KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Adoptions don’t always work out.

But the single Tennessee mother who sent her 7-year-old adopted son back to Russia alone last month, claiming to be overwhelmed by his emotional problems, was an extremely rare case that shouldn’t deter would-be parents, say adoption experts.

"We see the good stories, kids taken from a desperate situation into a loving home," where it does work out, said Randy Barlow, an international adoption social worker in Heidelberg.

Some of those success stories and more will be shared Saturday at the 2010 European Adoption Symposium in Kaiserslautern.

"It’s about celebrating adoption and learning more about adoption," said Krista Karp, a symposium organizer and a mother with her own adoption story.

Sponsored by the Kaiserslautern Military Community Adoption Support Group and the 86th Airlift Wing chapel outreach program, the symposium is an annual event that normally draws more than 100 people from all over Europe interested in learning more about adoption, Karp said.

A day’s worth of seminars are planned to help guide prospective parents through the paperwork, planning and intense emotions of adopting while living overseas.

Topics include adopting a toddler, medical tests for adopted children, growing up adopted, funding an adoption and open adoptions.

Karp said the symposium is a great place to network by meeting others in similar circumstances who have already gone through the adoption process. Among those who have adopted are singles, people over 40 and Department of Defense Dependents Schools teachers, she said.

Barlow and colleague Jane Santos will lead a workshop on "10 things every pre-adoptive family should know," he said. "No. 1 on my list: Know what you’re getting in to. The information is there, but you have to seek it out."

Barlow said Russian adoptions by Americans living in western Europe have slowed to a trickle in recent years, after being one of the top countries for adoption about a decade ago. Stricter rules make it more difficult and expensive for adoption agencies to work in Russia, he said. And some adoptive parents can wait years to bring home a child, he said.

If you go

What: 2010 European Adoption SymposiumWhen: Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; registration starts at 8 a.m.Where: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lauterstrasse 1, KaiserslauternPrice: $5 or 5-euro donation at door to help offset the cost of the breakfast, lunch and snacks that will be provided.More information: Go to

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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