Teri Atkinson’s Exchange on the Topica List 

(January 2001)


    Before you read the exchanges Teri Atkinson was to have on the Topica Bulgarian Adoption list in January 2001, it must be noted that the Topica list was not as rigid a place as the EEAC Bulgarian email list. It is more of a free-flowing, happy, congratulatory and supportive place with lots of intimate conversations flowing between its members.  

    We learned of these posts well after all the unpleasantness with Teri on the Bulgaria list, when we exercised our rights as subscribers and reviewed the archives, then still on Yahoo! Groups where it was hosted until spring 2001.

    The list was set up by Sharon and John Hawkinson, clients of the Wasatch Adoption Agency, during their wait for their two daughters from Bulgaria. 

    Many of the first people to take part in the discussions were, in fact, Wasatch clients — including Wasatch employees and a Bulgarian adoption attorney.

    Some find the EEAC email listservs too rigid in their posting requirements or too “controlled” by the “list administrators.” That is why there are places like this Bulgarian adoption email group that sprung up and it was a group where not a lot of discord took place — and it is a place where there really shouldn’t be any discord.

    There were a few BBAS clients who posted to the list; I lurked occasionally as did many others.    

    Among them Lori Homeyer, Rose Patenaude, Paula Ryder, Teresa Hostettler, a BBAS Burgas client and, of course, “Mrs. Wahl.” 

    In August, Teri Atkinson joined the list.

    Teri’s first public post to the list was on Aug. 4, 2000 regarding her son’s MOH signature.  Her subsequent posts were somewhat supportive.

     Interestingly enough, she actually had the audacity to ask, on Oct. 3 (one day before the “lurking Bulgarians” email) about the veracity of reports that courts were shutting down, and then again on Oct. 25 about how fast it would be to get a court date once the MOJ’s signature had been made. 

    This was the best — on Nov. 29, 2000, she publicly asked: “Those of you who have had court dates, could you tell me how long it took your agency to notify you of the outcome?” (seems that Denise Hubbard was lying down on the job with her favorite ass-licking client – or would Teri forget all about these posts once her precious was home? (well, duh?))  

    Teri, however, was getting very antsy about her timeline by December.  Perhaps the Denise Hubbard lies were wearing thin?  Teri’s true self shows in this posting, whining about not being part of “the clique” on the list:

            From:  ATKINSON, TERI

            Date: Tue Dec 5, 2000 1:00 pm

       Subject:  Complaint

I have to agree with Stacy.  It also seems like there is quite the “clique”.  It’s like there is an ongoing conversation with five or six individuals and if you’re not part of the “group” you feel like an outsider!  I originally singed on to get advice or opinions about the adoption process.   

When I have posted questions, I have received NO answers although I know people on the list who have finished their adoptions could answer these questions.

I guess since I’m not part of the “group” I don’t rate????

    The followups to this post were supportive. Many apologized, especially a man by the name of David Roat.  

    But it seems that Teri had forgotten about that “BBAS only” forum that Denise had set up earlier in the year for her clients to participate in. 

    Wasn’t that for “support” as well? Or could it be it just didn’t live up to expectations?  Either way, Teri was very lost out there in Bulgarian adoption waiting land.

    To add insult to injury, timelines were beginning to be discussed on the list. BBAS clients were told repeatedly not to believe what people were saying on “the list serves” about timelines.  

    But, it was discouraging to read about others timelines, especially since all the 1999 – 2000 BBAS Bulgaria clients had been promised “4-6 months.” 

    It must have hurt like hell for Teri to read of one person on the list – Kathy Junk – to relay her rapid timeline so publicly. While her son sat and sat and sat far longer than had been promised her.

    So it was quite surprising in January 2001 that I noticed a near “flame war” had developed over a seemingly innocuous post by Teri Atkinson from her work email address in response to a post about timelines.


            From: ATKINSON, TERI

       Date: Wed Jan 3, 2001 8:55 am

       Subject:  Time Lines

       All –

I know I’ll probably be flamed for this, but I wanted to say that nobody should base their timeline on how Kathy Junk’s [Wasatch employee who was in the process of adopting a severely sick child with many, many physical needs] has gone.  Her’s has gone through unusually fast and I assume (and I know I could be wrong) this is because she works for the adoption agency.    Teri

    Dang. Teri was pissed! Thus was to begin one of the Topica list’s first flame wars.

    Despite the unambiguously mealy-mouthed tone, so tolerant was the list community that the responses were actually supportive — at first.  

    Some posters stated merely that it was best to remember that each adoption was individual, and we should not base our timelines on others timelines (but nobody pointed out that the Bulgarian adoption process stunk and that our children were waiting far too long).  

    Others pointed out the important thing was that the kids were coming home and still more stated that they were happy to hear about other timelines. One poster stated that Teri should “get her facts straight” about the families and their adoption timelines.

    Many stated point blank that Kathy Junk was a good, kind person. The Bulgarian adoption attorney stated: “Kathy J’s case went fast not because of her working for the adoption agency … the case went through fast because Kathy J and her family have hearts big enough to accept in their life a boy with very special health needs.” 

    But some posters did, in fact, take umbrage at Teri’s posts.

    Kathy Junk herself responded, kindly, to Teri:

            From: Kathy Junk

       Date:  Wed Jan 3, 2001 10:55 am

       Subject:  Time Frame

Dear Teri:  Yes, my adoption has gone quickly, but I don’t believe it is just because I work for Wasatch, although of course it helps for my attorney to hasten the procedure so as to have a good working relationship with us.  The main reason mine has gone more quickly is that [child] is “special needs” and also I took my completed dossier with me on my first visit to Bulgaria. 

Actually, many of the adoptions with our agency have been moving along quite smoothly – there is one client whose paperwork got to Bulgaria after mine and she has received signatures at the same time as I have.  Another client just received her first signature after only two weeks – mine took 7.5 weeks…

I’m sorry yours is going so slowly – where are you in the process –didn’t you have a first signature a while ago?  Who is your attorney and what agency do you work with – just curious. 

You are in my thoughts – the waiting is incredibly hard –please know I understand and feel for you and perhaps I shouldn’t post when things happen quickly for me – I just wanted someone to share it with – forgive me if it has made others feel bad.  Sincerely, Kathy Junk

    Teri responded:

       From: ATKINSON, TERI

       Date: Wed Jan 3, 2001  3:27 pm

       Subject: Time Line

Kathy – I have no problem with you posting your good news.  It did not make me feel BAD.  I am happy for you, BUT I also think that we should inform people that they can’t “get an idea” of how their timeline will go based on yours (or anybody else’s time line). 

I know of other couples who have adopted “special needs” children and they have waited a very long time so I do believe your working for the adoption agency was a significant factor. 

I have not posted my time line because I do not think it would be beneficial to anyone else and I would not want to get anyone’s hopes up thinking theirs would be similar.  Teri  

    Gosh, what had our leader in Medina been feeding this deluded woman? Here she slams Kathy Junk and others for stating their timelines — yet when publicly asked by another poster, she refused to post hers.  

    She wasn’t going to have it both ways. As a matter of fact, the Atkinson’s timeline would have depressed any potential adoptive parent looking to adopt from Bulgaria. Perhaps it was best that she didn’t share it publicly.

    A Jennifer French responded to Teri’s whining about Kathy’s Wasatch affiliation.

            From:  Jennifer French

       Date:  Wed Jan 3, 2001  7:02 pm

      Subject: Re [Bulgaria-Adopt] Time Line           

Dear Teri:  I think that a lot of us here really feel like you’ve upset us by upsetting Kathy.  We all know that our adoptions could take a very long time and Kathy is a huge help and inspiration to a lot of people.

I personally am thrilled that Kathy’s timeline has gone so quickly.  And I hope that she will continue to share all of her information with us.  She works very hard to make sure that we get our questions answered and sees that everyone she works for is happy, while maintaining a home life and adopting a special needs child.  Wow!  Maybe that is why she was blessed with such a time line.  “Just a Thought” – Jennifer

    Sharon Hawkinson chimed in her capacity as list administrator stating that she had exchanged private emails with Teri.

    “Teri told me that she meant Kathy no ill will or hard feelings,” she told the group. “I think one of the things she was trying to say was that she hates to see someone grab onto a fast timeline and then have their hopes dashed if their adoption takes MUCH longer than that fast timeline … Let’s all keep supporting one another and keep this list the way it has always been — open and friendly.”

    The next day, Teri posted again wanting to “Set the record straight.” This post contains some of her classic dodges.

            From:  ATKINSON, TERI

       Date:  Thu 4 Jan 2001 9:51 p.m.

       Subject:  Setting the Record Straight


I would just like to set things straight about my post that everyone seemed to have MAJOR problems with.

1st I didn’t say anything BAD about Kathy Junk (so those of you who said I did, please read the post again).

2nd  - I was merely pointing out that all of you who ask for timelines CANNOT base yours on Kathy’s or anyone else’s.  I did this in the beginning of our process and my hopes were dashed repeatedly.  Currently, we are just waiting for a travel date for those who have told me I am just jealous (personally, I don’t know how you could say this when you know nothing of my process!)

I think I really hit a nerve with a lot of people.  If so, I am sorry, but that is reality.  I really learned from all the flames how SOME people truly are on this list.  If I sound angry, it is because I am.  And I expect to be flamed for this posting, if you really want to waste your and my time, go ahead.

For those of you who emailed me with supporting comments, I thank you so much.  You understood what I was trying to say and your comments mean a lot to me.  Teri

    Poor, poor, hard done to Teri She really had been that let down by Denise and the obvious LIE she had been told about her son’s timeline. Perhaps she should have thought of that before she played “shop for a kid” over on Rainbow kids photolisting? If her hopes had been repeatedly dashed, it wasn’t because of other people’s timelines — it was because of Denise Hubbard’s LIES about the adoption process from Bulgaria with BBAS.

    Notice her very in-the-face, out-front forearm-across-the-face denial that she said “anything BAD about Kathy Junk.” That’s in the category of “literally true but technically misleading” since she fully implied that Kathy was getting a favor she wouldn’t otherwise wouldn’t have due to her employment.

    Next there is the “you know nothing of my process” trope, meant to forestall any criticism, legitimate or otherwise. No one said anything about her process (the same one she refused to discuss), just the way she brought her issue up.

    Then, finally, there’s the defining trait of Mrs. Atkinson’s personality ... the utter disdain for the idea that she should show anyone else’s emotions any consideration. “I am sorry I struck a nerve, but that is reality ...

    “If I sound angry, it is because I am.” We can’t improve on that. To us, it sums up everything about Teri Atkinson. She said more than she realizes.

    At long last she haughtily insists that everyone else would be wasting their time to respond to her (obviously they’re not wasting her time, contrary to what she claims, because she always tries to get in her last little dig).

    All of these rhetorical tricks would again rear their ugly heads when it came time to savage the Cases, and the Corrigans.

    But, it all boils down to one thing: neither we nor they nor any of the people who challenged Teri on the Topica list had managed to grasp the very simple fact that the universe revolves around Teri Atkinson and her family.

    Too bad for us, we guess.

    Michelle Williams stepped up and articulated why the others on the list were upset with Teri: 

I think my agency has educated me on this subject, but … I thought it would be easier to ask on the list rather than bothering my agency with a question they have already answered at one time [what a concept!].

The reason most people were upset was for one the fact that you named another list mate rather than just addressing what was bothering you. Two, you insinuated that she was getting some kind of preferential treatment because of her employment. I don’t think anyone would have been insulted if you had just stated your feelings about comparing timelines and not to get your hopes up.

    Then David Roat stepped into the fray.  He and Teri would soon go at it in private email (sound familiar?):

Dear Terri:  First of all, I am happy that you are currently waiting for a travel date.  That’s one more child in a forever family and that’s what its all about. 

I normally keep to myself but, yes, you did strike a nerve with me, but I was with this posting and not the previous ones.  In your reply to the jealousy thing, you say you don’t know how a person can say that as they now nothing about your process.

I respect your feelings towards this but can’t help to wonder how much you knew of Kathy’s process.

I will not post on this subject again, as I do respect your time as well as the time of others.  David

    David and Teri went at it later in the morning in a private email exchange. Poor little Teri didn’t like someone calling her on her b.s. You would have THOUGHT she would have learned something from these exchanges?  Like humility?

            From: Teri Atkinson

      To:  David Roat

       Subject:  Re: [Bulgaria-Adopt] Setting Things Straight

I have not posted my timeline to the group, that is how I can say that you do not know anything about my process and how long it has taken.  Kathy has posted to the list when each milestone has been reached, that is how I know of her process.  Forgive my ignorance, but how could that strike a nerve?

    He’d been ATKINSON-ed! Again the “you don’t know what I’ve been through, so don’t try to tell me anything” trick.

    I don’t know what had been said privately, but the response on Jan. 5 was posted on the list:

Terri:  Whatever your goal is, I hope you accomplish it.  As stated yesterday, I wish to post nothing further on this subject.  Please do not contact me off list again.  David.

    Then Teri, being HIGH AND MIGHTY as she was, placed this (Did she just get into work and start going at it with people in email everyday?):

            From: ATKINSON, TERI

       Date:  Fri Jan 5 2001 10:37 am

       Subject: RE: [Bulgaria-Adopt] Setting Things Straight

David — Please do the same for me.  I will consider any future emails from you harassment.  Teri                  

    Teri just couldn’t back her b.s. up with anything, so she went scurrying away, howling to Sharon Hawkinson. 

            From: ATKINSON, TERI

       Date: Fri Jan 5, 2001 11:01 am

       Subject: FW Harassment

Sharon – What can I do to eliminate harassing emails sent to me off list?  I originally sent responses off list so as not to tie up the group with the flames that were sent me, but now I am receiving these?  Any suggestions?  Thanks, Teri

    Big tough Teri!  Oh no!  Could dish it out but couldn’t take it?  Perhaps she should have had Denise to do her dirty work for her?

    Sharon, after receiving this post, cautioned her to activate the “block sender” feature of her email program to block the offensive email addresses.  

    However, she did post a distraught email to the group, begging for calm — “Please remember that we are all in this together, and we should be SUPPORTING each other — NOT tearing each other down. We’ve already lost one member due to the ‘smog’ that the list has acquired over the last couple of weeks … I feel saddened that I’ve had to act like a policeman more and more often.  What happened to the nice relaxed ambiance?” 

    However, after Sharon read the “harassment” comment, she was really peeved. 

    In a post to the group later that afternoon, she posted to the group (along with David and Teri’s emails) :

I have to draw the line here.  Harassment is a very serious accusation and shouldn’t be taken lightly … I’m not going to name names here as I’ve quoted the two harassment messages above, I’m not going to sit here and have this group be used to tear each other down … I’m afraid that I cannot allow these things to be happening much longer. This list is not the proper place for accusations and name calling.

    Then it was the Jennifer French and Teri Atkinson showdown to follow, privately and publicly the next day.

           From:  Jennifer French

      Date: Thu Jan 4 2001 7:21 pm

      Subject: Re: [Bulgaria-Adopt] Setting Things Straight

Teri – I honestly feel like you are being silly.  If you knew you’d get “flamed” then why would you even write such a note?  We are all supposed to be in this together and act like mature adults. It’s hard enough without us hurting each other.  Take care and good luck with your timeline!!

    Unfortunately, there is one thing that Jennifer didn’t realize: she didn’t know that by going at it with Teri privately, it was actually publicly! She didn’t know that when she hit “reply,” the responses became public, the way the email had been addressed.  

    The following French/Atkinson exchange shows again what an idiot Teri Atkinson is — from her job no less! (The unusually early timestamp doubtless reflects the Topica server being located in California, a couple of time zones to the west).

To:  Jennifer French

From:  Teri Atkinson

Sent: Friday, January 05, 4:50 AM

You can find “maturity” in the dictionary. Please take a look!

Good luck to you also!

    To which Jennifer, probably aggravated out of her skull (a feeling I can more than relate to), responded: “YEAH!  YOU found it!!  That’s good news!!”

    Teri, never one to let someone else have the last word, emailed back, using that “harassment” language again: “Any further emails from you will be considered harassment and I will take legal action.”

    Jennifer French, now perhaps through the roof (oh Jennifer, Elizabeth and Daniel Case would soon share in your merriment!) responded, still not realizing her answer was going : 

Yes Ma’am!  That’s fine with me.  Just make sure to include David and Kathy and anyone else you would like to attack on this list.  The more power to ‘ya.  And, good luck with motherhood.  You might need it!

    EEEEE OW! Fight the power Jennifer French!  

    But, upon seeing that their little exchange had “gone public,” Jennifer French, quite apologetically, posted the following for all to read:

            From: Jennifer French

       Date: Sat Jan 6, 2001 6:56 am


Hello group!!  This person has somehow managed to set up the emails that she sends out to where if you hit reply, the message is a persona email and not a list email.  You have to make sure that all of your replies are going to:  I was able to catch it, otherwise, I might have been dealing with a “law suit”. That could possibly be why she keeps saying she’ll consider it harassment if you keep emailing her personally. 

Just a heads up.  Hope this helps you out David and      anyone else

    Teri Atkinson was then to fade from the Topica list not long afterwards out of sheer embarrassment, still claiming, incredibly, that she was the injured, misunderstood party.

    How come she always met somebody smarter and nastier than herself? I only wish I could have told David Roat and Jennifer French what to do — nail Teri where she worked.  

    But, that was soon left up to Daniel and I. And it put a stop to Teri’s evil, private email shenanigans for a while.