Russian adoption program in limbo

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by TONYA MOSLEY / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on April 15, 2010 at 5:48 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 15 at 5:48 PM

RENTON, Wash. - Nancy Klobucher remembers the day she got the news. A 12-day-old baby girl was up for adoption.

The agency was told by the birth mother that she never drank or used drugs.

"They said come and get her and we were delighted," said Nancy.

Twenty-six agonizing years later, Nancy now knows the birth mother lied. Their daughter suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome.

"Almost from day one she screamed and cried a lot for no reason we could determine," she said.

When Nancy saw the news of the adopted Russian boy sent back on a plane, she was horrified, but also a little sympathetic.

"Yeah, people can't believe that a 7-year-old child could be angelic and at the same time demon-like, but I'm here to say, yes, it can happen," said Nancy.

The World Association for Children and Families (WACAP) based in Renton coordinated the Tennesee adoption. They say they've never experienced a parent giving back a child like this. Dissolutions occur in about 1 percent of WACAP families.

"Our process is fairly rigorous in terms of going through study with the family, educating, preparing them, letting them know what the risks are," said WACAP CEO Lillian Thorgerson.

This case, she says, is a lesson that maybe more needs to be done.

"Perhaps we need to up the bar one more time and say to families you really need to know that we'll be coming to talk to you even more often now," said Thorgerson.

The University of Washington Adoption Medicine Program also works with adoptive families, helping detect fetal alcohol syndrome through facial features.

"You never really know there are things that can come up, but if we know the history of a child, we can prepare a family that this is what you might get," said Dr. Julia Bledsoe of the UW Adoption Medicine Program.

Dr. Bledsoe says the Tennessee case should be a lesson for both adoptive parents and agencies.

"There's a lot we can do to help families post adoption that could prevent something like this from happening," she said.

Klobucher's daughter is now on her own and working part-time. She says she loves her daughter dearly, but the Tenessee case brings up a painful reality that sometimes agency legwork and love from a new family cannot solve problems that occured before the adoption process.

"It's just a reality, but hopefully this will make people aware," she said.

The Tennesse mother described the boy as violent and severely mentally ill. The case has caused outrage in Russia, which is now demanding a treaty with the U.S. to outline rules on adoption.

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