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Adoption Experts See Possible Criminal Violations in Mom’s Return of Boy to Russia

Posted Apr 13, 2010 8:13 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Adoption experts see possible criminal and civil violations in a decision by an adoptive mother in Tennessee to return her 7-year-old son to Russia.

Torry Hansen, a 33-year-old unmarried nurse from Shelbyville, put the boy on a plane to Moscow last week with a note saying she no longer wants to adopt him because he is mentally unstable and violent, the Associated Press reports. Hansen’s mother, Nancy Hansen, said the boy had threatened to burn their home to the ground and the family was terrified.

Soon after he arrived in the United States last fall, the boy started screaming, hitting and spitting, often when he was denied something he wanted like a video game, Nancy Hansen said. He drew a picture of a burning house and said he would set the fire that would kill the family.

Adoption lawyers and national experts told the New York Times that the boy became an American citizen the day he reached American soil and he should be returned to the United States.

According to the experts interviewed by the Times, adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities of biological parents, and there could be a strong case for criminal or civil charges of abandonment or neglect.

However, the local district attorney, Charles Crawford, said there are hurdles to prosecution, the story says. “Making it a child abuse case without the child being available to testify is a very tall order,” he said.

Russia provided 1,586 children for adoption in the United States last year, making it the third leading source of international adoptions here, the New York Times reports in a separate story. The Russian foreign minister has suggested cutting off U.S. adoptions as a result of the case.

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