April 9th, 2010
07:28 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Adopted and Rejected

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

The Russian government is considering suspending all adoptions of Russian children by Americans after a 7-year-old boy was put on a plane by himself and returned to Moscow by his adoptive grandmother in Tennessee who said he had violent and psychotic behavior.

Nancy Hansen's daughter, Torry, adopted the boy they named Justin last year. The grandmother says Justin had a "hit list" of people he wanted to hurt. She also says he wanted to "kill her for the house."

The grandmother put Justin on the plane back to Moscow and insists she did not abandon him. She said she followed instructions from a lawyer she found online. Hansen said she also hired a driver in Russia's capital she found online to take Justin to the child protection ministry office.

Russian child protection officials were not happy when Justin showed up unannounced at their office yesterday. The grandmother says there was a lot of yelling on the phone when they called her. She gave Justin a letter he passed along to Russian officials. It in she explains that they want the adoption rights removed because the boy is "violent and has severe psychopathic issues."

The Tennessee family says the orphanage lied to them when they adopted him and told them "he's healthy."

Russian officials insist that's a lie and say when they questioned Justin he said his adoptive mother pulled his hair.

The Hansens also got a phone call from the U.S. Embassy telling them they set off an "international incident."

We'll talk about this case with Dr. Phil McGraw.

We also have new details about the abuse 15-year-old Phoebe Prince suffered at a Massachusetts high school before she killed herself. New documents suggest school officials may have known more about the bullying than we've heard.

Plus, Sarah Palin taking shots at Pres. Obama and Newt Gingrich. We've got the raw politics.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Donna Miller

    If anyone was taken from their home land and placed in a home where no one could really speak to them and if they did not understand what was going on they or anyone would have a hard time and may become ill from the worry. I moved from a large city to a very small town about 30 years ago and I almost went crazy the change was such a shock to my system. Now what if I were only seven and I went from one country to a another. The mother was the problem. Being a mom is never easy. This women should have never been allowed to have the child, nor should she ever be allowed to have any other child. She is clearly a danger.

    April 11, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
  2. Angela

    I am the mother of 3 children–1 biological and 2 adopted. We adopted our 6 year old son from Russia less than a year ago. Yes, research after research has shown that kids who have been in orphanages for prolonged periods have a higher likelihood of having psychological, developmental, and physical issues. Our son is no exception. WACAP, the agency in charge of Justin's adoption, is a reputable organization that requires potential adoptive parents to take courses in issues regarding these issues. If this mother read the material offered in the courses, she would KNOW that kids don't come with guarantees. These kids come with baggage, and it's up to us, the adoptive parents, to try to help them overcome. Also, Russia requires that the parent spend time with the potential child t s/he is adopting before making an affirmitive decision on the adoption. Could she not recognize potential issues at the visits? Last, I have a real problem with how the situation was handled. If a mother had sent her biological child across country because she no longer wanted to deal with his issues, she would have been put in jail! Why is this no different? The mother (or grandmother in this case) has an obligation to this child, even if it means getting the child physchological help. And for those of you excusing the situation because she couldn't get help in TN, that's no excuse. The mother and grandmother had no right to abandon this child. Period. Now an international incident has been created thanks to their heartless and unexcuseable behavior. We can only hope that this decision will not permanently affect the Russian/American adoption programs, and those who are in limbo waiting to adopt their children will not suffer as a result.

    April 11, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  3. IA parent in AZ

    Why isn't Russia acknowledging that the boy also told his adoptive family that he was abused and beaten at the orphanage when his mother abandoned him? Isn't that a pertinent part of the story as well?

    I don't condone what this woman did. It is child abandonment and should be punished accordingly. However, there are important questions that need to be answered: Should this woman have been allowed to adopt in the first place? Why didn't the social worker who did the post-placement visits catch on that there were severe problems? Did this woman ask for help from social services, the adoption agency or any professionals? If so, why didn't she get the help she needed? If this woman had the proper supports in place, would she have been able to parent this child? Why is there a disproportionate amount of Russian adoptions that are disrupted and what role does the standards of care in Russian orphanages play?


    There are big questions that need answers, beyond just splashing this story across the headlines and pointing fingers.

    April 11, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  4. samwyse

    Everyone who is upset with the grandmother needs to go look up "Attachment Disorder" on the web. The longer a child has been "in the system" the more likely they are to suffer from it, and it can be a terrible experience for the adopting family. This kid's behavior sounds like a textbook case. BTW, I'm not surprised that the adoption agency denies any knowledge of the child's problems. It has been my experience that if things go well, they want your picture on their web page, but if there are any difficulties at all they say, "Why are you calling us? Our job is done once the child arrives home." It seems that the agencies feel that they are rescuing the children from a terrible life (which is probably true) and that entitles them to do whatever it takes to complete the adoption.

    April 11, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  5. Eva

    No matter what the 7-year-old did, you just can't abandon a kid and send him on a flight by himself! Those people should be banned from adopting any other kids in the future. Abandoning a kid is an abuse and a crime! Who knows what they have done to that kid before abandoning him?

    April 10, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  6. Ms. Doubtfire

    What a despicable counterfeit human being. As quiet as it's kept, "somethings wrong," with all of us to some degree. It is common knowledge that if that child alledgedly had an alcoholic mother, it's likely he has issues. A caring person would have ensured that child was properly loved & suppported & not discarded unjustly. That's one of the major changes in society: the village doesn't raise the child. Not only should the adoptees be held to the fire, but the airlines (who allows a child to to travel unescorted without explanation around the world?) and the system overall!!!

    We are all accountable for the moral deficit in this country. People have mentally unstable and immoral friends & relatives, yet far too many don't address it. I'm tired of seeing the headlines after the fact.

    You know I'm not perfect & my parents were lacking in areas but one thing they didn't lack was authority, shared knowledge & accountability.

    Please people, take responsibility for yours with love, patience & accountability.

    God Bless Ya All!

    April 10, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  7. Keri - Boston MA

    Torry Hansen MUST be held accountable for her actions. I don't care how violent or "damaged" this child was, he was HER CHILD and she had NO RIGHT to abandon him. As an adoptive parent to a child who came to me with similar tendencies and behavior, I know how difficult parenting a child from such a background can be - however, I AM HER PARENT. It is my JOB for LIFE to care for her no matter what issues may arise, and to LOVE her through them and despite them.

    I am completely appalled that this mother would have the audacity to commit such a horrible act. I can only hope she will be held accountable. My thoughts and prayers are with Artyom. At least he know has a chance for a better life, DESPITE his mother's loveless act.

    April 10, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  8. JerseyJoe

    I think it is horrible that these people treated a child like piece of furniture and returned him...Because they were not satisfied with their purchase... I can understand why Russia and others are upset by this. It is a disgrace to parenting, adopting, and human nature to care for a child...

    I feel putting a 7 yr old child alone on a 10 hr flight. Is child neglect and signs of abuse. They should have flown over with the child or made a phone call... These parents should be looked at a little bit closer by the proper authorities....

    April 10, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  9. Sandy

    When an ADULT legally adopts a child it is for life. Child adopted are not to be returned. We are not like the lamp you bought at Target and don't like and take back to the store for a refund.

    Adoption means forever – just like bios and if you are not willing to commit forever to the child you adopt – then by a stuffed toy animal instead.

    There is no excuse for ignorance, all you have to do is to search out international adoption message boards to connect to parents who have been there done that to find out what you need to know before you make any decisions.

    April 10, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  10. DG

    A "lawyer she found ONLINE"?!? Did she consult a therapist? Or did she just chat with one online? Where are the reports of disturbances from his school? Oh that's right. This child wasn't enrolled in school. Even with the benefit of the doubt, if this child was a violent and disturbed kid, then why was a violent child put on a plane by himself? What if he had hurt himself or the other passengers?

    I can understand a mother at her wit's end and there are parents who voluntarily give up their rights. But it's a process. You don't just drop off a 7 yr. old at a public place and walk away. She had no idea who this driver was who was going to pick him up. He could have been an abusive person or a child trafficker. The least she could have done would be to accompany him on his final flight "home."

    April 10, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  11. Deborah

    My hear aches for this boy. Psychosis is not even able to be diagnosed at this age. Did he have any formal diagnosis from even one professional? I haven't heard of one. This was her interpretation of a situation that she no longer wanted to deal with. Sooo sad. I am sure that this young child had problems simply because of the life he had led so far , but she should have known from the git go that this would be the case. I can't get the picture of his face as he was being led to the airport . He did not show much emotion but that does not mean that he wasn't experiencing emotions on the inside. It makes me think of a dog that the owner no longer wants so its dropped of at the pound. Geez!

    April 10, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  12. Sam

    You really need to be strong enough as an individual and should consent to what you have been signed up to and have been informed about when you adopt a child from the other challenged country and from the challenging environment where the child was brought up. The child was supposed and assumed to be a difficult child and the new family was to consent to become in charge of him although it is all Very hard and Very thankless...

    April 10, 2010 at 3:49 am |
  13. Mitch

    Classes that teach empathy needs to be incorporated into the curriculum. These courses need to be mandatory and given to students every year k-10. Parents can not be trusted to teach empathy for others to their kids. Also... empathy for animals should also be included. Severe legal consequences should be impossed to students and their parents that are determined to be bullies.
    Let's face it... this problem will never change unless formal acttion is instituted. Most of us remember the pain of exclusion or being bullied far more than any other lesson we learned in school. Let's fix this problem already!!!!

    April 10, 2010 at 3:16 am |
  14. Kate-US Expat living in Russia

    What a disgrace! I feel despair for this little boy. Who would even think that a child coming from 6 years living with an alcoholic Russian parent and then a Russian orphanage WOULDN'T have some emotional and psychological issues. Raising a child takes love, hope and perseverance; I don't think this woman even gave this little boy a chance after only 6 months. Maybe adoptive parents should spend a little more time in Russia before they choose to adopt here. It is definately a different culture and even some of the children with families experience and live in conditions that we, as Americans, would find deplorable. To them it's simply survival....

    April 10, 2010 at 2:58 am |
  15. aye

    and while DR Phil will ahve all kinds of Pollyanna ideas and condemnations, he isn;t the person who has to deal with this child 24/7

    he may have excellent health care and the ability to work unemcumbered but most Americans do not have this luxury or the money to have someone watch a psychopath 24/7

    unless and until he and his lovely wife are willing to solve all of these problems...his opinion doesn't count

    often he gives fine advice...but just try to make it work in the real world of citizens

    April 10, 2010 at 2:33 am |
  16. Ben Brady

    My husband and I adopted numerous older children We love our children dearly and always will. That is the most important thing that an adoptive (or biological) parent should understand. When we adopted our children, we also never received a "guarantee" of perfect health, mental or otherwise. Although several of our children do have emotional/psychiatric issues, we love them no less. They are blessed gifts to us and to the world. They have brought enormous amounts of joy to our lives.

    When parents adopt children, they make the "same deal" that any couple makes when they have a biological child: to love and care for that child throughout their life, whether they need extraordinary care or not. Yes, sometimes children need care that needs outside intervention provided by a counselor or psychiatrist. But even that is not "above the call of duty".

    Every child is a gift. To think less is to dimish the value of each person on this earth.

    April 10, 2010 at 2:33 am |
  17. aye

    well...another case for not adopting foreigners

    life is like a box of chocolates.......

    of course the Russians want to get rid of their unstable children

    but to lie to this unsuspecting US family......

    he was sent back to his home country in a safe manner, arrived safely, wanted to go back, is with his comrades where he can assimilate and get appropriate russian help

    who expects this US family to take on a possibly dangerous psycopath for life endangering her entire family

    Nations have been dumping their mental cases in the US for years

    I remember a case about fiftenn years ago where a Greek family marriedoff their daughter to a fine US man

    Very quickly he realized she was sick and quickly returned her to her parents who pulled a quick one on him

    buyer beware
    there's a lemon in every bunch

    no one should have to put up for life with another dangerous person in the US...we have enough of our own...another reason why the health care system is stretched beyond belief

    April 10, 2010 at 2:29 am |
  18. Judy

    I am in my 40's and got adopted when I was one years old. My mom and dad adopted 5 of us and believe me I am sure my mom on more than one occasion wanted to turn us back in but guess what thank God that never happened. I believe some very heavy consequences need to be faced by these so – called parents. What is scary is what happens if nothing happens and it starts a trend? God hates ugly.

    April 10, 2010 at 2:28 am |
  19. Maxy (Canada)

    We should be able to draw a line between academics and real life when talking about bullying. Experience shows that the only language bullies understand is being bullied themselves. Bullying a bully is the MOST effective way to stamp out bullying. Bullying is a power play and preaching to a bully is mere reinforcement of the attitude. If President Obama was in the same High School with Sarah Palin, who knows what the statistics would have been. Politics in America encourages bullying in the name of "free speech". Listen to Ms Palin from presidential campaign to GOP Southern Conference. Candy (CNN) talks about Sarah's appearance as "absorbing most of the sun". Bullying is evil whether it is from a teenager or from sore loser politicians.

    April 10, 2010 at 2:24 am |
  20. Timi

    Look this isn't the best, bust these kids are out of options, so fight. You cant snitch, but you can fight it will get you the attention that you need to the problem at hand. you cant tell anyone, not a parent, not a teacher, they don't protect you... but when a report has to be made....that protects you.....get someone that you trust to be there that can get help as soon as it starts so it has to be stopped there are kids there it has to be reported and it has to be handled by the book.....I was picked on..for a long time...and when I finally stood up for my self it was the best day of my life. I told the Principle so and I was unfairly treated the rest of my time there. My point is have friend make a scene, make sure it must be reported, and therefore it followed in the proper channels. I do not condone fighting but getting one started to get paperwork started so all necessary channels must be followed that is a different story.....take punch save a life

    April 10, 2010 at 1:57 am |
  21. kim

    parents should be charged along with kids

    April 10, 2010 at 1:55 am |
  22. Marissa

    This is an absolute travesty and this so called "mother" should be held accountable for her actions. She sounds like she is a child herself! What mommy would ever do this? I agree with Sara. "You get what you get." What if this child had developed autism or OCD or another psychological disorder, would he be back on a plane to Russia? Did she even try to help the boy by getting him counseling?

    This sounds to me like a case of a mentally disturbed mother ill equipped to be rearing any children, not to mention an abused child from another country! Good grief what a dang moron. I feel so sorry for this little boy and for all the loving families waiting to adopt children from Russia whose plans have now been foiled by this despicable idiot.

    April 10, 2010 at 1:30 am |
  23. Sydney

    Anderson and Dr Phil, you are two of my favorite folks on in the mass media. But when I see the story of Pheobe being bullied, then heard a startling lack of compassion for the adoptive parents I think it is so important to express compassion for the child and the family. We all knoe that adoptive parents are not properly prepared for disabilities and mental health issues in their children. While what the family did was wrong, I still believe in my heart that it was the best they could do at that momment intime. Lets not bully them.

    April 10, 2010 at 1:00 am |
  24. gloria

    DO NOT JUDGE unless you have walked in their shoes. I have watched a family that desperately wanted children go from the euphoria of welcoming 2 preteens from Russia to severe physical sickness as these two children destroyed the family that wanted and loves them. The children are unable to understand what it is to be part of a family, to accept love. They were neglected by the Russian system and permanently psychologically damaged. It is a sad day when a child is returned to Russia but maybe it is a day of waking up for a lot of people.

    April 10, 2010 at 12:44 am |
  25. Michael

    Hello AC my nehpew committed suicide two years ago, I think we have lost this generation.It seems like every teen that commmits suicide hangs their self in the closet.That is also how my nephew committed suicide. I just pray that this all will stop some how.

    April 10, 2010 at 12:39 am |
  26. J.V.Hodgson

    The adoptive parent and grandparent are a disgrace first to Humanity and second to America. Also then to thier own religious beliefs if any.. and if they have a religion,I do not know one that would condone what They did.
    Sorry Anderson don't need the Pychaitric hullabaloo and nor do Millions of Americans.

    April 10, 2010 at 12:33 am |
  27. julio

    This is absolutely disgusting. If the child had psychological issues, so be it, he needs a professional, but the issue at hand is sending the kid back ALONE to Russia, no adult in his or her right mind would send a kid alone across the globe, and least of all hiring a driver from over the internet to pick up the kid at the airport in Russia. Tennesse is not the only state that has issues, get over it, and if you return a child to wherever needs to be returned act as sensible adult and do whatever it is necessary to make sure the kid's return was SAFE! It's not like you're bying a can of outdated beans and return it to the superemarket just like that.

    April 10, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  28. dana

    The adoptive mother and grandmother should be arrested for child endangerment. They had no idea whatsoever that the driver picking the child up was safe. Their actions are grossly negligent as well as immoral. When you adopt a child he or she becomes yours. If the boy was dangerous, (which I doubt) there are steps that any parent takes when a child exhibits frightening behavior. Counseling would have been a logical first step. Seeking help from her social worker assigned to her home study would be a great idea as well. It's unconscionable to put him on a plane and send him back. He's not a puppy being sent back to the pound. He is a child. My daughter is adopted and in international adoptions the contracts signed are explicit – there are no guarantees now or ever that any condition either physical or mental could develop. These people's actions are criminal and they should be prosecuted for child abuse.

    April 10, 2010 at 12:18 am |
  29. stere

    i think the family is a litle weird i dont think these people have the right to returned the child like they pick him up from the grosery store. like dr phil said once u adopt a child that child is urs for better or for worst

    April 10, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  30. melissa

    I feel they should have called child services here in their local town.If they thought the boy was a danger. You dont put a child on a flight halfway around the world. If he wasnt messed up he will be now.

    April 10, 2010 at 12:01 am |
  31. Hope

    I understand the importance of this issue but I would like to comment on the story about the teenage girl whose bullying resulted in suicide. This is an extremely common issue and I think that having better commentators on the show will help bring it to life. I'm tired of seeing "teen experts" and phsycologists making textbook statements about these teenagers. Bringing an actual teen on the show, one who is good at speaking obviously, will bring something new to the table. They would bring to light actual experiences and opinions on the matter, opinions based on experience and not college training.

    April 9, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  32. Melody

    When one adopts a child, they are responsible irregardless for life. Just like giving birth...there is no going back.

    As for Phoebe. God rest her soul. The children responsible for this, and their parents, need to be held accountable. They all need to perform at least 500 hours community service working with psychologically and physically damaged children. As for the teachers and staff involved... They all need an unpaid leave of absence with teaching certs. pulled for the interim while attending mandatory reeducation programs re: effective discipline.

    April 9, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
  33. Adam - Westchester NY

    As an adoptive parent of 2 boys from Russia, I can say that the orphanges lie. My boys both teenagers now, were given a clean bill of health at the time of adoption – both are PDD & will never be able to live on their own. We've come to except that.

    I don't agree with the Hanson's handling of Justin. But my feeling is that the only reason this is an international scandal is because good old mother Russia doesn't want him back either. Majority of the kids in Russian orphanges are wards of the state because of parental abandonment or neglect & they DO have issues.

    April 9, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
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