NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

National News

April 10, 2010

Grandmother: Boy terrorized adoptive family in US

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Torry Hansen was so eager to become a mother that she adopted an older child from a foreign country, two factors that scare off many prospective parents. Her bigger fears came later.

Torry's mother, Nancy Hansen, said the 7-year-old's violent episodes — which culminated in a threat to burn the family's home to the ground — terrified them into a shocking solution: The boy they renamed Justin was put on a plane by himself and sent back to Russia.

Now, outraged officials in that country are calling for a halt to adoptions by Americans, and authorities are investigating the family. However, Nancy Hansen told The Associated Press that the motives of her daughter — a 33-year-old, unmarried nurse — were sincere.

"The intent of my daughter was to have a family and the intent of my whole family was to love that child," she said Friday.

The family was told the boy, whose Russian name is Artyom Savelyev, was healthy in September when he was brought from the town of Partizansk in Russia's Far East to his new home in the heart of Tennessee horse country. The skinny boy seemed happy, but the behavioral problems began soon after, Hansen said.

"The Russian orphanage officials completely lied to her because they wanted to get rid of him," she said.

Hansen chronicled a list of problems: hitting, screaming and spitting at his mother and threatening to kill family members. Hansen said his eruptions were often sparked when he was denied something he wanted, like toys or video games.

"He drew a picture of our house burning down and he'll tell anybody that he's going to burn our house down with us in it," she said. "It got to be where you feared for your safety. It was terrible."

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