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Mom may face contempt in suit over adopted Russian boy, ordered to appear in Tenn. court
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) ' An American woman who sent her 7-year-old adopted Russian son back to Moscow has been ordered by a Tennessee judge to appear in court to face a possible motion for contempt.
Attorney Larry Crain represents the adoption agency and the boy, Artem Saveliev. Crain said mother Torry Hansen, formerly of Shelbyville, Tenn., has not appeared at three noticed depositions, the last one scheduled for Monday.
On Thursday, Bedford County Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell ordered Hansen to appear in court on March 7 when the judge will consider whether to hold Hansen in contempt of court. He also will consider a motion for a default judgment against her.
The adoption agency, World Association for Children and Parents, is suing Hansen for breach of contract and for child support for the boy. Artem now lives in Russia but Crain said he still is an American citizen and Hansen still is legally his mother under U.S. law, although the adoption was revoked in Russia.
Hansen has fired three attorneys in the case. Crain said Hansen has requested that Judge Russell appoint an attorney, but the judge has no authority to do so because this is a civil case.
Hansen has moved to California, although her exact whereabouts are unknown, Crain said. A call on Thursday afternoon to Hansen's mother, Nancy Hansen, who has spoken to the media on her daughter's behalf, was not immediately returned.
Torry Hansen has refused to talk to investigators since April 2010 when she sent Artem, then known as Justin Hansen, alone on a plane to Moscow with a note saying he had psychological problems and that she didn't want to be his mother anymore. No criminal charges were ever filed.
The case drew international attention at the time and Russian officials threatened to suspend adoptions to the United States, though negotiators have been conducting talks since on reaching a new adoption accord.
The child has been living for the past few months at SOS Village in the Moscow suburb of Tomilino, according to SOS Village Director Anatoly Vasilyev.
Although technically an orphanage, the SOS Village provides home and family environment to children who have lost hope of being adopted. Children range from 7 to 16 and are watched over by a woman who also serves as a teacher.
Vasilyev said Artem "tries to forget about his life in the States", and that's the reason why the orphanage is not allowing the media to see him. He added that the child gets along well with other children and has almost forgotten English and doesn't seem to want to speak it.
Nancy Hansen recently told The Associated Press she doesn't believe Artem was traumatized by being sent home alone.
"All I can say he was very happy when he was on the plane," she said. "Witnesses have said that he was running all around and he was happy. There were stewardesses watching over him."