To Russia without love

Diplomatic incident as American woman who adopted orphaned boy sends him home alone to Moscow

Russian authorities reacted with fury yesterday after an American woman sent her adopted seven-year-old son unaccompanied on a one-way flight to Moscow with a note in his pocket saying she wanted nothing more to do with him.

The boy, Artyom Savelyev, turned up on the doorstep of a Russia ministry yesterday, just six months after leaving a Russian orphanage to start a new life with a family in the United States.

The adoptive mother, Torry Hansen, bought the boy's ticket to Moscow's Domodedovo Airport and sent him off to his homeland with the note complaining that the boy had behavioural problems. "This child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues," the letter said, according to Russian officials.

It went on to complain that the staff of the orphanage in the Russian Far East, where Ms Hansen had adopted Artyom, had been fully aware of the child's problems, but had tricked her into believing he was normal and healthy. She concluded: "As he is a Russian national, I am returning him to your guardianship and would like the adoption disannulled [sic]."

Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said the case was the "last straw" for US adoptions of Russian children, and announced there would be a freeze on any adoptions by American families until the US signed an international agreement that set out the conditions and obligations involved.

Adoptions have long been a fraught issue in Russia, and many politicians have called for them to be banned, citing cases where the new parents have physically abused the children they adopted, particularly in America.

The story prompted a wave of anti-American sentiment in the Russian media, with television news items complaining that Ms Hansen had "cynically returned the child to Russia as if he was an unwanted purchase".

Artyom, who is eight next week, was taken to the Science and Education Ministry by a man who had been paid by his US family to meet him at the airport. Nancy Hansen, the boy's adoptive grandmother, told the Associated Press that she had paid $200. She said the child was violent and angry with his adoptive mother, and they sent him back to Russia because they thought officials there could deal with him better.

Artyom is currently undergoing a medical and psychological check-up at a children's hospital in Moscow. Russian officials said that he would not return to the orphanage, but would be adopted by a Russian family.

The online website Gazeta.ru said the child had almost completely forgotten how to speak Russian during his time in the United States, and answered questions posed to him in his native language in English. He said his adoptive grandparents were "good" but his mother was "very bad", claimed the website. During his time in the US, he had been given a new name – Justin Hansen.

Allegedly he was told by his adoptive mother, from Shelbyville, Tennessee, that he was going on an excursion to Russia and would return home to the US in a couple of weeks. "His adoptive mother beat him and pulled him by the hair," said Pavel Astakhov, the Russian president's human rights ombudsman. "Reminding him of her makes him cry."

At the orphanage in the far eastern town of Partizansk, where the child lived before he was adopted, teachers denied that he had psychological problems. "He's a smart, clever kid," said Svetlana Glukhovtseva. "He took in everything we taught him very well."

The US ambassador in Moscow, John Beryle, said he was "deeply shocked" and "very angry" at the news. An estimated 1,600 Russian children were adopted by Americans last year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before