'Internet Twins' return to U.S. birthplace

Thursday, April 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ The Internet twins, infant girls at the center of a trans-Atlantic custody battle, are back home in the United States, officials said Thursday.

Flintshire County Council, which had custody of the 9-month-old girls, said the infants returned to St. Louis _ their birthplace _ on Wednesday, accompanied by three social workers from Britain.

``The social workers last night safely placed the twins with foster parents, on a confidential basis, pending a decision on their future by the Missouri court,'' said Philip McGreevy, chief executive of Flintshire County Council.

``On behalf of Flintshire County Council, the foster carers in Flintshire and indeed the people of Flintshire I would like to now wish these two little girls our very best wishes for the future,'' McGreevy said.

Judith and Alan Kilshaw, a British couple who located the twins on the Internet and adopted them in Arkansas, gave up their custody fight in Britain last week.

On April 9, a High Court judge ordered the 9-month-old girls returned to St. Louis, where their estranged biological parents are each seeking to regain custody.

The Kilshaws, who brought the babies to Britain three months ago, say they paid double the fee paid by a California couple who also wanted to adopt the twins.

After the adoption became publicized, a court ordered the twins placed in foster care pending a decision on custody. Subsequently, the Kilshaws' adoption was voided by a court in Arkansas.

The adoption was voided March 6 in Arkansas by the Pulaski County Probate Court, which ruled that the Kilshaws and Tranda Wecker, the biological mother, had not met the 30-day residency requirement to qualify as state residents at the time of the adoption. The Kilshaws appealed that decision.

After the Kilshaws brought the girls to Britain, a tabloid newspaper, the Sun, broke the story of their custody battle with Richard and Vickie Allen of Highland, Calif.

The Allens initially contested the Kilshaws' claim to the twins. The Allens said they had paid $6,000 to A Caring Heart, an Internet adoption service run by Tina Johnson of El Cajon, Calif. The Kilshaws subsequently paid about $12,000.

The Allens bowed out after Richard Allen was accused of molesting two baby sitters. Allen has pleaded innocent, but the couple has also lost custody of a 2-year-old boy they were seeking to adopt.