Problem Children? Problem Parents? Social Problems?

One of the saddest situations divorce and child custody attorneys like me encounter is Problem Children whose parents have reached the point where they are ready to throw in the towel.


Most commonly, these Problem Children are adopted, very often from foreign countries. But sometimes they are their parents’ biological offspring.


These Problem Children are not merely naughty.


They are typically labeled with multiple to numerous diagnoses at the intersection of bad behavior and mental illness. Most of which carry a diagnosis that is at best guarded and at worst positively discouraging.


By the time the parents come to an attorney hoping to somehow sever their legal bond with their Problem Children, remove them from their home and the remainder of their family, and relieve themselves of legal liability and responsibility for them, the parents have generally exhausted all available options with governmental agencies running the gamut from mental health services to juvenile justice services.


To no avail.


And now they want to un-adopt or reverse adoption of adopted Problem Children, or emancipate their biological Problem Children.


This is the topic of a haunting and disturbing article in the Huffington Post: Un-Adopting: Is Divorcing Children an Acceptable Option?


The one thing the article does not reflect to any degree is the heartfelt drained and exhausted desperation that many of these parents exhibit at consultations with attorneys.


They have turned over every stone they can think of. And run out of stones.


Sometimes they are unaware of some stones. Sometimes they really have hefted them all and still come up empty.


For many years, divorcing parents in Florida have been required to take a parenting course. It is only more recently that premarital education has become part of the legal framework of getting married.


There are usually pre-adoption home studies and social investigations.


Perhaps the human toll and even the social costs of Problem Children could be reduced by more pre-adoption education and trained facilitation of the extended process of integration and assimilation of adopted children into their adoptive home, particularly where there are already other children in the adoptive home.


If so, do Problem Children and their parents really need and deserve less social services support simply because they are biologically connected?