Mother in Adoption Scandal Was Trying for Second Child
Sheriff Meeting with District Attorney, Hopes to Charge Torry Hansen With Abandonment
By ASHLEIGH BANFIELD and SARAH NETTER
The Tennessee mother who horrified the adoption community when she put her 7-year-old son on a plane back to Russia was in the process of trying to adopt a second child.
Torry Hansen had turned to a second adoption agency to bring home a child from the Soviet Republic of Georgia, a source with the sheriff's department told ABC News.
She switched adoption agencies after the agency that arranged the adoption of her first child, World Association for Children and Parents, urged her to wait before adopting again, the source said. The association advised Hansen it would be best to settle in with the boy before adding to her family, the source said.
A few months later, Hansen, of Shelbyville, Tenn., and her mother, Nancy Hansen put 7-year-old Artyem Savilev on a plane back to Moscow in hopes of having the boy's adoption annulled.
In a letter pinned inside Artyem's pocket, Hansen told Russian officials that he was violent, had psychiatric issues and that she no longer wanted to be his mother.
The Tennessee sheriff investigating the case said both Torry and Nancy Hansen have notified him through their lawyer that they refuse to be interviewed unless they are charged with a crime. He said he is looking into possible charges against the women.
"Abuse has been mentioned," Sheriff Randall Boyce said.
Investigators are expected to meet with the district attorney today. Charges being considered for both Torry and Nancy Hansen include child abuse, endangering the welfare of a child and educational neglect.
The educational neglect charge stems from the fact that neither Artyem or his cousin Logan were registered for public school or home school. Torry Hansen's sister, Logan's mother, could also face charges for educational neglect, a misdemeanor.
Any charges against the women, however, may be difficult to prove since Artyem is now in Russia and Russian officials have told ABC News that it is unlikely that the boy will ever set foot on U.S. soil again. Because the boy is in Russia, U.S. investigators are unable to question him about any allegations. Perhaps more importantly, if the boy is not present in a Tennessee courtroom, any case against the women could be dismissed.
"This is an extremely complicated deal," Boyce said. "There's nothing simple about this."
Boyce said there haven't been any reports of trouble in the Hansen home from the police or the adoption agency Torry Hansen used. Hansen, Boyce said, was contacted by the agency in January and March, but didn't report problems at that point. In December Hansen was so thrilled with Artyem she began asking about a second child.
The status of the second adoption inquiry was unclear today.
Russian Officials: Artyem Shows No Sign of Violent Behavior
Russian officials said examinations of Artyem have turned up no signs of the violent behavior Hansen cited in her note, which claimed adoption officials there had lied to her about Artyem's mental stability.
"No, no this is not true," Pavel Astokhov, Russia's children's rights commissioner, told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview. "How can you imagine this, [that] a 7-year-old boy can be dangerous?"
Artyem, who was renamed Justin in the United States, has been seen playing and smiling since he was returned to his native country.
"All medical exams was done before the adoption procedure," Astokhov said, "and Torry Hansen knew about Artyem, everything."
But Astokhov said Russian doctors found "some scars and some bodily injuries," including marks on his leg and hands. It was unclear, he said, what kind of marks they were.
"I don't know exactly, but there are some scars of two or three months old," he said.
In a video taped Friday by Russian officials and obtained by ABC News, Astokhov asked Artyem if he'd been hit by Hansen. He said no, but that Hansen had pulled his hair.
In Hansen's note to Russian officials, she called her son "dangerous."
"I no longer wish to parent this child," Hansen's note read.
"This child is mentally unstable," Hansen wrote to the Russian Ministry of Education. "He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues/behaviors. I was lied to and misled by the Russian orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and
Russian Families Looking to Adopt Artyem
Nancy Hansen, ABC News has learned, contacted Russian lawyer Karina Krasnova through e-mail a month before Artyem was put on the plane asking about legal options to annul the adoption.
"Their relationship with the adopted boy had reached a dead end," Krasnova said. "When this woman encountered massive problems, nobody lent her a helping hand. I think this was an act of desperation by the family."
Hansen's actions have inflamed already sensitive relations between U.S. and Russia over adoptions of Russian children to Americans. Russian officials have called for the halt of such adoptions while the case is investigated.
More than a dozen Russian children have died in the hands of their American adopters.