Returned Russian Adoptee Celebrates 8th Birthday
Artyom Savelyev, Returned to Russia by His Adoptive Mother, Gets Presents in the Hospital
By ALEXANDER MARQUARDT
The Russian boy sent back to Moscow last week by his adoptive U.S. mother spent his eighth birthday in the hospital where he has been staying since his return.
Artyom Savelyev, renamed Justin Hansen by Tennessee mother Torry Ann Hansen, was visited today by Pavel Astakhov, the Kremlin's ombudsman for children's rights. He gave Artyom a cake and several gifts, including a stuffed bear and a toy car. Lego was spotted in a plastic bag he was holding.
"The boy is pretty good but unfortunately he has a little fever because he is a little bit nervous about this attention he has [received] because of this story," Astakhov said.
U.S. officials from the embassy in Moscow were also able to visit Artyom, saying he is "a very happy boy."
Russia said Thursday it was suspending adoptions of Russian orphans by Americans until the two countries work out an agreement to govern future adoptions. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had called for a suspension shortly after Artyom was sent back to Russia on the plane alone with just a note, calling the incident "the final straw."
"The suspension will be working until we sign the agreement between Russia and U.S.A. and will have clear guarantees about the future destiny of our children going to adoptive families in America," Astakhov said.
A delegation from the State Department will arrive in Moscow next week to start hammering out an agreement, something both sides are hopeful of achieving relatively quickly.
The State Department, however, has said it is still trying to figure out what exactly the suspension means after receiving conflicting information from Russia.
"[The situation] is not clear for us because we have not heard any official statement and we were not actually told that there has been [a] suspension," embassy press attaché David Siefkin said at the hospital.
"We hope to come up with some kind of agreement and some kind of understanding so that something like this never happens again," he added. "We hope that American families will still have opportunity to adopt Russian kids." Russia wants the new adoption agreement to increase its rights to monitor Russian children once they have been sent to the U.S.
Artyom Savelyev to Be Placed With Russian Foster Family
Astakhov said new applications will not be processed and court decisions won't be made finalizing adoptions that are in the pipeline.
Reporters were not allowed into the hospital to see Artyom but state-run television released video of the visit showing the boy, his face pixelated, clutching a yellow stuffed bear.
He will be placed in foster care with a Russian family in the coming weeks, Astakhov said, adding that it's the best environment for his development.
"What happened to [the] boy was unfortunate and [the] mother's behavior is outrageous," Siefkin said. "We understand how it is important for Russian kids and families that children are not treated this way. And we are happy that [the] child will find [a] home here."
The embassy officials said Sevalyev would maintain his U.S. citizenship. A photocopy of a new U.S. passport issued Friday was displayed for reporters.
In an interview with ABC News, President Dmitry Medvedev called Hansen's actions "monstrous."
Hansen sent her adopted son back to Moscow on a flight by himself, with just a note in which she described him as "mentally unstable," a claim Russia has disputed.
About 1,600 Russian children were adopted by Americans last year, according to the State Department. Russian was the third largest nationality, after China and Ethiopia.