Breaks my heart . . .
Russia furious: Adopted boy sent back alone from U.S.
Russia threatened to suspend all child adoptions by U.S. families Friday after a 7-year-old boy adopted by a woman from Tennessee was sent alone on a one-way flight back to Moscow with a note saying he was violent and had severe psychological problems.
By NATALIYA VASILYEVA and KRISTIN M. HALL
The Associated Press
MOSCOW — Russia threatened to suspend all child adoptions by U.S. families Friday after a 7-year-old boy adopted by a woman from Tennessee was sent alone on a one-way flight back to Moscow with a note saying he was violent and had severe psychological problems.
The boy, Artyom Savelyev, was put on a plane by his adopted grandmother, Nancy Hansen, of Shelbyville.
"He drew a picture of our house burning down, and he'll tell anybody that he's going to burn our house down with us in it," she said in a telephone interview. "It got to be where you feared for your safety. It was terrible."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the actions by the grandmother "the last straw" in a string of U.S. adoptions gone wrong, including three in which Russian children died in the U.S.
In an interview with ABC News, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the boy "fell into a very bad family."
The cases have prompted outrage in Russia, where foreign-adoption failures are reported prominently.
The Russian education ministry immediately suspended the license of the group involved in the adoption — the World Association for Children and Parents, a Renton, Wash.-based agency — for the duration of an investigation. Lillian Thogersen, the group's president, said it was investigating but that she could not discuss details of the case.
"It's one of the last things one would ever want for a child," she said. "It's heart-rending."
Thogersen said the agency had worked in Russia for 20 years, and it conducts home visits and provides support to parents after they bring children home.
In Tennessee, authorities were investigating the adoptive mother, Torry Hansen, 33, a registered nurse.
Russia was the third leading overseas source of adoptive children in the United States in 2009, with 1,586, after China, with 3,001, and Ethiopia, with 2,277, according to State Department figures.
"We're obviously very troubled by it," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in Washington when asked about the boy's case.
Artyom, who was called Justin by his adoptive mother, arrived unaccompanied in Moscow on a United Airlines flight on Thursday from Washington. Social workers sent him to a hospital for a health checkup.
The Kremlin children's rights office said the boy was carrying a letter from his adoptive mother 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. "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."
Artyom was adopted in September from an orphanage in Russia's Far East, near Vladivostok, where he lived after his mother, an alcoholic, lost her parental rights, officials said. More than 50,000 Russian children have been adopted by U.S. citizens since 1991, according to statistics from the U.S. Embassy.
Nancy Hansen, the grandmother, said she and the boy flew to Washington and she put the child on the plane with the note from her daughter.
She rejected assertions of child abandonment, saying he was watched over by a United Airlines flight attendant and the family paid a man $200 to pick the boy up at the Moscow airport and take him to the Russian Education and Science Ministry.
Abandoned-Orphaned is the personal blog of Paul Myhill, President of World Orphans. Subscribe to the blog in the upper right-hand corner of the home page. Paul can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @paulmyhill.