Documents 'fudged' because of concerns about Russian response
By BRIAN MOSELY
E-mails between adoption workers involved with the case of a Russian boy who was sent back to his homeland alone by a former Shelbyville woman appear to indicate that reports about the placement of the child to Russian officials may have been "fudged."
In April, adoptive mother Torry Hansen sent 7-year-old Justin, also known as Artyom Savelyev, back to Moscow without an adult escort, triggering an international uproar over the adoption of Russian children.
The boy had been placed with the Hansens by World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP), a Renton, Wash.-based adoption agency, and the family had been investigated by Adoption Assistance Inc., an agency based in Danville, Ky, on behalf of WACAP.
The adoption had been finalized last November, when Torry Hansen received the official certificate, but the boy was returned to Russia on April 8 by Nancy Hansen, the boy's adoptive grandmother.
Justin was placed on a Moscow-bound plane alone with a note that described him as "violent" and "psychopathic."
However on March 29, a little over a week before the child was sent back to Moscow, an e-mail conversation was inadvertently forwarded to Torry Hansen by Janet Anderson, the Family Finders Program Information Specialist for WACAP, which suggested that adoption workers alter information in the post-placement report that was to be passed along to the Russians.
"Fudge" visit dates
An e-mail to Lisa Mosley of Adoption Assistance from Anderson dated March 18 dealt with "the edited version of the Hansen post--placement report," with Anderson saying they "need to stick 'exactly' to the template and cannot add or subtract any categories."
Anderson stated that a work or business phone was needed for Torry, but she told Mosley that "(w)e also need to fudge on the visit date, because it's too early by Russian rules."
"Visits can't happen any sooner than 30 days before the due date," Anderson's e-mail to Mosley reads. "The Hansen's due date to our office is 3/29/2010, and that would make the earliest date the 1st of March."
Anderson also said that "(w)e had to take out the last sentence where you were describing discipline, because it wouldn't translate well."
"The sentence describing talks and verbal reprimands is enough," she wrote. "Russians are very different disciplinarians (by Western standards) and we don't want any misunderstandings."
Anderson explained that they had "edited the sentence at the beginning of Family Unit/Family History," asking Mosley to confirm if Torry owns or rents her home.
"We also edited the portion where it states the extended family, 'live outside the home,'" Anderson wrote. "When translated, this might mean that they live in a tent or something..."
When the Hansens lived in Shelbyville on Highway 41A North earlier this year, their property consisted of several homes and a horse barn that were joined together by a fence.
Home school concerns
Anderson also told Mosley to "(p)lease be extra cautious" about future reports "for any family with a Russian adoptee with regards to the family homeschooling children."
"Russia really frowns on the concept of homeschooling," Anderson wrote, pointing out that a homeschooled Russian adoptee living in Pennsylvania "was murdered by his parents this year."
"If it is mentioned, you need to elaborate that the homeschooling curriculum is being administered by the state/school board/etc., and that the child gets to socialize with other children or is enrolled in sports/activities with peers." Anderson said. "Russia does not want to see the child(ren) isolated at home, and neither do we."
Anderson concluded the e-mail stating that when the final version of the post-placement report is submitted to them on letterhead, "we need to have the notary date and signature date match the date that the report was written."
"I know that this isn't best practice, but it is Russia's rule," she wrote, adding that if Tennessee required "any extra text or questions, you'll need to leave those out of this one and create another version (sorry)."
Mosley replied to Anderson three hours later, saying "I totally understand, you know best what Russia will want to see." Mosley said she would add "the highlighted info into the report and then print it off and get it to Torry to have apostilled."
Wishes the best
On March 29, Mosley e-mailed Anderson to say that she mailed copies of the post-placement report on the 19th to Torry, adding "I have not heard from her, but she is very responsible and I am sure she will get you the report as soon as possible."
Anderson then e-mailed Torry Hansen, asking if the report had been mailed yet, but when she did this, the entire electronic conversation between the two adoption agency workers was forwarded as well.
Speaking to the T-G about Justin earlier this week, Nancy said they still care about him and that they don't want him exploited, but the Russians have taken guardianship of the boy.
The Hansens no longer live in Tennessee, Nancy said.
She said it was her belief that a suit filed in Bedford County by the WACAP was an effort "to please the Russian government so that adoptions can continue."
WACAP filed a petition in May requesting that the county's Circuit Court appoint the agency as a temporary guardian for the child at the center of the controversy. The case has since been transferred to juvenile court following an agreed order, but no court date has been set as of press time.
Nancy said she wasn't going to get into the details of the case, but said "we know what happened."
"We don't care what people think about us," Nancy told the T-G. "We do what God thinks is right."
She also said the family "wants this to go away" and wishes the best for Justin.
Bedford County investigators have not charged the Hansens with any crime due to the fact that they have not been able to speak to the boy to learn what happened, or if he had been abused.