Adopted boy returned to Russia

2010-04-09 21:11

Moscow - Russia should freeze all child adoptions with US families, the country's foreign minister urged on 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 on Thursday from Washington, the Kremlin children's rights office said on 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.

"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.

US envoy shocked

The US ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, said he was "deeply shocked by the news" and "very angry that any family would act so callously toward a child that they had legally adopted."

The boy is now in the hospital in northern Moscow for a check-up, Anna Orlova, spokesperson for Kremlin's Children Rights Commissioner Pavel Astakhov, told AP.

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.

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 suspend 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 US 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.

Wary eye on international adoptions

Lavrov said the US had refused to negotiate such an accord in the past but "the recent event was the last straw".

Russian officials have long cast a wary eye on international adoptions.

In 2006, Peggy Sue Hilt of Manassas, Virginia, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted of fatally beating a 2-year-old girl adopted from Siberia just months earlier.

In 2008, Kimberly Emelyantsev of Tooele, Utah, was sentenced to 15 years after pleading guilty to killing a Russian infant in her care.

Young kids allowed alone on flights

These cases prompted outrage in Russia, where foreign ills are reported with gusto, and calls for tougher rules governing foreign adoptions.

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 spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, said the agency is looking into Friday's allegations, although they do not handle international adoptions.

Torry Ann Hansen is listed as a licensed registered nurse in Shelbyville, Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Health's website. 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.