' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Russian Adoptees Get a Respite on the Range and assorted ramblings about anti-open-records legislators, Rosie O'Donnell and her brother, and the awful 'open-records' bill in Michigan

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Russian Adoptees Get a Respite on the Range and assorted ramblings about anti-open-records legislators, Rosie O'Donnell and her brother, and the awful 'open-records' bill in Michigan

Is there life after adoption for troubled kids, alcohol-fetal syndrome kids, too-long-in-a-terrible-orphanage kids? Maybe. While stories of adoption disruptions have been leaking into the press in dribs and drabs, and Jane's previous post discussed the overall problems/corruption in international adoption, today's New York Times today highlights a place where problem adoptees can chill while their adoptive families figure out what to do: Joyce Sterkel's Ranch for Kids in Montana. See Russian Adoptees Get a Respite on the Range.

The story had some figures on how many adoptions from Eastern Europe have been "disrupted," that is, terminated. No more forever family, kids sayeth the Times:
"Dr. Federici has tracked international adoptions since 1992 and estimates that about 4,000 from Eastern Europe alone have foundered — with children being sent into state care or to places like the Ranch for Kids or back to their home countries. He said that while he respected the impulse behind the ranch, permanent improvement could not happen without a spine of rigorous medical and therapeutic treatment.

"'It’s like a vacation at the beach — we’re always better when at the beach,' he said.

"Ms. Sterkel and her staff do not fully disagree....

“'We can’t fix the fundamental damage,' she said.'Generally, our parents have reached a place where they need to restore sanity.'

"About 70 percent of the roughly 300 children who have come here, Ms. Sterkel said, do go back to their adoptive families — though she admits she often loses track after that. Of the remaining 30 percent, the younger ones are often readopted, while adolescents typically go into the federal Job Corps program. And now there is even a second-generation to work with — a 10-month-old girl named Lilia. Lilia’s mother was adopted from Russia and came through the program herself a few years ago — fiercely unmanageable and claiming, in full embrace of the Goth lifestyle, to be a vampire. The young woman’s life did not much get better: She ended up on methamphetamine, tattooed, pierced and pregnant at age 19.
"But she came back to the ranch last year, Ms. Sterkel said, for the final months of her pregnancy, and then agreed to let the infant stay on in the Sterkel family’s care. Ms. Sterkel, now the baby’s legal guardian, said she assumed Lilia had prenatal exposure to alcohol, so she is trying everything she has learned over the years — especially physical contact, usually with the baby on her hip or lap — as an effort at early intervention therapy."
But wait, there's more: In another adoption story in today's Times, we learn that adoptionack Rosie O'Donnell, our least favorite celebrity adoptive mother (who is adamantly against open records, along with her rude and obnoxious brother, Daniel O'Donnell of the New York Senate and who will never never never vote for an open-records bill to give adoptees the right to know their birth parents, as he told us, but I digress); anyway, one of Rosie's kids is having a problem--that is, listening to her apparently, and so we get a sympathetic story about Ms. O'Donnell. All right, I'm being flip about this, I'm sure "auditory processing disorder" is a serious problem, but Daniel or Danny, you choose, O'Donnell told one of our lobbyists that he and Rosie feared that her children's birth mothers, if they ever found them, would ask O'Donnell for money, and that was a reason he would never support giving those kids, even as adults, the chance to make a decision for themselves. Rosie bought them, and they were gonna stay her property, in other words. Unfortunately that is the feeling of a lot of adoptive families who shell out $25,000 up for a kid today.

Unfortunate, yes, but true. Parents sympathetic to our cause have told me that this is the feeling of a lot of wealthy adoptive parents.

Back to O'Donnell. Just hearing his or her name makes me angry. If he is the kind of legislator we have in New York, from the uber-liberal West Side of Manhattan, in supposedly liberal New York State, it is no surprise that getting legislation passed anywhere is like walking against a thick tide of sludge. As in Michigan, where I just returned from after visiting family and friends. The supposedly "open-records" bill there now has an amendment that would criminalize contact with your birth mother/father/parents once you got your original birth certificate--if you did not go through their confidential intermediary system. And pay money that, you know, no other person, non-adopted person, that is, has to pay. Fair? Unequal under the law? Cruel and unusual?

All of the above.--lorraine
For more about the Michigan mess, see on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/topic.php?uid=47705527209&topic=14700. I'll try to come up with a site/link later today that doesn't require you to be on FB. I'm not shilling for FB, but it does have a lot of adoption-related stuff that is worthwhile. Here's the official Michigan site detailing the bad bill: http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2009-HB-4015 but it does not explain a lot. The FB site details what happened.

In the meantime, I'm trying to come up with a more recent photo--took some pix while I was home visiting--that I can live with. The one above, in truth, gives me a nifty facelift that my brother and photoshop achieved...but vanity sits deep in my heart, 'tis true. Now off to the doctor, and my husband says his computer is dying, at last, and he needs a new one.


  1. About ten years ago, a friend who had adopted two boys from Brazil, told me about a dinner she went to with other families who had adopted from Brazil to honor the woman who arranged the adoptions from a Brazilian orphanage. Among the topics discussed at the dinner was how to get the State to pay for residential treatment for these adopted kids.

    A year or two later, I went to a continuing legal education program on adoption. One of the presenter-attorneys told of adopting a girl from Brazil who had many behavior problems. He noted in an off-hand way that behavior problems was par for the course in children adopted from foreign countries.

  2. I can hear the conversation with O'Donnell and her Adopted children now Lorraine. "I want to know who my bithmother is". 'No! No! No! you CAN'T ever, ever, ever know! She might want money from me!!" This mindset of "wealthy" Adoptive Parents is so illogical and full of outrageous nerve, to imply that "birthmothers" are so skank, so lowly, so trailer trash that they would actually expect cash from those who raised their children. I am just absolutley taken aback...The O'Donnell's hypocritcal self-centeredness, which will cause Adopted children to suffer from a painful idenity crisis and all the other hell we go through to due sealed files because of this bolderdash reasoning makes my blood boil too. I only have two words for both of them. I won't post them, but I am sure everyone can figure out what they are.....

  3. Dear IA:

    Let me see, is the second word: "em"?

  4. 1. Why is it when something goes wrong it's never the parenting it's some syndrome that the kid has?

    2. Old myths die hard. My son's wealthy adoptive parents said to him - if that women asks you for money...
    They also said when I found him. "We are calling our lawyer." Son proudly said "My mother is a lawyer." Law school worth it for that alone. It was the end of that line of discussion.

    3. Why are the Adoptive parents always wealthier - even if mom's background is solidly middle class? Even in a non-$$$ system of adoption.

  5. LoL Lorraine-yes, and I add astute to the list of qualities you have that I love. The first word of course begins with an F....rotfl :)

    UM- I love that story as I am so tired of "birthmothers" being considered the cockroaches of womenhood by some uncouth, uneducated and bigoted people. Kudos to both you and your son.

  6. UM: that is a great story: My mother is a lawyer....yes, it was worth the price of admission of law school, too bad you couldn't see their faces fall when they heard that.

  7. 1. Congratulations to UM for getting a law degree after relinquishing. That must have taken a lot of strength.
    But not to forget the many mothers who, as a consequence of having had to surrender their children, were unable to finish their education and fulfill their workplace potential.

    2. It's not ALWAYS the case that Adoptive parents are wealthier than the first mother's family. Whatever the system.
    I know adopted people who were raised in poorer, less educated families than the ones into which they were born.
    Just sayin'

    Little Snowdrop

  8. The discrepancy of wealth and education can go both ways, as Snowdrop indicated. My son was placed with people very like my parents in every way, and with slightly less education. They were neither wealthy nor poor, they, my parents, me and my husband and the birthfather are all middle-class from working class background.

    The issue of anyone wanting money never came up, although the adoptive parents had other problems and issues and were not ideal parents, but then neither was I. It is sad that my son was surrendered and adopted because in the end it was so unnesessary; a lateral move that did not change much for him materially, and caused a lot of grief to us both.



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