April 28th, 2010
04:42 PM ET

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2007/HEALTH/conditions/10/05/hfh.alcohol.breast.cancer/art.wine.glasses.gi.jpg caption="FAS can occur when a mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy."]

Program Note: Be sure to watch AC360° at 10 p.m. ET. for our story on the rehabilitation of a child adopted from Russia with fetal alcohol syndrome.

National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications. For more information on fetal alcohol syndrome, read NOFAS' fact sheet here.

Filed under: Adoption • Parenting
April 28th, 2010
04:33 PM ET

Caring for adopted kids: how the WWO helps

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/01/26/haiti.orphans/story.orphanage.haiti.gi.jpg caption="Dr. Aronson's WWO works with orphanages abroad to ensure children have adequate medical care." width=300 height=169]

Program Note: Adoption specialist Dr. Jane Aronson will speak about how to cope with a troubled adopted child tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET. as part of our story on the rehabilitation of a child adopted from Russia with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Worldwide Orphans Foundation

Dr. Jane Aronson's Worldwide Orphans Foundation addresses the medical and developmental needs of children living in orphanages abroad. As the Director of International Pediatric Health Services in New York, she treats adopted children both from inside the U.S. and abroad. Learn more about the work of the WWO and Dr. Aronson here.

Filed under: Adoption
April 14th, 2010
12:18 PM ET

Torry Hansen should have sought help

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/04/09/us.russian.adoption.return/story.russian.boy.rtr.jpg caption="" width=300 height=169]

Patricia Cogen
Special to CNN

By all appearances, Torry Hansen returned her 7-year-old adopted son to Russia like a pair of pants that didn't fit. As a result, Russia is considering closing adoptions to American families.

The parents of internationally adopted children, like myself, and the agencies that work with them are horrified by the family's actions - Torry Hansen's mother put the boy on a plane with a note - but also empathetic: We know just how challenging and frustrating raising such a child can be.

But mainly, many are shocked that she apparently did not reach out for the help that is available. Torry Hansen wanted a child to love, her mother, Nancy Hansen, told The Associated Press. Unfortunately her expectations were a mismatch with reality.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Adoption • Russia
April 14th, 2010
12:00 PM ET

To Russia, for love: Adoptive parents on edge as suspension threatened

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/LIVING/04/13/russian.adoption.families/story.russian.adoption.families.courtesy.jpg caption="Valera has lived nine years in a Russian orphanage and is weeks away from having a home." width=300 height=169]

Jessica Ravitz

Valera remembered being left in the Russian snow. How he lost his lower arms and some of his toes, he wasn't always sure. At times, he said he was in a fire. The truth of what the 14-year-old experienced in his early years, no one will ever know.

The orphanage where he lives said Valera was abandoned as a small child at a hospital in St. Petersburg, Russia. He had gangrene, the result of meningitis and an infection, which forced amputations. He was released to the orphanage in Nizhny Lomov, where he's waited nine years for parents and a home to call his own.

On Saturday, Stephen Jack and his wife, Christine, will leave their Goldsboro, North Carolina, home to fly to Russia, the final step in a 15-month journey they hope will give the boy what he's always wanted.

Keep reading...

April 13th, 2010
11:42 AM ET

Video: Adoption and rejection

Anderson Cooper talks about the outrage over the 7-year-old adopted boy sent back to Russia and other international adoption problems with Dr. Jane Aronson, international adoption specialist and founder and CEO of Worldwide Orphans Foundation and with legal analyst Lisa Bloom.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Adoption • Dr. Jane Aronson • Lisa Bloom • Parenting
April 13th, 2010
10:26 AM ET
April 12th, 2010
03:26 PM ET
April 12th, 2010
02:39 PM ET

Russia's orphanages and a little girl named Anna

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/04/09/us.russian.adoption.return/story.russian.boy.rtr.jpg caption="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." width=300 height=169]

Editor's Note: In 1998, Dr. Jane Aronson, adoption medicine specialist and Director of International Pediatric Health Services in New York City, traveled to Russia to learn more about orphanages and pediatric care, and to check up on one particular little girl, Anna. Read Dr. Aronson’s account of her trip below and watch AC360° at 10pm ET tonight to hear her thoughts on the adopted boy who was sent back to Russia alone.

Dr. Jane Aronson
Director of International Pediatric Health Services

January 24, 1998

It's hard to believe that I really traveled to Russia 4 months ago. As a pediatrician specializing in international adoption, I wanted to visit orphanages in Russia and learn more about the medical care of children in Russia. When I talk about my visit to Moscow and Saratov, I get passionate about every adventure. Even 90 degree temperatures did not seem to bother me. The mosquitoes kept me from sleeping comfortably, but I love telling everyone about my 20 mosquito bites in Moscow. In case you're interested, there are no screens in Russia.

My great grandmother, Rose, was born in Chernigov in Ukraine in the mid-1800's. My grandfather, Abe, was born in Skritsk, a small Jewish ghetto about 500 miles north of Odessa at the turn of the century. I felt as if I had something in common with all the Russians whom I met. I wanted to tell them about my heritage and they were truly interested in my family origins. People acknowledged me as Russian.

Saratov, a small city of 1 million people about 500 miles southwest of Moscow along the Volga River was our first destination. The orphanage in Saratov was shabby and old, but as we entered the infant and toddler living areas, the light from the large windows filled the room. There were very few staff caring for the children, but they appeared to be friendly and kind. This orphanage was occupied by 80 to 100 children with a staff of five; there was one director and a full time doctor. I met with the doctor and the director and after the initial "stranger anxiety" we amiably discussed the medical needs of the orphanage. I made a list of their requests and explained that we would work very hard to bring them medical supplies on subsequent trips to Saratov. They were very appreciative, but I really don't think they thought we would ever return.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Adoption • Parenting • Russia
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.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/04/09/us.russian.adoption.return/story.russian.boy.rtr.jpg caption="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." width=300 height=169] 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
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
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