Washington State Bill to Protect Adoptees from Abuse: Why Not Enforce Current Law for ALL?

While well intentioned, a new bill introduced in Washington state has me wondering about the way America measures the worth of its children.  The bill, sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, is aimed at protecting adopted children from abuse and neglect.

I believe that adoptive parents should be held to a high standard of behavior because they are given the monumental responsibility of caring for a child who has already faced tremendous loss. However, it doesn’t make sense to single out adoptive parents with a new child abuse law.  Instead,  laws that are already in place need enforcement.

I’m pretty  sure that Rep. Roberts would agree that:

Every child, no matter its race, country of origin or parental connection should be guaranteed a safe home in America.

A recent Washington Herald article, states that the proposed bill would “require prospective parents to disclose their planned approach to discipline and punishment.”

Totally Sever/Flickr.com

Totally Sever/Flickr.com

This is a lovely notion, and in a land of lollypops and rainbows every prospective parent would be honest about their intentions.  I can just hear them at a home visit saying, “Well Miss Social Worker, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna beat the crap out of the kid everyday, lock them in the closet when they get on my nerves, and starve them occasionally for a hoot.”

Let me say from personal experience, that several home visits and screening did not stop my adoptive parents from adopting two infant children, and that my adoptive father had a track record of domestic abuse under his big, bad belt at the time.

Some will defend that at least Roberts is doing something, and I agree. Her Bill is bringing attention to the tragic stories presented in the  September 2012 “Severe Abuse of Adopted Children Committee Report.”  This State of Washington report details the abuse of 15 adopted children, two of whom died at the hands of their adoptive parents. Plus, her adoptee protection bill calls for several screening practices including; the assessment and training of prospective parents, and the establishment of adoption support services.

The problem with the proposed law is that it will no more stop adoptees from being abused, than current child endangerment laws prevent biological parents from neglecting, maiming  and killing innocent children everyday.

I was particularly offended by a quote in a Capitol Record article  in which David Gusterson of Adoptive Parents of Ethiopian Community says, “We have a duty as a society to be doing a much better job, in particular when we’re bringing in children from other countries. We drag children in from other countries and they end up locked in closets, abused, starved or dead.”

Does this mean that a child adopted into America from a far off land, rather than being pushed out on American soil, is more valuable and deserving of protection?

I don’t think so. How about you?

Learn more and contact Rep. Mary Helen Roberts.

Blessings for violence free homes for all,


Moscow to Manhattan: Russian Adoption Ban puts Focus on American Abuse

Happy New Year!

I have been mulling over the Russian adoption news announced in late December, and after two weeks of contemplation, here’s my take on the situation. As most of you have heard by now, Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has banned the adoption of Russian children to US residents.

President Vladimir Putin

President Vladimir Putin

The Wall Street Journal reports that the adoption ban was “pushed through parliament to retaliate for a new U.S. law aimed at punishing alleged Russian human-rights violators.” Reportedly, Putin also considered recent cases of American’s returning adopted children when they could not cope, and the killing of 19 Russia adoptees in American homes.

In February, I blogged on the news that a  Tennessee woman put her Russian born adopted 7-year-old on a plane back to Russia, due to his violent behavior, and the death of Nathanial Craver,  a 7-year old Russian adoptee killed by his adoptive parents.  In that post, I suggested that all countries require etxtensive psychological testing for prospective adoptive parents.

While I feel horrible for the fifty or so families who were in the process of adopting from Russia, when Putin pulled the rug on the adoption process, I feel worse for the 19 murdered Russian children who were sent to live in our great country, where parents are purported to be superior and the opportunities abundant. Those orphans left Russia with the same heart hope that every abandoned child carries, and landed in the killing fields of poorly monitored US adoptive homes.

Child abuse is rampant in America. Monitoring and background checks of prospective adoptive families are lax, and even long term monitoring would not expose all the demon parents out there. However, more needs to be done.

Just because you happen to be American, and want a kid does not automatically entitle you to adopt one. Adoptive parents should be held to high standards, because they are raising a child already damaged by abandonment.  I think Putin saw a political opportunity, and used it to his advantage, but it was America’s plague of abuse, and lack of child justice that made it easy for him to do so.

Some statistics from the National children’s Alliance:

  • Nearly five children die every day in America from abuse and neglect.
  • In 2010, an estimated 1,560 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States.
  • In the same year, Children’s Advocacy Centers around the country served over 266,000 child victims of abuse, providing victim advocacy and support to these children and their families. In 2011, this number was over 279,000.

Blessings for a safe, just and honorable new year,
UPDATE 1/11/13: Washinton Post reports that Putin’s ban on American adoption will not go into effect for one year. This could mean that adoptions already approved by Russian courts will be completed. It would be interesting to follow the adoptions that do go through to see how many are healthy and successful for the children.