A Shelbyville woman who put her adopted son on a one-way flight back to Russia is being sued for child support.
The agency that placed the 7-year-old Russian child with Torry Hansen filed suit, arguing that simply shipping the boy back to Moscow with a note pinned to his jacket does not terminate her parental rights.
Attorneys for both sides will meet at Bedford County Circuit Court this morning for a hearing that could stop the lawsuit in its tracks. If the court doesn’t grant the motion for dismissal, the case heads to trial Jan. 3.
Hansen made international headlines in 2010 — and derailed U.S. adoptions out of Russia for the better part of a year — when she and her mother placed her adopted son Justin on a plane to Moscow. In his pocket was a note:
“This child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues,” the note reportedly read. “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…As he is a Russian National, I am returning him to your guardianship and would like the adoption disannulled.”
Russia responded by barring U.S. citizens from adopting children — a ban that was only lifted in June.
The World Association for Children and Parents, an international adoption agency based in Renton, Wash., filed suit against Hansen on the boy’s behalf. Their attorney, Larry Crain of Brentwood, says the agency wants Hansen to pay standard child support — 27 percent of her salary as a nurse — as well as back payments from the past year.
“(WACAP) felt no effort was being made to impose any consequences on the mother,” Crain said. “We thought it was reckless to abandon him in this manner.”
Hansen avoided any criminal charges. At the time, Bedford County authorities said there was no evidence a crime had occurred in the local jurisdiction and no charges could be filed.
Russia watches closely
WACAP wants Hansen’s child support payments to go into a trust fund for Justin — now 9 years old, known again by his Russian name of Artyom, and still living in an orphanage. The agency is worried by the precedent Hansen might have set and argues that shipping a child return-to-sender is not a legitimate way to annul an adoption.
The agency, which screened Hansen, “feels morally obligated to this child,” Crain said. “He’s back in an orphanage, a different orphanage, and they’re not expecting that he’ll be placed with a family in the foreseeable future.”
Meanwhile, Crain said, Russia will be following the events in Bedford County closely.
“I think the eyes of the Russian government are on this case,” he said. “They’ll be anxious to see if indeed there will be any consequences.”
Hansen, who reportedly has moved to California, is being represented by Murfreesboro attorney Sandra Smith.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Jennifer Brooks at 615-259-8892 firstname.lastname@example.org.