Russia halts work of U.S. adoption agency over returned boy

Date: 2010-04-09
Source: rian.ru

U.S. child adoption agency has had its activities in Russia suspended after an 8-year-old boy was apparently sent back to Russia by his adoptive parents, an education ministry official said on Friday.

"We have suspended the permission of the nonprofit corporation World Association for Children and Parents to operate in Russia," Alina Levitskaya told journalists.

The agency assisted in a U.S. couple's adoption of a Russian boy, Artyom Savelyev, who arrived in Russia by plane on Thursday with a note in which his adoptive parents said they were sending him back due severe psychological problems.

"This child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues," Torry Hansen of Shelbyville, Tennessee said in the note.

"I was lied to and misled by the Russian orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability," she added.

A spokeswoman for World Association for Children and Parents in Russia said the adoption agency had no report of the incident. She said the agency would provide all the necessary information on the child's adoption at the request of the Russian authorities.

The Russian foreign minister said on Friday that Russia could freeze child adoptions by U.S. citizens until the countries sign an intergovernmental agreement on adoptions.

Sergei Lavrov told Russia 24 news channel that the agreement should include the conditions under which the Russian authorities can allow adoptions and the obligations of the adoptive parents.

"We have been suggesting [signing an agreement] but they evade this. But I think the latest case is the last straw and we will demand the agreement be signed," Lavrov said.

The issue of U.S. couples adopting Russian children has become controversial in Russia in recent years, following the deaths of two children in separate incidents in the U.S. state of Virginia.

In 2006, Peggy Sue Hilt was sentenced to 25 years in prison for beating to death a 2-year-old girl from Siberia she had adopted.

Two years later, a 21-month-old boy died of heatstroke after his adoptive father left him in his car for nine hours in the hot sun.

Miles Harrison, 49, was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter of Chase after a court accepted that he had forgotten the boy, born Dmitry Yakovlev, was in the car and driven to his office without dropping his son at daycare.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle denounced the incident with the returned boy. He said he was "deeply shocked " and "very angry that any family would act so callously toward a child that they had legally adopted."

The Investigative Committee of Russia's Prosecutor General Office said on Friday it would carry out a thorough investigation of Savelyev's adoption by the U.S. parents.

The boy, renamed Justin Hansen by his new family, was adopted last summer. Artyom's mother was deprived of parental rights on August 1, 2008.

Artyom, who has no other relatives, was sent to an orphanage in Partizansk, in the Russian Far East, in September 2008.

The boy is currently staying at a Moscow clinic. A decision on his future is to be taken within a week.

Russia's ombudsman for children's rights Pavel Astakhov told RIA Novosti that a Russian family wants to adopt the child.

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