What's Next for Kristoff?
On videotape, Jessica explains how she adopted her twins, Kristoff and Kolya. "The adoption agency sent us a referral. I opened the e-mail, and there were pictures of the boys. I felt like I recognized Koyla's picture immediately. It felt like looking at a picture of my own biological child. There was a recognition there. I didn't feel that connection when I saw Kristoff," she recalls.
Jessica describes the differences in her sons' temperament. "Koyla is shy and more withdrawn than his brother. He wants to check for approval from me or from my husband. Kristoff is the exact opposite of Kolya. He doesn't need anyone's approval. His opinion is the only one that counts," she says. "He is a chronic liar. He lies about most everything. He's been caught a number of times stealing food. Kristoff steals, not because he's hungry, but because he sees it, and he wants it. At my very lowest point, I thought that maybe it was a mistake to adopt the boys, but we have them now, and I'm not sending them back. So we just have to learn how to deal with them."
When the videotape ends, Dr. Phil faces Jessica. "If we're just being brutally honest about things, at this point, you don't like this child," he notes.
"I love this child; I do not like his behavior at all," Jessica clarifies.
[AD]"Let's assume that this child does have a reactive attachment disorder. Let's say he has some other type of disorder. Let's say he has Asperger's, let's say he has impulsive-control disorder, let's say he has an oppositional personality. If that's true, those things are illnesses," Dr. Phil explains. "Illnesses are to be treated. They're not to be punished. I'll guarantee you, you could have 10 times the impact on this child if you sat down and whispered ""
"I've done that," Jessica says.
"You can say you've done this, and you've done that, but you know what? You do it until. I don't care how many things you've tried or how many times you've tried them, it is not justifiable to default to what you're doing, because it is child abuse," Dr. Phil warns.
Dr. Phil turns to Jessica's mom, Norma. "I am very upset that you haven't taken a more active role in trying to influence her, that her husband hasn't taken a more active role in trying to influence her," he says. "It bothers me that three adults can come together, and this looks OK to everybody!"
"It's just frustration," Jessica blurts out. "I don't know what to do with him. I really, truly don't, and that's why I wrote you. That's why I am willing to sit up here, and have an audience look at me and judge me, because I need help for this child."
Dr. Phil introduces Areva Martin, a family attorney and child advocate. "Areva, how do you view this behavior?" he asks.
"Dr. Phil, no one in this audience can stay in our seats. We're just appalled at this. We're looking at this little boy who seems so sweet and innocent, and we're looking at this behavior as moms. We're just shocked," she replies. She addresses Jessica. "I know you're frustrated, but you're the adult in this situation. Plain and simple, this is child abuse."
"This child is damaged, so that means he needs help. What he needs most is for you to be able to " with sincerity and commitment " look him in the eye and say, â€˜Kristoff, I am so sorry for what I've done.' He needs to be in some individual counseling and therapy where somebody can teach him, â€˜You know what? You're OK. You don't always make the best decisions, but you are a quality young man, and we love you, and we care about you, and we're going to help you,'" Dr. Phil says.
Dr. Phil says he is willing to provide psychological, medical and neurological help for Kristoff to get an accurate diagnosis of what's going on. "I'm willing to get you some help with your anger, and your lack of control and your lack of insight into your anger and your lack of control, provided you are willing to open your home to these therapists that they can monitor you to the point of putting cameras in that home, if necessary," he tells Jessica.
"Sure. Absolutely," she responds.
"Yes," she answers.
[AD]"Do you think that's a plan? Have I put verbs in my sentences?"
"You've put a lot of verbs in your sentences," Jessica replies. "My only question is do I lower this arbitrary bar for all of my children or just for Kristoff?"
"I haven't made an appropriate home study here to determine how unrealistic you may or may not be," Dr. Phil answers. "I can only speak to this child right now, and that's the problem you need to focus on. The appropriate therapists will be involved, and they can help you and your husband make decisions about those things."