Mr. Savelyev, Meet Dr. Laura
plane back to his motherland--alone. She arranged for someone to meet him at the Moscow airport and deliver him to a government office with a note that claimed the orphanage had lied and misled her.
The media pounced on Artyom's sojourn with stories that summoned an array of stereotypes: corrupt bureaucracies; Dickensian orphanages; the self-centered mother with a child whose demands exceeded her capacity to give. Though Artyom's diagnosis, if any, was never revealed, many stories raised the specter of fetal alcohol syndrome, a severe, lifelong disability. In June, radio pundit Laura Schlessinger advised prospective parents to avoid international adoptions altogether.
"Dr. Laura doesn't know what she's talking about," says "Shelly Kazan," a local psychiatrist, adoptive mother of a daughter from Guatemala, and former Dr. Laura fan. "All this negative bullshit is--bullshit. Parents I know who've done international adoptions are 99 percent positive." (Like other local parents who've adopted children from other countries, "Kazan" asked that her real name not be used--most feel that their family adoption stories are the children's to tell.)
"All this Tennessee mother had to do was contact her agency to say 'I'm having problems. I can't do this anymore,'" says Jerri Ann Jenista, an Ann Arbor pediatrician and the adoptive mother of five who has worked in adoption for thirty years. "They would have taken the child and placed him with another family. The agency is committed to the child. All of us with children--especially problem children--know you can't do it yourself."