Parents face heartbreaking choice: Do they give up their adopted 7-year-old daughter?

Relates to:
Date: 2010-09-21

After their daughter endured 39 clinicians, multiple hospitalizations and several suicide attempts, her parents realized she would never be able to function in the family constellation

By Bonnie Miller Rubin, Tribune reporter

It has been almost three months since Ellie left, but her mother can't quite muster the energy to clear out her 7-year-old daughter's bedroom.

"I can't get rid of everything," sighed Lori Gertz, surveying the perfect princess paradise, with its embroidered quilt, painted flowers and small dinette set. "I'm still grieving."

Ellie is now living with another family in Washington — 1,700 miles away from her comfortable Long Grove home, where she lived with her parents, two siblings and four dogs.

Despite outward appearances, life was anything but idyllic. Even the slightest frustration — not getting to watch a video or the right color cereal bowl — could send Ellie into an uncontrollable rage, putting everyone's safety at risk, especially 5-year-old Talia.

After Ellie endured dozens of clinicians and multiple hospitalizations, the Gertzes came to the sad realization that their daughter would never be able to function in the family constellation. They faced a wrenching dilemma: Do they give up their daughter to protect everyone else?

Lori Gertz told of the family's struggle in a blog, and she and her husband, Craig, 45, shared their story with the Tribune in an effort to help other families by raising awareness and calling for more resources for children with mental illness.

Eight years ago, giving up their daughter would have been unfathomable. The Gertzes had one son — Jonah, then almost 4 — and longed to have more children, but, after seven miscarriages and Lori Gertz nearing 40, the window was closing. So they turned to adoption.

Eventually, a 34-year-old New Jersey woman chose them from an online site, just eight weeks before her due date. On Jan. 5, 2003, Lori Gertz accompanied the birth mother into the delivery room. She was the first one to hold and feed the 8-pound newborn.

"No one could have felt luckier and more joyful than us," Lori Gertz said. "We have beautiful photos of that day … proof of a mother doing only what was in the best interest of her child. I wish she had that presence of mind when Ellie was in utero."

An adoption that ends badly can draw headlines. A Tennessee woman made international news by putting a 7-year-old adopted son, alone, on a flight back to Russia earlier this year.

But little data exist about disrupted adoptions, especially private ones. About 7 percent of adoptions in Illinois' child welfare system will disrupt before the child becomes an adult, according to the Department of Children and Family Services. Roughly half are because of the death of a parent, and the rest mostly due to problems with the child.

The fact is there's little support available for emotionally damaged children — even for families like the Gertzes, with money and connections. Craig is a lawyer. Lori, a marketing specialist. They live in one of the most rarefied ZIP codes — with some of the best schools and health care — in the nation. They know people. They could fix this.

Almost from the beginning, Ellie could not be soothed, sometimes screaming for hours, nonstop. Nothing worked — not the carriage, the sling, the dark, the light, lying on her back or her belly. She could not tolerate the car seat, thrashing so violently that Lori Gertz had to hire a baby sitter just to take Jonah to school. During the next few years, they would go through eight nannies — one quitting on the first day.

"Any period of calm we ever had was always interrupted as soon as she heard the word 'no,'" Lori Gertz said. "It could be no to something she had asked for and been refused a hundred times — like a horse — but it would send her over the edge."

When she was just 9 months, the couple started seeking answers, enrolling in a "fussy baby" clinic. Over the next six years, their quest would wend through the offices of neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatricians, occupational therapists and allergists.

Some dismissed the tantrums as a phase, while another suspected child abuse. Not one mentioned substance or alcohol abuse, Lori Gertz said.

In 2005, it took Ellie pushing Lori Gertz — now eight months pregnant with Talia — down a flight of stairs for others to recognize this wasn't about the "terrible twos" or bad parenting. This was something that could not have been prevented by the Gertzes.

When they met Ellie's birth mother, she revealed few habits beyond bingo and cigarettes, and nothing in her pristine medical records suggested otherwise.

Only after the woman's brother started e-mailing the Gertzes did they discover other vices. She began drinking and smoking pot in her teens, graduating to PCP, then crack cocaine, a routine she continued during her first trimester. "I know she was clean for the remainder of her pregnancy because she was in jail," wrote the brother.

It was Dr. Ira Chasnoff who diagnosed Ellie, now almost 3, with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD.

The prenatal exposure wreaks neurological havoc, resulting in poor judgment and impulsivity, explained the developmental pediatrician.

But Ellie's meltdowns "were at the extreme end of what we see," Chasnoff said.

Ellie's IQ was above average, but timeouts or loss of privileges are useless against the physiology of the brain, often elevating frustration levels and making the situation worse, Chasnoff said.

"There are so many kids like this," he explained. "The only difference is that the Gertzes are willing to be public."

Less than two weeks later, Lori and Craig — who is also adopted — received more unsettling news: Ellie's birth mother had committed suicide. They felt sad for their daughter, but also cheated that they would never get to fill in all the blanks.

"In time, I'd come to see her as an addict, but her legacy went well beyond the damage she did to Ellie," Lori Gertz wrote on her blog. "It had now affected everyone in our family."

For preschool, Ellie was placed in special education. But supports — such as social workers and full-time aides — didn't seem to work. Neither did an arsenal of anti-psychotic drugs.

Eventually, she was sent to a therapeutic day school, but whether classroom, playground or restaurant, it was Lori Gertz who most often had to carry out a kicking, hitting, spitting child.

It wasn't all bleak. There were Kodak moments — Ellie performing at a dance recital or beaming as she learned to ride a two-wheeler. But these were brief respites. Ellie turned her sister, Talia, into a frequent target, slamming her head against a wall or pummeling her like a punching bag, said medical records.

Since fall 2009, Ellie talked about suicide and was hospitalized psychiatrically four times. Bipolar disorder was now added to her burgeoning medical history, but her case continued to vex mental health professionals.

Victoria Lavigne, a Northfield-based psychologist, had followed Ellie since she was 4.

"The patient's mental illness has shown a deteriorating course," Lavigne wrote in December. "At this point, residential treatment is strongly recommended as the best course of action."

Others concurred, including this ominous warning from a Chicago neuropsychologist. "She is at great risk of causing a tragic, irrevocable event (such as harming someone else or killing herself)."

By now, the Gertzes were spending about $40,000 a year for her care, but nothing prepared them for the cost of residential placement, which can top $100,000 annually.

Even if the Gertzes had won the lottery, they still faced a major hurdle. Where could Ellie go? Almost no one was willing to take a 7-year-old.

"I started to feel hopeless … like every door was closing in my face," Lori Gertz said.

"It's horrible that we live in a society where relinquishing custody is the only alternative for parents who want to keep everyone safe," said Susan Resko, director of the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation.

In May, something happened that forced a resolution: Ellie reported to teachers that her mother was beating her. DCFS determined the allegations did not merit an investigation, said a spokesman. Still, for four days Lori Gertz was a wreck, fearing authorities might take her other children.

She reached out to a therapist in Washington who had suggested a foster family trained in caring for FASD kids. A year earlier, Lori Gertz had rejected the offer; now she was shakily dialing the number.

Officially, the arrangement is called a third-party guardianship, paid for by the Gertzes, giving the new couple full control over their daughter's upbringing — including education and health care — for up to 365 days. At the end of the year, both families will decide if it's in Ellie's best interest for her new guardians to adopt her, Craig Gertz said.

The details have yet to be ironed out. "If she attached to them, we wouldn't pull her away," Lori Gertz said. "From the beginning, our mission was to give her a second chance at being part of a functional family."

Therapists said taking Ellie to Washington could create abandonment issues, so on a sunny June day, Craig Gertz brought Ellie to O'Hare International Airport, where she met her foster parents.

"It was a quick handoff at the gate, with very little emotionality," he said. "I was the only one who could pull that off."

The reports back from Washington are generally positive. Ellie likes being the baby in a much larger clan. The foster family, through the Gertzes, declined to be interviewed.

The Gertzes are adjusting. They went on a camping trip, something that couldn't have happened last summer. And, for the first time in years, 11-year-old Jonah invited friends over.

In the basement, "Talia and Ellie" is still scrawled across the blackboard, a vestige of a game. "She was my playmate," said Talia. "But I also got hitted a lot."

After seven years, though, old habits die hard. Sometimes, Lori Gertz said, "it's too quiet." She has yet to take her daughter's photos off her Facebook page. And they all were wounded by one of Ellie's recent letters.

She inquired only about the dogs.


The addict's legacy

Poor Lori Gertz, she placed her adopted daughter with a foster care family already three months ago and she is still grieving. She can't even get herself to remove everything reminding her of her "forever" daughter.

Poor,poor Gertz family... bad, bad child.

But little data exist about disrupted adoptions, especially private ones. About 7 percent of adoptions in Illinois' child welfare system will disrupt before the child becomes an adult, according to the Department of Children and Family Services. Roughly half are because of the death of a parent, and the rest mostly due to problems with the child.

Half of this statements is truly weird, the other half blatantly one-sided.

Let's start with the weird statement. About 3 1/2 percent of adoptions in Illinois disrupt because of the death of a parent. That's one hell of a mortality rate among adoptive parents. I don't think it is common practice for adoptive parents to kick their adopted kids out of the house once their spouse dies, so we must assume that adoptive parents die much more frequently than the 3 1/2 percent that leads to disruption. Does this warrant the conclusion that adopting is a serious danger to ones health?

The blatantly one-sided part of the statement is that the rest of the disruptions are due to problems with the child. Hmmm, that leaves little room for other options. Either parents prematurely die in much higher numbers than in the general population, or the child is the problem. Could it be that in some cases the adoptive parents are the problem and the child cannot adjust to their antics, or is that also considered a problem with the child?

An adoption that ends badly can draw headlines. A Tennessee woman made international news by putting a 7-year-old adopted son, alone, on a flight back to Russia earlier this year.

The case of Artem Hansen surely drew headlines because the Russian press started talking about the cruel return-to-sender actions of Tori Hansen, yet most disruptions fly under the radar. There is actually good reason for that, the privacy of the child involved. What child wants to be called a "problem child" and that being presented for all eternity on the internet.

Apparently, Lori Gertz has no such considerations, after all the girl was not of her womb, just the legacy of an addict. So the heart-wrenching story of the Gertz's and their struggle with a "problem child" has to go public. Not only in the Chicago Tribune, but on two different blogs as well. The world has to know of the slings and arrows of the Gertz's misfortune.

But all is well that ends well:

Sad, but true…for the last 7 years, given all of Ellie’s allergies and the necessity to keep the air in the house at a consistent level of “conditioning” the only time the outdoors had a chance to come inside was either on the dog’s feet or when we opened the door to the garage to come in or go out.

So much has changed. So much that wasn’t allowed to be there in our old life feels foreign but wonderful now.

Isn't life wonderful, no longer being limited by the addict's legacy's allergies. Finally the Gertz's can dance through the season, freed from the depressing antics of the addict's legacy. Of course there is something not so well. The addict's legacy doesn't miss the Gertz's enough while living with her foster family:

Ellie left us on Tuesday, June 8th for a respite foster family in Washington State. She cried for 2 minutes at the airport saying goodbye to Craig and is reported never to have cried since.

She is sleeping well, eating well and is reported to be cuddling and playing with her new family. She is calling the people she has known to be her hosts for 3 days, mom and dad.

Before she left for her "summer" program which she bragged to her sister was because SHE needed a break from all of us, we discussed what she might call her summer family. I suggested she could call them Ms. or Mr., by their first names, or even mom and dad if she felt that way about them. She was VERY insistent she would never call them that, saying "I would never call them that, they are not my mom and dad."

I remember thinking in that moment, oh, ok...well, I guess that's a compliment of sorts. I guess we have earned that place in her dysfunctional little world of abuse towards all of us living in our home.

With video of her screaming, "turn that off, this is my private business as she attacked us..." or her insisting she would never act like she did at school with us, that good behavior was for there, we sure did have a fundamental role in being her "mom and dad". Our special behavior was SPECIAL just for us.

But now, I wonder how long until her new mom and dad will have before the rage and violence rears its ugly head, and if it will at all. I mean, what does that say about us if it never reappears? Is attachment disorder that haphazard, like a tornado that takes down your neighbor's house but leaves yours and your tulips completely in tact?

That said, and I'm sure you can hear the anger in my words, as much as I was thrilled to have earned the title to which I had spent 7 years investing in, to hear that in 3 days she is calling them mom and dad was, well...sobering. Naw, that's not a good was nauseating. I choked on the tears that welled in my throat as soon as I read them in a cryptic email sent to me when checking on her status by email last night.

Mish moshed with my broken hearted nausea at the news that she has happily labeled her new hosts mom and dad, I am relieved that she is happy and not pining for us. She has a chance at happiness and functionality and a life that is not the miserable life she blamed on us. Mostly on me, for having 'taken' her away from her birthmother to begin with. But them, now they have taken her from the woman who took her from her birthmother ...maybe that makes them the heroes she has needed her whole life?

Ironically, the totally narcissistic self-exposure of the Lori Gertz leaves a trail of messages that create a somewhat different image, one that also puts into doubt that half of the disruptions are related to the "problem child". Could it be that adopters are less than perfect themselves?

When I was little, I lost my childhood to parents that didn't get along with each other and couldn't keep themselves from harming me physically and emotionally as a result. I lost my own mother to her decision to devote herself to her education and my sister to the facts of life that she was 6 years older than I was and would be out of the house when the worst stuff started to roll downhill.

In school I was hounded by the most unstable boy in town and eventually lost myself and my virginity to him in continued unspeakable acts of violence that I was too afraid to tell anyone about. Those years are fuzzy, fearing the wrath of telling but fearing equally the wrath of not telling. It was then that I created and redefined myself forever as the person who had experienced such a painful childhood and adolescence and using that as a foundation, I embarked on 15 of the most self destructive years I would face.

In College, I lost my very best friend as a result of my new ruthless and selfish behavior and I have never been able to repay the debt to my soul for doing this. I still dream of this person, someone who went to extremes to care for me and open his world up to me only to have me stomp down on his sense of self and choice to love me.

After that I chased dreams, reinvented myself and made a lot of careless decisions, having my heart broken over and over and over again by worthy but poorly matched mates. You would have thought somewhere along the line, I would have learned, how to care for another person's heart as though it were of the gravest consequence. Uh huh. I just kept swimming upstream...sometimes alongside the same people in different bodies...recycled versions of me, same men, different names. Same me, same name, same hurts that never healed.

Or how about this little gem:

I hopped from school to international exchange programs to individuated programs allowing me to remove myself from situations I found to be damaging to my psyche. In my early years in New York City, I moved from apartment to apartment sometimes switch-hitting states from NYC, to NJ, to CA at one point. For about 6 months one time, I had an apartment in NYC and LA.I hopped relationships, jobs, cities, and personas.

It's not that I have always run from my problems. I don't run from the problem. I'm a fixer, I work tirelessly to fix everything, but when, like this, the solution is not within reach and my power is so sorely compromised that I am close to imploding, it's the only mechanism I have to save myself

I wonder if Ellie's biological mother had had the fortune to learn about these stories prior to relinquishment, would have made a different decision. If one thing is clear from this case: Ellie was done a disservice being placed with this particular family. It begs the question how many more unfortunate placements happen each year.

Kid collectors save the 7 year old

Good adoptive parents who also happen to be GOD fearing, they just so happen to put the fear of God in their adopted children.
They, thru GOD remind their adopted children daily of how Blessed they are to no longer living in destitution.
Thru their GOD, they shove doctrines down their throats and take away their soul.  Thru GOD they instruct them how to live their lives, conforming to their beliefs, whether right or wrong or even cultist.
Do not make adoptive parents out to be hero's, most adoptive children wake up and see their own HOLY LIGHT.  Adoptive children can make their own comparisons


I see red flags when I read that the family in Washington was large,,sounds like kid kollectors to me, who pride themselves on getting kids, just how large, well, they refused to be interviewed, but I am guessing it is a mega mormon family, that takes in kids, and I am betting that they are not educated, have zero education when it comes to re-building a hurt child.  They just want to add one more to the messy mix.


I have never heard of a seven year old who will sit down to write a letter without being prompted. My guess is that the Washington family sat her down and told her what to write, instructed each word as she penciled.  They purposely left out her "loss, her grief, her sadness" of missing her Mother and Father in Illinois.  But, alias, she was instructed to inquire about  the cat and dog, to make their loss greater than that of the Mother and Father who have nurtured and loved her since birth.


Red flag goes up when I read that the girl called her respite family Mom and Dad. This was disclosed through an email from the Washington family.  I do not care how distorted this poor little girl is there is no way that a seven year old would call complete strangers Mom and Dad, that is reserved for people of longevity.

Also disclosed in  a Washington adult e mail was that she has not cried for her family outside of the two minutes at the airport.  This little girl has been taken away from everything that she has known in the last seven years, she is still in shock, probably afraid to cry or has cried and the Washington adults are lying, to the real parents so that they will be comforted knowing that all is well in a     excessively large, over religious family miles away that are trying to play healers to a child that most professionals did not know how to heal in Illinois

She is seven years old, in one year, she will be eight and in mormon world she will be able to be baptisted, and gaazam, she will be cured!


If I were the real parents I would get my butt on an airplane and get my daughter out of that house of lies.


Good grief . . .

The sheer ignorance of the comment posts here compound the issue. Reminds me of the days when abused women had no place to go, days when it was the woman's fault for ignoring her man's needs and upsetting him.

The absolute fact is that, no matter this case or not, there are children with mental issues as young as 2 or 3 that manifest first as verbal abuse and migrate to physical abuse OF THE PARENTS AND SIBLINGS once the child matures to a size able to support that behavior. It's unheard of that parental love changes children with severe brain damage requiring 24x7 physical care into productive adults. To think there is no damage, committed or born, to the brain between those two poles is a testimony to the same societal cruelty to these parents as was once given to abused women.

None of you commenting could last two days with a child like this. I know because we have one, because she'll be 15 this year and she's still the same impulsive, lying, mean, violent person she was--all while also able to be charming and nice. Is that because it suits her suddenly for random reasons? Is that because she's been "raised wrong"? No. Personality disorders have both discrete and mysterious causes, but their presence is not in dispute except to the ignorant. And their affect on families is enormous.

Mrs. Gertz and her husband made a decision to attempt to get help outside the family. In centuries before, the same seed of ignorance shown in these ego-laced, character-less, and intelligently vacuous comments would have seen the child abandoned on the street. Or worse.

Thanks for proving that compassion has more enemies.

And where is the child's perspective?

Hmmm... It seems we live in different worlds. In the world I inhabit, someone like Mrs. Gertz gets her friendly news paper article, writes her own blog where she goes into details about all the bad things her adopted daughter did. Doesn't seem at all like an abused women with no place to go, or a woman faulted for ignoring her man's needs and upsetting him.

This case, like the repatriation of Artyom Hansen, shows how little consideration there sometimes is for the privacy of the children whose adoption doesn't work out as planned. These children didn't ask to be adopted and placed with a family that wasn't able to handle their needs, and they didn't ask to have their behaviours exposed on the internet.

These stories about disrupted adoptions and personal details about the child are not in the child's best interest. They are lousy journalism too, since it only reflects one side of the case, leading to a story where the child is the villain and the adoptive parents are poor helpless victims. Where is the spokes person for the child in this story?

There certainly are cases where a child is so damaged that living in a family is actually not a solution, no matter how hard (adoptive) parents try. That doesn't make the reverse true. It doesn't automatically mean that every family where a child behaves badly tried everything they humanly could. The case of Artyom Hansen is probably a good example. The boy stayed with his adoptive family (mother and grand mother) for only seven months before being returned to Russia. Can you honestly say, Tori Hansen and her mother tried everything in their power to give Artyom what he needed and eventually had to give up trying, or was he sent back the moment buyers remorse kicked in?

Neils, what I can honestly

Neils, what I can honestly say is that you can't get away from what you had to say about Gertz by moving to Artyom Hansen. Hansen is, on the surface, what seems a heinous case. Gertz . . . well, what would you think to find non-adoptive parents who have sent their biological children to similar places? It happens, quite more than you think. They go to relatives, friends, foster-care, and sometimes residential facilities for the mentally ill. Not too long ago in history, they just disappeared. And in heinous ways quite often, truth be told.

A huge spectrum of mental illnesses exists between the poles of the totally mentally incapacitated and "normal". In adult relationships, in colloquial the extreme of these stalkers, abusers--and sometimes murderers. It can go on for years. In child-adult relationships, in colloquial the extreme of these are called severely misbehaved, evil, and crazy. BiPolar. Borderline. Anti-Social. Narcisstic. All personality disorders present in the human population of both adults and children. Currently, the psych regulatory and advisory bodies don't want these diagnoses applied to anyone under 18--and how funny is that, since to be diagnosed at 18 as Anti-Social, for example, you have to have had the symptoms since 15! Symptoms but no diagnosis.

Regardless, for the ignorant of all this, go watch your favorite psycho stalker movie like "Enough" or "Fatal Attraction" . . . think about taking those stereotypes, put them into a 9-year-old or 14-year-old, put them in your home, and try to figure it out. And take ten or twenty years, if you survive, to do it. You'll knock on every therapist's door you can for help. And none of it may work.

There is no "buyer's remorse" for this situation. It just takes everything anyone can muster, every sacrifice no one wants to do, and the strongest will and biggest heart to try and fix it. Gertz? Maybe she made the wrong choice, but she's trying to get help. There are far more parents looking at their non-adoptive children and having a far worse time of it.

Maybe if so many people weren't stupidly judgemental and ignorant of the issues of mentally ill children and their families, Gertz would've found a different solution.


My problems with the Gertz situation are two-fold. My first objection in this case relates to the privacy of the child involved. When the above article appeared in the news paper, I went to Mrs. Gertz' blog and was astouned by the amount of personal information divulged. The blog is one long ego-document involving personal details about a child that didn't ask for its publication.

The second issue I have is more general than this particular case and in fact relates to most disruptions. Adoption, as advertized by adoption agencies is supposed to bring a child a "forever family". Disruption is the antithesis of the adoption agencies marketing motto. These same adoption agencies are responsible for making a match between the needs of the child to be adopted and the abilities of the family choosing to adopt. High number of disruptions are proof that agencies don't do a proper job finding the right family for a child.

Maybe the Gertz family made the right decision seeking alternative placement for Ellie, but wouldn't it have been better if this girl was placed with a family that was better equiped to deal with her personality in the first place?

Adoption professionals decided that placement of Ellie with the Gertz family was supposed to be in her best interest. The reality of the placement proved otherwise.

I don't know if the Gertz family was properly informed about the alleged personality issues of this girl, or if they overestimated their abilties to deal with the issues they ran into. In either case, the adoption agency could have done a better job. They could have made an effort to either prepare the Gertz family better, or seek a family better equiped to handle the situation.

Something went wrong and the person least responsible of all is put in a negative light. It's not Ellie's fault this happened, she is only a girl who was placed in this situation.

Sick, pathological views of those subjected to adoption

After their daughter endured 39 clinicians, multiple hospitalizations and several suicide attempts, her parents realized she would never be able to function in the family constellation

Subtitle says it all. No empathy or understanding for a seven-year-old who is suicidal, endured 39 clinicians and multiple hospitalizations. Terrible for them, isn't it, that she's broken.

There is no "buyer's remorse" for this situation.

Comment reveals a lot. Supposedly, slavery i.e. exchange of money for humans ended in 1865. Yet "buyer's remorse" is still a common refrain for disappointed aparents who didn't get their pretty little show-off pony they spent all that money on, but instead ended up with used goods. We are supposed to pity them, I guess.

Speaking of ignorance

Regardless, for the ignorant of all this, go watch your favorite psycho stalker movie like "Enough" or "Fatal Attraction" . . . think about taking those stereotypes, put them into a 9-year-old or 14-year-old, put them in your home, and try to figure it out. And take ten or twenty years, if you survive, to do it. You'll knock on every therapist's door you can for help. And none of it may work.

Anyone imposing Hollywood stereotypes of mental illness onto children and trying to derive parenting solutions from that has no business parenting. I wonder if many consider: just why do so many children with disabilities end up in unsuitable homes with messed up parents, which basically ensures they end up as damaged adults? I think it's still basically believed that their horriffic treatment is deserved, in part because we still harbor totally barbaric ideas about disability in general.

I don't know why people call the 800s the dark ages. The mentality is alive and well, still with us.

Good Grief?

My problem with the Gertzes is not that I don't believe dangerous children exist, it's the way they handled this. Would they have given away their own troublesome child? By that I mean: Would they have surrendered their legal, parental rights to her and arranged things so they never saw her again?

I strongly suspect the answer is no. If their own flesh and blood child had proved literally impossible to live with, they would very probably have put her in a residency program for disturbed children, where they would have visited her and retained not only their family ties but their financial responsibility for her. Instead, they chose to inflict this *inherently dangerous person* on someone else's family and children...and then put their story out there for everyone to read as an obvious bid for sympathy.

The icing on the cake is the way they still expect her to have familial feelings for them. Really, how dare that child continue to treat them so badly after they threw her out of the family!

Lack of good resources

Unfortunately, this is not solely an adoption issue. There are biological families all over the country with children who suffer from mental illness, emotional disturbance, severe developmental disabilities or a combination who are placing their children with the state or seeking private adoptive placements with more resources than they have (although I question how many of the latter there really are). It is a huge and tragic issue that demonstrates a real failure in our system. This is not directed at the poster, but a rhetorical question: where are the facilities for children who are unsafe to live with their families or for families who cannot cope with the child's extreme challenges in the home? Unless you've got some super insurance plan that covers this AND can find a good facility that has openings you are out of luck. Wealthy families can afford to pay thousands of dollars a month for long term residential care and even then this type of care can be difficult to find.

In reality there are also families who have been told by Child Protective Services that they must move a child due to being a danger to other children in the home or they will be charged with child endangerment, yet CPS does not offer anything for these families (both families with biological or adopted children) other than to take the child into custody and place them in state care.

My issue with the Gertz's is much in line with what Niels has said. They did nothing to protect this girl's privacy and in fact put her issues and personal history out in cyber world for everyone including herself to read.





Good grief

Thank you for this. I was the mother of such a child. Very few people understand what a descent into hell that it is. Everyone has an opinion and most are so self righteous and judgemental. When you seek "professional" health, they also have varying views, opinions and, yes, judgements that can have far reaching results. I say "was" because I have no contact with her now. There is nothing, absolutely nothing normal parenting can do to save these children from themselves and God save us from the sanctimonious parents and professionals.

Seeking help v. leaving

Personally, I put much of the blame of failure on all these adoption agency workers who go around telling PAPs grossly traumatized children are normal, and/or suitable for adoption. 

Who in their right mind thinks some of these children are, -or will be- "normal", after all they have been through?!?

Talk about Good Grief!

More importantly, I do have a question for APs on this road to hell.  As I understand it, there are not that many trained professional who truly understand the traumatized adopted child.  Seems there is more quackery out there than evidence-based treatments/therapy for these kids.  Seems, too, in many cases, the APs are actually told to relinquish rights, so payment, via state care, can be ensured.

My question is:  does seeking help mean an AP has to end all contact with the child, as well? 

I know many APs whose adopted child was such a dangerous threat at home, that child had to live at a RTC.  [Living with ATC care/observation was far safer, for all involved, for the UNADOPTABLE child made adoptable by an adoption agency.]

Some APs in these situations chose to continue to have contact with the child they agreed to adopt. 

Other APs left their adopted child, without ever looking back.

For those who drop-off, and never look back:  Do these APs not see the damage they are doing when they get rid of an unwanted child, and never return?  Why, it's adoption-trauma, all over again.

When a frustrated AP asks me, in private, "What should I do....?  I can't live like this!"  My response to them is similar to this:  If your child had a medical issue, like brain cancer, would you find help, then leave, because having contact with that child (the one you wanted so much) is just too difficult?  

For a parent, it doesn't get more sober - or difficult - than that.

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