In previous posts, we discussed how Russia — the preferred destination of many prospective parents — temporarily closed adoptions to U.S. families. Here, the temporary ban came after a Tennessee woman, Torry H., put her child alone on a plane back to Russia with nothing more than a note pinned inside his pocket.
“This child is mentally unstable,” read the note to officials at the Russian Ministry of Education. “He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues/behaviors. I was lied to and misled by the Russian orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and other issues.”
The child is safe and now living in a Russian orphanage. However, the incident sparked international outrage and legal action here in the U.S. as the World Association for Children and Parents — the international adoption agency that placed the child with Torry H. — initiated legal action to recover child support. In fact, the adoption agency was awarded more than $150,000 in child support and damages back in May via a default judgment entered against Torry H.
In recent developments, Torry H. has officially filed two motions with the circuit court in Bedford County, Tennessee. Specifically, one of these motions is asking to set aside/vacate the default judgment while the other is asking to amend/alter the default judgment.
The default judgment against Torry H. was entered after she missed a scheduled deposition and court hearing in February, and failed to respond to the amended suit filed against her in November 2011.
In her motions, Torry H. expresses regret for missing the scheduled court dates and failures to respond to court documents, but indicates that her actions were largely driven by fear, ineffective legal counsel and a general misunderstanding of the legal proceedings.
Perhaps even more interesting, the motion to set aside the default judgment claims that if her request is indeed granted and she is allowed to be heard, her attorney will present “additional facts and circumstances … that will materially alter the Court’s assessment of the facts of the case.”
Specifically, the motion claims Torry H. can prove 1) that the child support awarded on behalf of the Russian boy “will in fact be lost in a bureaucratic system and never be used for the purpose intended by the Court” and 2) an examination of her current financial state “could result in a greatly modified order for child support.”
A hearing on the motions is scheduled for this Friday. It should be very interesting to see what transpires …
Stay tuned for updates from our Ft. Worth family law blog …
To learn more about child custody, visitation, grandparents’ rights or adoption rights, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.
This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Names have been withheld to protect the identity of the parties.
The Shelbyville Times-Gazette, “Hansen hires new attorney,” Brian Mosely, June 19, 2012
ABC News, “Russia considers suspending adoptions to U.S.” Feb. 12, 2011