Adopted Boy Sent Back to Russia Showing No Signs of Violent Behavior, Russian Officials Say

Artyem Savilev seen smiling, playing as international adoption drama rages.

April 9, 2010, 12:18 PM

April 12, 2010— -- The Russian boy whose adoptive U.S. mother sent him back to Moscow has shown no signs of the violent, psychiatric behavior she cited among the reasons for returning him, according to Russian officials who have examined 7-year-old Artyem Saviliev.

Torry Hansen of Shelbyville, Tenn., told Russian officials in a note pinned inside the boy's pocket that adoption officials there had lied to her about Artyem's mental stability.

"No, no this is not true," Pavel Astokhov, Russia's children's rights commissioner, told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview. "How can you imagine this, [that] a 7-year-old boy can be dangerous?"

Federal officials have arrived in Tennessee to join the investigation. No charges have been filed yet against Hansen or her mother, Nancy Hansen, but authorities said they are looking into whether there have been any acts of child endangerment or conspiracy.

Artyem, who was renamed Justin in the United States, has been seen playing and smiling since he was returned to his native country.

"All medical exams was done before the adoption procedure," Astokhov said, "and Torry Hansen knew about Artyem, everything."

But Astokhov said Russian doctors found "some scars and some bodily injuries," including marks on his leg and hands. It was unclear, he said, what kind of marks they were.

"I don't know exactly, but there are some scars of two or three months old," he said.

In a video taped Friday by Russian officials and obtained by ABC News, Astokhov asked Artyem if he'd been hit by Hansen. He said no, but that Hansen had pulled his hair.

There was also no public or home school registration for Artyem in Tennessee, and it is unclear what kind of education he received during his six months in the United States.

Hansen and her attorney declined a request for comment.

In Hansen's note to Russian officials, she called her son "dangerous."

"I no longer wish to parent this child," Hansen's note read.

"This child is mentally unstable," Hansen wrote to the Russian Ministry of Education. "He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues/behaviors. I was lied to and misled by the Russian orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and other issues."

Artyem's adoption woes made international headlines last week when Moscow officials reported that he had been put on a plane from the United States with a note from Hansen saying she no longer wanted him and wanted the adoption annulled.

"The first day when he came to Moscow he didn't say nothing because he was disoriented because the mother of Torry Hansen told him that it would be a kind of trip or vacation," Astokhov said. "And he was surprised when came to Moscow."

Russian Families Looking to Adopt Artyem

Nancy Hansen, ABC News has learned, contacted Russian lawyer Karina Krasnova through e-mail a month before Artyem was put on the plane asking about legal options to annul the adoption.

"Their relationship with the adopted boy had reached a dead end," Krasnova said. "When this woman encountered massive problems, nobody lent her a helping hand. I think this was an act of desperation by the family."

Hansen's actions have inflamed already sensitive relations between U.S. and Russia over adoptions of Russian children to Americans. Russian officials have called for the halt of such adoptions while the case is investigated.

More than a dozen Russian children have died in the hands of their American adopters.

"We have to be sure that our children which we send to the United States of America will be in a safety conditions in the new family," he said.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle said he also wants to investigate Artyem's case.

Several Russian families have come forward to adopt the boy, now Astokhov's preference. Beyrle said that might be acceptable, but Artyem is still torn between two countries.

"As soon as he sets foot on American soil having been legally adopted, he becomes an American citizen. So he now in Russia, maintains that American citizenship," he said. "We have responsibilities and we have some rights. But we have no doubt that he's being well cared for right now.

"Our main concern is making sure that Justin Artyem is in safe hands," he said, "and has a chance to put all this behind him and get on with a normal life."

A delegation from the United States is expected to arrive in Russia to begin discussing international adoptions and Artyem's case.

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 last week that he had a "special concern" about the recent treatment of Russian children adopted by Americans.

Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York City, said, "On every level, putting a little kid on a plane and shipping them somewhere is horrific behavior. If you have a problem, you deal with the problem. It is certainly the equivalent of abandoning your child."

While he understand's the knee-jerk reaction in Russia to protect their children, Pertman said banning all adoptions isn't the way to go.

"There are lessons to be learned from this," he said. "Ensuring that all the other kids that need loving homes don't get them is not the way to solve the problem.

Sheriff: 'There May Be No Crime'

A friend and neighbor of Torry Hansen, who identified himself only as "Mr. Austin" said the Hansens were a nice family and the boy had been causing problems, including setting fires and trying to burn the house down.

Bedford County Sheriff Randall Boyce told ABC News that he had tried to visit Hansen Thursday and again Friday, but was told by Hansen's lawyer "they said they will meet with us later."

"This is a touchy deal and I'm not sure if anything illegal has been done or not," Boyce said.

Boyce said he intended to move slowly and carefully in his investigation.

"We're breaking new ground here," he said. "There may be no crime at all when you really get down to it. Maybe some bad judgment in the way she turned this child back."

The Tennessee Department of Child Services also is looking into elements of the case.

"DCS looks into child abuse and neglect," said Rob Johnson, the department's director of communications. "By statute we look into cases alongside law enforcement. We look at it from a child welfare point of view.

Of particular interest to DCS would be the safety of any children that may be in the Hansen home, Johnson said.

"We do not track international adoptions," Johnson said. "They are private adoptions."

According to government statistics, the number of Russian children adopted to U.S. families has sharply declined in the last 10 years, down from a high of 5,862 in 2004 to 1,586 last year.

ABC News' Zoe Magee, Desiree Adib and Kari Pricher contributed to this story.

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