(T-G Photo by Brian Mosely)
Torry Hansen was ordered by Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell to pay damages of $150,206 for breach of contract, legal fees and back child support for Artyom Saveliev, plus an additional $1,000 per month of child support starting June 1 until he turns 18.
In April 2010, Hansen sent the boy back to Moscow alone on a plane with a letter saying he was violent, had psychological problems and that she didn't want him anymore. Hansen's adoption agency, World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP). filed a lawsuit in May 2010 against Hansen and her mother Nancy, seeking child support in Bedford County, where she was living at the time.
The child recently celebrated his 10th birthday in Russia. Hansen did not appear in court Thursday, but had hired a court reporter to document the hour-long hearing.
"We are pleased and overjoyed that justice has finally been done on behalf of this little boy, whose only desire was to become a U.S. citizen," WACAP's attorney, Larry Crain, said following the hearing.
The awarded judgement was based on the breach of the contract Torry Hansen signed in August 2009, when she agreed to provide all costs for care of the child, including medical expenses, if he was ever removed from the home.
"It was her decision to breach that contract and return the child to Russia ... and it triggered that obligation," Crain said. He also explained that $1,000 per month would go into a special account set aside for the boy "to provide for his future."
Crain stated after the hearing that it been a "long hard fight" over the past two years, calling it a complex legal case involving international issues. He added they now know where to locate Torry Hansen and will be contacting her to enforce Russell's order.
He also hoped that Russian authorities would applaud the efforts of WACAP to prosecute and enforce that agreement, adding that it would help build up good will between the two counties.
"The Russian authorities have made great strides in restoring the rights of adoptions," for U.S. citizens, he said.
Russell heard testimony from WACAP president Lillian Thogersen, who explained that Hansen applied for the adoption in August 2008, which was followed by a "home study" of the family, with the adoption approved on Sept. 29, 2009. When that occurred, Artyom automatically became a U.S. citizen, and remains one, Thogersen explained.
Thogersen testified that the agreement Hansen signed stated she must remain financially responsible for the boy, and she swore an oath before a Russian court to that effect. She said during the first post-adoption visit in Shelbyville in January 2010, the child had made a "remarkable adjustment" and no problems were reported.
In fact, Hansen asked about a second possible adoption, Thogersen said, but WACAP said it was too early to make such a request.
However, documents related to an inspection in March of 2010 were not returned, and Thogersen testified that the Hansens' phone was disconnected, and no contact was made for the rest of that month.
Thogersen said they learned of the boy's abandonment from the Russians and were "devastated" by the incident. At first, there was talk of bringing the boy back to America and a foster family was even set up for Artyom by WACAP, but then the media storm over the incident erupted, bringing that plan to a halt.
The abandonment of Artyom resulted in all Russian adoptions being suspended, including 40 that were "in the works" with WACAP at the time, forcing the agency to make refunds to the potential families.
The WACAP suit was first filed in Bedford County Circuit Court, then transferred to Juvenile Court, where it was dismissed by Judge Charles Rich last year. The current suit was refiled against Torry for breach of contract and child support last July, but she has never responded to the litigation. Nancy was dropped from the second suit last year.
The Hansens never appeared in a Bedford County courtroom over the charges. Nancy Hansen has told the T-G that her daughter has no legal obligation or duties for the child, claiming that the Russian Federation Supreme Court had annulled the adoption.
Last month, Hansen asked a California Superior Court judge to enforce the Russian court ruling over the adoption. She is currently suing two individuals representing the Russian orphanage where the boy was, with the complaint stating that enforcing the judgment of the foreign court would allow her to avoid paying child support in this country.