1. Parenting

Russian Adoption Problems In the Eyes of Russian Adoptive Parents

Mike and Tanya Mulligan Share Their Take on Russian Adoption Problems

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Slater, Elena, and Margarita adopted from Russia.

Mike and Tanya Mulligan adopted three children from Russia and have struggled parenting severe behavioral issues. They feel that if Russian officials were honest, it would cut down on some of the Russian adoption problems within the system.

Photo courtesy of Mike Mulligan.

I contacted Mike and Tanya Mulligan, an adoptive couple that I first met when they were featured on a 20/20 special about Russian adoption and the problems within that system. I knew they had an opinion on Torry Hansen and the drama she created when she bought a one-way ticket back to Russia for her 7-year-old adopted son. A flight he took solo.

Carrie Craft - I've heard some rumbling within the adoption community about concerns for Russian adoptees, that they may be uncomfortable or worried, fearful of being "sent back" How has the news of what happened to the 7-year-old had any effect on your children?

Tanya Mulligan - "My children, or at least the girls, aren't worried in the least. They seem to be secure in the fact that we aren't going to send them back. I think Margarita made a comment in passing that 'he must have been really bad.'"

Mike Mulligan - "The recent news has not appeared to have effected our children, since they are pretty secure with their new lives."

Carrie Craft - "Why do you think the media seems to want to barbecue this adoptive mother?"

Tanya Mulligan - "This is a single mother who probably reached her breaking point. With her back against a wall, no one to help her, no systems in place for help, she felt trapped. I mean what was she supposed to do? Wait until the boy burned the house down, hurt or killed one of her family members? These kids are capable of murder and they don't have a conscious at all."

Dealing with Behaviors on a Day-to-Day Basis

Carrie Craft - "Tell us about a typical day with your children? What do you see in their future? In your future?"

Tanya Mulligan - "A typical day at our house starts at 4:30am for me. I put together the kids lunches, make a latte and muffins for the girls. Put together a breakfast for Slater. I wake the girls up for school, tell them to have a good day and love you. I go to work for 10, 12 sometimes 14 hours. Mike gets Slater up, gets him dressed and groomed for school. Supervises breakfast and drives him to school. He attends the FACE school in Tampa. Mike comes home and works in his office until it is time to pick Slater up. Slater comes home and does his homework in Mike's office so he can be supervised and not get into any trouble or destroy anything. I come home and make dinner. We usually eat as a family. Then I am available to help with the girls homework, if needed. Slater takes a shower and gets ready for bed. He is in bed by 8pm. My husband and I are usually exhausted by 10 and go to bed. Often we are so tired we fall asleep right away."

Carrie Craft - "What do you feel non-adoptive parents understand about adoptive parenting? Especially RAD?"

Mike Mulligan - "Many non-adoptive parents do not understand what it is like to bring a stranger into your home. So often, we hear "what would you do if this were your natural-born child? What makes you think you can blame others for your children's problems?" Many of the issues do not become apparent until years down the road; rather, they are apparent after the "honeymoon" period. In other words, these (serious) issues would clearly be noticeable by adoption workers and agencies. Again, adoption agencies have a duty to inform adoptive parents of the children's past...be it good or bad."

Tanya Mulligan - "Regular Americans don't get it at all. If you have never had one of these children in your house and lived with it 24/7, you don't have a clue. Its great to be an armchair quarterback and direct and pass judgment. Until you have walked a mile in our shoes, it means nothing. RAD is a very different diagnosis. These children feel unworthy and rejected. They want to get back at any and every adult because of that rejection. Conventional parenting or discipline does not work. They just don't react the way you expect or react at all. Its almost like they are saying, see I knew you wouldn't love me if I did this or that."

Mike Mulligan - "Reactive Attachment Disorder is real. We found many adoption workers (after the fact, mind you) that blamed us for "not trying hard enough" or "not loving the children enough." While tenacity love are important, they are not the answer for RAD."

Continue on to page 2 of the Interview

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