Lori and Craig Gertz are still grieving over the loss of their 7-year-old adopted daughter, Ellie, who now lives with another family 1,700 miles away in Washington State, according to the Chicago Tribune. They weren't ruled unfit parents and the child wasn't taken away from them.
It just became clear to the couple, who has two natural born children as well, that Ellie wouldn't work out in their family.
It turned out that Ellie has serious mental problems that most likely were caused by her birth mother's admitted use of crack cocaine and PCP during her pregnancy. Her health records didn't indicate her destructive habits, which is why the Gertzes were so confused by her erratic and often violent behavior. The birth mother would commit suicide a few years later.
There's nothing the adoption agency or Chicago family law attorneys could have done to prevent this, since the birth mother hadn't been honest about her habits.
Soon after they brought Ellie home as a newborn, she would often scream for hours nonstop; her behavior was so extreme that they went through eight nannies. Ellie would thrash in her car seat so violently, Lori Gertz recalled, that she had to get a babysitter to watch her while she took (now 11-year-old) son Jonah to school:
"Any period of calm we ever had was always interrupted as soon as she heard the word 'no.'"
After seeking professional help, including 39 clinicians and several hospitalizations, the nearly 3-year-old Ellie finally was diagnosed as having a particularly acute case of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
She often abused her siblings as her illness worsened and eventually it was suggested that Ellie be placed in a residential care facility, which would have cost $100,000 annually. Finally, they found a foster family in Washington that had gone through training to care for children with FASD.
Most adoptions are successful and only 7 percent of Illinois adoptions "disrupt" before the child becomes an adult, according to Dept. of Children and Family Services.