Danville adoption agency dealt with case of Russian boy in Tennessee

There's a Central Kentucky connection to the recent story about a Tennessee mother who sent her adopted son back to Russia.

Adoption Assistance Inc. of Danville conducted before and after visits with Torry Hansen of Shelbyville, Tenn., in regard to her adoption of 7-year-old Artyom Savelyev, who flew unaccompanied to Moscow last week. The Associated Press reported that Hansen sent a note with the boy saying she no longer wanted to adopt him because of his psychological problems.

"Never have we had a family that even thought about returning a child," said Julie Erwin, founder and executive director of Adoption Assistance Inc.

In a statement, Adoption Assistance said "the recent actions of one of our clients saddens us deeply. Upon learning of this sad situation, we immediately began cooperating with the proper authorities and have the best interest of this child and all children at heart."

Adoption Assistance, founded 11 years ago, has offices in Danville and Smyrna, Tenn. It has assisted 1,600 prospective adoptive parents in completing the adoption process. Adoption Assistance does a home evaluation before the adoption and a post-placement assessment after the child is in the home.

The Danville firm said in the statement that it educates adoptive parents on "attachment, bonding, grief, loss, behavioral issues, and behaviors associated with institutionalized children."

"Specifically, this mother was also educated about adopting an older child and the possible behaviors he/she might exhibit," the statement said.

"Our agency also completed a post visit with this family in January 2010," the statement continued. "At that time, the child appeared to be adjusting to his new home and family and was enthusiastic about his accomplishment. Following the post visit, the social worker had contact with the mother through e-mails requesting an additional post visit to meet Russian guidelines. In late March, the social worker realized that the mother was no longer accessible by phone. Our agency worked diligently to locate the mother, including e-mails and calls to the client's mother and sister, with no success.

"If this mother would have contacted us when the adjustment problems began, we would have worked with her on the issues or arranged alternative placement. We have done this in the past and it is part of our services to families."

This and other cases prompted outrage in Russia, where authorities have threatened to suspend all adoptions by U.S. families.