Thursday, July 28, 2011

15 Months Later, Artyom in Orphanage

From the Moscow Times, an update on Artyom, the young Russian boy returned to Moscow alone on an airplane with a note saying the mother no longer wished to parent him:
Seven-year-old Artyom Savelyev will find a new family in Russia in no time, children's ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said last year after his adoptive U.S. mother shipped him home unaccompanied on a plane.

The rejection of Artyom in April 2010 prompted threats to ban the adoption of Russian children by American parents and ultimately an adoptions treaty signed by the top U.S. and Russian diplomats in Washington this month.

The treaty should have been named in Artyom's honor, Astakhov said in an interview Wednesday. But the boy, now 9, remains in an orphanage, more than a year after he was promised new parents.

Savelyev's adoption has been delayed by red tape and worries about his psychological condition, not over a lack of willing adoptive parents, his caretakers said. But these are the same factors that keep any Russian from adopting one of the country's 150,000 parentless children.

* * *

Astakhov said in May 2010 that several Russian families were prepared to take in Artyom and most likely a diplomat family who spoke English and Russian would be selected to ease the boy's re-adaptation to Russian life. Astakhov said the boy would be adopted within a month.

But the prediction proved overly optimistic, in part because a Moscow court only formally canceled the boy's U.S. adoption last month, Astakhov said Wednesday.

"I have no doubts that Artyom will find parents," Astakhov said by telephone.

But Alexei Shnykin, who works at the Moscow orphanage caring for Artyom, said he was not so sure.

The boy has learned to love several adoptive families, including Hansen, but all have abandoned him, causing lasting psychological damage, Shnykin said.

"We are afraid that the situation might be repeated in a new family, and we don't want to traumatize the boy," he said by telephone.

He could not predict how long it would take for Artyom to be ready for re-adoption, but added that Savelyev is treated well and went to summer camp recently.
At least one bit of "red tape" that delayed any possibility of adoption was the adoptive mother's refusal to relinquish parental rights.  Sheesh.


Anne said...

"At least one bit of "red tape" that delayed any possibility of adoption was the adoptive mother's refusal to relinquish parental rights. Sheesh."

Nonsense. The Russians courts could have taken steps to expidite the termination or rights and simultaneously placed him in an adoptive home while the legal process was going on.

Anne said...

I meant to write "expedite the termination of rights".

malinda said...

I don't know enough about Russian law to know whether the Russian court could have done that or not, Anne.

And keep in mind one aspect of what the adoption did -- it stripped Artyom of his Russian citizenship and made him an American citizen. That just might monkey around with termination of parental rights in a foreign country.

I'm not saying that the court couldn't do what you suggest, I just don't know enough to say with assurance that they could have. I'm not sure it would be that easy for an American court to do it expeditiously under these circumstances.

Anne said...

Regardless, he could have been placed in a family and the adoption finalized when termination of parental rights occurred. The fact that he wasn't suggests that there are other more complex issues at play.

Anonymous said...

The adoption did not strip Artyom of his Russian citizenship. He is a dual citizen. My son is adopted from Russia and he is still a Russian citizen as well as an American citizen. As a matter of fact, when/if we return to Russia with him, he must abide by Russian law for entry/exit (no visa, travel on Russian passport). The only way a Russian adoptee can lose his Russian citizenship is if he himself goes there and renounces it officially after the age of 18. I agree with Anne: Russia has the power to terminate parental rights quickly; they granted the adoption, they are within rights to terminate it.
Russia recognizes that he's a US citizen too, but would not consider that relevant when the child is on Russian soil.

Truly Blessed said...

That poor child. I wonder how all of these losses will affect him as an adult.

Anne said...

“I'm not sure it would be that easy for an American court to do it expeditiously under these circumstances.”

I can only speak for Texas when I tell you that in my experience case a CPS worker, the case could have been taken to court immediately. Whether attorneys for the state would have gotten off their asses to do so is an entirely different matter. This case is what’s known as a lay down. Not only can you prove that it is in the child’s best interest for parental rights to be terminated, you can also show grounds, what the statute terms “knowingly” and “intentionally” harming a child, which can be difficult to prove in a court of law. The bigger issue remains this child’s adoptability. Even if the mother’s rights had been terminated here, no one’s standing in line to adopt children like these, and with good reason. It takes a tremendous amount of time, energy, money and resources to even make a dent in all the damage that has been done -- with no guarantee of success or improvement.

malinda said...

Anne, from a legal perspective, even under Texas law, termination of parental rights would be difficult under these circumstances. I think you're assuming that the court has personal jurisdiction over the mother, but if we reversed this and the mother was in Russia and a Russian citizen, and the child was in Texas, it would present real problems terminating her parental rights.

And grounds for termination being harm to the child, but when abandonment is the grounds for harm, that's going to depend on how a jurisdiction defines abandonment. I have no idea how Russian law defines it.

If Tennessee law was the applicable law since the mom is in Tennessee, and assuming the abaondonment happened in Tennessee (real question about that, I'd agree -- maybe the abandonment happened in Washington, D.C., where Artyom was put on the plane to Russia, or maybe in Russia itself? Don't know.) we'd have to look to Tennessee's abandonment termination of parental rights statute, and guess what? Abandonment isn't grounds unless the child suffers actual physical harm. I blogged about that here:

I can accept the argument that Russia should have done more and more expeditiously. But the legal aspect is a little more complicated where we've got cross-jurisdictional issues.

Anonymous said...

what i don't understand in this article don't they honestly come right out and detail what is 'wrong' with the boy. just be honest!! let prospective adoptive parents (russian or not) then decide if they can handle it. better yet, how about if that russian fellow who's so optimistic adopts him?