Adoption agency: Family ignored warnings, advice in adopting troubled boy
6:08 a.m. EDT, May 31, 2011
In Monday's column, "Little boy lost: Family struggles to help heal troubled adopted son", [was: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/health/fl-our-health-international-adoption,... see Little boy lost: Family struggles to help heal troubled adopted son] I detailed the heartbreaking story of a family trying to do everything it could to nurture a son they adopted through a Russian orphanage, a son they didn't realize at the time suffered from a number of serious mental health and developmental issues. As the family itself said, this was a cautionary tale of missed red flags and the complications and risks associated with international adoption. But it was also a touching tale of a family dedicated to helping their little boy. As mentioned in the column, the family is suing their adoption agency, Adoption Source Inc. of Boca Raton, for negligence. I tried but was unable to reach the agency, since it is no longer in business, and a message left with the agency's attorney was not returned. Adoption Source's director, Jill A. Scott, emailed me after seeing the column, and sent me this response.
By Jill A. Scott
This is a case of an educated and advised family not heeding the warnings and advice regarding the risks associated with international adoption. This family signed document after document advising of the risk associated with international adoption. The testimony will prove in this case that our agency had nothing to do with the referral of the male child the family adopted.
The family traveled to Russia on a preview trip, meant specifically for the purpose of validating scant information that is received on the referral of a child. They wisely turned down the boy we referred to them, as in fact, the little boy had some issues that were not included in the records provided to us by the orphanage.
The system worked! That is the whole purpose of the preview trip, to allow families to travel in person, view the child, collect photos, data and as much information as possible, come home and speak to the doctors, and make an informed decision.
Not always perfect, but informed! The family was advised over and over again to come home with only the little girl, who by all accounts was doing quite well. This family was obsessed to come home with a boy. When they begged the local people for the referral of another boy, the Russian officials referred them five other boys from which to choose.
The family employed two of the top physicians in international adoption (Dr. Jane Aronson and Dr. Dana Johnson) to help them decipher records. They alone made their decision. Once done, they chose to adopt Peter, and advised us which child they cared to adopt. We knew nothing about the child, and the family was well aware of that fact! We simply helped them file court papers at their request. They traveled personally and were there to take as many photos and videos themselves.
They came home and discovered the boy had severe problems and filed a lawsuit against our not-for-profit agency, and every employee who ever worked for us, including our bookkeeper! A clear case of making an emotional decision in a process reap with risks, and then blaming everyone but themselves.
Adoption is a wonderful thing, but it has risks. Families read the warnings, but at times make decisions they later regret, then look for someone to blame. Agencies do their best to serve children and families, but nobody can ever guarantee the health of a human being nor see the past pain and suffering borne by an orphan.
Every document that the family signed spoke of the warnings and advisories about the risk. We feel terrible for the family, but to point fingers of blame at this stage of adoption just hurts everyone involved. This family made their own choices, advised by the top physicians in the world, but fate was not in their favor. No one is to blame. They could easily have come home only with the little girl, and nobody told them any different. They were only obsessed to adopt two children at once.
Why is it that the 1,500 other cases from our agency do not make headlines? Only the sad story. I am an adoptive mother and adoptive aunt of children from the same orphanage, and I have had my own joys as well as difficulties, but would not change anything. Our children are our children, whether through nature or adoption, and parents must deal with the issues our children present with. How many biological parents deal with severe issues with their children, but who can they blame and sue?
I am sorry that this family made their own decision and now point the finger of blame at everyone but themselves. It only hurts the tens of thousands of children who need to find their families through international adoption. I personally, would do it all over again.