Adoption case stays in 'limbo'

Date: 2010-04-15
Source: t-g.com

By BRIAN MOSELY

Bedford County investigators said Wednesday they are "still digging" into the matter of a Shelbyville woman who sent a boy she adopted from Russia back to his homeland unaccompanied.

Other details surrounding the case continued to emerge on the other side of the world, while in Shelbyville national media crews began dialing down their coverage.

Sheriff Randal Boyce said Detective Capt. Becky Hord is continuing to look into the case, but so far, there have been no new developments.

"So far, everything is clean," Boyce said concerning Torry and Nancy Hansen.

Nancy Hansen placed the unaccompanied boy on a flight to Moscow last week 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.

Hansen claimed that she was misled and lied to by Russian orphanage workers "regarding his mental stability and other issues."

Meanwhile, the Tennessean reported this morning that Hansen was investigated by Adoption Assistance Inc., based in Danville, Ky. The investigation was done on behalf of the adoption agency she contracted out of Washington state.

A statement from the adoption agency said that Hansen "was educated about adopting an older child and the possible behaviors he/she might exhibit."

The case has erupted into an international incident, with Russia suspending all U.S. adoptions until Moscow and Washington sign a bilateral adoption agreement.

Frustrated

Boyce said that two factors are currently frustrating the investigation -- the child is in Russia and the Hansens have refused to talk to authorities unless charges are filed against them.

"There is a lot of frustration to this, especially for us," Boyce said. "We can not talk to either side," meaning the Hansens and the boy.

But Boyce said that if the investigation turns up something, the Hansens could have charges filed against them, even if the family does not talk to authorities.

"At this point, nothing has come up," the sheriff stated. "As long as they don't talk to us, we can't clear them ... or whatever. It's in limbo until we come up with more information."

Boyce also told the T-G that he never imagined that the case would turn into an enormous international incident.

"This is not what a sheriff's department normally deals with," he said. "We deal with child abuse cases every day, but an international incident ... with one side of it halfway around the world, no."

Another aspect to the case has been worldwide media attention the case has received, with Boyce and Hord becoming familiar faces to people following the incident.

"It's just part of the job," Boyce said. "It's what we do and who we are."

Boyce said that doing interviews with the various reporters may take some of his and Hord's time away from the investigation, but at the same time, people get to hear about the case.

"And the people can help you sometimes," Boyce said. "They might know something that we need to know."

Boyce also stated that his department has had no contact with the Hansen family in any capacity until the incident surfaced last week.

As for the Hansens, there are few signs that anyone is currently inside their homes on U.S. 41-A North, even though national media have ended their stakeout of the property.

One television news crew was seen interviewing neighbor Harry Bailey and other media outlets, including the German network SPIEGEL TV, continue to request interviews at the sheriff's department.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the sheriff also received a call from representatives of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

"Good mood"

Meanwhile, the driver hired by the Hansens to pick up the boy in Moscow said that the child was cheerful and did not appear to show any mental problems that was described in the letter that was sent with the boy.

Artur Lukyanov told the Associated Press that the 7-year-old behaved as if he was on a sightseeing tour, boasting in English how big the trucks were in America.

"The boy was in a good mood," he said. "He did not seem frightened."

Lukyanov recalled that at the airport he thought it was strange that the boy had no luggage with him except for a small colorful backpack. But aside from being a bit thin and shy, the fair-haired Artyom seemed like an ordinary kid, the driver said.

Russian Health Ministry officials also said that tests showed the boy has no mental issues.

Lukyanov has an English-language Web site that advertises services as a personal driver and tour guide who can provide visitors help with Moscow's "confusing roads."

Nancy Hansen hired Lukyanov and paid him $200 to pick the boy up from the airport, but apparently kept him in the dark about his real job.

"When I got the first e-mail I had no doubt that she was flying herself," Lukyanov said. "I feel deceived. Nancy's actions were inhuman, and she treated me inhumanely, too."

Lukyanov stated only the final e-mail he received from the Hansens, on the day before the child arrived in Moscow, that he knew he was to pick up a 7-year-old boy called "Artem Justin Hansen" and drop him off at the Education Ministry in central Moscow.

The driver said that Artyom told authorities he did not go to school in the United States and that he cannot write. The boy also replied in English to questions in Russian.

Artyom was unwilling to speak about his U.S. home or family, Lukyanov said, only saying that he lives with his mother and grandparents. The boy's backpack was full of toys, crayons, paper -- and one pair of underpants that everyone thought was too big for the boy.

The child also carried two large envelopes, one of which contained the boy's passport and other identifying documents. The other envelope had two smaller sealed envelopes, one with Lukyanov's fee and the other with the note signed by Torry Hansen that stated she "no longer wishes to parent this child."

Officials are looking for new orphanages or foster families for the boy. A Russian Health and Education Ministry official earlier said Artyom, who turns 8 on Friday, said he would like to go back to the United States.

A U.S. delegation is heading to Russia next week to discuss a possible adoption treaty. Any adoption freeze could affect hundreds of American families. More than 1,800 Russian children were adopted in the United States last year, according to the Russian Health and Education Ministry.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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