U.S., Rus­sia agree on pact to restart adop­tions

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY CH­ERYL WETZSTEIN

Fol­low­ing the in­ter­na­tional up­roar last year over an un­wanted 7-year-old Rus­sian boy be­ing sent home, un­ac­com­pa­nied, by his would-be adop­tive Amer­i­can mother, U.S. and Rus­sian of­fi­cials last week signed a pact al­low­ing in­ter­coun­try adop­tion to re­sume fully, but with sig­nif­i­cant new re­stric­tions in place.

Adop­tions from Rus­sia slowed and faced the threat of sus­pen­sion af­ter news broke in April 2010 that the Ten­nessee mother had sent the boy alone on a plane back to Rus­sia with a note giv­ing him back to authorities.

Torry Hansen’s ac­tions, de­scribed as “mon­strous” by Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Dmitry Medvedev, cre­ated a furor and led to sus­pended li­censes, de­layed adop­tions and lengthy ne­go­ti­a­tions over new adop­tion rules.

On July 13, Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov and Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton signed the bi­lat­eral adop­tion agree­ment.

For the past 20 years, Rus­sia has been one of the largest “send­ing” coun­tries in U.S. in­ter­coun­try adop­tion. But in 2010, 1,079 Rus­sian chil­dren were adopted, down a third from 2009, when 1,586 chil­dren were adopted.

Mr. Lavrov told a Rus­sian TV news chan­nel that the agree­ment would be “bi­lat­eral and equal” to en­sure that Rus­sian chil­dren adopted by Amer­i­cans will be raised prop­erly and safely.

Rus­sian chil­dren will re­tain their Rus­sian cit­i­zen­ship, and U.S. adop­tive par­ents will be re­quired to un­dergo psy­cho­log­i­cal test­ing, Mr. Lavrov said, ac­cord­ing to the Voice of Rus­sia web­site. Other Rus­sian me­dia have said the new rules will ap­ply retroac­tively to U.S. adop­tions of Rus­sian chil­dren in the past 16 years.

One change is that Rus­sian adop­tions will be con­ducted only through agen­cies ac­cred­ited by The Hague Con­ven­tion on In­ter- coun­try Adop­tion, not “in­de­pen­dent” pro­fes­sion­als, said Mr. John­son, whose NCFA rep­re­sents adop­tion agen­cies.

Most of the prob­lems with abuse or dis­rup­tion oc­curred with those “in­de­pen­dent adop­tions,” he said.

Adam Pert­man, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Evan B. Don­ald­son Adop­tion In­sti­tute, also wel­comed the new pact. “If we can move in a thought­ful, sane way to­ward a reg­i­men in which we make sure [chil­dren] are safe, we make sure they are well tended to and that it is not overly in­tru­sive for their fam­i­lies, then we have done a very good thing for kids.”

Pavel As­takhov, head of the Rus­sian chil­dren’s rights com­mis­sion, has been in­volved in writ­ing the new pact, and tak­ing care of the Ten­nessee boy who was abruptly re­turned to sender.

In April 2010, Ms. Hansen sent her adopted son, then known as Artem, back to Rus­sia with a back­pack full of toys and a note say­ing, “This child is men­tally un­sta­ble. He is vi­o­lent and has se­vere psy­cho­pathic is­sues. [. . . ] I was lied to and mis­led by the Rus­sian or­phan­age work­ers and di­rec­tor re­gard­ing his men­tal sta­bil­ity.”

The Hansen fam­ily paid a driver to pick the boy up in Moscow and de­liver him to so­cial ser­vice authorities. But their ac­tions were deemed “the fi­nal straw” by Rus­sians, who al­ready were up­set over news that some Rus­sian adoptees were suf­fer­ing abuse, rape or death af­ter go­ing to Amer­ica.

Rus­sian of­fi­cials said they found no se­ri­ous health is­sues with the boy, whose name is now Ar­tyom Save­lyev.

Ear­lier this year, Novosti news cov­ered Mr. As­takhov’s visit to br ing gifts and see Ar­tyom, who was liv­ing in a fos­ter care home in Moscow.

Ar­tyom at­tends school and “has fully re­cov­ered from his trauma,” Mr. As­takhov told re­porters, adding that he and the cen­ter direc­tors are look­ing for “new, de­cent par­ents” for the boy.


Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, here at an ASEAN sum­mit in 2010, signed a bi­lat­eral agree­ment July 13 al­low­ing in­ter­countr y adop­tions to re­sume fully.

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