Returning Adopted Kids: Unthinkable?

January 26th, 2010 by Kathy McManus

Returns are customary when products fail to please, but should returns be allowed for adopted children?

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The Responsibility Project

Return unused portion for refund. It’s the traditional safety net when a product fails to please or perform.

But should returns be allowed for adopted children?

The Tulsa World reports that parents Melissa and Tony Wescott want to return their 11 year-old adopted son to state custody because they say he had severe behavioral problems not disclosed prior to his 2007 adoption, including reactive detachment disorder, disruptive behavior disorder, major depressive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and fetal alcohol syndrome.

The Wescotts say that soon after the adoption, the boy attacked a neighbor child with a board, killed and injured animals, began regularly running away, and hid butcher knives and lighters in his room. “He tried to burn our home down,” said Melissa Wescott. “The note read: ‘I’m sorry you had to die.’”

State documents described the child as “polite and well mannered.”

Because the Wescotts can’t afford the lengthy legal process of having the adoption “dissolved,” they are asking the state to enact a law allowing adoptive parents to return children under certain circumstances.

“If a family can show they have exhausted every resource…to save their families and this is what they’re left with, then I think they should have this as an option,” said one supporter of the proposed legal change. “No one should be held hostage in their own homes.”

“A parent is a parent,” countered a state adoption official. “It doesn’t matter where the child came from.”

The boy has been confined to a psychiatric hospital for almost a year, and is now scheduled for release, but the Wescotts say they’re afraid to let him back in their house. Without the new law they’re seeking, they could face felony abandonment charges by turning him away.

“It hurts us to see him like this, but he doesn’t want to be with us,” said Melissa Wescott. “It’s not like we are trying to return an itchy sweater.”

Tell us what you think: Who is responsible for the boy—the Wescotts, or the state? Should parents ever be allowed to return adopted children?