A 7-year-old adopted boy being sent back to Russia alone by his American family seemed like "an average little boy who wanted to play," a person on board the boy's plane to Moscow told ABC News.
The description stood in contrast to a note his American mother, Torry Hansen of Shelbyville, Tenn., sent back to Russia with the boy that said she no longer wanted to care for Artyem Saviliev, and that the boy was unstable, "violent and has severe psychopathic issues/behaviours."
Hansen's decision to put Artyem on a plane to Moscow's Domodedovo International Airport with the note in his backpack has horrified officials and adoption experts in both countries.
The person who observed Artyem on the plane said the boy with the Spider-Man backpack behaved like a normal child.
"He was very anxious and very active," the person said. "He wanted to sing a Spider-Man song quite a bit. We sang with him in the back of the plane. We tried to keep him occupied. He was quite active -- running about, not disturbing anyone. He was very obedient. He sat when [asked].
"He drew some cartoon pictures of an airplane with passengers waving," the witness on the flight added. "He drew another picture with crayon of something similar."
A spokeswoman for United Airlines told ABCNews.com via e-mail that while she could not confirm Artyem's presence on the flight to Moscow, "all procedures for flying any unaccompanied minor who may have been on this flight were followed."
Those procedures include not allowing an unaccompanied minor to travel on a one-way ticket and making sure the child boards the plane with signed paperwork and a name, sometimes even a photo, of who will care for the child at the destination.
"Justin told us he was meeting 'Uncle' someone or other," the witness on board the flight said.
The family had paid a driver $200 to meet the boy at the airport and take him to the Ministry of Education, according to a family member. Once there, officials found his U.S. passport, adoption documentation and Hansen's letter in his backpack.
"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," it read. "As he is a Russian National, I am returning him to your guardianship and would like the adoption disannulled."
U.S. Embassy officials were immediately contacted, and they met Artyem at the children's hospital where he was being examined. The boy is physically fine, according to Russian media reports, but Kremlin's Children Rights Commissioner Pavel Astakhov told reporters outside the hospital that he is traumatized by the ordeal.
Artyem cried when he was asked about his family in America, saying his mother used to pull his hair and his grandmother always shouted at him, Astakhov said.
Following the incident, angry Russian officials are calling for a halt to all U.S. adoptions until the two countries can hammer out a new agreement that spells out the conditions and obligations for such adoptions.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called the boy's abrupt return "a monstrous deed." The Russian president told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview that he had a "special concern" about the recent treatment of Russian children adopted by Americans.
Torry Hansen's note said her adopted son had severe psychological problems and that the Russian orphanage had lied about his condition.