Friday, April 9, 2010

Russia Furious over Returned Boy

Ya think?! So furious they are threatening to suspend adoptions to the U.S., and so furious they've suspended the license of the adoption agency, WACAP (which has a fairly good reputation, btw, though they certainly missed something here). And more details are coming out about the situation, including what the boy's "crimes" were that merited being returned, how he made it through security, and what might happen next to the adoptive mother:

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 told The Associated Press in a telephone
interview. "It got to be where you feared for your safety. It was terrible."

The boy arrived unaccompanied in Moscow on a United Airlines flight on Thursday from Washington. Social workers sent him to a Moscow hospital for a health checkup and criticized his adoptive mother for abandoning him.

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."
"Giving my best?" A whole 6 months?! Wow, she beat Anita Tedaldi's record. And in January, they told the social worker doing a post-placement follow-up that everything was just fine. And less than 3 months later they send him back. Ugh.

Nancy Hansen, the grandmother, told The Associated Press that she and the boy flew to Washington and she put the child on the plane with the note from her daughter. She vehemently rejected assertions of child abandonment by Russian
authorities, saying he was watched over by a United Airlines stewardess 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.
Well, that explains getting through security, doesn't it? The boy went through security with the grandmother, and wouldn't have had to go through it again at the Washington airport. Sheesh.

And how about this part?

"The Russian orphanage officials completely lied to her because they wanted to get rid of him," Nancy Hansen said.

She said the boy was very skinny when they picked him up, and he told them he had been beaten with a broom handle at the orphanage.
Knowing he'd been starved and abused, they were willing to send him back to that. Not an ounce of feeling for this child. Utter selfishness.

And it looks like not just Russia is furious -- here's the quote from the American Ambassador to Russia:

The U.S. 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."
I'll ditto that.

Though the grandmother vehemently denies that they "abandoned" the boy, the law might see it differently:

Bedford County Sheriff Randall Boyce also said Torry Hansen was under investigation and expected to interview her Friday afternoon.
The article also mentions the ULTIMATE adoption disruption -- the recent deaths of several adopted Russian children at the hands of their adoptive parents -- including one just last month.

I know that biological families abandon, abuse, and kill their children, too. Is it "worse" when adoptive families do it? YES. Adoptive families as a group have more money, more education, and more access to help. I expect more of them. Adoptive families enter into parenting intentionally, so I expect more of them. I'm an adoptive parent, so I expect more of them.

P.S. The Daily Mail (UK) has photos of the mother, the boy, and the letter. And reports that the adoptive mother DID NOT TELL the boy she was returning him, simply that he was going on "an excursion to Moscow."


Von said...

Perhaps having more money etc doesn't necessarily make for better people or better parenting?
It is a tragic sitution with little prospects of a bright future for this boy but with the right help could have been worked through.It just shows the degree of deception agencies engage in and the lack of preparation for families.It also indicates the extent to which people view others as disposable in the same way the view old appliances or pets.You get that in consumer societies.
This child is a pawn in the long diplomatic and trade games of Russia and America.Sadly he is a product of the adoption industry, why wouldn't they threaten to suspend trade just as with any other business?
Hopefully some new learning will come out of this, some good has to.

Anonymous said...

He drew a picture and he was obviously troubled. The whole family needed counselling. Whatever this mother and grandmother say, it's never going to address the crime they committed. Also, you'd be a fool to adopt a child who had lived with his original mother for 6 years and not believe there wouldn't be major abandonment + grief issues, no matter how compromised that life was. Abuse and neglect do not take away the intense loyalty these children feel toward their parents. One wonders what is going through this little boy's head right now.

The tiny detail that got me in the stories coming out today was how he changed planes by himself.

Anonymous said...

Maybe her ounce of caring for the boy came when she put him on the plane instead of hurting him herself. Unless you walk a mile in soemone else's shoes ( which is impossible) you will never knwo why she made this decision.

He was safe for the entire journey. Cared for by a grandmothe, then airline staff, the the embassy stepped in. People put kids on planes alone every day.

I just don't see the monster in her. maybe if she had kept him we would be reading a headline more like " Adopted Russian Boy found dead."

Von said...

We tend to forget how resourceful children are, particularly adoptees who have only themselves to rely on.Maybe he's pleased to be back home after his disastrous 'adventure' and will get the help he didn't with those who were supposed to care.
Nothing takes away loyalty to real parents, the ones we are attached to and always will be.
All international adopters bear some responsibility for this case having encouraged and supported the industry.

Diane said...

from CNN- When the lawyer she found online advised her the adoption could be reversed, Hansen booked the flight and paid the fee for a steward to escort Justin through the airport, she said.

She hired a driver in Moscow she found online to pick the child up from the Moscow airport, she said. She found "safe references" for the driver online, she said.

When the lawyer she found online advised her the adoption could be reversed, Hansen booked the flight and paid the fee for a steward to escort Justin through the airport, she said.

She hired a driver in Moscow she found online to pick the child up from the Moscow airport, she said. She found "safe references" for the driver online, she said.

full article-


Shopping online for a lawyer and a Russian cabbie? Come on. These people were obviously not thinking clearly- and if they were thinking clearly a severe consequence should be in order.

It is just like people hanging out on a yahoo groups to find a new family for their troubled adopted child. Makes utterly no sense. Online cabbies and yahoo- great resources for a parent in crisis. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

His original mother's rights were terminated for alcoholism. One wonders if she will recognize this child and step forward. In any case, he's going back to an orphanage, not the best future for any child. I don't personally think Hansen should be let off because she didn't kill this child. Failing to educate herself about the challenges of older-child adoption and adopting an institutionalized child was reprehensible. This child's behaviour is not out of the ordinary given the circumstances and there is support all over the Internet. Giving up at the 7-month mark and shipping the kid back like a defective fan was even worse.

bytheriver said...

It seems to me that a thorough investigation is required. This seems to be child abandonment without question. In addition, it concerns me that there is reported to be a second bio. boy in the house, no age given. Artem reports that he and the other boy were not in school - is it not illegal to have a child 6 or older who is not at least in Kindergarten? Maybe if he was able to socialize properly, get counseling, etc. this would not have been the outcome. If the parent knew he had been with his biological mother for 6 years and was taken from her, it should have been obvious that he would need counseling from day 1.

Anonymous said...

There is, of course, lots of blame to spread around. However, generally speaking, there are few reasons for anyone int he adoption "pipeline" to stop adoptions, even if warning signs exist -- the orphanage want the funding, the adoption agencies want to curry goodwill and clients, along with the adoption fees, social workers paid to do home studies are much like bank appraisers -- paid to be objective by rally not. Families, driven by the desire to save, ignore red-flags until it is too late and the luster of the fantasy gives way to the reality of the child that they have permanently adopted.

The adoption process is designed to keep the process moving forward -- there are few to no checks on the system.

This story is a tragedy, but the guilt belongs on everyone -- from the adoptive mother to the adoption agency, the social worker, and the orphanage.


Ann BF said...

Is it possible that there is a licensed agency in the US who would place an abused 6 year old internationally without REQUIRING the adoptive family to arrange specialized counseling for him and the family during the transition? Shame on you WACAP. As an adoptive mother and child mental health specialist -- this is serious, folks and its time to take the rose colored glasses off. Adopting an older child is not ever to be done lightly, and certainly not without ongoing consultation with specialiats in attachment and trauma. Ugh!!! I am just so angry at this woman for all the harm she has caused this child and the cause of adoption worldwide!