U.S. government, adoption agencies seldom help; one family shares challenges of caring for daughter
NEW YORK – Amanda Alexander always wanted to adopt. In 2008, when her adoption agency sent a picture of a Russian girl who was available, Amanda fell in love.
The girl was almost 2, and the agency warned that she had a “developmental and speech delay.” Two years later, an American doctor also diagnosed the girl with fetal alcohol syndrome and severe attachment disorders.
Now 7 years old, Alexander says, the girl has attacked her mother and classmates and tried to cut out her tongue with scissors. In the last three years, she has been hospitalized nine times for psychiatric care.
The Alexanders sought help from schools, social workers and other parents. But they found there is little assistance available for parents of international adoptees, particularly when children have severe trauma and emotional problems.
Their situation reflects a quandary faced by adoptive parents across the United States. With high hopes and often at great expense, families have adopted needy boys and girls from orphanages overseas, only to realize after returning to America that the children have behavioral or psychiatric problems that hadn’t been diagnosed or disclosed.
Many parents are unprepared to handle the problems. Their adoption agencies often won’t help. And neither will the U.S. government. Amanda Alexander left a job in management to devote time to her daughter. The Alexanders travelled from Seattle to Virginia to meet specialists, amassed enormous medical bills and moved to a different state to get better care for her.
Visit http://www.reuters.com for a Reuters investigation into the case of a child adopted from Haiti and handed off over the Internet.