Artyom Savelyev Update: World Associaiton of Children and Parents v Torry Hansen gets trial date in January, hearing today

I need to do some backtracking on the Artyom Savelyev/Justin Hansen case  The 8-year old Russian abandoned by his adopter mother,  is still in care somewhere in Moscow. Here’s what happening stateside.

The lawsuit filed by World Association of Children and Parents, the adoption agency that placed Artyom with his forever mother Torry Hansen, has been scheduled  to be heard  in Bedford County (TN) Circuit Court court on January 3, 2012, a year and a half after it was filed.   Two motions  will be heard later today, though,, one to dismiss; the other to amend the petition. The case is under seal and there are no other details.

Sheriff Boyce during press conference

The WAPAC suit was filed in May 2010,  a month after Artyom was COD’d back to the Russian Ministry  of Education,  via American Airlines, when Torry Hansen and her mother Nancy decided the boy wasn’t a good fit.  WACAP filed asking to be appointed temporary guardian out of frustration because no one  in Tennessee, the boy’s “home state,” was investigating claims that the Hansens had abandoned and endangered him there.  Bedford County Sheriff Randall Boyce argued that there was no evidence to indicate that the boy had been abandoned in his jurisdiction so no charges could be filed; thus dropping the criminal investigation and tossing the case back to the Russian civil courts.. 

While the WACP case waited to be heard, a Russian court ordered the Hansens to pay the Russian government  about $2500 a month in child support. saying that  Torrie Hansen, incredibly was now denying she had had intended to terminate her parental rights when she sent Artyom packing!

Earlier,  in January,  the English language Moscow Times (paid subscription to access archives) ) reported–picked  up by the Shelbyville Times Gazette— that Russian children’s ombudsman Pavel Astakhov tweeted that Torry Hansen, under the threat of child support, was now claiming that she sent Artyom back to Russia by himself because  “he asked to see his (biological) mother and she let him go. ” Astakhov said  that Hansen’s court testimony was “cynic slyness” that aimed to avoid making child support payments.

How the note accompanying  Artyom to Moscow–and the Hansen’s delivery instructions to Russian tour guide Artur Lookyanov,  the real hero of this whole sordid affair–could be construed as anything other than a desire to terminate parental rights  is something that only the Hansen’s lawyers can explain. (The family s now on its third attorney).

It gets more headachey  with the National  Council for Adoption jumping in on it. .Since court documents are under seal, I’m going to let Brian Mosely,  reporter for the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, who has diligently worked to untangle the Hansen mess from the beginning, take it from there (with some repetition of what I wrote above): . 

Russians want support

A motion was filed last week by the World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP), the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) and adoptive parent Jennifer Terhune, requesting for more time to respond to the motion to dismiss that was filed at the end of 2010 by Henegar. (at that time the Hansen’s lawyer)

Terhune is a resident of Wilson County that WACAP is asking to be appointed the guardian of the boy since she has already adopted three children from China and Korea. Attorneys representing the adoption agencies are currently engaged in a jury trial in Chattanooga and have requested until Jan. 28 to respond to the motion and set a date for oral arguments on pending matters.

Henegar argued in her dismissal motion that Tennessee does not have jurisdiction to order child support because it is not the boy’s “home state,” the termination of parental rights proceeding precludes the court from exercising exclusive jurisdiction, that the court should decline jurisdiction because it is not the appropriate forum and that even if the state did have jurisdiction, it could not award child support.

Last May, WACAP filed a petition requesting that Bedford County’s Circuit Court appoint the agency as a temporary guardian for the boy. The matter was moved to juvenile court in August after an agreed order was signed by both parties. But in October, WACAP, NCFA and Terhune filed a second amended petition that asked the court to determine child support due from the Hansens. 

Henegar wrote that NCFA has alleged it had been in contact with Russian authorities and intended to provide evidence “regarding the amount necessary for Justin’s care and maintenance in Russia.” NCFA has also alleged that the Russians had appointed it as the “liaison” with the court. Henegar claims. 

“In actuality, NCFA has repeatedly engaged in ex parte communications with the Judge of the Moscow City Court to persuade the Court to postpone its proceedings to terminate Respondent’s (the Hansen’s) parental rights due to the fact that Respondent will not have to pay child support in Tennessee once her rights are terminated and will not be held criminally liable,” Henegar wrote. 

On Dec. 13, 2010, the Municipality of Intra-municipal Formation in Moscow refined their claim, asking that Hansen pay for the support of the child. Henegar pointed out that Tennessee state law defines the “home state” as where a child lived with a parent for at least six months, claiming that the boy lived with the Hansen’s in Bedford County from Oct. 7, 2009, to April 6, 2010 — less than six months. She also states that the Moscow court has accepted jurisdiction over the proceeding since the boy has been in that country’s jurisdiction for more than six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition to revoke the adoption and to seek child support.

Artyom’s case is further complicated by the confusing status of his citizenship, with both countries claiming him for themselves.  As far as I know, this hasn’t been clarified.

Early reports indicated a married couple described as English-speaking Russian diplomats who had reared two orphans, had been appointed his guardian and that he would not be sent to an orphanage.  Several later reports indicate he is indeed in an orphanage, though government authorizes deny it.

I have written extensively on this case.  Please go to the right sidebar on my Russian blog, Nikto ne Zabyt blog and click on the link. This entry is cross-posted there.

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