Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Artyom Finally Finds New Home

The Shelbyville (TN) Times-Gazette reports:
Artyom Savelyev, the boy sent back to Russia by his adopted mother from Shelbyville in 2010, has finally found a home.

According to the Russian State News agency RIA Novosti, the 9-year-old has joined 16 other children who are being cared for by a woman that has raised several generations of abandoned children.

In April 2010 Nancy Hansen placed the boy, who had been known as Justin Hansen while living in the United States, on a flight back to Moscow with a note from her daughter Torry, his adoptive mother, saying she no longer wanted to keep him because he was violent and had severe "psychopathic" problems. The case sparked outrage and an international incident.

But nearly two years after being sent back to his homeland, Artyom is now living in an SOS Children's Village in Russia, cared for by teacher Vera Yegorova.

* * *

"Counting Artyom, I have 17 children," Yegorova told RIA Novosti. "He is so exhausted by plane flights and going back and forth between orphanages and parents," she was quoted as saying.

Artyom was accepted as a family member "in no time at all," the state news media outlet stated, and made friends with the other children. He started attending school, likes it there, and is bringing home his first good grades. The boy is reportedly very respectful of his adoptive parents, calling Yegorova 'mom' on the second day.

However, RIA Novosti states that Artyom "is still afraid of leaving the village," explaining that nothing can lure him away.

"He never deviates from one path -- the one leading from home to school and back. But he is fond of village life as it is. He is reluctant to recall his past experiences in America and says he has turned over a new leaf," the story from RIA Novosti stated.

Yegorova said they learned from the media that Artyom lived in America, but that the child "said nothing about that. He even claimed that he knew no English when we were buying textbooks for school," she said.
The newspaper's headline says this is a new adoptive family; the story doesn't mention the legalities of adoption, and SOS Villages are generally temporary foster care. Nothing on the SOS Villages Russia website suggests differently, instead saying:
SOS Children’s Villages Russia is an independent non-governmental organization that provides a family approach to the long term care of orphaned and abandoned children. We bring orphaned children back to the natural atmosphere of the family giving them back a mother (an SOS-mother), a home and a happy childhood in a supportive Village environment.
(There is a section of the website that talks about SOS Villages strengthening families, but it doesn't sound like that's what this is -- hard to tell since the full explanation of what that part of the program does is only in Russian!)

I'm not saying this is a bad thing for Artyom.  Obviously, family-like care is better than institutional care, even if it is not a permanent family (and 17 children sounds more like a group home than foster care).  I just think it's an overstatement to say in the headline that he has a new adoptive family.  And the distinction will make a difference in the lawsuit against Torrey Hansen for child support for Artyom.  If he's been legally adopted, her child support obligations for the future would end, though she would still be obligated for the payments between her adoption and the termination of her parental rights in a new adoption.


Liz said...

I read somewhere else that Artyom is the 17th child she has cared for since she started, but there are only five of six children living with her now. The others are grown and living their own lives (some very successfully, it seemed) but return on holidays because they consider her home their family home.

Sharon said...

My understanding is that SOS Villages is group home care, not legal adoption, but they strive for a family feeling.

Mahmee said...

I hope there really is someone there who can care for him, love him and address his emotional issues. Obviously, he has a long road ahead of him.

Anonymous said...

The law suit against her for child support (brought by Russia) is not yet determined. And I heard that it might be tossed out by the US, before it even gets to court. I was unaware that she would be financially liable for re-adoption of the child after relinquishment. Are you suggesting that this might be determined by the court, or are you suggesting that it is already something APs are legally obligated to pay for, if they decide to disrupt the adoption or relinquish the child? And is the same true if the child is readopted internationally from the US?
IMO, Russia is partially responsible for this disruption because of the way they have handled IA in the past, making PAPs agree to SN adoption, knowing that most of the children are not SN...and then turning a blind eye to the emotional trauma these children have been put through prior to IA. The whole thing sickens me, but I think I am just as angry with the Russian government for setting up IA with children who have RAD and FASD more than any other IA country, yet not acknowledging that either problem actually exists in it's institutionalized children.

malinda said...

Anon, it has nothing to do with disruption, it has to do with the legal responsibilities of legal parents. A legal parent must provide financial support to their child, and if that child is not in the custody of the legal parent, then child support payments must be made to the person who has custody.

So long as one is a legal parent, one has that support obligation. That changes when the child reaches majority or when parental rights have been legally terminated.

Sending Artyom back to Russia did not terminate Torrey Hansen's parental rights. Thus, she has a continuing obligation to support him.

If he is legally adopted by another family, her parental rights will be terminated and her support obligations will end. Until he is legally adopted, she is still legally obligated.

Though she has sought to end her parental relationship, it has not yet been legally terminated here or in Russia. Kicking your child out of the house doesn't end your parental obligation of support.

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry, what? Do you think that Russia purposefully sets parents up with challenged kids in order to 'get them off their hands' or as a cruel prank or something? Because that seems to be the implication here. Frankly, EVERY international adoption -- in fact, every non-infant adoption -- should be viewed as a special-needs adoption. It should be ASSUMED that these children have emotional trauma and attachment issues. The burden is on the APs to do their research! The majority of kids adopted out of Russia and EE have FAS, FASD, or FAE because alcoholism is a serious problem in these areas. The fact is that healthy, stable, successful, able and well-adjusted parents do not abandon their children at orphanages or have their children legally removed. If a parent thinks they can go to Russia and pick up a perfect child with no problems, that's frankly the fault of their own ignorance, NOT the Russian government.

Anon #2

Anonymous said...

Anon 2,

Are you saying that it is ok for kids to be languishing in orphanages in Russia and the Russia government has no blame to burden?

For your information, not all children in ee orphanages are there with FAS, FASD or FAE. Many have developmental delays and attachment disorders because of time spend in orphanges.

Anonymous said...

"Are you saying that it is ok for kids to be languishing in orphanages in Russia and the Russia government has no blame to burden?"

This isn't what you said. You said that the Russian government coerces APs into adopting kids with special needs, lies about their trauma, and is involved in some kind of conspiracy to pass kids with RAD and FAS off on unsuspecting parents. My response is that the parents should NOT be unsuspecting. There are never any guarantees in any adoption, particularly IA, and parents should as a rule always expect the worst. Nowhere did I exculpate the Russian government for the state of their orphanages and institutions. I don't. But this is NOT the same issue. Every single AP and PAP should do their research. Frankly, there is no excuse for ignorance and illusions here.

"For your information, not all children in ee orphanages are there with FAS, FASD or FAE."

Not all. But statistically, 56% of adopted children from Russia and EE are on the fetal alcohol spectrum. More than the majority. It's realistic to expect that a child adopted from this region will struggle with some form of fetal alcohol impairment.

"Many have developmental delays and attachment disorders because of time spend in orphanges."

Obviously. I never disputed that. Again, this is something every AP and PAP must expect and prepare themselves for -- including the possibility that their children might never fully recover.

And I say all this as someone planning on adopting a child with moderate to profound special needs from Russia/EE. I have zero sympathy for any parent who thinks they're going to get a perfectly attached and healthy child and blame the government for not "warning them" about the facts that five seconds of internet research can uncover.


Anonymous said...

I think the study you are referring to is 52% of the 71 children studied who were adopted from ee to sweden have fasd which means that there was some exposure to alcohol in the womb.

An interesting twist to this is that it is the birth mother who exposed the children to alcohol and then who's rights are terminated because of then neglect putting these children into orphanages to suffer more neglect and then available for adoption internationally.