Postcards from Mommywood: When An Adoptive Mother Rejects Her Child
A Russian adoption goes wrong—and affects thousands of other kids.
What in God’s name was Torry Ann Hansen thinking when she shipped her 7-year-old adopted son back to Russia last week?
“I no longer want to parent this child,” read the note Hansen tucked into the boy’s backpack, along with cookies and some crayons, when she put him on a plane bound for Moscow. “He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues.”
This story is heartbreaking on so many levels that I barely know where to begin.
Torry-Ann Hansen with her adoptive son Artem at the Vladivostok orphanage last year.
We don’t know all the details of the story because the Shelbyville, Tennessee woman has yet to speak publicly about it, but the facts that have emerged are alarming. Hansen, reportedly a 34-year-old single mother with one biological son, adopted Artyom Savelyev last September from a Siberian orphanage. She renamed the child Justin and brought him home to live with her and her mother, Nancy. Last Thursday, the boy, who made the 11-hour flight from Washington D.C. to Russia alone, was brought to the Russian Education and Science Ministry by a man reportedly paid $200 by Hansen’s family to meet his flight.
As an adoptive parent, I’m sickened by this story.
My husband and I adopted our daughter, Madeline, from China in 2005. The experience leading up to the moment she was placed in my arms in a hotel conference room in China was fraught with anxiety.
We worked with a well-known adoption agency whose policy included attending mandatory classes to discuss (ad nauseam, I thought at the time) the complexities of adopting a child, particularly a child of another race from another country. There were countless workshops on possible medical and developmental issues.
Then, in the home stretch, we attended a lecture given by a young woman who had been adopted from Korea. She spoke of the fact that she was not really close with her adopted family because they had done little to foster a connection to her heritage.
“Why did they pick someone who isn’t close to her parents?” I wailed to my husband that night. “I don’t know if I can do this!” Thank God I chose to move ahead with the adoption because, if I hadn’t, I would have missed out on one of the greatest experiences of my life.
I see now that our agency was doing the best possible thing for prospective parents and the children they would adopt. They were advocates for the children; their process was not for the faint of heart. A few couples in our group did drop out. But by the end of it, if you were on that plane to China, you knew exactly what you were getting into.