Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Getting Weirder and Weirder: New Developments in the Saveliev/Hansen Case

Like Laura Silsby, Torry Hansen and her mother Nancy just get weirder and weirder.

Unless otherwise cited, the following material comes from this ABC News article and video.

Another Adoptee for Torry Hansen
ABC News reported yesterday, using an unnamed source inside the Bedford County sheriff's office, that while Torry Hansen was getting ready to ship one adopted son back to Russia she was trying to adopt another child from the Republic of Georgia. And she wasn't getting any help from her agency, the World Association for Children and Parents, either:

She switched adoption agencies after the agency that arranged the adoption of her first child, World Association for Children and Parents, urged her to wait before adopting again, the source said. The association advised Hansen it would be best to settle in with the boy before adding to her family, the source said.

WACAP now has a FAQ on its page regarding Artem's case (much of which is "confidential" and cannot be released) and outlining international adoption procedures and practices it follows.

No more details on the alleged second adoption plan ..but in a related note...

...WSMV-TV Nashville reports that Artem was not Torry Hansen's first try at adoption.

An unnamed co-worker from the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro where Hansen works as a medical/surgical nurse says that a year ago Torry and Nancy Hansen spent two weeks in Russia to meet a child with mental and developmental problems Torry planned to adopt. Deciding she (or we bet "they") couldn't handle a special needs child, the two returned home empty-handed. The friend reports that six months later WACAP called Torry with a new child described as having "no serious problems." Ms and Mrs. Hansen made a quick trip to Russia and returned with Artem.

The friend told WSMV that Torry's decision to adopt from Russia was influenced by her sister's "successful" adoption from Russia of Logan, described in earlier news reports as Torry's biological son. Torry, the friend says, wanted the boys to "grow up together like brothers."

When I first heard about Logan last weekend I was concerned about his reaction to the sudden disappearance of Artem and the firestorm that followed. Adoptees are all too familiar with the Forever Family threat, "I'll send you back to where you came from." In this case, it happened. As a Russian adoptee himself, does Logan now fear he'll be sent back, too?

Speaking of the boys, you may remember that Artem told authorities that he had not attended school while living with Torry Hansen; suggesting a pattern of social isolation that is common amongst abused and murdered Russian adoptees (though hardly limited to that abused group). ABC reports that neither Artem nor Logan attended public school and that they are not registered in a home school program as required under Tennessee law. This report contradicts a claim by Nancy Hansen published the Toronto Star that Artem was working with an English-language home school program to prepare him for enrollment in a "traditional school "in the fall. If so, what was Logan doing?

A Helping Hand for the Hansens?
Despite Nancy Hansen's claim that the decision to deport Artem to whence he came was a last-minute decision, Karina Krasnova, the lawyer that Hansen claims advised her, says she was contacted by Hansen a month ago. You can read their correspondence,--which really consists of a free "ask a Russian lawyer entry--in yesterday's "lawyer identified" entry.

Krasnova actually gave Hansen succinct, but excellent advice, and...a-hem...warned her that Torry could be held financially responsible for Artem until he is 18 if he weren't re-adopted. Obviously a one-way ticket to Moscow is cheaper.

In an interview with RIA Novisti, Krasnova says that she offered to represent the Hansens in the Russian courts if they decided to disrupt. (I found this information last night off the Russian language news.ru.com and today can't locate the links to either article. I printed out the article, "American grandmother Artem Saveliev: for the daughter adoption was a tragedy . She became an outcast."

Krasnova appears briefly in the ABC video at the bottom of this blog (taken from the above ABC link). Speaking of Nancy Hansen, she says through a translator:

When this woman encountered a massive problem nobody lent her a helping hand. I think this was an act of desperation by the family.

Kransova says "nobody lent a helping hand." The New York Times reports that there is no evidence that the Hansens ever asked for that helping hand or that anyone was aware they needed one. United Way of Bedford County, the Tennessee Department of Children Services and an unnamed Shelbyville social service agency say the Hansens did not contact them for help.

The Toronto Star (above link) reports that Hansen (which one?) reportedly consulted a psychologist but never took Artem for an evaluation or session. Moreover, there is no evidence that the Hansens contacted the International Adoption Clinic at Vanderbilt University, only an hour away in Nashville. (Torry Hansen took her undergrad degree at Vandy).

WACAP says it had no report of problems, and actually received a happy family picture from the Hansens a couple weeks before Artem was dumped. They only learned about his return when the Russian Ministry of Education called them on April 8.

Adoption Assistance, Inc. in Smyrna, Tennessee (Lisa Mosley, casework supervisor), which did the home study and post-placement checks (WACAP's endorsement here) has released a statement saying the Hansens never discussed serious problems with Artem. I cannot find a copy of the statement online, but the NYT says:

And the agency that conducted home visits before and after Justin’s adoption, Adoption Assistance, in Smyrna, Tenn., released a statement Monday saying the Hansens had not told its social worker about the severity of their concerns. In January, the statement said, a social worker found that “the child appeared to be adjusting to his new home and family and his mother was enthusiastic about his accomplishments.”

Nancy Hansen has said the boy became a problem later. Adoption Assistance said, “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.”

Which, of course, is right in line with Krasnova's unhappy legal warning.

Hansen Compound
Commenters on various forums have remarked on the oddity of Torry Hansen, as a new adoptive mother and her own mother Nancy living together. Actually they don't. It just seems like they do. As you can see from the picture (right) they live side-by-side, their modular homes connected by a high wide fence. There is no doubt, though, that Torry Hansen is henpecked and Nancy does all her talking. Torry (and probably the rest of the family) are inseparable and indistinct from Nancy.

ABC's Ashleigh Banfield, reporting across the street from the Hansen homes tosses this little grenade into the news hole and then walks away from it with no explanation or seeming curiosity. Explaining that the Hansens are avoiding the long arm of the media, Banfield stretches her own long arm out to what she calls the Hansen "compound":

They are in a very extensive compound behind me. Acres and acres of land, several buildings that the [Hansen] family members all live and work in.

Look over here real quickly. A very expansive system of fencing that goes for hundreds of yards and is 6 feet tall.

Neighbors say that's really unusual for this these parts, and the neighbors said they really don't know these people well. But we did find a friends who said they would never ever hurt Artum like this...

Say what? Fenced-in compound?

I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon and evening trying to figure out what's going on--if anything-- behind the fence at 8973 Couchville Pike, admittedly difficult to do from behind a computer in Columbus, Ohio.

ABC and earlier the New York Times reported on the Hansen family's apparent isolation, a marker in a good number of abuse cases. Neighbors said that outside of bi-weekly yard sales, the Hansens had little interaction with them. One neighbor who lives "within eyesight of the Hansen's" believed the family came from California and had moved in about a year ago. She reported that during a rare neighborly discussion, an unnamed Hansen woman said she didn't like the area and was thinking of "going back." This same woman said she didn't remember ever seeing Artem. Other neighbors said they have no idea where the family went to church, which struck me very odd since church is central to most folks in that area. The area, known locally as El Bethel (or the El Bethel Community) was founded in 1837 when Primitive Baptists built a church there. The current El Bethel Baptist Church, which includes a rec center and social hall, is a couple minutes walk from Hansen's homes. So far, no connection has been made between the church and the family. From the look of things, there is none.

It's important to note that no neighbors, quoted in the NYT, at least any that made the cut, mentioned a mysterious "compound" where various Hansen family members live and work--a point you'd think would be taken. From the ABC video and and Google Maps satellite view, the area doesn't look like a farm where people might live together. It's more like a group of ugly modular buildings. It's all very curious.

The Hansens have spent a good part of their lives in out-of-the-way places like Mount Juliet, Tennessee (their actual location, not Shelbyville.) Places like Hayfork, Calilfornia (pop 2,315) Bandera, Texas ( pop. 957), Unionville, Tennessee (pop 6,532): close enough to larger cities to get things done, but far enough out of the way to be left alone. The largest cities I've found them related to are Madison, Alabama and Redding, California.

Neither Torry, Nancy, nor any of their known close family members: Erik Robert Hansen, Tammy Jo Hansen, Tracy L. Hansen and possibly Evelyn Ruth Hansen, Paul Hansen, and Anna Hansen appear in any local or nearby newspapers.

Bedford County, Tennessee public records (clerk of courts, auditor, treasurer, probate, etc.) are not available online nor are they available for Trinity County, California or Banderas County, Texas. Madison County and Shasta County, California records, however, are online. There are no listings for any of them in Madison County. I found entries for Erik Robert Hansen and the names Tracy Hansen and Nancy Hansen (not verified as "our" Hansens) in the Shasta County, California Superior Court database, but the court's "new and improved" system won't let me in to them. Perhaps somebody else will have better luck. I don't see online access for other public records in the county.

Except for recent news coverage, the Hansens are virtually absent from the Internet.

There is enough blame to spread around, but it should start with Adoption Assistance. The Hansen's unusual living arrangement and dysfunctional family relationships should have been noted during the home study. Certainly Nancy Hansen's overarching influence on Torry and presumably the rest of the family and what seems to be her role as primary caregiver for Atem should have been a red flag either then or during post-placement investigations. I've known people subjected to all kinds of absurd home study checks--the most absurd reported when a social worker stuck a thermometer inside a refrigerator to assure acceptable food temperature. At the opposite end, there's the phone-in (if that) home study of pedophile Mathhew Mancuso who adopted Masha "Allen" to be his sex slave. Home studies are the gateway, and it looks like in this case, the lock was pretty rusty.

The idea of a fenced-in compound where the family lives and works smacks of fundamentalism or survivialism or both. Especially so when linked to the Hansen's lack of community interaction, Artem and Logan's lack of formal schooling, the family's apparent refusal to seek help from local social service agencies, and their rejection of legal advice and services. So far, we've only got Ashleigh Banfield's word about the "compound." Local media should follow up on her report. It can't be that difficult to dig around on-site. If I were down there, I'd be out on Couchville Pike.

Sidenote: Imagine my surprise when during the video below, some pictures from my memorial page showed up. (2:53). I know at least some of them are mine because they are not available online and I got them from private sources, and edited them myself. That's, OK. I just wasn't expecting it.

1 comment:

Patricia J. Moe said...

After reading your comment, with the info you have about the Hansens, I am sitting here nearly bursting. I belong to Ancestry.com., and have been intrigued by this case in relation to the disappearance of Kyron Horman from Oregon. You can contact me by email, and perhaps we can share info. I've been able to find some interesting conflicts.