(MOSCOW) — Russian authorities have reiterated their demand for full access to Russian children adopted by American families. They cite authority to do so enshrined in a new adoption agreement with the United States, which is designed to provide greater scrutiny for parents before and after adoptions. The agreement takes effect Thursday.
The Russian demands have many adoptive parents in the U.S. worried, especially after Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov called for a ban on foreign adoptions.
On Monday at a human rights hearing, Astakhov told Russian lawmakers not to believe the “myths and hysterical warnings” told by the people who say an adoption ban would “leave Russian orphans without a future,” according to Russian news service Ria Novosti. “These are all lies,” he said.
Ria Novosti reports at least 19 Russian children have died as a result of abuse by American foster families, according to claims by Russian officials.
Many in the adoption community were outraged in 2010 by a Tennessee woman who put her 7-year-old son on a plane back to Russia alone in hopes of having his adoption annulled. She failed last July in her bid to avoid paying $150,000 in child support for the boy.
Torry Hansen, who now lives in California, had asked a judge to set aside the ordered child support payment, claiming it would get lost in the Russian bureaucratic system and not benefit the child. But Circuit Court Judge Russell Lee decided to uphold the payment he had previously ordered from Hansen.
The order to pay the child support was the result of a lawsuit brought against Hansen by the World Association for Children.
Adoption officials in both the United States and Russia were horrified when the child landed alone in Moscow with a note addressed to Russian authorities pinned inside his jacket pocket.
“I no longer wish to parent this child,” read the letter. “This child is mentally unstable,” Hansen wrote to the Russian Ministry of Education. “He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues/behaviors. I was lied to and misled by the Russian orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and other issues.”
But Astokhov disputed those claims in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in 2010. “No, no this is not true,” he said. “How can you imagine this, [that] a 7-year-old boy can be dangerous?”
“All medical exams was done before the adoption procedure,” he added, “and Torry Hansen knew about Artyem, everything.”
As a consequence of the case, Russia decided in 2010 to delay some adoptions of Russian children by U.S. parents.
Artyem now lives in a group home in a Moscow suburb.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN