Nancy Hansen, the boy's grandmother, told The Associated Press that she and the boy flew to Washington and she put the child on the plane with the note from her daughter.
She told the AP that the child began hitting, kicking and spitting and making threats in January.
"He drew a picture of our house burning down and he'll tell anybody that he's going to burn our house down with us in it," Hansen said. "It got to be where you feared for your safety. It was terrible."
Nancy Hansen said she and her daughter, a single mother, went to Russia together to adopt the boy, and she believes information about his behavioral problems was withheld from her daughter.
"The Russian orphanage officials completed lied to her because they wanted to get rid of him," Nancy Hansen said.
Artyem, who turns 8 next week, "was accompanied from his home in Tennessee to Washington by his American grandmother, who put him on a direct flight to Washington to Moscow," U.S. embassy officials told ABC News.
His grandmother reportedly told him he would be happier in Russia before handing him over as an unaccompanied minor for his flight to Moscow.
A friend and neighbor of Torry Hansen, who identified himself only as "Mr. Austin" said the Hansens were a nice family and the boy had been causing problems, including setting fires and trying to burn the house down.
A spokeswoman for United Airlines told ABCNews.com via e-mail that while she could not confirm Artyem's presence on the flight to Moscow, "all procedures for flying any unaccompanied minor who may have been on this flight were followed."
Those procedures include not allowing an unaccompanied minor to travel on a one-way ticket and making sure the child boards the plane with signed paperwork and a name, sometimes even a photo, of who will care for the child at the destination.
The family had paid a driver $200 to meet the boy at the airport and take him to the Ministry of Education. Once there, officials found his U.S. passport, adoption documentation and Hansen's letter in his backpack.
"After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child," it read. "As he is a Russian National, I am returning him to your guardianship and would like the adoption disannulled."
U.S. embassy officials were immediately contacted and they met Artyem at the children's hospital where he was being examined. The boy is physically fine according to Russian media reports, but Kremlin's Children Rights Commissioner Pavel Astakhov told reporters outside the hospital that he is traumatized by the ordeal.
Artyem cried when he was asked about his family in America, saying his mother used to pull his hair and his grandmother always shouted at him, Astakhov said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said today, according to The Associated Press, that "we have taken the decision ... to suggest a freeze on any adoptions to American families until Russia and the USA sign an international agreement."
While he understand's the knee-jerk reaction in Russia to protect their children, Pertman said banning all adoptions isn't the way to go.
"There are lessons to be learned from this," he said. "Ensuring that all the other kids that need loving homes don't get them is not the way to solve the problem."