Russian adoption return | U.S.-Russian adoption goes wrong

View of a Russian orphanage with snow, trees, and a main entrance.

The parents who attempted a Russian adoption return had traveled to Russia to meet the boy in an orphanage like this one. Image from Flickr.

In September of last year, American Torry Hansen adopted a 7-year old boy from Russia; at the end of last week she tried to make a Russian adoption return. Artyom Savelyev’s adoptive grandmother put him on a one-way flight back to Russia with a note pinned to his clothing. The family also paid a Russian man a $200 quick payday to complete the Russian adoption return by taking the boy from the airport to the Russian Education and Science Ministry.

Russian adoption return prompted by violent outbursts

The family that attempted to make a Russian adoption return by simply sending the boy back to Russia claimed that they were afraid for their safety. The note that was included when the boy was sent for his Russian adoption return included the line

“This child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues, I was lied to and misled by the Russian Orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and other issues. After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends, and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child.”

The Russian boy’s adoptive grandmother has said in several interviews that the boy would hit, kick, spit, bite and would draw pictures of the house on fire, threatening to burn down the home he lived in and kill the entire family. A social worker did visit the home in January, though the boy’s adoptive family reported no issues at that time.

Russian adoption return sparks international uproar

This attempted “Russian adoption return” has sparked anger in both countries and around the world. The Russian education ministry has suspended the license of The World Association for Children and Parents, the agency that handled Artyom Savelyev’s Russian adoption. Russia is also threatening to suspend all American adoptions of Russian children until a new treaty is worked out between the two countries. Currently, there is no legal framework in place between the two countries to prosecute the family that tried to make the Russian adoption return. However, the U.S. State Department and Tennessee agencies are looking into possible prosecution for child abandonment.

Russian adoption placements difficult

According to UNICEF, there are more than 740,000 children in Russia that have no parental custody and Russian adoption is very difficult. With so few parents willing to adopt in Russia, Russian adoption agencies usually look to adoptive parents from other countries. Adopting a child from any country is very expensive, and many adoptive parents end up asking a personal loan company for help during the process. Russian officials are wary of U.S.-Russian adoptions, however, as there have recently been a spate of Russian adoption returns and failures.

Associated Press
ABC News

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