Saturday, 10 April 2010



Here’s a story from the news today:

A US nurse put a seven-year-old Siberian boy she had adopted from a Russian orphanage on a one-way flight to Moscow with a note saying "I no longer wish to parent this child", when she found she could no longer cope with him.

A confused and upset-looking Artem Saveliev arrived unaccompanied in Moscow on a flight from Tennessee via Washington, on Thursday. He had with him a rucksack containing colouring pens, sweets and biscuits, which had been packed for the journey.

On his arrival, he gave immigration officials a typed note from his adoptive mother, Torry Ann Hansen, a nurse from Shelbyville, Tennessee, explaining in two succinct paragraphs why she no longer wanted a boy she adopted in September last year.

The case has sparked widespread anger in Russia and the foreign minister has called for a freeze on adoptions by Americans.

In the letter, addressed to the Russian education ministry and headed simply "To whom it may concern", Miss Hansen said the boy was mentally unstable, violent and had "severe psychopathic issues/behaviours".

She claimed that the Vladivostok orphanage staff had lied about his "mental stability" in order to "get him out of their orphanage".

Miss Hansen, 34, said she had "given my best to this child" but was "sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child".

She added: "As he is a Russian national, I am returning him to your guardianship and would like the adoption disannulled."

Nancy Hansen, Miss Hansen’s mother, said yesterday that Artem had been violent and angry with her daughter, a single mother. She said that she put the child on a plane to Russia with a note from her daughter. She also paid a Russian man, called Artur, $200 to meet the boy at the airport and take him to the Russian education ministry.

She said the boy, known as Justin to his adoptive family, was sent to the ministry because the family believed officials there could take care of him. She insisted they had not abandoned the boy because a flight attendant was watching the boy on the flight and a reputable person picked him up in Moscow.

Officials said the man handed over the boy and his papers, and then left.

Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said he was angry that the child had been treated "as a parcel".

He said his department would recommend suspending further US adoptions until the two countries had reached agreement on "the conditions for adoptions and the obligations of host families".

John Beyrle, the US ambassador to Moscow, said he was "deeply shocked by the news" and "very angry that any family would act so callously toward a child that they had legally adopted".

Russian officials said that 1,600 children were adopted by Americans last year. Russian children are the third most popular among US citizens seeking to adopt after Chinese and Guatemalans.

However, there has been growing concern in Russia that US adoptions are inadequately policed after a number of children were murdered by their new parents.

In 2006, Peggy Hilt of Manassas, Virginia, beat to death a two-year-old Siberian girl she had adopted only months earlier.

Anna Orlova, of the Kremlin’s children rights commission, said Artem had told her adoptive mother was "bad", "did not love him" and used to pull his hair.


This story made me so sad. It also made me remember that, during the time that it took me to be approved to adopt, I used to get angry about how quickly and easily Madonna seemed to be able to pick up foreign babies and when I spoke to US friends it appeared that the process was much quicker and simpler there. I used to envy this on a personal basis and get frustrated when US friends seemed to be assuming that the delays I faced were down to me.


Now I’m glad that the UK system requires such rigorous approval, even for overseas adoptions.


Adoption is an imperfect thing and sometimes breakdowns will happen in the placement stage but in the UK there has been much examination  before this happens, and the match is  examined carefully and the adopter is counselled hard on what they might be taking on.  In my case this happened to the point that I was scared that I might not cope and this delayed things for me. But it meant that when  finally got my daughter on placement I was fully prepared for the challenge. And there was support for both the child and the adopter during the placement and legal adoption would not have happened until it is clear that all was settled. If only this had been the case here.


It is terrible to feel that a placement fails- but this is a total failure of a system as well as a parent .


No comments: