U.S. officials are on their way to Moscow this week to push the Russian government to continue to allow adoptions after a seven-year-old boy was sent back to Russia on a plane by a woman in Tennessee last week with a note explaining that she no longer wanted to care for him:
"This child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues," the letter said. "I was lied to and misled by the Russian Orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and other issues. ...
"After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends, and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child."
The boy's adopted grandmother says Russian adoption officials had lied to her daughter about the child's mental health and that he had been abused in an orphanage. Russian officials meanwhile, have alleged that he was abused under the American family's care. President Medvedev has even weighed in on the case:
"It is a monstrous deed on the part of his, to take the kid and virtually throw him out with the airplane in the opposite direction and to say, 'I'm sorry I could not cope with it, take everything back' is not only immoral but also against the law," Medvedev said.
Sadly, this case comes after three seperate incidents in recent years of Russian children being killed by their adoptive American parents:
In 2006, Peggy Sue Hilt of Manassas, Virginia, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted of fatally beating a 2-year-old girl adopted from Siberia months earlier. In 2008, Kimberly Emelyantsev of Tooele, Utah, was sentenced to 15 years after pleading guilty to killing a Russian infant in her care.
And in March of this year, prosecutors in Pennsylvania met with a Russian diplomats to discuss how to handle the case of a couple accused of killing their 7-year-old adopted Russian son at their home near the town of Dillsburg.
Whether or not the adoptions continue, greater oversight of the process is clearly needed in both countries.
E.J. Graff wrote about some of the uncomfortable realities of international adoption for FP in 2008.