I’m going to repost two more posts I wrote about adoptions that went wrong… They are going to be reposted as/is, and I’m only posting them because I saw a video on YouTube about the despicable practice of “rehoming children” yesterday. These posts generated controversy when they were first posted, but I’m still going to try not to alter them.
The first one was posted January 28, 2013.
Adoptions gone wrong…
I have never had any desire to adopt a child, even when it became clear that my husband would not be able to get me pregnant without medical intervention. I have a lot of reasons for feeling the way I do about adoption. Those who want to do it have my admiration, as long as they’re doing it honorably and with the right intentions.
I have noticed that a lot of people who are interested in adopting children are very religious. In fact, there’s a woman who hangs out on the Recovery from Mormonism forum who has several adopted children. She freely admits that she adopted them because she thought she was leading them to the gospel, never mind that two of them turned out to be severely affected by reactive attachment disorder and visited complete chaos on her home.
Last night, I read with interest an update about the case of Sergeant Terry Achane, an Army drill sergeant whose ex wife had his daughter in Utah and gave her up for adoption without his consent. The child was adopted by the Frei family, who already had five children and were hoping to find a black child to be a companion to their adopted black son. When Achane found out about the illegal adoption, he took steps to get his daughter back. The Freis fought back; consequently, 22 month old Teleah is just now with her rightful father instead of the people who have raised her since her birth.
I first heard about the Achane/Frei case back in December, when someone posted a news article about it on RfM. Here’s a quote from that story…
On a blog about the case, where the Freis have raised more than $20,000 to help with legal bills, they vow to appeal McDade’s decision, describing the arrival of Achane’s daughter in their lives “a righteous desire blessed to fruition by God.”
“We have not lost our conviction that we are in the right!!!!!!” Kristi Frei wrote after McDade’s Nov. 20 ruling dismissed their adoption petition. “We have only ever wanted to do right by Leah, and have always felt we have been acting in her best interest to keep her with our family and raise her as our own. Our hearts have demanded it — there has never been any question to us that she is OURS!!!”
I visited the Freis’ blog last night and noticed that it appears to be cut down to one page. I imagine they got a lot of negative comments about their plans to raise the child they call Leah, mainly because a lot of people recognized that they had no right to raise her. She has a perfectly good father who wanted to be in her life and legally had the right to raise her. However, the Freis believe that they had the divine right to have the little girl… I imagine they think they were anointed by God.
Changing gears, another story that has gotten a lot of press is that of Kendra Skaggs, a woman who started a blog about her attempt to adopt a Russian orphan named Polina. Polina is disabled. Kendra Skaggs and her husband are devout Christians and they decided they wanted Polina. They jumped through many hoops to get her and were almost ready to be approved when they fell into the cracks of a new law proposed by Russia’s president, Vladmir Putin, prohibiting Americans from adopting Russian children.
Many Russians are very upset about this legislation, since so many orphans languish in Russia– especially ones like Polina who are physically disabled. Looking at the Skaggs’ blog this morning, it appears that they will get their new daughter. That’s a happy ending, I think. It’s better for Polina to have a family that wants her than grow up institutionalized.
About ten years ago, there was a lot of press about Anna He, a Chinese girl who was sort of “stolen” from her Chinese parents, who thought they were giving her up temporarily to an American couple. Her biological parents and adoptive parents fought for years over who would raise her. She ended up going to China when she was a young girl, not knowing the language or the culture and totally missing her American parents, who had apparently gotten her under some shady conditions.
I remember when Anna He was still very young and thinking her adoptive parents should let her biological parents have her before it was too late. As it turned out, by the time she got to China to live with her biological family, after her parents had split up, Anna He was a stranger in a strange land. I think she ultimately got a raw deal. She did get to visit her former foster parents in 2011, though.
Finally, there’s the case of Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who legally adopted a little girl named Veronica in 2009. When it came to light that Veronica had Cherokee Indian blood, the adoption was challenged by Veronica’s biological father, Dusten Brown, a registered member of Cherokee Nation. Brown had apparently initially agreed to allow the girl to be adopted, but later changed his mind.
In 1978, The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed as a means to stop abuse that had been going on for decades, which separated Native American children from their families and heritage through adoptions. From what I read on CNN, Dusten Brown thought the mother intended to raise the child herself, so he said he would relinquish his parental rights in order to avoid paying child support. But when he found out she intended to put the girl up for adoption, he decided he wanted to raise her himself.
The Capobiancos have had a very difficult time in their quest to become parents. They had gone through several IVF treatments that all failed. Adoption appeared to be their only chance at having children. I can’t even imagine their devastation at having this happen, even as I also have empathy for biological fathers who are denied rights to their kids when the mothers decide to give them up for adoption.
Had my husband not had a vasectomy when he was with his ex wife, we probably would have had kids. I always wanted to be a mother. But all these stories about adoptions going wrong (and there are even more of them out there) makes the prospect of adoption very unappealing to me. And I figure if adoption doesn’t appeal to me, it’s probably better if I don’t become a mother. The urge isn’t strong enough to withstand that kind of heartache.
In any case, I am truly happy that Sergeant Achane got his daughter back. I hope they have a good life. I’m glad it looks like Kendra Skaggs will get Polina, because I think staying in a Russian orphanage will not serve the little girl. As for the Capobianco case, I’m not sure what to think…
Edited to add… This morning on RfM, someone posted this…
A year or so ago one of our TBM nieces (with 5 kids of her own) and her DH adopted a black baby from Haiti. When she posted photos of the kids together, her TBM friends all “cooed” (quite patronizingly) about how adorable her family was, especially the new adoptee. One of our other nieces-also TBM with 3 kids posted “I so want one of those!” I was horrified but her comment was revealing of the general sense that adopting a little black child was the newest fad amongst this group of TBM Utahns.
I found it disturbing on a number of levels.
And the follow up, which was posted on March 21, 2014…
I noticed this morning that my blog has been getting a lot of hits on a post I wrote in January 2013 about adoptions gone wrong. Interesting that this would come up today because I just started reading a book about adoptions, specifically those done by religious people as a means of bringing more children into a belief system. It’s often evangelical Christian and Mormon couples that adopt kids to “bring them to the gospel” and it seems to be trendy to adopt these kids from foreign countries.
Interestingly enough, today I read an article about a young woman from Haiti who was adopted in 2009 at age 13. Nita Dittenber’s adoptive parents, Tony and Michelle Dittenber of Nampa, Idaho, had four biological kids and took in five more adopted ones from Haiti. Among the five Haitian adoptees was Nita’s biological sister, Evidently, Nita was having problems in the Dittenber home and by the time she was 14, Michelle Dittenber had taken to the Internet to offer her to another family. She went to two other families, both of whom sent her back.
Then, when she was 15, Nita was sent to Marysville, Ohio to live with Emily and Jean Paul Kruse and their nine kids. The Kruses are evidently Christians. I read an article about them that was run as a PR piece by the Ohio National Guard, which is where Jean Paul Kruse worked. Jean Paul has a son from a previous relationship. Emily has three kids from another relationship. They had one child together. Then they adopted four kids from Vietnam and Liberia. Nita lived with the family for 17 months. While she was there, the girls told her that Jean Paul Kruse was sexually abusing them. Though he apparently never touched Nita, she was terrified. She told Emily Kruse, who accused her of lying and threatened to send her back to Idaho.
One day, Nita went to visit other Kruse relatives with some of the other children. One of the Kruses asked Nita why she was so downhearted. Nita told the person about the abuse and then the younger girls shared their stories. Fortunately, the relative took action, but when Emily Kruse found out that Nita had talked, she sent her back to Idaho… supposedly so she wouldn’t be questioned by local authorities. The Dittenbers were on vacation. Nita arrived in Boise with nothing but the clothes on her back and was temporarily taken by her adoptive aunt and uncle, Tammy and Michael Dittenber. When Michelle Dittenber came back from her trip, she immediately offered Nita up on the Internet again for yet another re-homing.
As I read this story, I got the sense that the Dittenbers are probably LDS. I did some searching and found evidence that at the very least, extended family is Mormon. They live in Idaho, which is very Mormon. They’ve adopted a bunch of kids from Haiti, which is a very Mormon thing to do. Tony Dittenber works for a “food warehouse”, which may be a euphemism for one run by the LDS church for families in need. Michelle works at home booking flights for an airline… probably JetBlue, which is known for employing stay at home moms and was co-founded by David Neeleman, a Mormon Brazilian-American businessman.
ETA: Minutes after this post went live, I was contacted by Tammy Dittenber, who was mentioned in my blog post and in the story about Nita Dittenber. She writes that she and her husband are LDS converts of 13 years, while Michelle and Tony Dittenber are Pentecostal. Tammy Dittenber writes that she and her husband are the only members of the LDS church in the family. As one can imagine, what happened with Nita has been devastating to the entire family. I imagine the Reuters article, since it went live, has caused quite the firestorm for the Dittenbers. I want to thank Tammy Dittenber for correcting me as well as being very nice about it. I am very sorry for what that family is dealing with, even as I am also very sorry for Nita’s troubles.
An article linked to the one about Nita Dittenber relates the sad story of Inga Whatcott, who was adopted from Russia. A year after bringing 12 year old Inga home, Neal and Priscilla Whatcott gave up trying to raise her. They claimed that she had problems too severe to handle. She struggled to read and write, smoked cigarettes, was depressed, and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. Over six months, the Whatcotts sent Inga to three different families, none of which worked out. In one family, she had sex with a sibling who then urinated on her. In another, she claims she was molested by the father. She finally ended up at a Michigan psychiatric facility, where she claims she had sex with her therapist, who said he “never crossed the line physically” with Inga. Indeed, he reports that she was very troubled.
Another article by Reuters highlights the shady non-legalized adoptions that go on too often when adoptive parents realize they can’t handle a child they’ve taken in from another country. Sometimes adopted children end up in the care of very scary people who are never vetted by social workers or law enforcement. Sometimes the end results of these “non-legal adoptions” turn out to be tragic.
Just yesterday, I read another article about Stacey Connor, a woman who, along with her husband, Matt, adopted two children from Haiti. The older child, a five year old boy, turned out to have severe problems that threatened the younger child, a baby girl, and the woman’s biological child. She ended up deciding to re-home the boy. In that case, it sounded like Connor did what she could to find an appropriate home for the boy, rather than just sending him away to anyone willing to take him. Still, it’s very disturbing that these kinds of situations occur, that parents bring home kids from other cultures and then can’t keep them.
The book I’m reading is called The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption and it’s all about how adoption has become a big business, especially in religious circles. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the famous couple with nineteen kids and a reality show, have said they are considering adopting more kids for their gigantic brood. I feel pretty certain that any child adopted by them will be adopted so they can be “brought to the Lord” and perhaps keep their reality show going.
I don’t necessarily think that it’s wrong or bad for religious people to adopt children, as long as they are adopting because they truly want to be parents. Many times, these international adoptions work out fine and the kids end up much better off than they would have had they not been adopted. Other times, the adoptions turn out to be disastrous for any number of reasons. Sometimes kids that come from other countries have severe mental and physical health problems that prove to be impossible for well-meaning adoptive parents to handle. Sometimes there is simply no bond. When the well-meaning parents give these kids up to strangers, the kids can end up getting hurt or killed.
Unfortunately, I believe that a lot of families who are religious take in children for the wrong reasons. They do it so they’ll look good in church circles or to bring souls to Christ, rather than fulfilling a desire to be parents. A few years ago, I read an incredible book by Julia Scheeres called Jesus Land: A Memoir. Scheeres has an adopted brother named David, who is black. Her very religious and violent parents adopted David and another black boy named Jerome. If you ever needed to read a story about how people can adopt for the wrong reasons, Jesus Land is that story. I reviewed it, of course…
Originally I included my Jesus Land review in this post, but since this is so long, I’ll put that review in a fresh post.