Victim of Attachment Therapy
Charlotte, North Carolina
Relinquished 2007 at age 9
Note: The following account has been prepared from press reports, personal interviews, trial transcripts, and other public records.
In 2001, Pat Amon, a North Carolina nurse, adopted a Russian boy, 3, and girl, 2. Pat changed the girl’s name from Elena to Kathryn.
Ms Amon claimed that Kathryn’s behaviors were difficult for her to handle. The girl ran through the house, would not cuddle with her, and avoided eye contact. The adoptive mother took Kathryn to many specialists who diagnosed the girl with motor and language delays. She received speech and occupational therapy, plus “sensory integration” treatment. Ms Amon also would hold the tightly swaddled girl for “bonding.”
The Charlotte Observer wrote about Kathryn’s behavior, that it “suggested reactive attachment disorder, found in children who have spent early years in institutional or foster care. It's characterized by hostility, lying and an inability to trust adults.”
Because her aggressive and self-injuring behaviors continued, Ms Amon sent Kathryn in 2006 to a treatment center (Thompson Child and Family Focus) that specialized in treating “attachment disorders.”
When Kathryn spit on her mother, attacked her brother and “repeatedly threw herself on the floor,” Pat admitted her to a psychiatric facility.
Although Pat lives with a partner, she is technically the sole parent for Kathryn and her brother. She told the press, “I literally felt like I was losing it, mentally. My life was obsessed with Kathryn and Kathryn's needs." She tried unsuccessfully to get the authorities to help with “therapeutic foster care” and for help to send Kathryn to a residential treatment center in New Mexico that treats “attachment disorder.”
Kathryn was placed in a family through Lutheran Family Services, but it was learned that this organization did not have a contract with the county for therapeutic foster care. At that point, Ms Amon refused to take Kathryn back and relinquished her parental rights five years after being Kathryn’s mother. She wrote the North Carolina chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), "I have hit the wall and am so completely burned out. I don't feel that I can continue to parent this child and this breaks my heart."
Pat blamed social services for failing to help her and reasoned that if Kathryn could have been placed with a therapeutic family, her family would have been preserved.
- “Overseas Adoptions No Safe Haven From Problems,” The Charlotte Observer, 10 April 2007.