Adoption: Return to Sender: Jodi

A Child with a Kill List
4:12 PM PDT, April 06 2020


"I had three sons. After our third son was born, I adopted Victoria when she was 4 years old," says Jodi. "Victoria is 9 years old. Our problems started three months after we adopted her. I thought it was because of the language delay. I made a lot of excuses for her in that first year. The reality was she was full of fear and an enormous amount of rage: hitting, and spitting, and kicking and biting. She really valued nothing. She broke nearly everything that I gave her. We've taken nearly everything out of her room, because she destroys things, and the things that we can't take out of her room, she continues to destroy, such as her walls. She's picked the paint off of the walls just with her fingernails. Hours, and hours and hours of just picking paint.

"I was the target of her aggressive behaviors and still am. Victoria had a kill list, and she would talk about killing me and how she would kill me. There was no more love. I hated everything about her. I would spank her, I would slap her, I would pull her hair. I felt out of control. I beat myself up relentlessly, thinking it must be me because it can't be her. It took three years before we found a therapist who could diagnose her. Victoria's therapist diagnosed her with reactive attachment disorder. I had to learn to not take the rages, the kill list, the stealing, the spitting in my face personally. When we brought her home, I didn't understand what trauma had done to her. Knowing where her behaviors are coming from is the only way that I could help her.

[AD]"When I saw the story about the woman who sent her child back to Russia, I immediately identified with her. I thought about sending Victoria somewhere hundreds of times. If it wasn't for my faith and knowing that this was where she was supposed to be, that was her only saving grace that allowed her to stay in this home."

Jodi writes about her daughter's childhood trauma in her blog.

"You became aggressive out of frustration and anger toward Victoria," Dr. Phil says to Jodi.

"I did. She targeted my triggers that would provoke me. She was constantly at me, getting attention. I couldn't really understand where any of it was coming from. She seemed shallow, she didn't seem sincere. It was very, very frustrating," Jodi says.

"A lot of mothers who haven't been going through this would go, ‘Oh, my gosh, how could you have those feelings toward your daughter?'" Dr. Phil says.

Jayne and Kristi relate to Jodi's struggles.


Dr. Phil asks Jodi about the improvement she's seen in her daughter, Victoria.

"I used to be able to calculate her good moments in minutes, and then they would go to an hour. And now, five years later, there's been a stretch of a week," she says. "We know they have kill notes, we know they want to beat up their parents, they want to hurt, inflict pain upon themselves and others. I think we need to understand where those behaviors are coming from. It's compiled trauma. There's the abandonment, there's sexual abuse, there's my reactions when she came home. I have no doubt the first three years she was home " because I had no idea what her behaviors meant, I took them all personally. They made me angry " I inflicted more trauma on her. I have no doubts of that. I was also traumatized myself, which is why I can understand the Tennessee mom being pushed to a place of crazy."

Jodi's daughter was adopted from Belarus. Dr. Phil says there could be environmental causes for her behavior. "We know the nutrition there was poor. We know Chernobyl took place and there well could have been exposures in that regard. And it doesn't excuse any of the behavior. It doesn't even make it easier to cope with, but maybe it says something about strategy."