A Shelbyville woman who put her adopted son on a one-way flight back to Russia is being sued by an out-of-state adoption agency.
Attorneys for both sides will meet at Bedford County Circuit Court Thursday morning for a hearing that could stop the lawsuit in its tracks. If the court doesn’t grant the motion for dismissal, the case against adoptive mother Torry Hansen is scheduled to begin Jan. 3.
Hansen made international headlines in 2010 — and derailed U.S. adoptions out of Russia for the better part of a year — when she and her mother placed her 7-year-old son Justin on a plane to Moscow. In his pocket was a note:
“This child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues,” the note reportedly read. “After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child…As he is a Russian National, I am returning him to your guardianship and would like the adoption disannulled.”
Russia responded by barring U.S. citizens from adopting children — a ban that was only lifted in June of this year.
The World Association for Children and Parents, an international adoption agency based in Renton, Wash., filed suit against Hansen. They were not involved in Justin’s adoption, but the agency’s Brentwood attorney, Larry Crain, told Seattle media that WACP wants Hansen held responsible for her actions.
Hansen avoided any criminal charges after the incident. At the time, Bedford County authorities said there was no evidence that a crime had occurred in local jurisdiction and no charges could be filed.
WCAP wants Hansen to pay child support for Justin — now 9 years old, known again by his Russian name of Artyom and still living in a Russian orphanage. The agency is worried by the precedent Hansen might have set, and argues that shipping a child return-to-sender is not a legitimate way to annul an adoption.
Therefore, they argue, she owes child support.
“She is still the legal parent,” Crain told Seattle Weekly.
As for Artyom, Crain said the boy is being well cared for in the orphanage, but, “as you might expect, the emotional trauma makes it difficult to place him.”
Hansen, who reportedly has moved to California, is being represented by Murfreesboro attorney Sandra Smith.