If child protection means anything, it should mean that a child already traumatized by a lifetime of abuse will not be subjected to another series of poorly made decisions by the adults in his life.

If there is one thing that we do know, it is that adoptees need time and help adjusting to new surroundings, people, life, & everything else that has changed in their O so chaotic little universe.

If there is one thing a nation should stand for, should agree on, could vote for,… it might be providing protection for children seven and under.

Even our coarse, money driven hard bitten society might find a majority to support basic systems to insure that 7 year olds are not sent back into even worse circumstances than they are now experiencing.

What would it take to have put in place services that the Hansen family could have relied on to manage their very serious problems that would have negated casting the boy so harshly out of their home?

Of all the billions we spend on war, medications, beer, football, and advertising, where does Artyom Savelyev and his seven year old counter parts fit in?

From an international perspective, this must look like a three ring circus. From a guardian ad-Litems perspective, the conversation around child protection systems and children’s rights is long overdue.

Let’s move it along. I would really like to hear from the legal world, and stories from people that have found remedies for abused children.

I have experienced a horribly abused 7 year old with lighter fluid trying to burn down the house & know the fear of the adoptive parent staying awake nights desperate to save this precious being from herself.

It’s too late to blame anyone. It solves nothing.

We must simply try to help save them. One at a time. And yes, it does take a village. www.avahealth.org



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  1. The answer is to address post-adoptive problems pre-adoptively. Russian orphans commonly have FASD and RAD. Even the best of adoptive families cannot safely live with one of these children in their homes. Unless both governments can come together with a comprehensive plan for post adopt services that includes intensive and residential mental health care for the safety of the child and family, they should stop.

    The problem is that we have not solved this problem for domestic adoptions. American children are also being adopted by loving foster families. These abused and neglected children also have high rates of severe abuse and neglect, as you, Michael, well know. 1/3 have severe emotional disorders, 50-75% have severe behavioral disorders. The child often becomes unsafe towards other children and parents and needs residential care.

    For many states, the solution is that the state takes custody of the child again forcing the now adoptive parents to trade custody rights for mental healthcare. The child does not want this and neither does the parent. There are no criminals and no crime. The child ends up a state ward for the second time because of the trauma that placed him there in the first place.

    This is exactly what would have happened to Artyom had he stayed here. He would have ended up a ward of the state because Torry Ann could not afford $450 per day for residential care and her insurance won’t cover and neither will medicaid. Not even $1 of it. The state would have forced her to lose custody anyway. He needs intensive services that she cannot get any other way.

    The solution is to provide pre-adoptive agreements that include intensive and residential services so that adoptions can be preserved. For international adoptions they should be intercountry agreements and for domestic adoptions, adoption subsidies that include these services for children facing relinquishment for no other reason than the need residential treatment. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Washington DC calls this practice “barbaric.”


  2. Toni, Thank you for your insightful observations.

    It is terribly painful to see parents trying to find mental health resources when no insurance, and no public agency is available and nothing short of a radical act will bring closure to what could be life threatening circumstances. As a guardian ad Litem, my first cases included a four year old girl trying to kill herself, and a seven year old trying to kill her five year old sister.

    What could it have been like for the adoptive parents to raise those troubled children without affordable intensive services?

    Mental health services are truly priceless when the lives being touched are considered.

  3. What could it have been like? If you watch the link to the video at the end of my post, you will see what it is like. It happened to me. What is worse than living with a child with PTSD is being forced to make him a state ward for the second time. Why would a state take a child who is so traumatized that he cannot reside in a family home, and traumatize him further by taking the only family he has ever known and loved, and making him trade that family for mental health care?

    Forcing parents to trade custody rights for mental healthcare is traumatic for children and parents making emotional disorders worse. For adoptive children, it is really unthinkable considering they have already experienced loss, separation, and grief over losing the first family.

    This is a situation not only are we in, but many families in Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Nebraska, and Michigan. In fact MI families are preparing a class action lawsuit.

    Even the judges say-There is nobody bad here. There is no criminal. There is no crime. No laws exist that address this situation so they try to make neglect/abuse laws work when they were not intended for this purpose. In the end, either the child or the parents are unecessarily criminalized.

    We know what the post adopt problems are. It is important to address the worst case scenarios prior to the adoptions.

  4. Hello,

    I found your discussions and keynotes via Huffpost. Very actual and interesting. Mike´s family name is only originating in my country, Tikkanen is a more common name here than f.ex. the auto-dealer Palin in Pori, Finland. Minnesota could be a part of southmost Scandinavia in its natural dimensions.

    Finland has met also just like you severe problems, not only domestic and traditional but also of new type: with immigrant children care and international adoptions. We do have also a well-in-russian-media known children care conflict in two nationalities and two cultures family and they are to continue in the future.

    You are not alone with those problems. We do just have gotten a new social affairs minister, mr Juha Rehula, plus we have had some years a national children rights responsible, mrs Maria-Kaisa Aula. Her secretary is a participant in my hobby theatre group.

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