THE BLOG
06/20/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Return to Sender

I'm following with frustration the story of seven-year old Artyom Savelyev, who was adopted from his Russian homeland last fall and then abruptly returned just seven months later by his adopted mother, Torry Hanson. I am not privy to the private relationship between this mother and son, but as a father and attorney, it's clear to me that if that which has appeared in the press so far is accurate she should be prosecuted.

Who deposits a child -- even an unruly and angry one as he has been characterized by Hanson -- alone on a plane to fly halfway around the world to perfect strangers? Hanson is alleged to have done exactly that, apparently without any prior explanation to local authorities. She apparently simply returned the child to sender and washed her hands of the matter.

To my way of thinking this is child abandonment and abuse, if not child endangerment. Why hasn't the local prosecutor charged her with a crime? Your guess is as good as mine. But something must be done so that this kind of thing does not happen again. Can you imagine returning in this cruel way children you have formally undertaken to care for and protect any time they become a problem? It is inhumane and I believe illegal.

Can you blame the Russians for being outraged? I am. Everyone I know is. I agree with President Dmitry Medvedev when he called this a "monstrous deed." I hope that the new prohibition of all Russian adoptions to Americans is reversed, but one can understand the Russians' fury. If the facts are as asserted in the press, this misguided citizen should be prosecuted on our shores.

I'm surprised that the federal authorities have not moved to take the matter into their own hands. There is a federal statute that would allow them to supercede the slow moving authorities in Tennessee. The Assimilative Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 13, provides that any state crime committed on, above or under the territorial waters of the US is prosecutable as a federal crime in federal court. In other words, the US can charge Ms. Hanson. And charge her we should. For Artyom's sake, the sake of our country's relationship with Russia and most importantly for the sake of our humanity.