Like many people around the world, I watched in horror as the story of the young boy sent back to Russia by his adopted U.S. parent unfolded. Also, like all of us watching the media reports I realize that I cannot possibly know the entire story. Furthermore, since the IAC is only involved in domestic infant adoption I have no expertise in either international adoption or older child adoption. Instead, what I would like to focus on is the need for adoptive families to get support and resources if they need them.
First, I would like to point out that most adoptions are successful. Although there are no statistics, most experts agree the number of disrupted adoptions is small. This is especially true in domestic infant adoption as we do at the IAC. This is not to say that all adoptions are completely smooth sailing. Any number of issues can arise after adoption finalization. Sometimes, these are just normal family issues, such as siblings arguing, or minor learning problems in school. Other times, there can be a more troubling problem, such as a serious mental health diagnosis.
There can also be problems stemming from the adoption itself. For example, an adoptee might be having identity issues because they do not look like the other members of their family. Perhaps they feel depressed because their birthmother has lost contact.
Sometimes it is hard to tell if a problem is the result of the adoption or if it stems from other family issues. In any case, it is important to get help. First, call your adoption agency. Some agencies have on site resources you can access, but all social workers will listen and help you find the resources you need. Adoption social workers also have expertise in issues related to adoption and can help you to sort through the problems and make a plan to address each of them.
Anyone planning to adopt should educate himself or herself on adoption. This is especially true for those considering older child placements, but this is also true for infant adoptions. Most importantly, once you adopt be vigilant about problems in your family. Contact the adoption agency sooner rather than later to get support and direction to other resources you may need.