April 12th, 2010
01:39 PM ET

What to know and do when adopting a child

Program Note: To learn more about problems and issues associated with international adoption and to hear from adoption medicine specialist, Dr. Jane Aronson, watch AC360° tonight at 10pm ET.

A 7-year-old Russian boy adopted by an American family last year was put on a return flight to Moscow this week because of violent and psychotic behavior, according to a Tennessee grandmother.

A 7-year-old Russian boy adopted by an American family last year was put on a return flight to Moscow this week because of violent and psychotic behavior, according to a Tennessee grandmother.

FRUA, Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption, has put together a list of 10 common-sense steps to help you get the information and support you need when planning to adopt a child.

1. Prepare yourselves to parent.
There’s no such thing as too much information. Most families use an adoption agency, and you can expect your adoption agency to require you to take training Welcome the opportunity to learn all you can. There are also online courses available to prospective adoptive parents.

2. Support is critical.
Start lining it up now to help you navigate the adoption process and to help your family through the post-adoption adjustments and beyond. Let extended family and friends know you’ll need some extra support during this pre-adoption time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in very concrete ways – someone to drive with you to your state capital to get an apostille on a document, for example, or to advise on the necessary equipment to care for a baby. When family and friends offer help, take it.

3. Maintain realistic expectations so you won’t be disappointed frequently.
There are many unknowns in this process and plenty of opportunities for disappointment or feeling like a bad parent. Take Dr. Aronson’s advice: Do your research; and set appropriate expectations. Don’t plan, for instance, to throw a huge party to introduce family and friends to your child as soon as you arrive home. You need to give your child time to adjust to the new environment and to bond with you first.

4. Know who you are, whom you want, and what you can handle.
This may seem self-evident, but giving thought to these questions early in the process will save you time and disappointment. For instance, you may think you know the characteristics of the child you want, but are you sure you know how your partner feels? If you disagree, how will you work this out? Would you both be OK with a trans-racial adoption? Do you know what racial identity issues can arise as your child grows up, and how you would handle them? Do you prefer an infant or an older child? Boy or girl? Sibling group? Could you handle a special needs child? What inner resources and strength do you have to love and nurture a child who turns out to have special needs years after the adoption? Do you have a faith, family, and friends to sustain you? Do you have the financial resources to handle any post-adoption medical, developmental, behavioral, or learning issues? Do you have other children whose needs must be considered? Can you appreciate the culture of your child’s birth country and seek out ways to help your child learn and value the culture?

5. Choose the right adoption agency.

6. Create a budget.

7. Have the medical information in your referral reviewed to determine as best you can how healthy the child is and is likely to be.

8. Start identifying the resources you will need after your child comes to live with you.

9. Record, record, record.

10. Take care of yourselves.

Read more about steps 5-10...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Adoption • Parenting
April 12th, 2010
12:25 PM ET

Video: Haiti's schools re-open...many in tents

Gary Tuchman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Filed under: Education • Gary Tuchman • Haiti
April 12th, 2010
12:18 PM ET

Five lessons from GOP's Southern gathering

Palin 'acting more like the kingmaker than the king.'

Palin 'acting more like the kingmaker than the king.'

Kristi Keck

The GOP this past weekend wrapped up its annual Southern Republican Leadership Conference, where attendees discussed policy, lashed out at the Obama administration and laid the groundwork for what they hope will be a major comeback in the midterm elections.

More than a dozen speakers took the stage to rally and recharge Republicans during the three-day pep rally in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are five lessons learned from the event.

1. No clear leader - yet

The GOP has a slew of prominent voices, but Republicans have yet to produce a clear leader to carry the party mantle in 2012.

Nine prominent Republicans were on the ballot in the SRLC's 2012 straw poll. Former Massachusetts' Gov. Mitt Romney came out on top, beating Texas Rep. Ron Paul buy a single vote.

Romney and Paul each received 24 percent, followed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (18 percent each); former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (4 percent); Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence (3 percent each); former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (2 percent); and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (1 percent).

Republican leaders, however, seemed to be in no rush finalize the playing field for 2012. Instead, they're focusing their efforts on the midterms.

Keep Reading for Lessons 2-4...

April 12th, 2010
12:17 PM ET

Nuclear terrorism is most urgent threat

The Natanz facility in Iran, where highly enriched uranium is being developed.

The Natanz facility in Iran, where highly enriched uranium is being developed.

Valerie Plame Wilson
Special to CNN

The story of how I became a national figure in the media is widely known, but few people know what I actually did for the CIA.

I was a covert operations officer specializing in nuclear counter proliferation - essentially, making sure the bad guys didn't get the bomb.

My job was to create and run operations that sought to peer into the procurement networks and acquisition chains of rogue nations. It was intense, tactical, creative and demanding. I believed that there was no more important work to be done.

I resigned from the CIA in 2006 because it was no longer possible to do the covert work for which I was highly trained and which I loved. This happened because in 2003, my covert identity was revealed in retaliation against my husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, who wrote an op-ed piece in which he accused the White House of distorting the intelligence that was used to draw us into the Iraq war.

But I did not lose my belief that the danger of nuclear terrorism was the most urgent threat we face. Nor did I lose my passion for working, albeit in a new way, to address that threat. I am working on this issue now as part of the international Global Zero movement, in which political, military and faith leaders, experts and activists strive for the worldwide elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Nuclear Weapons • Technology • Terrorism
April 12th, 2010
11:51 AM ET

Obama's nuclear strategy: What's different?

President Barack Obama hosts leaders from 46 countries for a two-day nuclear security summit starting

President Barack Obama hosts leaders from 46 countries for a two-day nuclear security summit starting

Eben Harrell

It is 72 pages long and filled with arcane deterrence language, but there's arguably no more important document in the world right now than the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that President Obama released on Tuesday. After all, the text spells out how many nuclear weapons the U.S. will continue to deploy around the world and the conditions under which it would be prepared to use those weapons — no small thing considering that its arsenal is big enough to threaten the survival of the species. Here are five ways in which Obama has shifted — or not shifted — U.S. nuclear policy from the George W. Bush years.

1. It's still MAD
In a historic speech in Prague last April, Obama pledged to "end Cold War thinking." Yet the U.S. still has a cache of land- and sea-based missiles and long-range bombers. The reason? The idea of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is still central to America's nuclear standoff with Russia. With thousands of weapons ready to launch at a moment's notice and with both sides retaining the option to "launch on warning" of an incoming attack, Obama said during the presidential campaign that the U.S. was unnecessarily exposing itself to accidental nuclear war, in the event of faulty radar alerts or computer glitches. (Long-range missiles do not have a self-destruct button and cannot be rerouted mid-flight.) While it is highly unlikely that the U.S. and Russia would ever intentionally engage in nuclear war, the NPR does nothing to carry out Obama's pledge to lessen the chance of accidental nuclear war by taking U.S. missiles off hair-trigger alert.

2. The U.S. won't start a nuclear war (against friendly nations at least)

Keep Reading

April 12th, 2010
11:04 AM ET
April 12th, 2010
10:35 AM ET
April 12th, 2010
10:29 AM ET

Video: Adopted Russian boy sent packing

Program Note: Watch AC360° tonight at 10pm ET to learn more about this little boy's story and other real problems and concerns about adoptions from overseas.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Adoption • Parenting • Randi Kaye • Russia
April 12th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Sound Off: Your comments 4/9/10

Editor's Note: Many of you wrote in with comments about the Russian adoption story. Some of you were appalled at the adoptive parent’s behavior; others asked us to investigate the Russian side of adoption problems further. You also appreciated seeing the continuing discussion of bullying in schools and asked that more be done to educate teachers and parents of the warning signs.


What airline would allow a 7 year old to take a flight from the US to Russia unaccompanied?

Please investigate the track record of Russian adoption problems. Many of these children are victims of fetal alcoholic syndrome and having been in overcrowded orphanages frequently have behavior problems. I, myself, know of 2 families who divorced because of the strains of dealing with such issues.

In the past Russia has had the reputation for intentionally concealing mental and physical defects of the children they offer for adoption. Russia may not be an innocent party to this incident. However, that does not excuse the adoptive parents' behavior regarding the manner in which they dealt with the situation. There are proper means of addressing the problem and this was not one of them.

I'm glad you keep covering Phoebe's story and focusing on teasing and bullying at school. It's gone on way too long and the consequences are getting more severe.

So sad about the 15-year-old girl committing suicide. What the school should do and should have done already is to have a Bully Awareness assembly for the students, learning about what bullying is and its consequences. At the end of it, students should have to sign a document saying that they understood the material covered during the assembly. At my school we annually hold assemblies and the result has reduced the amount of bullying considerably.

Good job keeping them honest. I am a teacher and there is no way those teachers did not see this turn from a joke to something more serious. I used to call students to my office to find out if there was a problem, and then send them to the appropriate person, in addition to calling parents. I am sorry– this suicide was inexcusable. Follow-through is important.

Filed under: Behind The Scenes
April 12th, 2010
07:12 AM ET

Dear President Obama #448: Lessons of the crows

Reporter's Note: I love birds. I don’t know if President Obama does, but then again, I don’t know if he likes letters either; and yet I write one to the White House every day.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

If I were independently wealthy (a condition that I do not fear in the immediate future,) I can assure you that I would spend at least a year of my life studying crows; photographing them, recording their behavior, finding out how much and how fast they can learn, perhaps taking them to the movies from time to time and enjoying a light supper afterward. Crows are magnificent, fascinating, beautiful, and some of the smartest creatures on earth. Oh sure, the dolphins are fun to watch, and the apes seem a lot like us, but for sheer knock-you-over brilliance, I’ll take a crow any day.

Over the weekend, I had a Close Encounter of the Crow Kind…closer in fact than I have ever enjoyed before. My wife and I had just parked our car near a favorite breakfast spot when a crow sailed up and landed on a fence some ten or twelve feet away. He (or she) eyed us, and patiently waited while I snapped a few quick photos, and then kept waiting. I stepped closer, and still the bird waited. Closer still, until I was only an arm’s length away, and this harbinger of the night still sat there.

Finally it occurred to me what was happening. The bird knew this was a restaurant; knew that food was often nearby; and knew that humans could make it available. My wife found a scrap of a Pop Tart left in the car by one of the kids; I put it on the fence, not a foot and a half from my new pal, and the bird hopped over to take it and fly away. I was thrilled beyond belief.


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