Sometimes, these readopt scenarios play out on social media, like the case of YouTuber Myka Stauffer who, along with her husband, rehomed their adopted son from China. She and her husband decided that the adoption was not working for their family or the little boy they adopted who had been diagnosed with autism.
Most of the choices to make a readoption plan for a child happen much more quietly. The adoptive parents are struggling, often emotionally, and are trying to make the best choice possible. They are trying to consider their own health and happiness as well as that of the adopted child, and often their other children as well.
Typically, they do not reach out to the international adoption agency that helped with the placement, and when they do make that initial phone call to an adoption agency like Lifetime, they are feeling guilt and desperation. They don’t know who to call or what to say, but they know they have tried everything, and it is time to make a change.
This was exactly the case with Alyssa when she first called us. She and her husband Patrick had travelled to South Korea to learn more about Patrick’s heritage – he had been adopted from Korea by a family in Arizona. They, along with their two daughters, had stayed two weeks, seeing Korea and connecting with the agency who had facilitated Patrick’s adoption. They visited the orphanage he had lived in and even saw some of the children waiting to be adopted.
One toddler, Kija, was a favorite in the orphanage. He was a smiley three-year-old, friendly, and bright, and caught the attention of Alyssa, Patrick, and their girls. He had not been adopted, likely because he was missing fingers on one hand. But in him, Patrick saw himself – a little boy who just needed a loving family. The family had no intention of pursuing a Korean adoption, but Kija made an impact. Before they flew back to the U.S., Patrick spoke to the orphanage to ask specifically what they would need to do to adopt Kija.
Immediately upon getting back, Alyssa and Patrick began the adoption process with the help and support of the Korean orphanage. They secured a home study quickly and, because they had already visited and met Kija, did not have to wait for a referral – he was identified as theirs. Within just a few months, they were able to travel and bring their son home.
It wasn’t long after settling in at home that the problems began. The sweet Kija they met was now four years old and finding difficulty communicating in a strange language. He was having terrible tummy trouble (later diagnosed as dairy allergy) and having night terrors. He was not bonding with Patrick and the entire family was in an uproar because of Kija’s tantrums and needs. Even with counseling and family support, every day seemed to get worse. After about four months, Patrick confided in Alyssa that he wished they had never pursued adoption and missed his old life.
On the phone with a Lifetime Adoption coordinator, Alyssa shared their journey, and admitted that they had no idea what they were getting into. She had learned, after parenting Kija for a while, that their experience is relatively normal for some international adoptions. While they attended the required parenting classes, because they had met this happy, bright-eyed little boy, they had an expectation that all would be smooth sailing for their family. She hadn’t thought the trauma of adoption would be an issue. She thought that because Patrick shared Kija’s Korean heritage, the culture change would not be so severe. And she thought that Kija could easily fit into their established family routines.
Alyssa tearfully shared that while she loved Kija, she knew love wasn’t enough. She wanted a family for Kija that was prepared and ready to love and care for him. She thought he would do better in a calmer, quieter home, with parents who were equipped and prepared for the issues that come with international adoption.
We located a couple, Kat and Mark, who had hoped to adopt from Korea or China. They had a boy just a bit older than Kija and had completed the classes required for international adoption. Kat was also a stay-at-home mom, who had previously been a special education teacher.
After speaking on the phone, the two couples decided to get together so they could meet Kija and spend some time with him. Kat seemed to have the experience, education, and time that Kija needed, and he quickly seemed to take to her. A few weeks later, Kat and Mark returned with their son and let the boys play together. They spent time together on the playground and doing parallel play with toys. The dynamic seemed a better fit for Kija, and both families agreed to proceed with the adoption.
After a short period of transition, Kija began living full-time with Kat and Mark and the readoption proceeded uneventfully, finalizing a few months later. Now, ten years later, Kija is a happy, well-adjusted teenager with little memory of his time with Alyssa and Patrick. He knows his story and views them as the parents that brought him to America to pave the way to connect him with his forever family, especially his brother, now also his best friend.
As traumatic as Kija’s story may seem, he is where he is supposed to be – with parents who are equipped and able to parent him successfully.
If you are finding yourself struggling after adopting a child internationally and just want to learn what readoption can look like, Lifetime is always just a phone call away. Everything is confidential and we can be a listening ear to help you discover the best choices for your child.