Shipping an Adopted Son Back to RussiaBy LISA BELKIN
There is understandable outrage in Russia after an American woman shipped her adopted 7-year-old son back to Moscow yesterday, declaring him to be “mentally unstable.”
The Russian Foreign Minister Sergev Lavrov responded this morning by demanding that all Russia-to-United States adoptions be frozen. That chill will likely affect hundreds of American families; there were 1,600 Russian children adopted in the U.S. last year. My colleague Clifford J. Levy, reportingfrom Moscow, quoted one family whose adoption plans now appear to be on hold:
An American couple who was nearing the end of the process of adopting a Russian baby reacted with despair to the news that the Russian government would suspend adoptions. The couple, who asked that their names not be used to avoid offending the Russian authorities, had already visited Moscow once to take care of the legal procedures, and was planning to return soon to receive the baby.
“My heart is sinking,” the father said. “We knew about laws changing in midstream, that these foreign governments are very bureaucratic, and that there is a lot of posturing that causes delays. But we picked Russia because it seemed like we had a pretty good chance. Now we don’t know what to do.”
The boy, Artyom Savelyev, (whose mother had renamed him Justin) showed up at the Russian Education and Science Ministry on Thursday afternoon accompanied by a Russian man who had apparently been paid $200 by the family to meet the boy’s United Airlines flight when it arrived in Moscow from Washington. The child’s trip had begun earlier in Shelbyville, Tenn., where he has lived since his adoption in September with his adoptive mother, Torry Hansen, and her mother, Nancy.
Nancy Hansen had accompanied Artyom on the leg from Tennessee to Washington, then she put him on the Moscow-bound flight with a one-way ticket as an “unaccompanied minor.” He was carrying a Russian passport and a letter from his mother, which the AP quotes as saying:
“This child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues. I was lied to and misled by the Russian Orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and other issues. … After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends, and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child.”
This is not the first sour ending to a Russian adoption in recent years. The Russian government lists 14 cases of Russian adoptees dying of abuse or neglect while living with their American parents since 1996.