The international tug-of-war over the adopted Tennessee boy returned to Russia has begun, with an argument over whether he is an American or Russian citizen.
The adoptive mother, Torry Ann Hansen, and her mother put the 7-year-old boy named Justin on a plane to Russia because he had become a problem. They arranged for an English-speaking guide to meet him at the airport and take him to the Education and Science Ministry in Moscow.
Russian officials say the U.S. government has no right to be involved because the boy is not an American citizen.
Not so, say officials here. They claim the boy became an American the day he reached American soil last September and that, legally, he should be returned to the United States.
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“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.”
So far, the Hansens have not said if they will give up their rights. It's also not clear if they will face any charges. They could be charged with abandonment or neglect.
“Making it a child abuse case without the child being available to testify is a very tall order,” Charles Crawford, the district attorney for Shelbyville said.
The Hansens adopted Justin from a Russian orphanage in September. Since then, they claim he threatened to set their house on fire, attacked another family member with a three-pound statue, and was caught trying to set a fire in his bedroom.