TODAY   |  March 21, 2014

Program supports families with adoption

Dr. Mary Staat founded Cincinnati Children’s International Adoption Center, a program that offers adoptive parents a safety net. Therapists work with parents before, during and after an adoption. NBC's national correspondent Kate Snow reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> stories where parents go on the internet and search for strangers to take their unwanted adoptive children. many from overseas.

>> this story disturbed a lot of people. there's little government regulation of it. our reports received so much reaction, we kept digging. and kate snow is back with an update. and i'm happy to say good news, too.

>> good news, carson and savannah. so many people wondered how to stop this underground online world . so in a moment, we're going to talk about a program working to support parents. but first, a reminder of what we're talking about. reiters cataloged 5,000 posts on message boards and went looking for the one girl who was advertised more than any other.

>> she's too much for us.

>> reporter: last fall, reiters reporter megan tooey showed online messages, people agreeing to hand over children at truck stops or diners.

>> this is a family that sent their adoptive daughter to three other families and they're back here at the group seeking out a fourth.

>> this is the face behind those messages. nita was adopted from haiti by a idaho family, but after a tough first year, her parents went looking online for someone to take nita in.

>> they could have been murderers or like killers, you don't know those people. and i could have been dead.

>> reporter: she was shipped between four different families over two years. she says in this home, she was physically and verbally abused and that other children told her they were being sexually abused by the father. and when she confided in an adult, she was put on a plane again. that father is awaiting trial and has pled not guilty. each time she was passed on, the pain grew deeper.

>> i just felt alone and unworthy, unloved. like i hated myself.

>> no one in the adoption world wants a child to feel that way. many told us the real issue was a lack of support for parents who bring a child home from overseas and then struggle.

>> i don't want them to be feeling there's no one out there that can help them.

>> reporter: dr. mary stat says it doesn't have to be that way. she founded cincinnati children's international adoption center to give adoptive parents like shelly and john a safety net . braeden and kyle were adopted from guatemala and russia.

>> what do you think --

>> reporter: therapists work with parents before, during and after an adoption when behavioral issues may surface unexpectedly.

>> they may not be really loving that child at that point. and we really want them to understand that is pretty normal.

>> you're telling them it's okay to feel that way.

>> it is okay.

>> the family comes to see therapists twice a month.

>> it's fabulous.

>> dr. stat says internationally adopted kids have often suffered trauma or been neglected which can lead to anxiety, anger, or acting out. tisha is watching through a two-way mirror and giving mom tips through an ear piece.

>> look how eager he is to help.

>> they are teaching the kids skills they need to get through things. but they're also coaching us as parents.

>> a mother of three adopted children herself, dr. stat wants her program to be a model.

>> we really spent, you know, the past 15 years building a program that really is there to help families throughout their life.

>> braeden celebrated his eighth birthday last week.

>> it is the longest ride you'll ever take and also the most satisfying and loving ride you'll ever take and i'm so glad we did it.

>> great.

>> that's nice. that's a great program. are there more?

>> there are more, but they say not enough. they wish there were more programs like that.

>> and how is nita ?

>> doing much better. there's a lot more to her story. we've linked to the report on our website. she's doing better, with a family now, and importantly, the mother who re-homed her has apologized and she has forgiven her.