Artyom Savelyev has a home

Date: 2012-01-10


Russian boy finds adoptive family

Artyom Savelyev, the boy sent back to Russia by his adopted mother from Shelbyville in 2010, has finally found a home.
According to the Russian State News agency RIA Novosti, the 9-year-old has joined 16 other children who are being cared for by a woman that has raised several generations of abandoned children.

In April 2010 Nancy Hansen placed the boy, who had been known as Justin Hansen while living in the United States, on a flight back to Moscow 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. The case sparked outrage and an international incident.

But nearly two years after being sent back to his homeland, Artyom is now living in an SOS Children's Village in Russia, cared for by teacher Vera Yegorova.

Taken in

Yegorova told RIA Novosti that she had always wanted a big family but nature did not give her a chance. But 15 years ago, she learned that Russia was launching a project to build social support villages for 12 or 14 houses, with each house intended for one SOS mother and six to eight children.

The villages, first formed in Austria in 1949, are active in 133 countries and territories.

The managers were recruiting mothers who could also educate social orphans and last November, Artyom Savelyev joined Yegorova and the other children.

"Counting Artyom, I have 17 children," Yegorova told RIA Novosti. "He is so exhausted by plane flights and going back and forth between orphanages and parents," she was quoted as saying.

Artyom was accepted as a family member "in no time at all," the state news media outlet stated, and made friends with the other children. He started attending school, likes it there, and is bringing home his first good grades. The boy is reportedly very respectful of his adoptive parents, calling Yegorova 'mom' on the second day.

"Still afraid"

However, RIA Novosti states that Artyom "is still afraid of leaving the village," explaining that nothing can lure him away.

"He never deviates from one path -- the one leading from home to school and back. But he is fond of village life as it is. He is reluctant to recall his past experiences in America and says he has turned over a new leaf," the story from RIA Novosti stated.

Yegorova said they learned from the media that Artyom lived in America, but that the child "said nothing about that. He even claimed that he knew no English when we were buying textbooks for school," she said.

RIA Novosti stated that prior to his American adoption, Artyom lived in the Primorye Territory with his mother who was subsequently stripped of her parental rights. Artyom was confined to an orphanage, where he spent several years, the state news media claimed.

Court fight

The Hansens were sued by the World Association for Children and Parents, a Washington-based adoption agency in May 2010, a month after Artyom was sent back. The agency asked that they be appointed as a temporary guardian for the child, stating they went to court out of frustration that no one was investigating claims that the Hansens abandoned and endangered the boy.

Last year, a court in Russia demanded that the Hansens pay $2,500 a month in child support. Documents obtained by the T-G show that a judge for Moscow City Court asked for Hansen "to pay alimony for the maintenance of a minor amount of 75,000 rub(les)."

When the Hansen family's actions first became public, local authorities were unable to file any charges against the Hansens because there was no evidence that any crime had been committed in Bedford County. Sheriff Randall Boyce said at the time that if Nancy Hansen abandoned the child, it didn't occur in the county, and therefore he could not press charges.

The incident brought attention to the plight of Russian adoptees. Russia temporarily suspended adoptions by American families, finally lifting the ban last June.

In November, Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell ruled that the news media could have access to the trial after the Hansens' attorney attempted to seal records in the case and bar the media from the proceedings. No trial date has been set in the matter and depositions are still ongoing.



Let's hope, this time around a thoughtful decision was made. Though 17 children seems quite a lot.

Will Artyom get lost in the shuffle?

I agree, when I read "17 adopted children", I thought, wow... it's almost like he landed in a mini-institution... but then I read carefully, and paid attention to where he was sent.

But nearly two years after being sent back to his homeland, Artyom is now living in an SOS Children's Village in Russia, cared for by teacher Vera Yegorova.

SOS is known for  building families for kids.  They take the numbers out of the big scary institutions and put "home" in a Group Home.  It's foster-care, without all the medication and moving around.  Not a bad deal... it's a helluva lot better than being adopted by a foreigner abroad, only to be returned to an orphanage as unwanted goods.

Given all the very special needs abandonment after a bad adoption brings a child, my hope is he won't get lost in the shuffle.  In other words, I hope he doesn't have too much difficulty living with 16 other "adoptees" in one mega-group home.  I see Artyom as the little boy who can put a face to the articles, Orphaned children exhibit genetic changes that require nurturing parents and Tender Young Brains, so it's with deep sincerity I say I truly hope his mentor/teacher/new-mother figure is up to the many challenges he will bring to this new home . 

This brings me to the question, how do we solve a problem like the unwanted orphan?

Artyom is a little "orphaned" boy who needs more than a large family and a few key support people.  He needs the sort of patient committed dedicated love that comes from a  very nurturing mommy-figure... a person who is able to give him the much needed long-term 1:1 nurturing attention he requires to heal from so much trauma. 

Artyom deserves much much better than what his adoptive mother (and her chosen agency) did and gave, in the first place.

Question is, will Artyom get what he needs and deserves this time around?  Will he get the stability, direction and enough love from at least one person, so he doesn't become permanently lost?

On paper, I like what SOS Villages has to offer, which means I believe the SOS Village option is worthy of further study.

With that, I think it will be interesting to see what SOS Villages can do with and for the likes of an Artyom.  I'd like to see how their commitment to the needs of an orphaned child translates in services.  I'd also like to see how their child-centric services, and the screening and monitoring of care-takers compares and contrasts to the many services rendered through an American adoption agency.

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