Two Russian girls have been returned to the custody of adoptive American parents accused of abusing the children on the airplane ride home from Moscow.
The girls, now 5, were returned Monday to live with Karen and Richard Thorne of Phoenix, said Maggie Lear, a spokeswoman for the Administration for Children's Services.Under a previous court order, the girls had been living in the Phoenix home of Karen Thorne's brother, and their adoptive parents were granted supervised visits.
As a condition of regaining custody, Queens Family Court Judge Joseph Lauria ruled that the couple would be subject to unannounced visits by Arizona child welfare officials.
"We're looking forward to what we have to share with them," Karen Thorne said after the hearing.
Richard Thorne, 49, and his 43-year-old wife adopted the children from a Russian orphanage in May 1997. Days later, on a flight from Moscow to New York, they were accused by fellow passengers and flight attendants of slapping and verbally abusing the crying children.
They were arrested upon arrival at Kennedy International Airport. The children were taken into protective custody.
The case has prompted Russia - the prime source of adopted children for Americans - to consider restricting out-of-country adoptions.
In October, the Thornes were found guilty of child neglect in Lauria's court. He ordered the Thornes to undergo psychological evaluation by Arizona child welfare officials as one of the conditions for custody.