Judge Upholds Child Support Order Against Woman Who Returned Adopted Son to Russia

July 26, 2012
By Thomas M. Huguenor on July 26, 2012 12:04 PM |

320px-Kremlevskaya_Naberezhnaja_Moscow.hires.jpgA Tennessee woman who now resides in California must pay $150,000 in child support for the adopted child she gave up in 2010, according to a Tennessee judge's ruling. Torry Hansen made headlines when she reportedly put her adopted son on an airplane back to Russia by himself. The adoption agency filed suit against her for child support last year.

After adopting the then-7 year-old boy from Russia with the help of a Seattle-based international adoption agency, Hansen claimed that she became concerned with the child's behavior. According to Hansen's mother, the boy became violent, hitting and screaming at Hansen and threatening to kill family members. Hansen claims that her parents took him, and that they made the decision to send him back to Russia. No one ever contacted the police or the state's social services agency.

The boy arrived alone at the Moscow airport in April 2010. He reportedly had a note in his jacket pocket from Hansen, addressed to the Russian Ministry of Education, calling the boy "mentally unstable" and "violent," and claiming that he had "severe psychopathic issues/behaviors." The note accused the Russian orphanage of lying about the child's mental health. Russian officials vigorously disputed Hansen's descriptions of the boy, and the child reportedly spent six weeks in a psychiatric hospital due to emotional trauma. A Russian court ruled that Hansen's actions amounted to child neglect and abuse. The boy currently lives in a group home for children near Moscow.

Law enforcement in Tennessee considered criminal charges against Hansen, including child abuse, child endangerment, and educational neglect. Hansen allegedly did not register the child for school, which is a misdemeanor offense. Police and prosecutors never filed formal charges against Hansen, but she faces a civil lawsuit. The World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP), which facilitated the adoption, filed suit for child support against Hansen in a Tennessee court in 2011. Hansen had moved to Redding, California by that time, but the Tennessee court retained jurisdiction over the case.

The case was originally scheduled for a March 2012 trial in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Hansen reportedly went through several lawyers and missed multiple court appearances during the first half of 2012. A Circuit Court Judge entered a default judgment against her in May, ordering her to pay $150,000 in child support.

Hansen made her first appearance in court on Friday, July 13, with a new attorney, to ask the judge to set the default judgment aside. According to the Associated Press, Hansen claimed that her previous attorneys told her she did not need to come to court, and that a pregnancy and the birth of a daughter in 2011 prevented her from traveling from California. The judge was unpersuaded, holding that Hansen had not cooperated with the court, and refusing to set the default judgment aside. Hansen’s attorney told the press that they may appeal the judge’s order or request a modification.

Thomas Huguenor, a certified family law specialist through the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization, has 35 years of experience guiding the people of San Diego through the family law process, including divorce and child support. For a free and confidential consultation, contact us online or at (858) 458-9500.

More Blog Posts:

Court Upholds Termination of California Man's Parental Rights, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, July 5, 2012

Mother Surrenders Child at "Safe Surrender" Site at Oceanside Fire Station, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, June 28, 2012

"Baby-Selling" Scandal Illuminates Some Features of Contracts in Family Cases, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, March 15, 2012

Photo credit: 'Kremlevskaya Naberezhnaja Moscow' by Dmitry Azovtsev [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.