Before you adopt from the state of Nebraska…you must read this!
How can an adoption go wrong? How can adoption become a nightmare?
Having previously adopted a child from the foster system in North Dakota five years earlier, our daughter and son-in-law felt led to welcome into their home 2 brothers, ages 5 and 6, from the Nebraska foster care system while stationed at Offutt AFB in Omaha.
The boys were in the care of a state affiliated agency at the time. When described, the boys were categorized as physically healthy. Their prospective parents were told of no social, emotional or mental health concerns for the younger brother, and the only words of caution they were given concerning the oldest boy were…he is “high maintenance,” “quite a handful,” and “shows signs of ADHD”…
During the pre-placement visits, the parents quickly saw evidences of “high maintenance behaviors,” but it wasn’t until after the adoptions were finalized (a legal process that was, for the first time in the boys’ four year history in the department, handled quickly), that this family realized that “high maintenance” didn’t begin to define what they were up against.
it was obvious that the oldest boy had major issues and monumental wounds. He would rage for hours, throw things, curse, hit, bite and destroy property.
The only words they received from the assigned were "You are doing a great job. There is really nothing I would recommend you do differently.”
There was no advice or counsel offered to this family who was clearly struggling to help two little boys heal — while not causing harm to the three children already in their home.
Finally, after 5 years of searching for answers and begging for information, our daughter received some records from the state. Despite Nebraska’s Freedom of Information Act, the state social services can still redact information from the files of foster children. Our daughter was, however, able to glean the names of various medical and psychological providers the boys had seen during their time in the system. She took it upon herself to personally call each one of them and request the boys’ medical records.
Within the volumes of information received, she found a report from a Licensed Mental Health Professional dated 20 August 2007 (eight months before they met the boys, and just four days short of a full year before the boys went to live with them) that reads:
“…behavioral problems remain severe…require continuous intervention….can be randomly explosive and display a general inability to regulate…emotions…development is delayed in the social, intellectual, and emotional realms and he exhibit’s [sic] the thinking and behaviors of a much younger emotionally disturbed child.
….social, behavioral, and emotional impairments are consistent with the diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder…Children with this diagnosis present extremely difficult parenting challenges…I expect... behaviors associated with RAD at each developmental level…a consistent pattern of failing to initiate and respond to social interactions in an age-appropriate way…Aggressive behavior towards peers, siblings, teachers, and caregivers is likely to continue to be a problem…Frequent lying with no remorse, stealing petty items without need for them, difficulties with empathy, and ongoing oppositional and defiant behaviors round out the prognosis…
The type of therapeutic parenting [a term never used by any worker]…is extremely demanding of the time, energy, and commitment of their parents. In summary, … needs in fundamentally key areas are extremely high and [child is] at risk for a multitude of problems, including depression, anxiety, and antisocial behavior at each stage of…development. Children with RAD are more likely to fail in placements if parents are without external support and assistance with what they identify as needing.”
Other records showed this same child also suffered from fetal alcohol exposure. The caseworkers of Nebraska had access to all this information prior to the adoptions but purposefully and willfully withheld said information.
Who has suffered the most from the fraudulence/deceit/misrepresentation of the state of Nebraska? The children, their parents and their siblings.
Had these diagnoses been available at the time of his adoption, steps would have been taken early on to see that he received the specialized/intensive therapy he needed to overcome these lifealtering/debilitating childhood disorders. He was denied not only the ability to heal but the possibility of leading a happy, normal life not just because of negligence on the part of his biological parents, but because of negligent actions on the part of every caseworker who handled his case during his four-year tenure in Nebraska’s dysfunctional foster care system.
Not only was proper treatment and therapy delayed, but funds have also been denied over and over that would aid this family in getting their son the help he needs, along with the therapy their whole family now needs as a result of dealing with the trauma that goes with a child who has RAD.
Every state that is withholding vital mental, emotional & physical medical records must be called to task. Hundreds and hundreds of parents are drowning without the financial children that someone else wounded.
Most are too weary to fight for their rights. They need a champion!
Will you join me in calling to task those who are guilty of withholding invaluable information and resources that would allow many adopted children to lead a normal, healthy and happy life? If so, please let your voice be heard by contacting one of the following and speaking up for this family and others in similar situations.
Sen. Kathy Campbell, District 25, Nebraska Unicameral Legislature, Room 1402, P.O. Box 94604, State Capitol, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509. Call 402-471-2731.
Marshall Lux, Public Counsel, Nebraska Legislature, 402-471-2035, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to this very sad and urgent situation.
By Teri Haefs, Leesburg, GA