This is cross posted from my Nikto Ne Zabyt (Memoriam for Russian Adoptees Murdered and Abused by their Forever Families) blog.

Artur Lookyanov, the Moscow tour guide, hired by Nancy Hansen to pick up Artem Saveliev/Artem Justin Hansen at Domedovo Airport last week posted a message here yesterday. This morning I found his own long and very detailed account of the event on his webpage Moscow Driver. This is the fullest account of Artem’s abandonment so far, and very important reading. It also clears up earlier stories that indicated that Artem was found wandering around the airport by himself. I’ve been in both Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo Airport Hell myself, and it’s nothing adults, much less children, should be subjected to.

Below are excerpts from: Story of Artem Justin Hansen: How I Became Involved in an International Adoption Scandal (Part 1) (Follow link to Part 2 and other details) I suggest you go over to Artur’s page and read the entire account.

From Part 1: Email exchange with Nancy Hansen. Booking transportation from airport Moscow city.

Note that in all of our correspondence she never once told me that she would not be the one to meet me at the airport. I was fully convinced that she would be the one meeting me! It was only after our meeting had been confirmed that she sent me more specific details. The e-mail came in the next morning, April 7, 2010 at 8:00 am Moscow time: Hi Arthur: The pick-up on Thursday will be for an 8 year old boy named Artem Hansen. A United Airlines Customer Service Agent will escort him to the hall to meet you (you will need to show ID). The United Airlines customer service agent will hand you an envelope. Inside the envelope are 2 envelopes. One is an envelope for the Ministry of Education, Tverskaya Street, 11, Moscow. The other envelope will be addressed to you. Inside will be your payment in US Dollars. I would like for you to please escort Artem into the Office of the Ministry of Education. If you could please give me your fee for this additional service, I will enclose it in your envelope. Thank you for your time. Warmest regards, Nancy…I was surprised to read this letter, because I was fully convinced that I was supposed to meet Nancy, not the child, but there was no time to think. Then it occurred to me that the boy was probably going to study or returning to school, and this made me feel better. I sent a confirmation and I asked her who I was to meet at the Ministry of Education...

After receiving another email from Nancy Hansen, Artur writes:

...I had no time to respond to this letter. I arrived home from work late that night tired but elated by the fact that the day was so sunny and beautiful, and that my clients were delighted by what they saw and the services I provided. I switched on the computer once again to check mail and read her letter (above). To tell the truth my good mood from the lovely day disappeared. It was too late for me to back out because of the time difference. If I did not meet the child at the airport, he would have been stranded. I work so hard to do everything the right way and to make my clients feel comfortable. I have a lot of great comments and friends from around the world, especially in the U.S. How could I refuse? I would not have survived thinking that the boy was left alone at the airport.

From Part 2: My rude awakening. I learned Artem Hansen had been adopted and was not expected back by the Ministry

We entered the main entrance of the building and I turned to the security guard, asking him to tell the people from the Ministry that we were there. I thought they were expecting us, but he looked at me as if I were crazy. At this point I realized something was terribly wrong. He advised me to call the Ministry directory-inquiry service. No one met us, and I dialed the Ministry directory-inquiry service with trembling hands and a bad premonition. I still did not understand what was happening. I called several different departments but nobody knew anything about Artem. It took us a while call the Department of the State Data Bank, and by this time the SDB employees could tell that I’d become nervous. They decided to come down and investigate. Five minutes later, three women came down to us. I tried to explain the situation to them and we opened the envelope meant for the representative of the Ministry. It contained the sad message which is now well-known. We were all shocked. The note stated that the foster mother of the child, Tory Hansen, refused adoption with regret and explained her reasons. The women of SDB understood the seriousness of the case and asked us to go with them to investigate further.

We proceeded to the department. I did not leave Artem Hansen for a minute, because by now I knew he didn’t speak Russian. I translated the questions he was asked by employees and the boy’s answers. The boy entered the country on a Russian passport, so SDB employees quickly found out where he was from. It turned out that he was adopted by an accredited agency in America from an orphanage in Vladivostok on Sept. 26, 2009. While the boy was drinking tea and eating cake brought by the staff, I told my part of the story. Realizing that I had been deceived I decided to call Nancy Hansen to ask for an explanation. I had her number written on the envelope that I was to deliver to the Ministry. At 14:11 I called Nancy. I asked her to clarify the situation and explain her behavior. There was a long pause; apparently she did not expect me to call. Then she told me she had not wanted to trouble me, and had thought I would not be affected. I gave her the number to the office where Artem and I were, and she spoke to the employee in English. The conversation didn’t last long. Soon they hung up.

Artur says he remained with Artem, even after authorities indicated he was longer needed, until the boy was transfered to the hospital:

Although I had not had anything to eat or drink since early that morning, I felt responsible and nervous for the boy. That is why I asked permission to stay and make sure the boy was ok until he was taken to the hospital. It was now the end of the day and the center of Moscow was paralyzed with traffic jams as usual, so we waited for an ambulance and Mr. Astahov (authorized representative of the President of Child Rights) for a long time. All of us were surprised at how calm the boy was. It had been a very long day without rest, but he continued playing and smiling even in the police department. We enjoyed his warm selflessness; he kept taking his toys from his backpack and offering them to us. He offered me a United Airlines badge. I saw that the boy had two identical badges, and understood that he was giving me this gift from the heart, that he wanted to thank me. So I took his little gift.

Here you can see the picture of this badge.

I am thankful that Artem had Artur on his side at at his back. His devotion to Artem is even more meaningful since his own Forever Family threw him away.

Спасибо, Артур!


  1. I really am close to tears. The description of how Artem behaved – calm, offering his toys – I’m just very bewildered by how to reconcile this with the claims of violence by his adoptive mother/grandmother?

    And to offer Artur a badge…I’m just amazed.

    I know some folks will argue that Artem is just “faking being nice” or whatever but….I don’t think so. The Hansens need to be interviewed/interrogated and they need to prove their story, again, even if Artem had violence issues, they still did NOT deal with this appropriately. (AnonJ)

  2. Hey anon. I was an aide in special ed for a while with some kids who were “Jr. Psychos” and this is not the description of one. After that experience, a violent emotionally disturbed child could not “fake” being a nice little boy. Neither could a fetal alcohol syndrome kid, which a lot of Russian kids sadly are. They have no impulse control.

    Whatever Artem drew, he was expressing himself, not threatening anyone. My kids drew some pretty scary things, and so did I as a kid. I did a whole little booklet that made a teacher I hated in 7th grade a mass murderer with vampire teeth and all, fully illustrated! And I was a kid who literally would not hurt a fly. I got called to school one time because on of my sons drew a wanted poster about some kid he did not like. Nasty, yes, but hardly psycho. Artistic kids draw stuff. Some of it is not nice.

    This whole thing stinks more and more and I am sick of people thinking up excuses for the rotten adopter and her evil mother.

  3. I would like to know where the boy is now, another orphanage? Does he have a guardian? Does he have recourse to sue the woman who adopted him? Was his adoption finalized? What is his understanding of his life? Does he have any extended family in russia? What became of his Russian birth certificate? Does he now have a US falsified birth certificate? Is a dual citizen? If his adoption was not finalized, is the woman who was/didn’t adopt him in any way legally his guradian? Can she be brought up on child absue? So many tiny details are not known. Not only is this boy’s emotional well-being compromised, but his personal paperwork is, too. I hope all adults involved in this cruelty will be severely punished. If he had severe emotional problems before, this experience surely will have after-effects for the rest of his life.

  4. I just left a note for Artur, the gentleman who met Artem at the airport and spent the day looking after him. His full account is unbelievable.

    The so-called grandmother talked abour “psychotic” behaviour that included “kicking and spitting.” If that’s the basis for abandonment, my parents would have given me away a long time ago. As for the purported drawings, I’m sure that many young kids have come up with some pretty ugly scenarios.

  5. Maryanne, thanks for your explanations. I may not have stated myself clearly, I think Artem is normal. I have a feeling other people might try to argue that he is faking being nice, but, I have no experience in this so it was good to hear what you said, that it is not possible for him to fake it. I also agree that kids express their anger in their art and in things they blurt out and that is normal.

    There is now an article saying he shows no signs of any psychological issues, however, there appear to be bodily injuries and scars on his body that may be only a few months old. This is troubling. (AnonJ)

  6. Wow,Anon, you made me cry again for Artem. Scars and bruises. This whole thing is such a nightmare, I keep thinking who would do this to a child they went out of their way to get? Did they even try to get him any kind of help before taking so drastic a step?

    Why aren’t they in jail yet?

    God Bless Artur, I made a comment on his page too.

  7. I mispelled Artur’s name. Sorry Artur! No disrespect intended.

    My prediction is that Nancy is the psychotic/abuser/controller in the house. Nancy and Torry adopted the boy “together” and cared for the boy together. But it sounds like Nancy was calling the shots.

    This news story from today indicates Artem is a U.S. citizen and must be returned to the U.S., and that Torry will be charged with neglect and child abandonment. Among other things.

  8. Maryanne-
    I have to respectfully disagree. I have seen children (my own included) who are able to put on a very normal face under extraordinary circumstances. It is a learned survival skill with a child who has experienced abandonment, trauma and multiple placements. It is the first defining factor of RAD- superficially charming.

    Certainly- what would be normal is for this little boy to cry and express concern over his unknown future. Crying is normal at this age. Hanging out and seeming A-Ok are red flags in my mind. What child is thrown on a transcontinental flight alone without some level of anxiety? In my mind- his coolness is a sign of just how traumatized he is. He is behaving the way he needs to in order to survive. How is he really feeling? I betcha it is a whole different scenario.

    Behavior does not always equal one’s state of mind.

    No excusing in any way how a ‘mother’ calculates such a horrific future for this child. Horrible on every level. Only saying that please don’t take his flight behavior or post-flight behavior as some kind signal of wellness.

  9. Thanks for posting this information – we’re following this story closely and it’s great to have the in depth reporting.

    BTW the link to your Haitian blog from the main page (sidebar) is incorrect, it has an additional http:/ in there.

    Thanks again

  10. Hi everyone. This is another very troubling adoption story. What the heck is wrong with these people anyway? They just cant wait to get their grubby hands on kids.

  11. I thought Artur’s account was very revealing about the level of callousness and deception shown by Nancy Hansen. (It was also very touching and refreshing that someone involved in this story had compassion and integrity.) I agree with blueheron that Nancy has a controlling, abusive personality. What 30 -something adult lets her mother take such control of her life and her child. From all of the AP interviews that Nancy gave, she certainly indicated that she was making all of the decisions, including the decision to send Artem back to Russia and finding an “online lawyer” to help her with the wording of the letter to the Russian ministry. (BTW, this so-called “online lawyer” needs to be investigated as well — he or she didn’t even know that there is no such legal term as disannulment. Come on! This case needs to be treated very seriously and Torry and Nancy Hansen need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law!

  12. All I see, in print and in pictures, is a very tired, confused, unhappy little boy. What kind of psychological counseling did his adopter try to get for him? Things and “love” can’t do a thing about ingrained trauma and fear. Everyone is in such a hurry to cop that adoption halo that they don’t realize that some of these kids take a lot of W.O.R.K. I would think that especially holds true for children taken out of their cultures and familiar surroundings and who have already suffered any kind of traumatic loss. I can’t excuse how this was handled based on how kids can prevaricate or pretend or what this boy supposedly did. They are surviving. It is up to us, the adults, to see they get they attention they need. It is not our place to demonize them just because they aren’t the properly grateful, little dream children we hoped for.

  13. I find it striking that the mother and grandmother seem to have been confident that they could manipulate Artem by telling him he was going on an “excursion” to visit “Uncle Artur,” and that he would not exhibit any behavior in the airport or on the plane that would alert authorities to investigate the circumstances of his travel. They could not have thought he was an out-of-control child and think that they were assured of getting away with this scheme at the same time.

  14. Robin, amen to all you said:-) Also Marti, what manipulative bitches those women are.

    Diane, shame on you for seeing Atrem as some horror movie evil child. Kids can’t win, can they? If they are hysterical, that is one symptom, if they are well-behaved, they are “superficially charming.”

    I think the RAD diagnosis is way too freely thrown around with difficult adoptive children, and it conveniently puts the onus on the child for being “broken” (bad merchandise) and not on the parent who is always “doing the best she can” with the little monster.
    Here is a link to an article by psychologist Jean Mercer that has more to say about attachment and who is disordered:

  15. Whoa! Just finished watching the video contained in the link to an ABC article, posted earlier (above)(thanks, annon). Here, watch the video if you haven’t seen it yet.

    Explains a lot. Toward the end, the reporter shows and describes the Hansen family’s “compound” of buildings and fences, and acres and acres of land, where everyone lives and works. Community doesn’t know much about them, etc. Sounding more and more like fundamentalists, I think.

  16. Had to post this comment from the comments section on the article I talked about up above. In case someone is researching the family and wants some leads:

    “It is so easy to research the Hansen family’s movements for the last several years. They don’t seem to be a stable family. The father, Erik Robert and mother, Nancy Graham, have addresses in at least 2 states and 7 addresses. You can find they had two children in CA, Tammy Jo and Tracy L, both born in Trinity, CA, 1972 and 1973 respectively. You do not find where Torry Ann was born. It seems the family had lived together in one form or other since Erik and Nancy were married in 1972 in Reno, NV. The girls have their parents and sisters listed as living with them, in Shelbyville, TN, Unionville, TN, Chappel Hill, TN, Hayfork, CA and Redding, CA. Where does this family live? How much of an investigation did the adoption agency do? Is this family really living a regular American lifestyle? All types of warning signals are being sent out…and she wanted to adopt more children? Weird!”
    Posted by:
    demillersails 10:44 AM

  17. Maryanne-
    I am sorry that I wasn’t clear. I in absolutely no way shape or form mean to place blame on a clearly blameless child. I don’t care if this child did everything she says he did. It doesn’t change that she is solely responsible for her horrific act- she was the parent.

    We are in total agreement. I was merely pointing out that what others briefly observed may not be a accurate account of his state of mind.

    A personal example- my daughter was adopted from China just shy of 8 years old. She lived with a foster family from a few months old up until the day she was adopted.

    Anyone observing her in the first weeks of her adoption would of thought that she was the happiest child in the world. But- she was merely in survival mode and internally in tremendous emotional pain. That pain wasn’t released until she had built trust with us.

    My point being- a traumatized child might appear perfectly fine because the are using survivor and coping skills. Nobody can accurately understand this child’s state of mind during a plane flight.

  18. I think Diane’s right that kids can act in a controlled way but be breaking up inside. It usually rises to the surface at some point and a parent’s job is to be there for them. Artem could be normal but still traumatized by the past, and his surface emotions may not give much clue as to what is going on inside. I don’t believe he is psychopathic but he probably has major emotional distress and grief. Unfortunately, as Diane suggested, the trust that is needed to help address these issues is now obliterated.

  19. I have been following this case in both Russian and English language media, trying to understand what actually happened.
    What really strikes me is that the whole return was apparently orchestrated by the grandmother, not Torry Hansen. It was the grandmother who contacted a lawyer in early March (there was an interview with that lawyer in Russian newspapers) asking about legal options to return the child.It was also she who bought the ticket (hastily, as one can see from Arthurs testimonial – she became so afraid that could not wait for the dissolution paperwork), found the guide in Moscow and put the child on the plane. Finally, she and not Torry talked to the media. Of course it was Torry who signed the letter, so she obviously did not object to the plan, but I think it was the mother who was the driving force. And here is why, in my opinion: Torry worked (at a VA hospital), was not married, the boy was home schooled, and the grandmother lived next door. Who was spending most time with the boy? I think it was the grandmother. Torry Hansen may have been the adoptive parent on paper, but in reality it was Nancy Hansen. And she does not have a degree in nursing and is not prepared to take the crap from this boy, attachment disorder or no attachment disorder.

    With regards to the role of the adoption agency: they posted a Q&A on their website trying to address some of the accusations and basically implying that they did not do anything wrong in this case (without addressing and specifics due to confidentiality and lack of information). One of the things they address is single parent households, which they believe are a perfectly good choice for adoption, as there are many success stories, etc. But in this case I think it was not a good choice, or at least they should have recognized during the preparation phase that the grandmother was going to play a vital role and prepare her accordingly and not only the daughter. And homeschooling was probably not a good idea either. These children need a lot of structure in their life, and being at home all day long can make even a healthy child become bored and chaotic (I certainly see that with my children).

    In Russia there are already local families wanting to adopt the boy, but Torry is still his mother from the legal point of view, and she went into hiding and cannot be reached processing the paperwork to “annul” the adoption.

    I think both women are not very smart, Masters degree or not. And I agree with those who say that their isolation is suspicious and yes, it smacks of fundamentalism.

  20. Diane, indeed, nobody can understand a child’s state of mind, but you have made as many speculations on the mental state of Artem as any of us here to whom he seemed normal. The truth is, none of us really know.

    “Superficially charming” is something that might be said about an adult psychopath or narcissist, not a child. That phrase implies not a coping skill, but a deliberate deception.

    I am glad you agree that this was a horrible way to treat a child. But just looking at what we can see from the outside, Artem seems much more normal that Torry or her mother at this point.

  21. Maryanne-
    I think where we feel differently is that I do not see a deliberate deception and a coping mechanism as mutually exclusive. Being deceitful to emotionally survive seems very logical to me. I certainly don’t think that this (what I perceive as) survival behavior is exclusive to psychopaths or just adults.

    I didn’t throw the RAD card out there to demonize this child. But, I can see, with the RAD card freely thrown out as a great/justifiable reason for disposing of a child, how you took it that way. I threw it out there, because I am deeply concerned that this child will not receive adequate resources and support to deal with the incredible trauma that he has lived through in his incredibly young life. It worries me that this little boy is being deemed ‘just fine’ by bystanders and the Russian officials. If he is ‘just fine’ then how will he be provided with adequate help to heal from the hell that he has been put through?

    And you are so right- I have no idea what in the world is going on in this boy’s mind or heart. I still worry just like you.

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