Friday, April 30, 2010

Guest Blogger Barbara Neafcy, RN: Everyone is a Victim

I exchanged several emails and talked with others regarding the recent return of the adopted boy to Russia.   Barbara Neafcy is an RN who specializes in the care of disabled children. She is a public speaker on FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and is married to an adult with FASD, Stephen Neafcy, who is author of "The Long Way to Simple" a book that describes what life feels like from the perspective of one who has it. This book is the recipient of the Mom's Choice Award.

“Reports on CNN indicated the birthmother was an alcoholic and that his behaviors fit the behavioral profile of someone with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). I feel strongly that we need to educate our adoptive parents on two levels. If this mom understood what services were available for her new family, this outcome might not have happened. If she had been informed at the outset that her new son had been exposed to alcohol in utero and has abnormal brain development as a result, she may not have signed the papers. If she did sign to become his mom she probably would have taken the commitment very seriously and worked with professionals to improve the child's chances for a successful life.

This is a tough situation for child placement agencies in Russia. What it would require is honesty on their part toward the parents, and a likely significant reduction in adoptions, which they desperately need for their kids!

94% per cent of individuals with FASD have some form of mental illness. In those who are shuffled around in foster care or orphanage type settings, the incidence would be much greater.

This mom was alone and scared with her experience and reacted in a state of panic. The result is that the worst possible scenario occurred for her son. He was rejected again, as he has felt all of his life. If he has attachment disorder, his resistance to all bonding will grow more rigid and thicken the fortress walls he has built around himself.

There are only victims in this very sad story, but the greatest victim from conception to today is that little boy who has no clue what love can do for him, and hasn't the healthy neurotransmitters to help his thinking. Society around him is likely to suffer from the anger and bitterness he will carry everywhere with him.

The interesting thing is, FASD is the most prevalent and preventable disability that exists on the planet today. In fact, it is 100% preventable.

For more information about FASD please visit This site contains worlds of information and insights on this troubling disorder, offering hope for those who have it or love someone who does. My husband’s book can be seen at and at”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Toni Hoy, Guest Blogger: Custody Relinquishment for the Sake of Mental Healthcare: Answering Objections and Offering Solutions « Strained Relations

Toni Hoy is in a unique position to comment on the return of the Russion adopted child. Please see her blog and review her slideshow at I understand this is a controversial topic, and if you are moved to comment, kindly consider your wording before you type.

Every time there is a major news story about a parent leaving a child at a psychiatric hospital or disrupting an adoption due to severe mental health concerns, there is a public outcry. People assume that a family can live in the same home with a dangerous child or that mental healthcare is easily accessible. There is vast sympathy for the child and blatant criticism for the family. There are no criminals and no crime here. There is a mentally or emotionally sick child without access to appropriate mental health services. By providing access and funding for intensive and residential treatment when required, to eliminate “lockouts,” “psychiatric abandonment,” and “disrupted adoptions” adoptive families can be preserved.

Families are seeking treatment, but in most states, you can get out patient treatment, or short term in patient treatment, but not longer term residential care. This care is excluded from family policies. Either families don’t qualify for Medicare or if they do, it does not cover the child’s diagnosis. For domestically adopted children, residential services are excluded from adoption subsidies. There is no coverage at all for the $400 per day fees.

Families face severe stress and emotional strain, often becoming victims of secondary trauma in trying to function while living with a dangerous child. They exhaust every treatment they can find and spend every waking moment dealing with severe emotional trauma. They do not have access to the same tools as residential treatment centers have such as; three shifts of staff, seclusion rooms, and sedation medications, yet they are expected to manage the child’s behavior far less equipped than required.

Society feels sympathy for the child and criticizes the parents. How horrible to leave a sick child! Society neglects to consider that the parents were not offered any appropriate alternatives and in no way, desire to abandon their child. They simply want treatment and custody, which if available, would negate the need for abandonment.

Departments of Children and Family Services “exist for the protection of children.” They “err on the side of the child.” Yet, when a family is forced to abandon a child at a hospital to protect other children, the family is also “erring on the side of the children,” all of them, yet state departments are quick to charge families with neglect for taking the same steps they take every day.

“Child with RAD Burns Down House Killing Family of Six.”

How would society respond to that headline? I would imagine it would be something like; Why didn’t the parents do something? They knew the child needed treatment. Why didn’t someone help them? Should we wait until it happens? Or should we help them now, while the child is safely housed in a psychiatric unit?

The solution for biological families is to provide them with the services they need instead of the ones they don’t need that are forced upon them by the state. Afford them the same rights as parents who have children with cancer. The solution for domestic adoptive families is to include residential treatment into adoption subsidies for pre-adoptively traumatized children. The solution for internationally adopted children is intercountry agreements which have a long term plan for children with RAD (reactive attachment disorder) and FASD (fetal alchohol spectrum disorder).

The solution is Family Preservation and Adoption Preservation that does not cut the cord for the most severely afflicted children.

For more information, see Toni Hoy’s blog and videos at

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Teen Rejected Parents: Fears of “Coming Out” « Strained Relations

I was talking with the mother of a gay man, and she said they had incredible family stress for several years. Once her son was around 15, he became sexually active. She and her husband had hoped he would wait until he was older, was worried about him taking precautions to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, and worried that some of his peers or others would beat him up or even kill him.

They tried to discuss their concerns with their son, but instead of really hearing all of their fears, he only heard that their concern was that he was gay. The parents did not care that he was gay and had already received information about parenting gay kids.

Meanwhile, he felt his parents were rejecting him and he left home at age 17. He stayed at friends’ homes and even on the street for awhile, eventually tiring of the experience. When he came home, he was much more mature and ready to both talk and listen. He learned his parents loved him and worried about him all along, and they were able to gradually repair their relationship.

Have you had an experience like this as a parent or a child? What happened, and were you able to resolve your family relationship? How did you do it?