The world was shocked in April 2010 when an adoptive mom in Tennessee sent a 7-year-old boy back to Russia because of alleged extreme behavior problems, but the possibility of your child having physical and developmental issues is very real when you adopt from any country. "A frequent concern of parents is the chance of fetal alcohol syndrome," says Tania Griasnow, Eastern European program coordinator for Carolina Adoption Services in Greensboro, North Carolina. "We encourage parents to have a pediatrician who's also an international-adoption specialist examine the child. And during the process, parents should have resources to help them manage potential problems."
Steven and Debbie Layne, of St. Charles, Illinois, have adopted four Russian children from 1997 to 2006. Each child was assessed by a pediatrician after arriving at their new home. The Laynes' oldest son qualified for developmental therapy, and the other children had physical therapy because of poor muscle tone from lack of activity in the orphanage. "Even though the agency we used is highly reputable and screens the children and orphanages they work with, you still have to expect physical and psychological issues," Debbie says. Yes, you're bringing children into a loving, nurturing, stimulating environment, she explains, but they may be coming from one that wasn't.
Russia Fast Facts
U.S. adoptions in 2010: 1,079 children
The children: Typically 12 to 15 months. More boys than girls are available under age 2.
Estimated cost: $32,000
Key requirements: Parents should be in excellent health; many chronic medical and psychological illnesses and physical disabilities may disqualify them. (This is true in many other countries as well.)
Travel: If there are two parents, both are required to travel for two trips. Each trip costs approximately $2,000 per person.
Wait time: About 12 months but may be 18 months or more for a young girl
Advantages: Relatively short wait time and probably the largest number of young children available in all of Eastern Europe. There are no age requirements for parents, and single women may adopt.