Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Debate Begins as to Adopted Child's Nationality

"Child in Adoption Case Is an American Citizen, Not Russian, Experts Say"
By DAMIEN CAVE and CLIFFORD J. LEVY
William Harless contributed reporting.
Published: April 12, 2010

"Russian officials and the sheriff in Shelbyville, Tenn., have both raised questions about whether the 7-year-old boy sent back to Moscow by his adoptive mother and grandmother last week is really a United States citizen.

But they appear to be wrong. Tennessee adoption lawyers and national experts said Monday that the boy became an American the day he reached American soil last September and that, legally, he should be returned to the United States.

“This child is a U.S. citizen,” said Chuck Johnson, acting chief executive of the National Council for Adoption, which is working with the State Department to place the boy if he returns. “The parental rights are still in effect.”

A tug-of-war over the boy’s nationality has begun. As prosecutors in Tennessee consider whether the adoptive mother, Torry Ann Hansen, and her mother, Nancy Hansen, will be charged with abandonment or neglect — and as new details emerged about their interactions with social workers — the international dispute over what will happen to the boy they named Justin has intensified.

On Monday, Russian officials said the American government had no right to be involved because the boy they call Artyom Savelyev was not an American citizen.

The federal children’s ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, said at a news conference that Moscow health officials and child welfare officials disagreed over whether the boy should remain in Moscow, be adopted in Russia or be sent back to the orphanage in Russia’s Far East.

For any of that to happen, however, Ms. Hansen would first have to relinquish her rights, according to adoption lawyers in Tennessee."

Read the complete article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/us/13hansen.html?ref=us

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