Ruling returns adopted baby to birth mother

Relates to:
Date: 2005-03-26

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

CHICAGO (AP) - A 6-month-old girl at the center of an interstate custody battle has been reunited with her biological mother after a judge ruled the adoption agency in Utah mishandled the paperwork.

Carmen McDonald, 20, picked up Baby Tamia on Thursday night at O'Hare International Airport. "It's the best moment in my life," McDonald said.

McDonald had given up Tamia by signing away her parental rights in a Salt Lake City motel in December. However, she sued the adoption agency, A Cherished Child, in January to get Tamia back, claiming the agency pressured her into signing.

Cook County Judge Michael Murphy ordered Wednesday that Tamia should be turned over to Illinois officials. He had ruled last week that the adoption agency violated the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, which requires adoption paperwork to be completed in the state where a child is born, not where an adoption takes place.

The baby had been living with Steven Kusaba, 50, and his wife, Lenna Carol Habbeshaw, 45, the Utah couple who planned to adopt her, since December. Utah authorities seized the baby and put her in an emergency shelter after the couple were arrested March 17 on charges of possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia and child endangerment.

Police said investigators found the drugs in the home as part of a long-term investigation. The couple did not return a call earlier this week.

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