Returning an Adopted Child...

[deleted account] ( 23 moms have responded )

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?

Debate Taken from another source...

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Shelby - posted on 02/19/2010

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I fully believe that the state should be held responsible here. This child is well on his way to killing someone, and if released into the home of this couple, could very well be them. I don't believe that it is fair for them to fear for their lives because they unknowingly adopted a psychopathic killer. Sick or not, THere is not always something that can be done. This boy is 11, not 3, Its a lot easier to harness a 3 year old wielding a knife than it is a teenage boy welding one. In my opinion they absolutely should be able to return this child to the state under these extreme circumstances. No, the child's future is definitely not a bright one under the state's care, He'll probably be institutionalized the rest of his life, but I mean he is 11 already. He hasn't had a great start, He doesn't have a foundation to return to. Is it worth risking the life of others? Its a sad situation for sure. I would not want to be in that situation, but if it were even my biological child, I mean there is no way to compare. This kind of thing ( I can't say NEVER) so I'll say rarely happens that just out of the blue, at 11 years old a child snaps and becomes a sociopath without warning...At least if you have raised your child, and start to see problems they have that basic underlying goodness there, They were raised with love and stability. Unfortunately this child doesn't have that, and its hard to start at 11. It may not be right for all children to just "be returned", but for the safety of this family, The problem should not rest solely on their shoulders.

Sharon - posted on 02/19/2010

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Look, I'm sorry but the state knowingly gave over a psychopath. There is no way that child had those issues and no one knew didn't know about it.

Your average person is NOT equipped to handle an older child with those issues.

Adoption is expensive. Treatment for being a psychopath is lengthy and expensive. Losing your home because the psychopath someone dumped on you because they didn't want to be responsible any more is more than wrong.

If you've always wanted a big family but your record shows a convicted murderer/violent person resides in your home, you're SCREWED. It sucks.

Damned if you do, Damned if you don't.

I believe in this case with the information above - the state is responsible. In the 80s a LARGE number of these cases came to light. The States not releasing information before adoption and people taking home children that were beyond dangerous.

A psychopathic child, like they adopted, is NOT bondable. He has not formed any attachments to anyone and misses nothing. Its hard to fathom looking at my 3 kids that there isn't some kernal of childhood sweetness deep under there but can anyone really afford losing their home and future of having any family based on the lies of the government?

JL - posted on 02/18/2010

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There is a difference between having the child institutionalized and relinquishing all rights and turning him back over to the state. They are pushing for the latter and I do have an issue with it as someone who taught middle schoolers with serious behavioral problems. I had kids that had gone through 8 adopted families because the families just could not deal with them ..well it affected those children deeply more than you can imagine and what issues they already were battling were exaperated by the feeling that no one wanted or cared about them.

Most of these kids were born into horrific circumstances that they could not control and their behavioral problems result from that. I can understand feeling fear and being lost at how to deal with those children, but why not do everything in your power to help them out whether that is therapy, medication, or institutionalizing them. Giving up on them because they are not the ideal child is wrong. THey don't have to have him in their home if they can proof he is a danger but they don't have to cut him off and relinquish their parental responsiblity. They should institutionalize him but maintain their parental rights and let that child know that they are there for him no matter how screwed up he is they will not give up on him.

This story really bothers me because working with kids with major emotional violent issues I have seen and heard firsthand the pain and disillusioned hate they struggle with when the adults in their life give up on them.


I do not think the new law should be made because it will lead to abuse and so many children will be dumped back into the system because they did not meet the expectations of the adopted parents......I mean let's get real most of the kids in the system who are adopted are born into crappy circumstances and they have some sort of behavioral, emotional or learning disability because of it and they deserve the chance to have loving parents just as much as any other kid.

Carolee - posted on 02/18/2010

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Putting a child in an institution is not the same as "giving" them back to the state. When in an institution, the parents still have all the parental rights and can/should visit when possible. "Returning" them to the state absolves them from any type of parental duty, and the kid is then either shoved off onto another family or is institutionalized by the state. Staying the parents and finding help for the institutional stay for the child would let the child know that, even though he's having an extremely rough time dealing with his emotions, he's still wanted in some tiny aspect... he's just too dangerous to be at home right now.

[deleted account]

Part of me can understand why the parents migh think it's in his best interests to be returned to state custody because they don't have the ability to meet his needs. Another part of me thinks that when you make a commitment to adopt a child, you are taking on the same obligations as if the child was a birth child. If their birth child was acting this way would they be as ready to hand him over? Obviously I can't answer that question because I'm not in their position, but I can't imagine being ready to hand my son over no matter what his behavioural issues were.

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23 Comments

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Jackie - posted on 02/19/2010

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I would also find it VERY hard to believe this was undetected, that's part of the biggest reasoning behind my earlier post that I would be looking into suing the state. Esp. if there has been history of this happening in the past which I didn't know about.

And I do agree with SHaron on the comment about how you aren't "crushing" this child by returning him b/c with these types of disorders they don't experience emotion the way the rest of us do...which is why they can go through with some of the insane stories you hear about on the news.

Jackie - posted on 02/19/2010

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Ya, they didn't go to the state saying they were looking for a problem child though. Sounds like somehow they did get him institutionalized but now he's being released so I took it as they had no grounds to keep him in. And to do a private psych hospital may not be something they can financially afford. I would def. want to know if there was an option to have him in a State instiution before knowing how I really felt.

[deleted account]

But Christina, it was a little more than "not a little angel.' He has definite psychiatric issues that can't be solved by positive parenting and communication skills. Most of us would be OK with kids who need lots of patience and understanding, but I could find it difficult to cope with someone who was so aggressive and dangerous. The situation would require lots and lots of intervention from government agencies and mental health professionals.

It would be interesting to know EXACTLY what information the Westcotts were given.If they were told the complete truth about the boy's problems, they may not have gone ahead with the adoption.



And that's the nub of the problem. Perhaps they didn't completely understand what they were getting themselves into? Perhaps it was all done in a hurry, and all parties were guilty of not carefully considering all facts? Perhaps they thought they were doing the right thing but it was too hard so they exaggerated their lack of information?



Whatever the situation (and I have a nagging suspicion we don't have the complete story here) there MUST be lots of interaction between the adoption agency and the Westcotts and mental health professionals.



I certainly can't imagine wanting to get rid of any of my kids, no matter what they'd done, but if one of them were endangering others I might have to. But I would rather go down the medical path and get him institutionalised - still MY child - rather than handing him back to the state.

C. - posted on 02/18/2010

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That's why I was having a problem, Teresa, deciding whether or not I agreed with it. The parents were lied to, but what Joy just wrote in her last post has amazing points. (I know you weren't referring to my post, but since I was on the fence about it earlier I decided to comment)





(@everyone) I do think it's wrong that the parents were not given correct information and whatever agency they went through should not go unpunished. However, when adopting a child you have to take everything into consideration. Not all children are going to be little angels, especially if they have been passed from home to home. You know, there was a story that I heard on TV last week (I think it was on Birth Day, or one of those baby shows) but the pregnant woman was adopted and she was saying how grateful she was to her adoptive mother b/c even though she had been a pretty bad teenager at times, her mother still kept putting forth the effort to talk to her and never sent her back. I think all adoptive parents need to take a step back when times get a little tough and realize the impact they could have on the child. They could really end up making a difference if they don't give up on them. And if you think about it, maybe the kid is acting out B/C he had probably gone through several different homes and maybe he is trying to make them get rid of him so it won't hurt as bad if they decided to years down the road. I don't know.. I have to agree with Joy on this one though.

[deleted account]

Oh sorry, I thought they had tried to get him the help that he needed, but were coming up w/ roadblocks FROM the state that could have been resolved if he were 'back in the system'.. It was discussed on another board I'm on and that was my understanding.

In any case, they were lied to about this child which I find extremely disturbing for them AND him.

[deleted account]

I agree w/ Laura. It would break my heart to 'give up' my child to an institution/facility of some type, but if our lives were in danger and I were not capable of giving my child the type of help he/she needs and deserves then I would do it. It wouldn't be something I would be doing TO my child, but something I would be doing FOR them. I in no way, shape, or form would ever stop loving my child or being involved in his/her life in any way that I could, but living w/ me when they are a real threat to me or my other children's lives? Not happening.

C. - posted on 02/18/2010

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I think that would just be awful! Imagine what the child must feel if they are being returned.. They probably feel like nobody will EVER want them. I don't think it's right to return a child. If they are going to adopt, they should be willing to put in every effort for that child to feel comfortable and a part of the family.



On the other hand, if they are endangering the lives of your family.. I don't know. I'm kind of torn on this one.

Jackie - posted on 02/18/2010

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And I do agree that I dont' think I would endanger my entire famiyl for the sake of one...and in their case its not even a biological child. Thats why my first comment was inclination towards seeking further comittment to a psych program of some sort. This is not a child that will just "get better", he needs professional help and they can't give it to him. And in agreement with whoever said it, yes you can take this same course of action with a bio child with severe behavioral issues if that is the help they need that is what is best for them.

Jackie - posted on 02/18/2010

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I was confused at first just scanning some responses b/c they made it sound like these parents had a choice and my first response was going to be adopting isn't like fostering...you can't go back on your decision. If he is still that unstable then he needs to continue to seek mental health help and maybe they need to extend his stay in a psych hospital. There is clearly something going on with the child and he needs an intervention of some sort.

If he is attacking children, those parents should file charges, which would in turn help the westcotts ensure this child gets the true help he needs b/c I can't imagine once someone delve's into this childs psyche they are going to be able to say there is nothing wrong with him.

But as lengthy as the legal process may be, I would personally probably sue the state for documents stating he was polite and well mannered, when in actuality he had several behavioral problems.

Isobel - posted on 02/18/2010

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Honestly...if my biological child was trying to kill me and my other children...I would send him away. It's not about returning a defective adopted baby; it's about getting a troubled boy the help that he needs.

[deleted account]

Honestly my first thought was i wouldnt want him in my house either. Yes i agree they have an obligation to this child but if the state really did conceal the boys problems then they were out of order.

[deleted account]

The Wescotts are reponsible for him because they chose to adopt him. If he had been their biological child they couldn't send him back. Fair enough the adoption agency should have advised them on his medical conditions but no one should ever be able to send an adopted child back. A child needs stability.

Ashley - posted on 02/18/2010

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Wow, a friend of my moms is having the same issue. They adopted a boy, and found out after they adopted him that his mother did LOTS of drugs during the pregnancy. Well, the boy has several issues. He has epilepsy (easily controlled), is bi-polar, and has seemingly schizo tendancies. They had to get rid of their small animals because he was killing them, he beat his sister (who was older and didn't hit back), came into his parent's room at night watching them sleep while holding a knife, and attacks them all. It is very sad. He is on every medication you can think of, and still does these things. It's a very scary situation. Both she and her daughter have come into work with black eyes, bitemarks, bruises, and scratches.

I don't think they will ever "return" their son, but she has said it a few times. What I think will happen is he will end up being sent to an institution of some sort, as I do think he will hurt someone badly someday.

It's very sad.

I couldn't imagine giving up my son. I think the Wescotts are responsible because he is their son, but I think maybe the state should check up on them to see if he is still doing therapy/ taking medications.

Karen - posted on 02/17/2010

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I think that this is an extreme example and really can't be used to answer the question. In most cases, adopted kids, especially older ones, will have issues that adoptive parents need to be aware of and prepared to deal with. But this situation is way beyond what they were told to expect and there is no way that these people were equipped to deal with this situation. So, I think that people who have the background and training to help this child should be found. And yes, if people have a severely troubled, dangerous biological child sometimes have to find a facility that can care for their child. It's not abandoning, it's doing the best for your child and helping them find a living situation that can meet their needs much better than you can. I'm not sure it's fair to any person to put yourself and other family members in physical danger - I know that I would not endanger the many for the sake of this one child, would you?

[deleted account]

Like others, I'm stuck on this one. My first instinct is to say the Westcotts should live up to their commitment, I don't think any of us would kick one of our children out under any circumstances, so I would have assumed adoptive parents would feel the same way.

But the Westcotts say their child had problems which were not advised at his adoption, which raises the question of how much responsibility the adoption agency should have. The agency should have been more honest in their assessment of the boy, and perhaps now they (the agency) should provide financial assistance for the family coping with him.

Just thoughts - I really can't decide.

Amber - posted on 02/16/2010

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I'm stuck on this one and can't yet make a decision. I can understand both sides of the coin. On one side, the Wescotts have taken on a great responsibility and should do as they promised and give the child unconditional love. On the other hand, if the child is truly unhappy in his situation, he should be allowed the escape he needs.

Again.. I can't decide.

Jenny - posted on 02/16/2010

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I do not think it's good for the parents, the child or society in general to have a child raised in a home where it is not wanted. While every step should be taken to ensure these problems don't arise in the first place I don't think any good can come of leaving the child in the situation. I don't think a well adjusted adult will be the end result which should always be our goal as parents.

Carolee - posted on 02/16/2010

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I don't think it's ever okay to "return" a child. Every single person who adopts needs to know that the child/ren they adopt are going to have issues. Most times, the issues are not severe, but you shouldn't be able to simply "return" a problem child. What if this child had been their own biological child? Would they try to abandon him then?

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