Russian Adoptee Sent Back to Moscow Because of Challenging Behavior
There is a 7-year-old boy named Artyom Savelyev who is making the headlines this weekend. He was adopted by a Tennessee woman interested in being his mother, adopting him from the boy's native Russia. But something went very wrong and his adoptive mother, Torry Hansen, sent the boy back to Russia. The manner in which she sent the boy back is causing outrage in the international community. It seems she put the 7-year-old boy on the plane unattended with note saying she no longer wanted to parent him due to his violent behaviors and severe psychological problems.
According to one CBS news report The Kremlin children's rights office shared the contents of the note which read:
"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 child’s adoptive grandmother reported that Artyom, who was renamed Justin, drew a picture of their house burning down and that the family feared for their safety. She also talked about incidents of hitting, kicking and spitting.
The reaction from Russian officials has been to threaten to halt all child adoptions by U.S. families. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are reportedly outraged by the adoptive mother’s actions which could lead to a permanent suspension of American adoptions of Russian children.
It is certain that there will be a lot of different viewpoints on this, but as the mother of a child with special needs and behavioral challenges, my predominant emotion upon reading this news is great sadness. I imagine a scenario where my son would be in this situation. Would someone send him packing? Or would they take the time to try to help him? There are just so many unanswered questions that may come to light as this case is investigated. Did the boy have any diagnoses? Was he abused? Did he have any developmental delays, mental illness, ADHD or even an autism spectrum disorder?
Did the mother try to reach out for help or support? What about teachers? Counselors? Mental health agencies? Did this family make any attempt to help this child before sending him away? What was the mother’s mental state when she sent her adoptive son on a plane, alone, back to Moscow? And what things occurred to cause a family to be so terrified of a 7-year-old child?
Tonight I find myself thinking of this boy and the haunting image of his sad and hollow eyes. I wonder what will become of him or other children like him who are deemed as too challenging or difficult to handle. And what will become of the Russian orphans who now may have nobody to adopt them due to this incident?
It is a story for which there seems no happy ending.
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