The Norman Transcript


October 7, 2013

Failed adoptions stir outrage



Among those expressing dismay was novelist David Guterson, a resident of Puget Sound’s Bainbridge island, the author of “Snow Falling on Cedars” and the adoptive father of an Ethiopian child.

“Current laws are patently insufficient and in dire need of overhaul,” Guterson wrote last month in a Seattle Times op-ed.

Guterson and Roberts, the sponsor of the failed bill, said future efforts should focus on better pre-adoption screening. Both cited the legal hurdles in the way of any mandatory post-adoption scrutiny.

“Once the adoption is declared final, we have no rights to go fishing around and asking how are things going,” Roberts said. “If it were possible legally, we should give it a try. But there’s a point of finality, when the court says this child is now yours, and the state — unless there’s a complaint or evidence of abuse or neglect — has no role.”

Joe Kroll, executive director of the Minnesota-based North American Council on Adoptable Children, worries that horror stories of failed adoptions might trigger overreactions that would intrude on the autonomy and rights of the many successful adoptive families. An adoptive father himself, Kroll said he wouldn’t want his Korea-born daughter raised under any system that differentiated her from biological children.

Melanie Chung-Sherman, an adoption therapist in Dallas who also was adopted from South Korea, said post-adoption monitoring would be unfeasible unless parents volunteered for it.

“The families are ready to move on and become independent of all these third parties that have been involved in their lives,” she said.

However, Chung-Sherman said families considering adoption should be made aware of the potential challenges.

“It’s hard to tell somebody, ‘I want you to expect the worst,”’ she said. “The reality is, not everyone should adopt.”

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