accreditation of the agency, because One World is up an operational with COA's blessing.

Holt's hissy fit...

I remember clearly how upset Holt got when they realized that another agency removed THEIR cover sheet on a Home Study and replaced it with a new one, taking full credit for everything that was written therein... smirk... You know something, we could have a hey-day going back and forth with all the "illegal" things adoption agencies and SW do in the name of "In The Best Interest Of The Child."

Primary links

Pound Pup Legacy