Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Middle TN agencies offer adoptive families vital services

By Janell Ross • THE TENNESSEAN • April 13, 2010 For two weeks, Kathy and Arthur Fourier thought they'd adopted the perfect set of Russian twins — girls, almost 4 years old. But once the girls figured out they were with the Williamson County couple for good, things changed. "All hell broke loose," Kathy Fourier said. The girls, from an orphanage in a war zone, plotted together in Russian, laughing maniacally. One of the girls decided her toy closet was a potty. They were terrified of thunder and the family's dogs. Fourier, who once worked as a social worker and had an older daughter, said she was prepared for things to be tough, but not so exhausting. The Fouriers talked to their adoption counselor and went to support group meetings. Between their families, church and friends, the couple never felt alone. After about a year, things calmed down. Today, the Fouriers have intelligent, well-behaved 15-year-old girls. The story of a Shelbyville, Tenn., woman who returned her adopted 7-year-old Russian son alone to Moscow has local adoptive parents reflecting on what they had to do to make their families work. Institutional settings dominate Russia's child welfare system, making it difficult for some abandoned children to bond with their new parents, but there are services available in Middle Tennessee to help families navigate the transition. The Shelbyville mother, Torry Hansen, apparently sent a note along with her son saying he had severe psychological issues, and her mother said the boy threatened to burn the house down. "The challenge for children who are internationally born and older is that the majority have been in an orphanage, an institutional setting that — even under the best conditions — is not the best place for a child," said Debbie Robinson, executive director of Miriam's Promise, a Nashville adoption agency that helps arrange international adoptions but was not involved in the Shelbyville case. "Then we pick them up and move them to a family and expect them to know how to respond. It doesn't really work that way."

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