My Shattered Family

A warning about international adoption

Crystal Perkins April 16, 2014
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My adoption story is the same as and very different from the many adoption stories I have read online. After years of infertility treatments, international adoption seemed like the logical choice for us. We realized that there were so many children who really needed a family, and we were a family that really wanted a baby. Our adoption journey has been one of incredible joy and incredible pain.

My husband and I traveled to Ukraine in 1993. Our son was 3 months old at the time. He was relinquished by his birth mother soon after birth and was brought to a state-run hospital, where he stayed until we arrived. His health reports were all positive, and he was a beautiful baby. We named him Nick. We were now a complete family, and I was so proud of who we were.

As Nick grew up, we noticed that he would probably have learning issues in school. But he was healthy, played sports, and had a ton of friends. We celebrated his coming home day each year, and I told him as much as I could about Ukraine and the wonderful people we had met there. For 12 years, we just were. Then Nick started to change. I first thought his nasty attitude was age-related, but his behavior problems worsened. His school work suffered, he was breaking all the rules, and he was moving away from us emotionally.

For the past seven years, we have suffered through drug-related arrests, school suspensions, lies, and constant manipulation. But the most devastating thing to deal with is his detachment from us. It’s constant and it’s real. He does not feel a connection to us. I was always a proponent of international adoption, but now I’m questioning the wisdom of taking a child so far away from his heritage and his roots.

The probability of Nick finding out about his birth family is slim to none, and for him right now, that could help. We have begun a search through an international search agency, but after so many years, we are not overly optimistic. I looked into a heritage tour a few years back but could find none for Ukraine. I contacted our adoption agency years ago as well, and the social worker said that a trip back should be seen as a celebration and not the solution to a problem. We always seemed to have too many problems to address and were not in a position to celebrate.

I love my son deeply, and my heart is broken for our family and for him. My husband and I would always say to each other that we’d get through this when we were facing a tough problem over the past 7 years, but we’re not so sure anymore. I’m not sure our shattered family will ever heal.

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Crystal Perkins

Crystal is the content manager for In her free time, she enjoys honing her outdoor photography skills, going on hikes, and hanging out with her husband.

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