Woman punished for abandoning boy
An American woman who adopted a Russian boy and later sent him back to Moscow on a one-way flight has been ordered to pay 150,000 US dollars (£95,000) and produce an additional 1,000 US dollars (£633) a month in child support.
A judge in Tennessee said Torry Hansen must begin making the child support payments in June and continue to pay until the boy, who is nine, turns 18. Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell said the 150,000 US dollars Hansen must pay includes damages for breach of contract, legal fees and support for the boy.
Hansen sent Artyom Saveliev back to Russia in April 2010 with a letter saying the child was disturbed, violent and that she did not want him anymore. The incident created an international uproar and prompted Russia to temporarily put a moratorium on its adoption programme with the US.
Afterwards, the World Association for Children and Parents, the agency that helped Hansen adopt the child, began legal action seeking child support. Hansen has since moved to California and has failed to show up at any of the hearings. She has hired three separate Tennessee lawyers to represent her but the last one, it is said, has been granted permission to leave the case.
Hansen could not immediately be reached for comment, but her mother told the Shelbyville Times-Gazette newspaper that the Russian Federation Supreme Court had annulled the adoption so her daughter owes no child support.
Adoption advocates hailed the court order as a measure of justice for the boy, and said the ruling would show there are consequences to abandoning adopted children. The motivation behind the action against Hansen was to deter anyone from doing anything similar and to show the Russians that "you cannot do this in America and get away with it", Larry Crain, a lawyer who represents the adoption agency, said.
"The moratorium has since been lifted but it has certainly caused concern on the part of Russian officials that unless there are consequences when a parent abandons a child placed in their home, there's a need for safeguards to make sure this never occurs," Crain said.
Judge Lee, in his court order, said that when Hanson adopted the boy she signed a contract acknowledging that it was possible the child could have physical, emotional or behaviour problems that were unreported and even unknown to the adoption agency.
He said 58,000 US dollars of the 150,000 will pay for the past two years' worth of support and medical fees for the boy in Russia.
Court documents say the boy was in hospital for three weeks after he returned to Moscow, but they do not say what he was treated for. He was later moved to an orphanage and then sent to another institution.