Wow, what a perfectly horrible story:
It sounds like a script for a B-grade horror movie: a childless 30-something American woman decides to adopt a seven-year-old orphan boy from halfway around the world. Overnight, the boy’s world changes completely: from the gloom of a Russian orphanage, he is transported to the bucolic “horse country” of Tennessee. At first all seems well, but as time goes on the boy begins to display disturbing behaviour, spitting, hissing and kicking his new mother, threatening to kill family members, reacting violently when denied a new toy, attempting to beat a relative with a statue when asked to correct his math homework.
Finally, when the child not only threatens to burn down his house but draws pictures of the conflagration, the adoptive mother hatches a desperate plan. She puts the boy on a plane back to Russia with a note saying that he has severe psychological problems, she was lied to by the orphanage, and that she had
“…given my best to this child [but was] 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.”
Were this a movie, that would be the final frame; the haunted face of a purported psychopathic child staring out the face of the airplane, while his adoptive mother and her family sob with both guilt and relief. But this isn’t a fantasy – it’s the real story of Russian orphan Artyom Savelyev and his American adoptive mother, Torry Hansen. And this drama didn’t end at the airport: it has spawned an international diplomatic incident, a freeze on American adoption of Russian children, and an investigation into the adoptive mother and her family.
Words fail me. I gather adoption is not always easy, and I’m sure international adoptions are several orders of magnitude harder. Especially when the child has been mistreated – or “mistreated” according to posh North American standards. But good grief – “I no longer wish to parent this child”? That’s enough to kick an orphan, a 7-year-old orphan, back to Russia?