US judge: Woman who sent back Russian boy must pay

AP News
Posted: May 18, 2012 6:32 PM
US judge: Woman who sent back Russian boy must pay

An American woman who adopted a Russian boy and later sent him back to Moscow on a one-way flight has been ordered to pay a sum of $150,000 and an additional $1,000 per month in child support until he's an adult.

On Thursday a Bedford County, Tenn., judge said Torry Hansen must begin making the child support payments in June and continue to pay until the boy, who is now 10 years old, turns 18. Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell said the $150,000 Hansen must pay includes damages for breach of contract, legal fees and support for the boy.

Hansen sent Artyom Saveliev back to Russia in April of 2010 with a letter saying the child was disturbed, violent and she didn't want him anymore. The case created an international uproar and prompted Russia to temporarily halt its adoption program with the U.S.

The World Association for Children and Parents, which helped Hansen adopt the child, then filed a lawsuit seeking child support.

Hansen has since moved to Redding, Calif., and has failed to show up at any of the hearings, said Larry Crain, an attorney for the adoption agency. She has hired a series of three Tennessee lawyers to represent her but the most recent one, he said, has been granted permission to leave the case. She did, however, hire a court reporter to attend the hearing.

Hansen filed a lawsuit last month in the Shasta County, Calif., Superior Court against representatives of a Russian orphanage saying the Russian Federation Supreme Court annulled the adoption. "In doing so, it denied defendants the ability to recover a sum of money in the form of child support from plaintiff," the suit says.

Hansen wants the California court to recognize the Russian decision. Her California attorney did not return calls seeking comment. No home listing for Hansen in California could be found.

Adoption advocates hailed the Tennessee court order as a measure of justice for the boy, and said the judge's decision would show there are consequences to abandoning adopted children. They have said Hansen never told social workers that she was having problems with the boy.

The agency sued Hansen to deter others from doing anything similar and to show the Russians that "you cannot do this in America and get away with it," Crain said.

"It has certainly caused concern on the part of Russian officials that unless there are consequences when a parent abandons a child placed in their home, there's a need for safeguards to make sure this never occurs," Crain said.

The judge said in his order that when Hanson adopted the boy she signed a contract acknowledging that it was possible the child could have physical, emotional or behavior problems that were unreported and even unknown to the adoption agency.

Lee said $58,000 of the $150,000 will pay for the past two years' worth of support and medical fees for the boy in Russia.

Court documents say the boy was hospitalized for three weeks after he returned to Moscow, but they don't say what he was treated for. He was later moved to an orphanage and then sent to another institution.