An IEP, a 6 Year Old, and CP Connection #5

Nina is 6 years old! This will be the third birthday we celebrate with her but the first one where she is not recovering from some sort of surgery. Somehow, it feels like a huge milestone! There are plans of cake, presents, birthday songs, and a party.

Yesterday, we also had her IEP (Individualized Education Plan). We went through the goals she had for this year, and this incredible little girl has met all of her goals! We then talked about the goals that we will have for her next year. I know that IEP's can be a pain, but we have an incredible team to work with. As we sat around the table Andy and I were overwhelmed by the love and care that all the teachers, therapists, and support staff have for our daughter. We are incredibly blessed by these people.

On the first day of school, a little girl with Cerebral Palsy was pushed in her wheelchair. Today, the same little girl walks independently in her school. Andy and I took the wheelchair home and her walker is rarely used. Talk about courage and determination wrapped up in the body of a 6 year old little girl that won't let her disability stop her!

One of my concerns was weather we should have Nina repeat Kindergarten or if she was ready to move on to 1st grade. Nina spent the first 3 and a half years of her life in an orphanage, and there are areas in her development where it is clear she has not caught up with her typical peers (aside from her CP). However, talking to the teachers and going through Nina's progress, we are once more amazed at this little girl. She is ready to move on and she is not lagging behind her peers. She might not have a best friend at school, but I wonder if this is because her best friends really are her sisters.

There are times when being the parent of a kid with special needs might be hard, but then there are times when your child's accomplishments are so satisfying that you smile, from a place deep down, and you feel like you are floating in the sky. We are so proud of Nina, so proud of our little girl.

It is once again time for our CP connection! Do you blog about Cerebral Palsy? Join us as we connect through our blogs!

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Abducted Generation?

Back in March, I posted about the Dan Rather Reports episode about birth mothers around the globe being coerced into relinquishing children for adoption.  The episode is going to air tomorrow (check schedules here, and at the same page, click the button at the top that says "Subscribe" to see if your cable or satellite network carries HDNet), and includes more about the experience of birth mothers in America, including Claudia D'Arcy, who blogs at Musings of the Lame.  Check out a video preview of the episode here, or read below:
In the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, being an unwed mother carried a significant stigma in America. It’s now called the “baby scoop” era and during this time young women -- usually in their teens -- were either hidden at home, sent to live with distant relatives or quietly dispatched to maternity homes to give birth.

Estimates are as many as 1.5 million young mothers who say they were forced -- some just minutes after delivery -- to hand over their babies for adoption during this period. It was a decision that they seldom made on their own. Mostly, it was preordained by the young woman’s church or her parents. Often too, it was a decision that was dictated by the social customs of the time because having a baby out of wedlock was seen as a disgrace to a family.

* * *

And then there is Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy. She claims at age 19, she experienced a much more subtle form of coercion that led her to hand over her son for adoption in 1987.

As an unwed teen, D’Arcy says the social stigma against keeping your baby was not much better than it was in 1965.

D’Arcy told me, “If you were stupid enough to get pregnant, and then to keep your baby there was something wrong with you. Smart girls didn't do that.” She added, “I was a smart girl.”

During an in-depth interview in New York City at the beginning of April, D’Arcy told me how she was sent from the comfort and familiar surroundings of her Long Island home to the Boston area during her last month of pregnancy.

D’Arcy says she didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back feels that the adoption agency was actually a place where helpfulness and support masked a hidden agenda.

“Leaving my home, leaving my family, leaving the people around me, going amongst strangers. It was a very supportive environment because everybody had a vested interest in my relinquishment once I was in the agency.”

I asked her if she considered her experience with the agency in Massachusetts coercive. “At the time, no,” she said. “ With the knowledge that I have now, yes.”

* * *

“Adoption was supposed to be this one thing that happened that was going to allow me to continue on my life as if I did not have a baby. And yet, 25 years later, I'm sitting here talking to you because this has been the single most life altering thing that has ever happened to me and has changed the course of my entire life,” she told me. “And not just for me, but for my other children, for my husband, for family members. The ripples and the effect on everybody, and yet they don't tell you that.”
P.S. A must-read from Amanda at Declassified Adoptee: Adopted or Abducted? Things to Keep in Mind Before Getting Upset at Dan Rather's Report.


As parents of children with disabilities, we don't take anything for granted.

So when my son came shopping with me at a massive grocery superstore yesterday and navigated all the aisles on foot, I couldn't help feeling giddy and grateful.

It's easy to move on to the next worry or fear or regret, but sometimes we need to fly our flags in celebration (in this case, Tibetan prayer flags).

Having a child with special needs...

There’s a cute commercial out that ends with the tag line, “Having a baby changes everything.” I certainly agree with this sentiment; having your first baby changes your life forever.  I’ve found that subsequent babies changes things less and less. Once you get past the initial “We had another baby!” and “How do we juggle multiple children?” life pretty much goes on the way it was before, but with an extra little person strapped to you.
But having a child with special needs- well, that’s a whole new ball game.
At the beginning, Georgie’s special needs were very hard on the family. He was in the hospital and I had two other children at home. It was difficult to be in two places at once and even though we tried to keep the home routine normal for the children, it wasn’t. Georgie wasn’t in the hospital long enough to get into a good routine or hire someone to watch the older kids while I was away. Adam and I relied solely on ourselves to make it through that time.
His other special needs began to slowly creep up on us. It was only over time that we noticed he would have a meltdown when we went to public places, like the mall. He went through the normal stranger anxiety stage but never grew out of it. He stopped speaking. Without concisely making a choice, we were beginning to revolve our routine around him. We stopped going to the mall or play areas because it would lead to a Total Nuclear Meltdown. Play dates for my older children were hard because I didn’t know how he would react at a stranger’s house, even if I was there. I knew he loved all of us, but he was beginning to be drawn into his own little world. “Autism” was thrown around.
It turns out that George does not have Autism. In hindsight, he was upset and sad because he couldn’t communicate with us and didn’t know how to deal with a world that, to him, was overwhelming.  Once he began receiving the proper help, we were able to draw him out of his world and had “tricks” to help him deal with his SPD.
But even with all that, life changed more. Suddenly, I was making appointments for therapy instead of play dates. My other children are dragged along to speech, horse and occupational therapies. They have to sit in waiting rooms, watching old VHS tapes of Disney movies (or playing with toys) while their brother tries to make an “ssss” sound. Camille is rushed from school to a stable, where she watches (patiently, but with envy) and her brother rides a horse. It won’t end this summer. Although we are taking a break from some alternative therapies, we will still maintain a school routine as he goes to summer preschool twice a week.
Just what every kid wants, right? To be dragged out of bed early in the morning to go up to school, in the middle of the summer! To “hurry up and wait” as their brother sees another doctor. Oh, and the joy of being told “no” to a playdate because we have to go to (are you ready for this?) therapy.
In many, many ways, the big kids are very compliant. They do sit well through all the specialists and I am amazed at what they pick up. Camille can run George through his speech exercises better than most SLPs. Recently, she pulled him around on his toy ride-on horse telling him to say “stop!” and “go!” and blow bubbles. I joked with the PT and OT at hippotherapy that she could be hired. Joseph has always been unendingly patient with his brothers and that has carried over to other children. He is kind and loving to other children, especially children who need a little extra help.
As much as they “hurry up and wait” for George, George waits for them too. Since he was old enough to leave the germ-free confines of our house he has been dragged to musical performance, parent/teacher conferences, dance class and TKD. He has watched (yes, with envy) as his brother kicked and punched his way through belt levels. He’s crawled across dance floors after a recital and stood glued to windows as Joseph and Camille jumped into the pool. He might not wait for them while they are at therapy, but he waits.
Do I worry that my older children will grow up to resent George, feel angry that they had to leave the house early in the morning in the summer to drop their brother off at school? Do I worry that they will feel resentful of yet another therapy session that interferes with a play date.  Yes. I’m a mother; worrying is my job! But I also know my kids and I know myself. I know that they will vocalize their anger and frustrations to me. I know that I will acknowledge and validate their feelings and help them work through the feelings. I also know that they love their brother. He’s not “the kid with apraxia” or “the  kid that can’t talk.’ He’s just George, and that’s simply the way God sent him to us.
Having a child with special needs has changed everything in our house. It’s changed the way we have to live, the way we interact with others. We no longer take our ability to speak for granted. It’s  given us a deeper appreciation for life and our health. Yes, having a child with special needs has changed everything- for the better.

Piano Recital 2012

Hard to have a better proud-mommy moment than listening to your children play a duet at their piano recital!  They were soooooo good!  They each did an individual piece, too, but I just loved the duet! 

Ch-ch-changes: Thirty-One Bags and Charity

Just to shake things up around here, I signed up to sell bags with Thirty-One Bags. I went to a party in March and just fell in love with their items. I purchased several- two large utility totes, two of the smaller bakets  (one for random stuff around the house and one for Camille's hair do-dads), and a lunch bag for Camille. I wasn't planning on buying her a lunch bag so soon, but the one I picked is large enough to hold the Rubbermaid divided containers and her water bottle. It's much better quality than the ones I have seen in the stores!

Part of the reason I am doing this is to help offset the costs of raising four kids. But the bigger reason is that we want to give more to charities. Therefore, many of the parties I will do will result in a portion of my commission going to a charity of the hostess choice.* The hostess will get all the fun perks of being a hostess, I will get the credit for doing a party AND a charity will get some cash. Everyone wins!

In this spirit, from May 1- May 11 I am hosting an on-line party for the March of Dimes. I have labeled it "Thirty-One Bags for the March of Dimes." I will donate fifty per cent of my comission to the March of Dimes. Since this is an on-line party, the items will be sent directly to your house (shipping is four dollars). If you are local to me and want them shipped to my house (no shipping charge for you!) drop me an e-mail (see side bar) and let me know.

How does it work?
1. Click on the link: "Thirty One Bags for the March of Dimes" sometime between May 1 and May 11. (Note: You can browse now but the catelog changes May 1, with new colors and styles, including a "spirit" line that is solid colors.)
2. Click on "Shop now."
3. Shop!
4. Fill out the order forms as directed. Your credit card will NOT be charged until I close out the party and submit everything.
5. Orders should arrive about two weeks from when everything is submitted.

Now, as an added bonus, if you book a party (either on-line or in real life) to be held before May 25, I will donate twenty per cent of my commissions to a charity that supports premature infants and their parents. This can be the March of Dimes or another local charity of your choice. If you are interested, contact me at waldenmommy (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thank you so much and please be patient as I work out any kinks I might encounter!

Please click here to see why, as pro-life Catholics, we have chosen to support the March of Dimes. We completely understand and respect that not everyone feels the same way we do. We asks that you respect our choice in return.

*And that I approve of. So, no, you won't find me agreeing to do a party for the local abortion clinic or something!

Inside Ethiopia's Adoption Boom

From the Wall Street Journal:
Ethiopia has become one of the busiest adoption destinations in the world, thanks in part to loose controls that make it one of the fastest places to adopt a child. Nearly one out of five children adopted by Americans hailed from Ethiopia the past two years, second only to China.

Many youngsters, like Melesech, are thriving in loving homes. Still, the U.S. State Department has cautioned that Ethiopia's lax oversight, mixed with poverty and the perils of cross-cultural misunderstanding, leaves room for abuse.

* * *

The experience recounted by Mel's biological father, Mathewos Delebo, shows many of the complexities. Mr. Delebo, a 38-year-old farmer, acknowledges freely giving up his youngest child for adoption. Earlier this year, in the mud-hut village of Le-barfeta in southeastern Ethiopia where he lives, he described why he did it.

Four years ago, he claimed, a stranger—a middleman in the adoption trade—came to his village and persuaded him to give up a child with the promise that she would grow up and send money to support him. "White people are taking children of the poor and helping them get a better life," Mr. Delebo said he was told. "It will be good for you."

Mr. Delebo claimed he didn't understand that he was giving up Mel for good, and thought that she would send money home. Mr. Delebo doesn't recall the middleman's name and hasn't seen him for years. [Later in the article it says, "First, Mr. Delebo said, he offered two of his sons, who were then about eight and nine. But the orphanage said it needed children younger than five. So he came back with Melesech."]

U.S. government officials say middlemen are often employed by orphanages to find adoption candidates. Mr. Delebo's middleman can't be found so there is no way to know his motives.

The middleman's alleged pitch had its appeal. Mr. Delebo's first wife, Mel's biological mother, died of malaria when Mel was a baby. Today Mr. Delebo, his second wife, and his six remaining children live on the 60 cents a day he earns building huts. Drought has ravaged his crops. The family subsists on maize flour, beans and wild bananas, which grow in abundance.

Mr. Delebo said he now suffers from malaria himself—the disease that killed Mel's birth mother. "I have the same illness," he said. "Sometimes I feel very hot and sometimes I feel very cold."

Despite mixed feelings over Mel's adoption, recently he wondered aloud if it might be a good idea to give up some of his other children. "When I see pictures of Melesech and how happy she looks," he said, referring to snapshots the Roths have given him, "I wish I could send my other children, too." Since the local middleman disappeared, he's not sure how to make that happen.

* * *

Ethiopia isn't a signatory to The Hague Convention, a treaty to guarantee intercountry adoption is transparent and in a child's best interest. The country lacks infrastructure and personnel to regulate a process that usually begins deep in the countryside. Some of the largest and most reputable U.S. agencies adopt from Ethiopia.

A U.S. investigation of Ethiopian adoptions in 2009 and 2010 found inaccurate adoptee paperwork and orphanages using financial incentives to recruit children. The U.S. embassy found anecdotal evidence that scouts purporting to be state health workers weighed infants, then took them away from their parents on the pretext that the children weren't receiving adequate care. Ethiopian families often are solicited with promises that a relinquished child will become affluent and provide for the family left behind, said Ms. Jacobs, the U.S. adoption chief.

With a little help from my robot

The first randomized trial into the effectiveness of robotics in improving walking in children with cerebral palsy was launched at Holland Bloorview yesterday. The $500,000 clinical trial is funded by CIBC. The $400,000 robotic device was donated by Three to Be, a foundation led by Dana and Jared Florence, who have triplets with cerebral palsy. Wesley Magee-Saxton, 12, demonstrates in this Global report.

The Prize: A guest post

By Ann Bremer

At 38 years old my odds of having a baby with Down syndrome were one in 180.  In other words, if you gathered 180, 38-year-old pregnant women in a room, only one would be awarded a life altering prize.   I never win anything, why would I expect to win this?

In the middle of my pregnancy when I received a phone call saying some blood work had come back indicating that my odds of winning were now 1 in 110, I did what any good ostrich would do and put my head in the sand.  There would be no meeting with a geneticist, no ultrasound, and no amniocentesis.  There would only be the remaining months of an easy pregnancy occasionally interrupted by a new awareness of women at the mall who had been the unfortunate winners of the Down syndrome lottery.

Very early on a December morning two and a half weeks before my due date, I awoke with indigestion which came and went with predictable frequency.  Four hours later, after a harrowing ride through rush hour traffic and an unplanned drug-free delivery, my husband and I heard the words, “It’s a boy!”

When they laid my sweet bundle on my tummy, I examined him for signs of Down syndrome.  When I saw that he looked like my other babies I breathed a sigh of relief.  But the doctor and nurse spoke in hushed tones, and then the nurse let me know she suspected I was the lottery winner.  Thirty minutes later the specialist concurred.  My little boy had Down syndrome.  I didn’t want this prize.  Alone in my bed that night, I did what any hormonal, exhausted new mother of a child she didn’t want would do and sobbed uncontrollably.

“God chooses special parents for special children,” well meaning friends and acquaintances told me.


Parents of children with special needs don’t come to their positions with the talent and temperament required to meet those needs.  Like me, they were minding their own business living average lives when they were plucked from obscurity and called to do more than they ever imagined they could.  Motivated by a fierce love, they rose to the occasion and earned the moniker “special parents” through hard work, worry and self-sacrifice.  Special parents aren’t chosen, they’re made.

My son was only hours old when I was presented with a long list of possible medical issues.  Forty to fifty percent of children with Down syndrome have heart defects; five to fifteen percent will develop celiac disease; five percent have gastrointestinal malformations; five percent will have seizures; five percent will have hypothyroidism; and one percent will develop leukemia.  My son’s heart was pronounced good, and his gastrointestinal system was given the all clear after he pooped and peed properly.  I assumed there would be no more unexpected statistical anomalies, ignored the list of potential problems and got down to the business of loving my baby.

Few of my son’s needs achieved the status of special, most being of the average variety.  As expected, his development was delayed and milestones were missed.  What was entirely unexpected was the undiluted joy I felt as his mother.  His presence in my life, in our family, killed my aspirations to perfection.  With nothing to prove, I felt a freedom I had never before known.

When my son was just two years old, we defied the odds again when he joined the one percent of children with Down syndrome who develop leukemia.  Upon hearing the diagnosis, I did what any good mother would do and cursed.

The standard treatment for boys with acute lymphoblastic leukemia is three years of chemotherapy.  For three years I watched as my little boy struggled with the side effects of the poison we pumped into his body to keep him alive.  I cried when the drugs reduced my normally sweet child to a crying, screaming mess.  By the end of treatment, he was extremely weak with legs like spaghetti noodles, but I rejoiced because he was alive!  I remembered the mother who cried the night he was born, the one who didn’t want him, and was happy to find I no longer recognized her.

Today my son is nine years old.  He likes bluegrass music, chocolate cake, and prefers running to walking.  When I was pregnant with his younger brother and sister, I did what any good ostrich would do and put my head in the sand refusing all prenatal testing.  But this ostrich was not afraid.  This ostrich was well informed choosing the coolness and darkness of the sand over the heat and bright lights of a world that thinks winning the prize a second or third time would be a tragedy.

 Ann Bremer is a wife and mother of 6 children. She is one of the contributors to the book "Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children With Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives," her essay is titled, "School of Life."

I first met Ann through her essay in the book Gifts. Later, when Nichole was just a baby, I had the pleasure of meeting her and her family. Ann's words are powerful, and both of her essays have touched my heart. Ann, keep writing!

Asians Aloud: Paul & James

This is BRILLIANT!  Thanks to Lisa Marie Rollins for sharing this link on her facebook page -- I missed it a year ago when it came out.  Here we have two Korean adoptees talking about being Asian, as part of an HBO series, Asians Aloud.

This is how 8Asians describes the clip:

Meet Paul Fanelli and James Minger, two Korean adoptees interviewed on camera as part of HBO’s Asian’s Aloud East of Main Street series last year. While both are Korean adoptees, the interview is fascinating in how completely different in how they look, how they interact with each other — think an adoptee Abbott & Costello — and how they identity as Asian American. (Paul is especially entertaining to watch, as he’ll probably be the closest thing to a Korean guido you will ever meet.)

What do you think of it?  I'm curious -- do you think your child will grow up to be Paul or James?  Why?

I like Wonder Baby

I don't usually write about contests, but when I went to the site promoting this iPad giveaway, I was impressed. Wonder Baby is a resource for parents of children with vision impairment and multiple disabilities -- written by a mom -- and funded by the Perkins School for the Blind. The site has articles, resources, a Q and A section, a blog and toy recommendations. There are lots of ways for parents to share advice. Great resources, and you could win an iPad!

'My brother knew what to do'

By Meriah Nichols

I went through the windshield of a car when I was four years old, back in the day when seatbelts were charming accessories. The glass shredded my face, the head-on collision gifted me with brain injury coupled with a quirky auditory processing disorder. My deafness came later. 

Events of great magnitude seem to have a way of silencing the world and oneself. The accident silenced four-year-old me, made me still inside. I remember the change and I recall my world shifting, the confusion that I felt, the isolating pain of experiencing the shift within others. The world, you see, doesn’t quite know what to do with little girls with blood-red scars all over their sweet little freckled faces, with their strawberry-blonde hair shorn off their heads. It felt as if the world took one look at me and turned away, embarrassed, muttering something about my “pretty eyes.”

But my brother knew what to do. He knew me. He had always known me. 

Only 15 months apart, he felt closer to me sometimes than my life-breath. He knew the person that I was before the accident, the person that I still was after the accident, and didn’t see much in the way of a difference. He wanted – demanded even – that I play with him, that I be his buddy, ever-ready to hop in a puddle of messy mud on our rural sheep ranch. Roll down the mountainside in wild games of tag, twirling, round and round, the old oak trees soaring overhead.

Through the years, where we lived changed, but not much did within our relationship. Instead of roaming wild on our farm, we were combing the coral reef in front of our house in Levuka, then bicycling with wicked speed down the streets of Suva, Fiji. My vision, always incredibly poor, ceased to be so much of an issue as my coke-bottle glasses were put aside each day in favour of contact lenses. This, right at the same time as my hearing was getting noticeably worse. He’d tell me what people were saying, my automatic translator of sorts. I’d simply look at him with a question in my eyes and he would tell me what was going on. It wasn't a big deal but it happened a lot. In the meantime, I showed him what I thought to be the “cool” dance moves. We practiced together in his room with our ancient, giant FM radio. We had our separate groups of friends – sometimes we ended up all playing together and sometimes we didn’t and it wasn’t a big deal. It was just about having fun. 

He made me feel better when I was sure no boys would ever like me. He brushed off my occasional tears when people teased me or when I realized that I was more like Dawn Weiner from the movie Welcome to the Dollhouse than I was Veronica from the Heathers

Without reservation, I loved my brother more than anything in the world. 

Many decisions in my life were made from that love. My decision to go and live in Taiwan to help him out (or, as I later joked, provide him with slave labour – my brother is a notorious workaholic). Twice. Or was it three times? I can’t remember. 

My decision to major in elementary education in undergrad – he did too, and at the same time. We’d stack up credits, divvy up classes, splitting focus (I paid more attention to the ones I was “responsible” for; we’d compare notes and hold tutoring cram sessions with one another on our respective areas), which got us both out of university, our bachelors' degrees in hand, in about two years. It was hard. It was great. We worked well together.

My decision to have more than one child was without question from my relationship with my brother. I couldn’t imagine not giving my child, my beloved little Sprout, a sibling to love and grow up with. 

I just didn’t picture that the sibling I would gift my son with would, like me, have a disability. I didn’t think that my son would be in the same position as my brother – an older sibling of one who had needs that were less common than most. 

It spun me around. 

Was I wrong in thinking that my brother and I were such a team? Was I imagining everything, casting a lovely golden glow on everything simply because they were memories? Was growing up with me really horribly hard for him? Was early life some unmitigated series of various burdens for him?

We’ve never really talked about it, you see. We do not talk about things like that. We're from that Swedish farming stock, you understand. 

So I asked him. In an email. This is what he said:

I really find the question funny! Growing up I never looked at you as deaf or scarred. You were my sister. We fought about everything but that just brought us closer in later years.  

When we were young you had a hard time understanding other people and in many cases even Mom and Dad which made you naturally look at me and I would say the same thing again and you would get it. You naturally taught me to speak slower than most people and clearly.  

Growing up I really never thought about it as a chore or looked at you as disabled in fact I thought you were tough and courageous. I remember teaching you how to fight and then you decked that big Fijian girl who was teasing you. You really didn't let anyone push you around! 

When we were young maybe because we moved quite a bit we weren't able to develop a lot of friendships with others so it was basically you and me 
 partners in crime. 

I have so much to thank you for  your "disability" taught me so much growing up  to be more patient, understanding, and protective… you are and always will be my little sister. 

It's nice to know there really was a glow, we really were our own Dynamic Duo.

And it warms the cockles of my heart that I wasn't wrong after all: my brother loves me just as much as I do him.

Meriah Nichols blogs at With a little moxie, where she describes herself as "the happy bon-bon eating soap-watching SAHM of two. I write about travel, disability and lively living. My daughter has Down syndrome and likes to eat paper. I am deaf and take too many photos. My son loves large earth-moving pieces of machinery. My husband is easy on my eyes...and my soul.

Artyom's Mom Tries to Avoid Paying Child Support

More shenanigans from Torry Hansen who wants to shirk her responsibility for her adopted child, Artyom:
A woman who touched off an international furor by returning her 7-year-old son to Russia 6 months after adopting him asked a Superior Court judge to enforce a Russian Federation Supreme Court case annulling the adoption.

Torry Ann Hansen sued L.L. Mityayev and A.A. Nikolayeva, as legal representatives of Russian Federation State Educational Institute Orphanage No. 19 Foster Center, in Shasta County Court.

Enforcement of the judgment would allow Hansen to avoid paying child support, according to the complaint.

* * *

The City Council of Tverskoy, a municipality in Moscow, sued Hansen on the boy's behalf, requesting revocation of the adoption "due to the fault of the adoptive parent," Hansen says in her complaint. Tverskoy requested child support.

Hansen says she countersued the boy and his representatives, two city councils, and the orphanage "to annul the adoption through no fault of the adoptive parent," then amended the cause of action to request annulment "due to the fault of the adoptive mother or not," according to her complaint. The Moscow City Court dismissed her complaint, Hansen says.

But Russian Federation Supreme Court reversed, finding "that the annulment was necessary to protect the minor child's rights and legally protected interests, as well as the public interests. It annulled the adoption based on plaintiff's culpable conduct," according to Hansen's complaint.

But Mitayayev, the orphanage's representative, continues to pursue an order for child support against Hansen in Shelbyville, Tenn., Circuit Court, Hansen says.

 "(I)n his purported capacity as the minor child's legal custodian[,] he has apparently authorized the adoption agency plaintiff used and/or the National Council for Adoption to litigate the matter in Tennessee on his behalf," Hansen says.

She asks the Superior Court to recognize and enforce the Russian Supreme Court judgment.
Essentially, Torry Hansen says she shouldn't have to pay child support because she is no longer a parent since Russia annulled the adoption.  It's unclear, though, what that would mean about child support in Russia.  An American court will ordinarily give effect to a foreign court decree, through a doctrine called international comity, but whether that will relieve Hansen of child support responsibilities depends on the terms of the Russian court decree.  It seems that it isn't inconsistent with Russian law to ask for future child support even while terminating parental rights, since that's what the city council asked for in the Russian suit. I'm no expert in Russian law, so I can't say whether child support obligations end with the annulment of an adoption there.

The other issue is that Hansen is filing this in a California court, when there's already a court decree from a Tennessee court that orders her to pay child support.  The California court should recognize the Tennessee court order because of the Constitutional doctrine of full faith and credit. Yes, that Tennessee court order was entered, not after a consideration of the merits, but because Hansen failed to appear for depositions or otherwise defend the suit, but that should not prevent full faith and credit.

So, I'd say Hansen is still on the hook for child support unless the California court decides to ignore that Tennessee decree and also decides that the Russian decree relieved her of child support obligations.  And I'd say both of those possibilities are relatively remote.  We'll see.

Banishing Post-Adoption Blues

At the Atlantic, five tips for dealing with post-adoption blues from the author of this recent study about post-adoption depression:
Remember that you're not alone. Though it's easy to believe that you're the only adoptive parent who's struggling, our research shows that approximately 18 to 26 percent of new adoptive mothers deal with depressive symptoms. . . . .

Bonding with your child may take time. . . .  Remember, it's a new relationship for both of you. . . . .

Get enough rest. One of the biggest contributors to post-adoption depression that we found in our research was that mothers didn't feel rested. Because adoptive mothers don't go through labor and delivery, they often overlook the physical demands of a new child and don't get the support they need. . . .

Examine your expectations. Adoptive parents sometimes forget that the end of the adoption process is really the beginning of parenting. Because of the intense scrutiny that they undergo in the screening phase, they may feel that they have to be "super parents," a title that is hard to live up to once the child is placed. Be sure that your expectations are as realistic as possible. . . .

Seek help for yourself and for the benefit of your child and family. We know from the literature that surrounds postpartum depression that kids experience negative effects from parents who struggle with depression. Research in adoptive parent households indicates the same patterns. Don't hesitate to ask for help. . . .

Meet Joe - An Adult with ACC

I am writing on behalf of my son Joe who is 19 years old now. The responses are a collaboration of our combined responses.

When did you find out that you have ACC? How old?

I found out that he had complete ACC at the time of birth. I had complications, but they were unidentifiable until he was actually born, at which time they did a scan of his head. It was then confirmed. I did not actually let Joe know until he was about 15 years old. At the time I was told, there was not much information available regarding ACC. I was told by doctors that there were cases with partial ACC where the child experienced developmental delays and/or seizures. We were at doctors for the first three years testing and looking out for the worst. Thankfully, there was nothing remarkable happening. Nothing that needed immediate medical attention.

What did you struggle with in school?

Joe had problems that were evident in preschool. He was extremely attached to family and expressed no desire to go to school. Once he was enrolled, it was a teacher in first grade that suggested I take him to a public school where there would be more resources to help with his education (he was in a private school). Once I switched him (mid-year), he was tested, but they could not justify additional help. It was not until we moved to a different school district (in 3rd grade), that his teacher identified A.D.D. Joe did not have the hyperactivity that is usually associated with A.D.D, but he was very disorganized. This lasted throughout all of grade school, where turning in schoolwork was the biggest challenge. Once he got to Jr. High, he was placed in an "emotional disorder" class. That was his first opportunity to excel a bit more. Once he went on to H.S. he was also placed into an "emotional disorder" class that helped throughout all four years. Although the schools knew of his ACC, that was never taken into consideration. All help was really based partly on his A.D.D., and associated struggles.               

What did you enjoy most about school?

There was nothing really enjoyable about grade school. He pretty much hated the fact that the teachers were unable to assist him, or understand what he was feeling. In his words, they made him feel as if he were a "stupid, slow kid". The other children bullied him constantly. The better years were in Jr, and H.S. where the teachers were more understanding and motivating. He started to read books, and found interests in reading. He also enjoyed some math.

Did you struggle with social skills in school?

Yes, again, there was nothing enjoyable related to grade school. Socially, even Jr. High was a little tough. It was not until H.S. with a whole new crowd that he was able to make some new friends. Not too many, but due to the fact that Joe is grounded, and that the confidence he has with his family has somewhat transferred, he did better and has managed to keep some friends. Joe also attended church groups, and trips (with the same group of children since 3rd grade), but was not very outgoing. The Pastors and others at the church were instrumental in helping him get out of his shell during the trips. He had no problem bonding with older people, and again with older family members.

Do you struggle today with social skills as an adult?

Joe is not very outgoing. With family and close friends, he is fun and outgoing, but not much past that. He has cared much for grandparents since a young age and was always a favorite for that. He is very comprehending and warm at heart, almost like an old soul, but again, not too much with people his own age.

Did you attend a mainstream classroom?

This was pretty much explained in "school struggles".

Did you receive Special Ed resource help?

To a certain extent, and again, it was most in relation to the A.D.D. Joe took medication from 3rd grade through the end of Freshman year for A.D.D. He also took some anti-anxiety meds for a couple of years, but my feeling is that is was mostly due to the fact that he was having such a difficult time socially. He also had to see a Psychiatrist to dispense the medication, but as he grew older and started coping with the social issues (end of Jr. High and HS), we found no need to continue.

Can you ride a bike or drive a car?

Joe had an extremely difficult time learning to ride a bike. He first could not do it alltogether, but then after he learned, he could not start off. He finally got it at about 15 years old, when he wanted to go out with friends and he felt pressured to learn. As for driving a car, the A.D.D and obsession with driving video games helped out much there. Joe learned how to safely drive a car at 16. He got his license at 17 and has been an excellent driver since.

Did you attend college? Did you get a degree?

Joe was told that he would be able to attend college, but only if he were to just focus on one, maybe two courses per period. Towards the middle of Sr. Year, Joe approached me with the thought of joining the military since he read much on armory (books). At first I was hesitant, but he convinced me. I agreed to him joining, but I had a preference as to the area, or section. Joe was told he had to lose about 40 lbs to make weight and study for the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery). It has been a long struggle, but Joe lost all the weight and studied. However, I think the largest obstacle is fear of being on his own. I would not necessarily say that it is fear of going, but more of not being around family.


I noticed that there is so much now on the internet related to ACC that was not there before. I wish there were more related to adults but some of these stories on here have still given some insight. The main difference is that Joe is otherwise a very healthy individual. His eyesight is better than 20/20 and he loves to run, and weight lift now. He still loves reading on weaponry and volunteers (with adults) at the church service weekly.

We wonder if/what there is anything else to face, or if there are cases that may be more similar to his. He is still very shy with people he does not already know, but working at becoming more outgoing.

Vilma M

I am grateful to Joe and his mother, Vilma, for contributing Joe's personal ACC story and for making it available here on the ACC blog for others to read. Thank you very much Joe and Vilma for taking the time to touch the lives of other people.

Like Joe's mother wrote earlier, I also "wish there were more [information] related to adults" [who have ACC].

It is always very interesting and helpful to read more about adults who have agenesis of the corpus callosum. Their unique input and inside perspective is invaluable.

I am so happy that Joe's mother contacted me and expressed their two-fold desire to tell Joe's Story. 

Joe's mother, Vilma, expressed an interest in hearing from other families who have a grown adult son or daughter with ACC who have similarities with her son, Joe. 

If you would like to contact Vilma, please leave a comment here for her. 

In addition, if you would like to post a note for Joe in regard to his ACC Story, please leave a comment for Joe. 

I know that they would enjoy hearing from you.

If you are an adult who has ACC or a corpus callosum
disorder, do you want to share your story?

Each person is unique. Every story is welcome and
every story is worthy.

I would love to hear from you. Please send me an e-mail

One Year Post-Rhizotomy Gait Analysis

Yesterday Nina had another gait analysis to check on her progress one year post-rhizotomy. Last year she needed her walker, this time, she walked all on her own.

Please excuse the out-of-control nervous giggles. She really has no control once she gets started and she knew she couldn't fall because of the "space stickers" she had on.

She also got to do some walking with her braces on. It is simply incredible that this girl is finally walking!

I think it is fun to see the "gear" Nina had to wear.

Besides the "space stickers" Nina had some sort of "microphones" on her legs so they could hear her muscles "talking." Now I don't know the real terms for what these are, but the explanation they gave to Nina makes sense to me! They really do get a lot of information about what her body is able to do by "listening to the muscles." You can see in her leg what those gadgets looked like.

In a couple of weeks we meet with all the doctors at Mayo Clinic and we talk about what is next for Nina. Most likely we have another surgery in the future. Nina's spasticity was pretty bad and even after cutting 60% of her nerves, she is still tight. One thing at a time. For now, it was just fun to see the doctors wow at the difference in all her measurements from last year.

The on PT was not thrilled with Nina's braces. We don't like them very much either. She mentioned they don't fit Nina well and had some recommendations on what to do until we can get her different braces. So we shall do that too.

And I want to say THANK YOU to all of you that have kept Nina in your prayers as she had the surgery and as she has learned how to walk. Your prayers and support have been an incredible gift. Really, we are so grateful for you.


I really hate mornings.

I am not a morning person by nature but I am not a late-person either. Adam says this means that I just don't like being awake, which could be true. However, I can't seem to do more activities, or do them better, early in the morning or late at night. Scratch that- I can be a very effective house cleaner when I am pregnant and unable to sleep. But that just sucks.

Life would be so much better, cleaner and more organized if I could drag my tushie out of bed well before the kids wake up. I still have the "the baby isn't sleeping" excuse, but now the baby is two. I am not sure if that is more lame or just plain pitiable. Plus, he's a bed hog. I love co-sleeping but I don't love sleeping on the edge of the bed and waking up with a Charlie horse cramp in my neck. Something's gotta give and I need to figure out a game plan to get the two year old asleep, in his own bed, for the majority of the night.

Anyway, that is what it is. I am too tired to get up early in the morning and too tired and worn out at night to do more than the minimum of chores. The kids have been extra whiney lately, and have been no help. Adam is traveling, so I am solo-parenting it. I'm not sure how parents whose partners are gone alot manage. Perhaps they are better parents than I am, have more energy, are more organized or just don't blog about it.

I'm going with the latter. Everyone (barring, you know, child abusers and stuff) is a good parent, in their own way. I doubt people have more energy than me; most parents of four I know are pretty tired! I'm pretty organized, actually. I'm going to go with "they don't blog about it."

I know what I have to do... get Cole to sleep through the night. I have a vague idea of how to do it. First, his WCC is coming up and I think an ENT is in our future, as he seems to wake frequently at night, has occasional apnea spells and is tired alot. I'm going to lay him down, awake in his bed and sit and pat him and read on my iPad until he falls asleep. And I have to do this at a time when someone else can take care of George and I can sleep/nap during the day.

I'm considering this school year a wash. We're shaking things up over the summer and going to start fresh in August, when the new school year starts. Until then... I'm buying more coffee.

What Makes a Terrific (Adoptive) Parent?

In an article at Huffington Post, Alfie Kohn talks about general parenting, but gives the PERFECT advice to parents of adopted children:
If you decided to have a child, presumably it was because you wanted to be a parent and anticipated that the experience would be fulfilling. You did it for you. But the child's arrival demands a radical shift: Now you must do things for him or her. Moreover, you need to be mindful of the difference and how it's predicated on the fact that your child is a separate being with distinct perspectives and preferences.

That may sound obvious, but some parents use their children to meet their own emotional needs -- and seem unaware that they're doing so. To put this in positive terms, we might say that high-quality parenting is defined by three closely related features: (1) an awareness that a child's experience of the world is often different from one's own; (2) an ability to understand the nature of those differences, to imagine the child's point of view and tune in to his or her needs and (3) a willingness to try to meet those needs rather than just doing what's right for oneself.

* * *

In short, the best parents acknowledge the needs of their children (as distinct from their own), learn all they can about those needs and are committed to meeting them whenever possible. And those of us who find it a struggle to do these things most of the time... need to make a point of struggling to do these things most of the time.
In 1,970 blog posts, I don't think I've ever described as well the need to care for your child's internal life when it comes to adoption.  I especially like this quote: "It's not just about asking what it's like to be in his shoes, but what it's like to have his feet."

I Made the LIST!!!

No, not the Circle of Moms Top 25 List -- that one is still cancelled!  But I made the list at two blogs where you'll find lots of other interesting blogs to read!

Check out iAdoptee's contest, started in response to COM's awful treatment of blogs that didn't toe the party line: Top 25 Adoptee Rights Blogs Written by Adoptive MothersTo be eligible, you had to be an adoptive mother "who has written one or more posts focused solely on promoting the basic human right of an adopted person to have an accurate record of their birth."  Not surprisingly, though shamefully, there are fewer than 25 blogs who met eligibility requirements.  But you will find a half-dozen excellent blogs by adoptive mothers, some of whom are already on my blogroll, and some who will be added soon, who have written about this basic human right.

And at Adoption Magazine, a blog hop netted over 100 blogs in response to the closure of the COM contest.  Eligibility was blessedly WIDE OPEN:

This blog hop will be open to all those affected by adoption, not just adoptive parents. My hope is that we will all let go of our preconceived notions and read with an open mind and heart. Sometimes fear, assumptions, and the unknown can make us feel threatened. But I believe that as long as everyone is respectful and open minded, we have so much we can learn from each other. I hope that this blog hop will further break down the barriers.

I made that list simply by adding myself!  I've found  a few new blogs to add to my blogroll on this list, as well as visiting lots of old friends. 

So, enjoy these lists where, as Adoption Magazine puts it, you don't have to "vote for anyone or give your left kidney."

I'm prouder to be on these lists than anything Circle of Moms put together!

Don't Blame Adoption . . .

. . . for adopted son's murder of adoptive father, says this News Herald article:
Bettye Rasmussen and her husband adopted their daughter when the girl was five weeks old.

“We told her as soon as she could understand about being adopted and she never felt unloved,” said Rasmussen. Rasmussen said the daughter, now 37, even met her biological parents a few years ago, and she heard her say to them she was glad she was given up for adoption.

Rasmussen has been upset this week reading about a case in Farmington Hills which links adoption to one of the accused murderers.

The mention of adoption came up again Wednesday when after the accused man’s arraignment Wednesday, a woman named Christine Frederick — who said she knew Cipriano — believed some of his problems stemmed from his being adopted and “feeling lonely and abandoned.”

Cipriano, 19, and another man, Mitchell Young, 20, are charged with beating and killing Cipriano’s 52-year-old father Robert when they broke into the Cipriano family home at 2:50 a.m. Monday. Police said they were confronted by the family and used a baseball bat in the attacks.

Rasmussen isn’t buying that.

His issues, Rasmussen surmised, have “nothing to do with him being adopted.”

Cipriano, she said, “can’t blame his biological parents for anything. They loved him best they could. It’s a tragedy.”

Around Oakland County, adoption services officials agreed with Rasmussen.

Cathy Eisenberg, director of Bingham Farms-based Child & Parent Services, Inc., said, “There are biological children who are also violent and angry,” said Eisenberg,  

“As far as I’m concerned, this has nothing to do with (Cipriano’s) adoption.”
Pretty definitive statements, despite this caveat shared in the article: "Officials with the state’s Department of Human Services said there are no studies comparing crime with adoption."

Do I Matter? Do I Make a Difference?

I opened my closet and studied the options dangling from my hangers. What was I going to wear for our family photos? Certainly not a formal dress, a t-shirt, or the styles from a decade ago that somehow still hang in my closet.
I am not a fashionista. Ask my trendy 18-year-old sister and she will tell you she would love to revamp my wardrobe. I really don’t think much about clothes and I have no reservation taking the hand-me-downs from friends. So why exactly did I feel a lump in my throat? Why did I feel emotional over my limited attire? Was it because Andy teased me that all our clothes were dirty and the piles of laundry spilling from our rooms and bathroom were proof of my incompetent housekeeping job?
I grabbed two shirts and presented them to my friend who was taking our pictures. She picked the one that matched best with the girl’s clothes.
“I just don’t ever buy clothes for me.” I self -consciously said to Melissa. “I only spend money on clothes for the girls. They are the ones the really need them since they are growing and wearing them out. I just wear jeans and a t-shirt most days.”
In that moment, I could have walked to my room, closed the door and cried. The emotions felt so raw that I knew this was not a simple case of, “I have nothing to wear!” 
So what was it then?
The truth is I felt embarrassed.  My laundry had never been piled that high. I was swimming in a sea of dirty clothes, dirty dishes, and unplanned menus, struggling to stay on top of necessities, like clean underwear, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Melissa was visiting, she is a Children’s Ministry Consultant and she is good at what she does. She had come to do training for us and we learned so much from her. She is making a difference in the lives of children across the United States by investing in the churches that invite her to come. My job, on the other hand, consists of my little home and there was evidence I was failing miserably with my maintenance skills.
As I opened my closet, I was really asking: Do I matter? Do I make a difference? Am I more than a mom and a wife and a housekeeper?
God I am failing at this homemaker thing, I don’t seem to get it. I honestly don’t even enjoy it, it is a chore. I need your joy to do the simple things of raising my family. Yet I know there is more to my life than cleaning and cooking and folding clothes. Help me to see what you see when you look at me. Help me to understand your plans and the season of life I am in right now. To embrace it with joy, to follow you wholeheartedly.
And it is in the moments of brokenness where I experience God’s love and compassion transforming my life. He sees me. The woman. Not the mom, cook, or house cleaner I see, but me. A 31-year-old woman that He created to have dreams and hopes and stories and ideas.The one that is right here and right now for a purpose.
Yes, what I do matters to my husband and to three beautiful little girls that have been entrusted to my care. I know that what my girls see happening within the walls of our home will shape who they become. A loving mommy in a ponytail, t-shirt and jeans can mold little hearts and help them grow in love, compassion and acceptance. My interactions with people at the church and with friends matter. My involvement with the girl’s school can make a difference.
I am thankful that God does not tire of reminding me of truths I can easily forget.
“What about we go to TJ Maxx and we get you some nice shirts.” Melissa proposed the following day.
And so to TJ Maxx we went, and I found some cute and stylish shirts. My sister will be proud of me.

Linked to:
Playdates With God
Sharing His Beauty
A Handful of Heart
The Better Mom
No Ordinary Blog Hop

The Capability Approach

Donna Thomson, author of The Four Walls of My Freedom, speaks about how she adapted Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen's Capability Approach to explore how people can create a life they value in any situation of adversity, including severe disability. Donna was part of our BLOOM speaker series and she wowed our audience. Thanks Donna! Louise

Overheard: WhatEVER

We were in the car on the way to school when I heard Joseph and Camille arguing (again) over Camille's reading books. He was calling them "Stupid" and I reminded him that I read the same books with him when he was in kindy.

"Well, she can't even read them," Joe said.

"Yeah, well, I remember helping someone read Jill Jumps," I shot back.

"WhatEVER." I caught his eye in the review mirror and saw his lips quirk up in a smile.

"WhatEVER. Don't you go there girlfriend." I snapped my fingers at him and he laughed.

"Girlfriend!" He tried the snap his fingers back with the same attitude but the student will never surpass the master.

China Daily: Hello, Mom & Dad, Wherever You Are

Another birth parent search in China, reported by China Daily:
For Creighton and Reilly Ward, just saying hello to their parents in China would be a dream come true.

The sisters, who were adopted by US citizen Bonnie Ward, know almost nothing about their birth parents.

"They do not wish them any ill feelings. They wish them only good things and hope that they know they are together here in America and very happy," said Ward, a single parent and IT executive from New Hampshire.

"We hope that one day we will know the birth family of my daughters. They want to know if they have a sister or brother in China and they want their birth mom and dad to know they are healthy and happy," Ward said.

However, Liang Zhiyong, assistant dean of the Changde Welfare Institute in Hunan province, said on Friday that locating the birth parents will be very difficult.

"Our records only indicate where the children were picked up and nothing else. Also, many of the institute's staff from that time have already retired," Liang said.

Stranger things have happened, though.

In 1999, Ward adopted Creighton, who is now 15. Then two years later she adopted Reilly, now 11.

No one realized at first they were sisters.

Ward said she had suggestions from her parents and a spiritualist that the two girls might be related. But when DNA tests proved it, she was astonished.
The Wards' story is pretty well known in the China-adoption community; I wish them luck in their search!

Do you get my posts via e-mail?

If you are a subscriber to These Broken Vases, have you received my post updates? I will be the first to admit I am not very savvy when it comes to feedburner. But I am not sure you are getting the e-mails when there is a new post. To fix that (if it needed to be fixed I suppose) I did some changes to the feed in hopes to solve this problem.

If you are a subscriber, have you been getting e-mails with the new posts?

Enough housekeeping! Thanks!

Tortious Interference With Birth Father's Rights

Remember John Wyatt, the Virginia birth father seeking the return of his child adopted in Utah?  The Utah Supreme Court ruled against him, as I reported here, but he has brought suit in federal court in Virginia against the Virginia attorney who arranged the adoption, as well as the Utah attorney, Utah adoption agency, and Utah adoptive parents.  The Virginia Supreme Court issued a ruling on Friday that allows that lawsuit to go forward in federal court.

Here are the facts, as recited in the Virginia Supreme Court opinion (because a procedural rule, the court accepts as true all the facts alleged in Wyatt's complaint, which may or may not actually be proven true in court):
E.Z. is the biological daughter of Wyatt and Colleen Fahland, who are unmarried residents of Virginia. Prior to E.Z.'s birth, Wyatt accompanied Fahland to doctors' appointments and made plans with Fahland to raise their child together. Without Wyatt's knowledge, Fahland's parents retained attorney Mark McDermott to arrange for an adoption. While Fahland informed Wyatt of her parents' desire that she see an adoption attorney, she assured Wyatt that they would raise the baby as a family. During a January 30, 2009 meeting with McDermott, Fahland signed a form identifying Wyatt as the birth father and indicating that he wanted to keep the baby. Fahland offered to provide Wyatt's address, but McDermott told her to falsely indicate on the form that the address was unknown to her, which she did. She also signed an agreement in which she requested that the adoptive parents discuss adoption plans with the birth father. Wyatt was "purposely kept in the dark" about this meeting, and Fahland continued to make false statements to Wyatt at the urging of McDermott, indicating that she planned to raise the baby with Wyatt, with the purpose that he would not take steps to secure his parental rights and prevent the adoption.

To facilitate an adoption, McDermott contacted "A Act of Love" (Act of Love), a Utah adoption agency, and Utah attorney Larry Jenkins with Wood Jenkins LLP, a Utah law firm representing Act of Love. Approximately one week prior to E.Z.'s birth, Fahland and her father met again with McDermott. At McDermott's urging, Fahland spoke to Wyatt briefly on the phone and then sent him a text message informing him that she was receiving information about a potential adoption. Later that day and throughout the week prior to E.Z.'s birth, Fahland continued to assure Wyatt that she still planned to raise the baby with him.

Fahland concealed the fact that she was in labor during conversations with Wyatt, at the direction of McDermott and on behalf of the other defendants. E.Z. was born two weeks early, on February 10, 2009, in Virginia, and Wyatt was not informed of the birth. The next day, Fahland signed an affidavit stating that she had informed Wyatt she was working with a Utah adoption agency and an affidavit of paternity identifying Wyatt as the father. Despite her full knowledge of his address, she placed question marks as to his contact information on the notarized documents at the urging of McDermott. Thomas and Chandra Zarembinski, Utah residents who retained Act of Love to assist them in adopting a child and planned to adopt E.Z., signed an agreement stating that they were aware that E.Z.'s custody status might be unclear. On February 12, Fahland signed an affidavit of relinquishment and transferred custody to the Zarembinskis, who had travelled to Virginia to pick up the child.
OK, Civics lesson first!  Why is John Wyatt in federal court?  And what does the Virginia state court have to do with federal court?!  Well, there are two ways to sue in federal court:  1) you need a "federal question," an issue of federal law, U.S. treaties, or the U.S. Constitution, or 2) you need "diversity of citizenship."  Wyatt gets into federal court on that second ground -- the parties he is suing are not all from Virginia, which is where he's from.  "Diversity of citizenship" gives the federal court jurisdiction.

But when a federal court is deciding a case based on diversity jurisdiction, it has to apply the state law of the state where it is sitting, which means Virginia law in this case.  Wyatt is alleging that the attorneys, adoption agency and adoptive parents unlawfully interfered with his parental rights, so the issue becomes what Virginia law says about the matter.  Since no Virginia state court had ever addressed the issue of whether Virginia recognized tortious interference with parental rights as a cause of action, the federal court in Virginia asked the Virginia Supreme Court to answer the question.

OK, back to the merits. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the state of Virginia does in fact recognize the tort of interference with parental rights, a cause of action long recognized at common law:
A statutory basis for tortious interference with parental rights is clearly absent from the Virginia Code; we therefore focus our analysis on whether this tort exists at common law. We conclude that, although no Virginia court has had occasion to consider the cause of action, the tort in question has indeed existed at common law and continues to exist today. Furthermore, rejecting tortious interference with parental rights as a legitimate cause of action would leave a substantial gap in the legal protection afforded to the parent-child relationship.
In recognizing this cause of action, the court notes the importance of the parent-child relationship:
We recognize the essential value of protecting a parent's right to form a relationship with his or her child. We have previously acknowledged that "the relationship between a parent and child is constitutionally protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."  Indeed, the Supreme Court of the United States has characterized a parent's right to raise his or her child as "perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court." [citations omitted]
So, good news for John Wyatt -- he can sue the attorneys, the adoption agency and the adoptive parents for money damages, including "loss of companionship, mental anguish, loss of services, and expenses incurred to recover the child."  Victory for Wyatt? Well, not really: "We" acknowledge that the most direct and proper remedy, the return of the child and restoration of the parent-child relationship, may never be achieved through a tort action."

The court's ruling has broader application than just to John Wyatt, but the court is clearly horrified by the facts of this case:
It is both astonishing and profoundly disturbing that in this case, a biological mother and her parents, with the aid of two licensed attorneys and an adoption agency, could intentionally act to prevent a biological father — who is in no way alleged to be an unfit parent — from legally establishing his parental rights and gaining custody of a child whom the mother did not want to keep, and that this father would have no recourse in the law. The facts as pled indicate that the Defendants went to great lengths to disguise their agenda from the biological father, including preventing notice of his daughter's birth and hiding their intent to have an immediate out-of-state adoption, in order to prevent the legal establishment of his own parental rights. This Court has long recognized that the rights of an unwed father are deserving of protection. The tort of tortious interference with parental rights may provide onemeans ofsuch protection. Finally, we hope that the threat of a civil action would help deter third parties such as attorneys and adoption agencies from engaging in the sort of actions allegedto have takenplace. [citations omitted]
I wish I was as hopeful as the court that the threat of lawsuits or money damages would deter attorneys and adoption agencies. I think it's more likely that they'll just consider such suits as the cost of doing business, and just pass on the costs to adoptive parents, who will happily pay so long as they get to keep the child. . . .