Tennessee Mother Ships Adopted Son Back to Moscow Alone

Russian President Medvedev calls boy's return a "monstrous deed."

ByABC News
April 9, 2010, 12:18 PM

April 9, 2010— -- A Tennesee mother's decision to send her 7-year-old adopted son back to Russia, alone and with a note that she no longer wanted him, has horrified officials and adoption experts in both countries.

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 of Shelbyville, Tenn., put 7-year-old Artyem Saviliev -- renamed Justin Artyem Hansen in the U.S. -- on a plane to Moscow's Domodedovo airport with a note in his pocket saying she was returning him, that the boy had severe psychological problems and that the orphanage had lied about his condition.

"I no longer wish to parent this child," the note read, calling the boy a liability.

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

Adopted six months ago, the boy was traveling on an expired U.S. visa. He was taken to a hospital for a medical evaluation. Video footage showed Artyem looking bewildered as he is taken from the police station to the hospital by Russian social service workers.

"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," said Adam Pertman, executive of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. "It is certainly the equivalent of abandoning your child."

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

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

The sheriff said, "Our plan is to have the adoption agency check with the people in Moscow or whatever part of Russia they're in and check with this child and see if they see signs of abuse."

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.

"We have tried to visit the Hansen family today," Johnson added. "We are working alongside law enforcement on trying to interview them."

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."