A searingly candid chronicle of the heroic struggle of two adoptive parents to raise their multiply disabled son.
Environmental attorney Greene (contributing author: Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories, 2012) uses her personal experience to expose the problems that may arise in international adoptions, especially when the people involved are unscrupulous. Her account begins in 2004, when she and her husband adopted two Russian children. The author weaves together a running narrative with journal excerpts from the time when 3-year-old Peter and 2-year old Sophie joined the family. After it had become apparent that Greene and her husband were unlikely to conceive a child, they decided to adopt, settling on a now-bankrupt adoption agency from her home state, Florida. The agency connected them with a remotely located Russian orphanage. Aware of the dangers involved in international adoptions, they had enlisted the services of an adoption pediatrician to help them evaluate the information sent them by the agency. As it turned out, however, in the case of Peter, photographs had been doctored to obscure visible evidence that he suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition much like autism that can occur when a pregnant mother consumes excessive amounts of alcohol. Despite warning signs visible on their first meeting with the children—Peter and Sophie were severely malnourished, but Sophie was lively, affectionate and mentally alert, while Peter was disoriented, aggressive and impulsive—the couple decided to go ahead with his adoption. They naïvely hoped that he would respond to love and training, but this was not to be. Not only does he suffer from FAS, but he has also been diagnosed with autism, an epileptic seizure disorder and more, and he now lives in a residential treatment setting with frequent home visits.
A useful, inspiring cautionary tale for prospective adoptive parents.