Adoption freeze urged after boy returned to Russia
"I no longer wish to parent this child," the note read, calling the boy a liability.
MOSCOW — Russia should freeze all child adoptions with U.S. families, the country's foreign minister urged Friday after an American woman allegedly put her 8-year-old adopted Russian son on a one-way flight back to his homeland.
Artyom Savelyev arrived in Moscow unaccompanied on a United Airlines flight Thursday from Washington, the Kremlin children's rights office said Friday.
The children's office said the boy, whose adoptive name is Justin Hansen, was carrying a letter from his adoptive mother, Torry Hansen of Shelbyville, Tennessee, saying she was returning him due to severe psychological problems.
The New York Times reports that: Officials said Artyom’s adoptive grandmother accompanied him on a flight on Wednesday from Tennessee to Washington, and then put him on the flight to Moscow. It was not immediately known which adoption agency handled his case.
"This child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues," the letter said, according to Russian officials, who sent what they said was a copy of the letter to The Associated Press. The authenticity of the letter could not be independently verified.
The boy is now in the hospital in northern Moscow for a checkup, Anna Orlova, spokeswoman for Kremlin's Children Rights Commissioner Pavel Astakhov, told The Associated Press.
Orlova, who visited Savelyev on Friday, said the child reported that his mother was "bad," "did not love him," and used to pull his hair and his grandmother always shouted at him.
Savelyev was adopted late September last year from the town of Partizansk in Russia's Far East.
He turned up at the door of the Russian Education and Science Ministry on Thursday afternoon accompanied by a Russian man who had been hired by Savelyev's adopted grandmother to pick him up from the airport, according to the ministry. The chaperone handed over the boy and his documents, and then left, officials said.
The education minister said later Friday that it had decided to suspended the license of World Association for Children and Parents — a Renton, Washington-based agency that processed Savelyev's adoption — for the duration of the probe.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in televised remarks that the ministry would recommend that the U.S. and Russia hammer out an agreement before any new adoptions are allowed.
"We have taken the decision ... to suggest a freeze on any adoptions to American families until Russia and the USA sign an international agreement" on the conditions for adoptions and the obligations of host families, Lavrov was quoted as saying.
Lavrov said the U.S. had refused to negotiate such an accord in the past but "the recent event was the last straw."
Last year, nearly 1,600 Russian children were adopted in the United States, according to Tatyana Yakovleva of the ruling United Russia party.
Rob Johnson, a spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, said the agency is looking into the allegations, although they do not handle international adoptions.
Torry Ann Hansen is listed as a licensed registered nurse in Shelbyville, Tenn., according to the Tennessee Department of Health's Web site. No work address is listed.
Her name appears in a list of August 2007 graduates from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., with a Masters of Science in Nursing degree.
United Airlines allows unaccompanied children as young as 5 years old on direct flights. Children age 8 and above can catch connecting flights, as well. A United spokesperson wasn't immediately available to comment.
ABCNews reports that "procedures include not allowing an unaccompanied minor to travel on a one-way ticket and making sure the child boards the plane with signed paperwork and a name, sometimes even a photo, of who will care for the child at the destination." It is also reported that Artyem was traveling on an expired visa.
According to the NY Times: the United States ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, said he was “deeply shocked and outraged” by Artyom’s case, and “it is hard to accept how any family could so cruelly treat a child that they had officially adopted.”
Nancy Hansen, reportedly said they had also paid a driver $200 to pick the boy up at the airport and take him to the Russian Education and Science Ministry.
CBS News reports that she claims it wasn't child abandonment because a stewardess was watching the boy on the flight and a reputable person picked him up in Russia.
Sources also quote the letter the child carried with him from Hanson stated: "I was lied to and misled by the Russian orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability."
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