Russia Calls for Freeze on U.S. Adoptions

Date: 2010-04-09
Source: wsj.com

The Associated Press

MOSCOW—Russia should freeze all child adoptions with U.S. families, the country's foreign minister urged Friday after an American woman allegedly put her eight-year-old adopted Russian son on a one-way flight back to his homeland.

Artyom Savelyev arrived in Moscow unaccompanied Thursday on a flight from Washington, the Kremlin children's rights office said Friday.

The children's office said the boy, whose adoptive name is Justin Hansen, was carrying a letter from his adoptive mother, Torry Hansen of Shelbyville, Tennessee, 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, according to Russian officials, who sent what they said was a copy of the letter to The Associated Press. The authenticity of the letter couldn't be independently verified.

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."

The boy is now in the hospital in northern Moscow for a checkup, Anna Orlova, spokeswoman for the Kremlin's children rights commissioner Pavel Astakhov, said.

Ms. Orlova, who visited Artyom on Friday, said the child reported that his mother was "bad," "did not love him," and used to pull his hair. Artyom was adopted late September last year from the town of Partizansk in Russia's Far East.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in televised remarks that the ministry would recommend that the U.S. and Russia hammer out an agreement before any new adoptions are allowed.

"We have taken the decision ... to suggest a freeze on any adoptions to American families until Russia and the USA sign an international agreement" on the conditions for adoptions and the obligations of host families, Mr. Lavrov was quoted as saying.

Mr. Lavrov said the U.S. had refused to negotiate such an accord in the past but "the recent event was the last straw."

Rob Johnson, a spokesman with the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, said the agency is looking into the allegations, although they don't handle international adoptions.

Torry Ann Hansen is listed as a licensed registered nurse in Shelbyville, Tenn., according to the Tennessee Department of Health's Web site. No work address is listed. Her name appears in a list of August 2007 graduates from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., with a Masters of Science in Nursing degree.

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