Adopting little ones from foreign countries can be risky. Consider the story of Max, a troubled Russian boy who died while in the care of his adoptive mother in Texas. Even parents with the best intentions probably don’t know what they’re getting into when they adopt these kids.
Reported in the New York Times, the story discusses the international outrage triggered by the case. It includes interviews with Max’s mother, Laura Shatto, who is struggling with heartache and guilt, and his birth mom, Yulia V. Kuzmina, a young Russian woman.
“I wanted to kill them,” Kuzmina was quoted as saying about Shatto and her husband, Alan.
According to the article, Shatto left Max and his brother, Kris, playing alone on the backyard swing set so she could go to the bathroom. When she returned, she found Max on the ground unconscious. Max’s death was ruled accidental by police, prosecutors and medical examiners in Texas. They determined his bruises were self-inflicted by a boy who was known to claw at his skin, throw his body to the ground and bang his head against the walls. But child welfare officials in Texas said they could not determine who caused the bruises on his body, leaving the Shattos under a cloud of suspicion.
The tragedy has ruined Shatto, a teacher. She wonders how she will explain Max’s death to his brother, Kris, who was also adopted from Russia.
Just tell Kris the truth, I thought. The article paints Shatto in a sympathetic light so I will assume Max was not abused at home. The best thing for Shatto to do is tell Kris what really happened to Max. Leaving two little boys alone in a fenced-in backyard for a few minutes is not a crime. Many parents have done it or something similar without tragic consequences.
Kris should be able to handle the truth, assuming he and his mother have a strong, loving relationship. That’s what Shatto should focus on. She cannot bring Max back to life but she can do what’s best for Kris. She has to move forward.
It’s always better for parents to be honest with their children even when the truth hurts or makes them look bad. Lies create more problems, especially when people uncover the truth, which is bound to happen. Just ask any adult who found out late in life about her adoption.
What do you think?