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Judge upholds child support payments for mother who sent adopted son back to Russia
LEWISBURG, Tenn. (AP) ¯¯¯ The Tennessee woman who ended her adoption of a 7-year-old Russian boy by putting him on a plane to Moscow by himself lost her bid Friday to keep from paying $150,000 in child support.
Torry Hansen made her first court appearance Friday in a case that began in April 2010 when she sent Artyom Saveliev away from her home in Shelbyville with a letter that said he had violent behavior problems and she no longer wanted to be his mother.
Criminal charges were never filed but the Seattle-based adoption agency she used, the World Association for Children and Parents, sued her last year for child support.
Hansen, who now lives in California, went through a string of lawyers as she contested the child support and never responded to summonses to appear in court or at depositions. After Lee ordered her in May to pay $150,000 in child support, she hired a new attorney, former federal prosecutor Edward Yarbrough of Nashville.
In court on Friday, Hansen told the judge her previous attorneys did not keep her informed about the case and advised her she did not need to come to court. She also said that she gave birth to a daughter last year and could not come to court because of the pregnancy.
In earlier court briefs she blamed her behavior on a "combination of bad advice and fear."
Ruling from the bench, Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell upheld his default judgment against Hansen, ordering her to pay child support for Artyom, who now lives in a group home in a Moscow suburb. Russell said Hansen had not cooperated with the court and he wasn't convinced by her arguments.
Hansen never spoke to the press before Friday, but her mother, Nancy Hansen, told The Associated Press in 2010 that her daughter, then 33, had to return the boy when he developed serious behavior problems. Nancy Hansen claimed he hit, screamed and spit at his adoptive mother and threatened to burn down the Hansen home and kill members of the family.
In court on Friday, Torry Hansen told a similar story, crying as she described how the boy they had called Justin threatened to kill her and stab her mother.
Hansen said she never sought help from the police or the Department of Children's Services. She said she did try to call psychologists but found they all had a waiting period before they could see the boy.
Hansen said Artyom had been living with her parents for about two months before he was sent back to Russia. She said it was her parents' decision and that they put him on the plane, although she was aware of the decision and acquiesced.
The case contributed to a decision by Russia in 2010 to delay some adoptions by U.S. parents. Russia on Monday ratified a new agreement with the United States that gives the country greater power to regulate international adoptions.
After the judge's ruling Hansen attorney Yarbrough said the litigation is not over and his client still has options, such as appealing the order or requesting that it be modified.
Hansen had no comment on the ruling.