A teenager adopted by an American couple has returned to Russia, claiming that his adoptive family treated him badly and that he lived on the streets of Philadelphia and stole just to survive, Russian state media reported.
The allegations by Alexander Abnosov, who was adopted around five years ago and is now 18, will likely fuel outrage here over the fate of Russian children adopted by Americans.
It’s an anger that the Kremlin has stoked in recent months to justify its controversial ban on U.S. adoptions.
Russia’s Channel 1 and Rossiya television — which are both state controlled — reported Tuesday that Abnosov returned from a Philadelphia suburb to the Volga river city of Cheboksary, where his 72-year-old grandmother lives.
Russian media identified the teen as Alexander Abnosov, but also show him displaying a U.S. passport that gives his name as Joshua Alexander Salotti.
Abnosov, who spoke in a soft voice and appeared somewhat restrained, complained to Rossiya that his adoptive mother was “nagging at small things.”
“She would make any small problem big,” he said on Channel 1. He also told Channel 1 that he fled home because of the conflicts with his adoptive mother, staying on the streets for about three months and stealing.
“I was stealing stuff and sold them to get some food,” he said.
According to the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, Abnosov says that his parents visited him while he stayed in a shelter in Philadelphia, but that they didn’t ask him to come home as he’d expected.
Channel 1 said his adoptive father gave him $500 to buy a ticket to Russia, though it wasn’t clear when he arrived here.
The newspaper said it reached Abnosov’s adoptive mother, who denied driving him away. She was quoted as saying he was asked to come home, but said he wanted to return to Russia where he has relatives to care for.
The teen’s adoptive parents — identified in the media reports as Steve and Jackie Salotti — could not immediately be reached Tuesday.
A woman who identified herself as a relative at the couple’s home in Collegeville, Pa., said the parents weren’t there and did not want to discuss the case.
The teen attended the Methacton School District in Pennsylvania from April 2004 through the fall of 2012, when he withdrew from Methacton High School, spokes- woman Angela Linch said Tuesday.
Abnosov indicated he plans to stay in Russia, and state media reported that he is going through the legal process needed to establish at what level he would fit in the Russian education system.