Update on Artyom: A Lesson in Responsibility
Brooke Randolph, LMHC
In April 2010, I wrote a two-part article entitled Resources & Responsibilities in response to the story about young Artyom Savelyev whose adoptive mother Torry Hansen placed him on a plane to return to Russia. I stand behind every word in those articles, even as the Moscow Times has published an update on young Artyom.
One of my first points was that the entire adoption process should include education about all the social, behavioral, medical, and developmental difficulties an adopted child might face, but this does not always seem to be the case. It is the responsibility of a parent to educate him or herself as fully as possible. It is the responsibility of the adoption agency to provide education that fully prepares a parent
, including knowing where to go for additional support later. Russia seemed to agree that more education is needed before families adopt, making that a key component of the new bilateral agreement
concerning adoptions between Russia and the United States.
Since I first wrote those articles, we have continued to build up our Support Services
at MLJ Adoptions, Inc., with regular support groups for both waiting families and families who are currently parenting an adopted child. We have many more things planned, including some pretty exciting, large projects. Unfortunately, there is an under-utilization of these essential services, even when there have been major problems within a family. While there have been several stories about what 'went wrong' for Artyom, I do not believe that Ms. Hansen would have let him fly to Russia unaccompanied if she had sought support at her first questions and doubts.
Those responsible for looking out for Artyom's well-being are understandably cautious about ensuring that he never faces another such disruption. However, I would suspect that he has learned to expect abandonment and will have difficulty trusting any family. His emotional needs will make him more difficult to parent. The right family who is committed, willing to take advantage of the resources available to them, and understands their responsibility as an adoptive parent must be found.
Artyom's story is heartbreaking. To better protect other Russian children, the new bilateral agreement insists that parents are better educated. The research confirms
that both adoption preparation education and continued support are essential to the success of any adoption. Please, for the sake of your child, never stop learning, exploring adoption issues, and seeking the guidance of qualified adoption professionals. That is the responsibility of the adoptive parent.
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