Of the 60,000 Russian orphans who have found families through adoption by Americans, my son is one.

He is seven. He is from Moscow. He lived in an orphanage, and waited for a family.

He may not be unlike the adopted little Russian boy who was sent back to Moscow on a plane by himself with nothing more than a note from his adoptive mother stating he was being returned like some unwanted sweater. “I no longer wish to parent this child,” she wrote in the note according to The New York Times.

But he is not an article of clothing you can discard or a pet you can dump on the street when you deem it to be too much work. He is a person, a little boy without family to love him. A boy traumatized by an overfilled, underfunded orphanage in a poor country. And he was her little boy. He may have had “violent tendencies” and “severe psychopathic issues” as Torry Hansen, the mother, wrote in her note (possibly due to beatings by a broom handle in the orphanage, which is what the boy told his mother after the adoption), but whether you birth a child or adopt one, they are yours; they are a part of you, and that’s forever.

Today, due to this woman’s negligent act, Russia has suspended all adoptions to U.S. families until the two countries can agree on procedures according to NPR. Russian citizens are outraged that no charges have been filed against Ms. Hansen, and Russian officials are freezing adoptions until a treaty is enacted allowing them to have legal means to protect Russian children abroad, leaving roughly 3,000 U.S. applications for adoptions in that country hanging in the balance.

The Tennessee native insists she was lied to by the officials at the Russian orphanage, which may be true, however, whenever you go through an international adoption, and possibly any adoption, you never quite get the whole story. (My sister was adopted, too, domestically in the 70′s, and she in fact did not have a right to any of her paperwork – legal and medical documents containing information about her – so she searched and dug and wormed her way in until she got the information she needed).

A code of silence seems to exist in adoption. And both parties are aware of it. The agencies are not going to tell you anything unless you ask, and you are too afraid to ask. But you do your homework. You search for a reputable adoption agency. You hire your own doctors who specialize in international adoption to review the child’s file and video if there is one. You hire a doctor in Russia to visit your child for an independent evaluation. But before all that you ask yourself what can I handle? What can I take on?

You have to know going in that any child who comes from an orphanage or any less than ideal situation, will most likely have issues to work out. And the longer they’ve been in those conditions the more complex their adjustment and development will be. My son was nearly 4 when he came home. We’ve had some obstacles to overcome, but my son came from a relatively good orphanage in Moscow, and the day we picked him up from the orphanage to go home he was ready to be an American – and a card-carrying member of the Dastis family. He is, in fact, the most enthusiastic and happiest person I know.

I can’t say what I would have done had I adopted a child who hit, kicked, and spit at me, but I do know I never would have sent him away. The day the adoption was declared legal in Russia was the day he became my child. Honestly, he became my child long before that. It was the day I received his videotape from our adoption agency. And in my heart I know it was even earlier. It was on the day he was born.

I have always been an adoption advocate. I say everyone should adopt. But I know adoption really isn’t right for everybody. I’ve always contended, though, neither is producing biological children. Many people are not suited to be parents, actually,
and as I sit here writing this I want to wretch. I want to scream, yell, curse and cry. But that doesn’t solve anything. I don’t know the exact answer. I just try to do my part.

Five years ago when we were going through the adoption process, a number of books and my husband tried to convince me that love does not fix all things, and I conceded that may be true. But it can fix a lot.