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Tennessee mom ordered to pay child support to adoption agency

There have been new developments in the Tennessee family law story that made international headlines two years ago. We're talking, of course, about the Shelbyville mother and the adopted, 7-year-old Russian boy she airmailed back to his homeland -- alone, with only a note referring to the boy's psychological problems and her desire not to be his mother anymore.

Overnight, the boy became a global symbol for the failings of international adoption policies. The case itself, meanwhile, sparked a firestorm of public controversy, investigations in both countries and a temporarily halt to adoptions of Russian children by U.S. citizens. Last month, an unusual twist befitting this unusual case was added to the mix when a Tennessee judge ordered the boy's ex-adoptive mother to pay child support to the agency that facilitated the adoption.

The adoption agency's lawsuit isn't the only one that has been filed in connection with this case. Russia has filed a lawsuit too and is seeking to collect about $2,300 each month from the woman. Pavel Astakhov, the country's ombudsman for children says the money is needed to cover the costs of the foster care, counseling and therapy the boy has needed since his return.

For her part, the woman (who has since moved to California) is pursuing her own lawsuit against Ombudsman Astakhov and a Russian newspaper for libel. Her exact whereabouts remain unknown and she could not be reached for comment on the recent child support ruling. Reports indicate, however, that she has fired three attorneys already and is currently unrepresented by legal counsel.

Wrapping this post up on a high note, the now 9-year-old boy appears to be recovering from his American experience, even though it remains a difficult subject for him to talk about. It also looks like a new U.S.-Russian agreement on adoptions may be ratified in a matter of weeks.

Source: The Tennessean, "Tennessee is still 'taboo' for boy returned to Russia," Mansur Mirovalev, April 14, 2012

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