Russian PROBLEM CHILD sent HOME ALONE: thoughts?

You can read about it here or many other places, but here’s the nutshell:

Torry Hansen, 26, a resident of Shelbyville, TN, adopted a 7 year old boy, Artyom, from Russia. She flew to Russia to meet him and collect him and claims she was told the child was mentally and physically healthy, but when he moved into her house she learned he not only had severe psychological issues but he was very dangerous. Among other things he threatened to kill her daughter and attempted to set fire to the house (after drawing pictures of the house burning down and saying repeatedly he was going to burn the house down with the Hansen family inside of it).

She consulted an attorney about “unadopting” the boy and followed his alleged advice: she bought a one way ticket to Moscow, paid a man in Moscow to pick the kid up at the airport and to take him back to the orphanage.

This has caused major outrage with many pundits and adoption agencies and the like in Russia and the U.S… She may face criminal abandonment charges- it isn’t clear yet because among other things it’s not known if the Russian orphan agency deliberately hid the fact the kid has such major psychological issues (providing he did) or if the adoption had yet been finalized on Hansen’s end.

What are your thoughts: should she be prosecuted for abandonment? Assuming she is telling the truth about the child being a dangerous psychopath, did she do the right thing? Does the Russian adoption agency hold culpability for not revealing (if they knew it) the kid’s psychological disorders?

There was a similar occurrence in Alabama a few years ago that got a lot of press. In that case the kid was Romanian, one of Ceausescu’s orphans, but the rest was about the same: the kid proved to be impossible to discipline, violent, and made death threats. I know that for a time the kid in that case was sent to a juvenile psychiatric facility (of which there are very few and most aren’t set up for the really scary cases) but I honestly don’t know how that one was ever resolved.

I see both sides of the issue: the mother was rash and should have done her homework a lot better and this wasn’t the greatest way to deal with “problem child”, but I can also understand her being terrified for the safety of her family, especially when he started a fire. I’d rather deal with possible international issues than third degree burns on my daughter. Personally I’d investigate and if she is telling the truth about the kid then I’d slap her wrist, not allow her to adopt any more international kids if that’s possible, and move on because I think the Russians were at least as culpable.

The manner in which she sent him “home” (alone on an international flight) should get this adoptive “mother” brought up on child abandonment charges (and possible child neglect/child abuse charges as well) and should see her serve time in a Tennessee prison cell…

Kids fly alone on international flights all the time. I did it when I was seven, too.

Granted, I knew one of my parents (or some other trustworthy soul) would be picking me up from the airport, but still.

This is why I always keep the receipt.

I wonder how you say “I want my red Swingline stapler or I’m gonna burn the house down” in Russian.

I really don’t mean to sound xenophobic or “America… Fuck Yeah!” with this, but- I’m sure there are 7 year olds in Tennessee who could use a caring home. There are 500,000 American kids in foster care at any given time and most of them have miserable times finding good homes, plus they already speak the language and are acclimated to the culture. I wonder why she chose Russia.

The child probably wasn’t psychopathic, but rather suffering from severe Reactive Attachment Disorder - it’s epidemic among Russian orphans and Romanian orphans of the Ceausescu era. An MD friend of mine has an adopted daughter from Romania and has had to deal with it; his wife has educated herself on the disorder to the point that she is now working on her PhD in psychology. It’s something that anyone adopting a potentially neglected child (particulalry overseas) needs to be aware of and prepared to deal with.

Has his daughter progressed much since her adoption? Was she ever violent to the family?

Many, you must have threatened to burn down a lot of houses when you were a kid.

Re: the Hansen case, if an attorney really gave her that advice he should be disbarred. And the most damning thing to me is not that she sent the child back to Russia but that she didn’t go with him.

Two separate issues here–whether the mother and/or grandmother are guilty of some form of abandonment/neglect/endangerment, and whether the adoption agency is legally responsible in some way for allegedly misrepresenting the child’s health/behavior.

Children are not consumer goods, and they do not come with warranties. The effect of an adoption, after becoming final, at least in my state, is to make it as if the child were the natural child of the adopting parents for all intents and purposes. You cannot return a child like you can a defective product. Even if the adoption agency concealed relevant information prior to the adoption, that does not mitigate parental responsibility to provide for the child.

It’s my limited understanding that in many cases, it’s “easier” to adopt internationally than from within the US.

I think the perception of American foster kids is that many of them are severely disabled and/or have severe emotional/mental problems like the kid described in the OP. Plus there’s the horror of disruptive adoptions.

Yes, greatly, although they’re still working. Aggression wasn’t her particular issue, but rather inappropriate attention seeking behavior she learned at the orphanage and a seeming inability to bond with her parents. In the orphanage being cute and “batting her eyelashes,” so to speak, got her needs met from various adults with whom attachment was actively discouraged, which was a coping mechanism that proved very difficult to unlearn. Other kids with attachment disorders may exhibit aggressive and antisocial behavior that mimics (or is comorbid with) conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder, like threats, fire setting, destructiveness, lying, etc.

Man, I…I just think this woman had to be criminally stupid, or didn’t do any research or something. I’ve spent time with (“worked with” would be an exaggeration) kids in orphanages in Eastern Europe and they are living in some seriously fucked up situations. My interactions with these kids have been 100% negative. I don’t actually blame the kids, I blame their situations, but in my anecdotal experience, these kids are little shits. I’d be shocked if anyone could come out of this sort of situation without serious mental health issues.

So, the Russians lied about him being THE GOOD SON? Guess they’ll SAY ANYTHING…

You seem to have misrepresented some of this story.

She passed him off to her mother, even signed over legal rights. It was the Grandmother’s house he supposedly attempted to light fire to. The grandmother put him on the plane.

I’d be more convinced if she had sought care, psychiatric, psychological, adoption therapist etc. There are numerous people qualified and in place, to provide such assistance to adopters. She doesn’t seem to have reached out to any of them. I find that damning. If this was her natural child what would she have done? Gotten them care, one assumes.

You may well have flown on an airplane when you were seven yrs of age. Tell us, did you fly half way around the world to be met by a stranger selected off the internet? Not nearly the same thing, to me.

There are a lot of things left unanswered. Like if the kid has such tendencies how, exactly did he get matches to start a fire? Who diagnosed him as psychotic? Them? Who feels a serious threat from the ‘hit list’ of a 7 yr old?

To me the fire threat, the danger to the other sibling are attempts to win sympathy. I can believe the child has issues, but I see no evidence they did anything to get him help. They only kept him for 6 months, that’s not much time to turn around an institutionalized orphan with issues. How could they have adopted a child from an orphanage in Russia and not have considered he might have some psychological issues, or that they might not be getting all the information?

I don’t doubt they were out of their depth, but putting him on a plane back to Russia is child abandonment to me, no matter how you want to slice it and dice it.

They are claiming that there is much more information to come out and it will exonerate them, we’ll see.

Also, I cannot imagine any lawyer giving them this advice, but I’m sure there is more to this story.

He was a BAD SEED.

I wonder how he got through customs. I traveled abroad alone when I was a teenager and as a minor I had to have a notarized letter from my parents essentially giving me permission to travel to that country and explaining what I was going to be doing there and where I was staying.

This is the part that convinces me we’re not exactly dealing with Madame Curie here in terms of brain power. She seems like someone who believes “all you need is love” and didn’t even do so much as google “problems with foreign adoption” but just watched a bunch of Lifetime movies before she set out halfway across the world.

I recant (or redefine) wristslap from the OP to say that while I don’t think jail time for the mother would benefit or protect anybody and would cost a lot of taxpayer money I would have no problem with her being placed under house arrest/anklet arrest for a reasonable amount of time if no other facts come to light (and unless the kid is a convicted killer I can’t imagine what those facts would be). And of course I’d impose a “no way in hell is she ever adopting another child” rule. But I if the Russian adoption agency really did conceal severe emotional problems I think they do share blame and any further adoptions from that agency should be disallowed.

She can go join Anita Tedaldi in the bad parent hall of fame. Tedaldi has five naturally conceived daughters. She gave up her adopted son because he was too much trouble.

As the mother of a seven year old I do not find this excusable behavior. Adoption should be treated no differently than giving birth. If you can’t make every effort to make sure that the adopted child will be welcomed into your home even if the child has severe problems then don’t adopt. Kids are not goods you can give back if they don’t work out.

I don’t know if I’d mandate jail time but I certain agree with the notion of never letting her adopt again.

If a child is adopted as an infant or in early childhood it can be perfectly healthy by all appearances but later develop a serious mental or physical illness (or for that matter be run over by a van or burned in a fire) that requires round the clock care and dominates the family life. I have even heard of families who had to give back a foster child or adopted child they loved (before the adoption was final) because they could not provide- either financially or timewise- the care the child needed.

However, I know that if I myself were going to adopt a child I would accept the responsibility that the child may develop special needs but I would not want to specifically adopt a child with special needs. I’m thankful there are people who do but I’m just not that unselfish or nice (and frankly I don’t want a child at all even if she or he’s not just healthy but above average in every way). To become a special needs parent requires a commitment and bonding process and financial liberty and selflessness that adopting a ‘normal’ child does not, thus I think if special needs are concealed it should nullify an adoption.

Does anybody know how long international adoptions usually take?

That’s an argument relevant to the civil side of this case, but irrelevant to the criminal side, assuming the adoption was final.

On the criminal side, the issue is whether the mother and/or the grandmother violated the law by abandoning, neglecting, or otherwise endangering this child. In theory, Tennessee, Washington, the United States, and maybe even Russia may have jurisdiction for potential charges.