Though correspondents sympathized with Richard Pryor in his struggle against multiple sclerosis (PEOPLE, May 29), many were offended by his suggestion that his illness is payback for his once reckless way of life. “Most of us don’t understand why this has happened to us,” wrote one MS patient, “but we don’t feel God has given it to us as punishment.” Most of our mail concerned Baby Richard, the 4-year-old who was returned to his biological parents after a fierce custody battle with the couple that had adopted him in 1991. The overwhelming majority of correspondents sided with the adoptive parents and blasted the judicial system that took Richard (now Danny) away from them.
Richard Pryor’s battle with multiple sclerosis is indeed a tragedy, but it disturbs me to hear him say that he somehow brought this disease on himself. Bad things happen to both good and bad people. It may help Pryor to try to understand his fate, but it is not logical, nor is it helpful, to blame disease on the sufferer.
ROBBIE MILLER ENGEL, Valley Park, Mo.
If multiple sclerosis is Richard Pryor’s “payback for living on the edge,” just what did Annette Funicello do to deserve it? For that matter, what did I do to deserve this disease?
JENNIFER J. BAIN, Keedysville, Md.
A 4-year-old is taken from the only parents he has known and transferred to people he has never met. In only a few short weeks he has never asked for his family, he calls the new people in his life Mom and Dad, and he is happy. As a mother of six and grandmother of seven, why am I having trouble believing your article?
JOAN H. GOYKE, Mesa, Ariz.
A “homecoming” for Baby Richard? Many other words come to mind to describe a child being pried from his mother’s arms and whisked away to live with strangers. How about a legal kidnapping?
When I was 7, my father died and I didn’t talk about him for 10 years, so great was my pain. If anyone thinks that child’s failure to speak about the only parents he has ever known is a sign that he is adjusting to his new life, I suggest they start seeing their own psychiatrist—they are clearly delusional.
Pelham Manor, N.Y.
I am one of the increasing number of Americans who chose to adopt a child from abroad. My decision was in no small part due to recent cases of children being returned to biological parents after having already been placed in stable, loving homes. My daughter arrived from Ukraine last September, and I have no fear of any shadows of the past surfacing and threatening to remove her from my family. Can any families that adopt domestically say the same?
SHANNON J. LOTTES, St. Louis
Speaking as an adult adoptee, I find the quote “the kid is going to be scarred for life. Anybody who pretends this will all go away and he’ll live happily ever after is wrong” so ironic that I have to comment. That quote represents exactly what adoptive parents want to hear. In actuality, all of us adoptees are scarred for life due to the fact that our birth parents rejected us. Adoptive parents want everyone to believe that all problems will go away and that the adopted child will live happily ever after. If you would research the number of adoptees in mental hospitals, and the suicide rate among us, you would find this is a myth.
KAREN E. HAMMOND
Shelby Township, Mich.
I am appalled that you, along with Hillary Clinton, would make the Warburtons out to be the victims in this fiasco. Besides Danny, the true victim is Mr. Kirchner. He has been fighting for his son since the moment he found out about his existence. The Warburtons had no business trying to keep Danny from his father for the past four years. There would have been very little trauma for anyone if Danny had been returned early on.
DEANNA M. PHOENIX
Santa Ana, Calif.