' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Adoptive Mom Here Searches for Birth Mother in Ethiopia

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Adoptive Mom Here Searches for Birth Mother in Ethiopia

News of the seven-year-old Russian boy, Artyom [Justin] Hansen returned via one-way ticket back to Russia by her American adoptive mother, Torry Ann Hansen, and her mother, Nancy Hansen, has been filling the news hole on adoption lately. I refrained from talking about it because I did not feel like slamming the Hansen women, or adoptions from Russia, or discussing alcohol-fetal syndrome, which may be at play here. A letter in today's New York Times (4/14/10), however, points out what's been on my mind:
...the dirty little secret in New York State is that the placement of a child in foster care or an expensive residential treatment center after adoption (either domestic or international) is a fairly common occurrence.

While most children who are adopted do very well, some who have endured abuse or neglect behave in very challenging ways that bring their adoptive parents to their breaking point.

The tragedy is that good services and support can keep families together. But, unfortunately, New York State continues to hide its head in the sand while these families fall apart. And its taxpayers carry the far more expensive burden of government “parenting” of these children.
Sarah Gerstenzang
The writer is a foster and adoptive parent and the executive director of the New York State Citizens’ Coalition for Children.
But instead of focusing on the little Artyom, once called Justin here in America where he is a citizen, by the way, I have a good adoption story to report. And it's about one of the troubled hotspots in adoption, Ethiopia. Through FaceBook, a women contacted me about the queasy feelings she has about the little girl she and her husband adopted from Ethiopia. She wrote: 
"I am trying to locate information on reuniting our adopted Ethiopian child with her birth family. We have located the family and my oldest daughter is traveling there tomorrow on a mission trip and will be meeting with them. I don't know at this point if we will help her to return, a lot is based on the meeting and whether or not her birth family was deceived in this whole situation.

"We have had her here a little over a year, she is 6, probably more like 8 or 9, and she is a precious child. She has not given us any problems, she has been very brave with what she has gone through. But, she loves her birth family and desires to be with them. From what she tells me, her life was pretty good and she was perfectly happy. I suspect that her family was maybe lied to about what was really happening.

"We will only return her if her birth family has deep regret and was deceived. If we do return her, we will continue to support her and her family. But, I didn't know how this process would work, or even if it would. I have not contacted our agency yet because I don't have a high trust level with them, especially on the ET (Ethiopian) end and I am waiting to see how the birth parents feel. We should know in a week which way to start going with this. The easiest thing for us would be to just keep her here, but in our hearts, we feel we have to do everything we can to reunite her. She feels like she has been abducted because nobody told her what was happening. We set out to give an orphan a family and home and was given a child who has two healthy parents whom I think love her very much, but this meeting will tell. Anyway, this is basically why I am trying to connect with you. All in all, we want what is best for the child and this is what we are seeking. Blessings!
Wow, what a story, I thought, and what a good woman and good family. I couldn't wait to hear what her daughter learned in Ethiopia. 
To be continued....


  1. While I admire this woman greatly for listening to the girl and finding her birth family, I have some trouble with the statement: "We will only return her if her birth family has deep regret and was deceived."

    The family may well have deep regret but was aware that their child was going to the US for adoption. The family was likely impoverished and may have believed that adoption was the only way to protect their daughter from starvation or being kidnapped into sex slavery. If that is the case, I hope the writer, truly a compassionate woman, will find it in her heart to help the girl and her Ethiopian family remain connected in some way.

  2. For full and factual updated reporting on the Russian case,for those who are interested, see Marley's Bastardette blog. Marley is very knowledgeable about Russia, having lived there, and is a meticulous researcher and reporter.

    The Hansens never tried to get any kind of help for Artem in the short six months that they had him, so whether services were available to them or not is moot.

    I think the Russian government was correct in shutting down adoptions to America until the sewer that enabled people like the Hansens to get a child is cleaned up. I have no compunctions about "slamming" them. I am surprised that you do.

    Artem was never diagnosed with FAS, and we have only the hearsay of the lying Hansens to base such a speculation on. He was never sent to school, and was never seen by any professional in the US. Not all children whose mothers drink have FAS, although it is a big problem in Russia, not all Russian adoptees suffer from FAS.

  3. That's an amazing story, Lo. One thing we're seeing with Ethiopia that we haven't seen in other countries is angry adoptive parents investigating and even going back to Ethiopia and demanding responsibility from adoption agencies. They are angry at abeing duped, but significantly are angry that the families of the children they adopted were torn apart by adoption greed and the children are suffering.

    Thanks, Maryanne for the plug. Bastardette is at http://bastardette.blogspot.com The story gets weirder all the time.

    BTW, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry says that adoptions have been shut down, but I got an email form NCFA a few minutes ago saying they don't know anything about it and are trying to verify. I find it hard to believe that the Foreign Ministry would make an oops like that.

  4. And I read on another blog that all Russian adoptions have been shut down, according to the New York Times. but then I could not find the New York Times story...so it goes.

  5. Here's a link to the NYT article:


  6. It's always a knife in the gut to see nysccc getting "good press". Their former exec was my son's adoption facilitator through private adoption.

    and what Gerstenzang wrote here:

    “The tragedy is that good services and support can keep families together. But, unfortunately, New York State continues to hide its head in the sand while these families fall apart”

    cuts both ways, but of course they’re only interested in good services and support for adoptive parents.



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