Utah couple in Tamia case face drug charges

Relates to:
Date: 2005-03-22

Baby in protective custody after arrest of adoptive parents

STEVE PATTERSON
The Chicago Sun-Times

The 6-month-old baby caught in an interstate adoption battle has been taken into protective custody after the Utah couple trying to adopt her were busted on drug charges last week.

The Thursday arrest of the couple on cocaine possession and other drug charges is the latest twist in a legal fight by Baby Tamia's family to bring her back home, where her grandmother and mother hope to raise her.

Carmen McDonald, 20, signed her baby over to A Cherished Child Adoption Agency in Utah last December. But she argues that she was not stable at the time and did not go through the standard interview process.

A family attorney said the adoptive couple's arrest has given McDonald new hope that her baby will be home soon.

"We feel more secure," said attorney Robert Fioretti, representing the family with Lonny Ben Ogus.

Salt Lake City police had no information on the couple's arrest, nor did county or federal prosecutors. But state documents show the couple were arrested Thursday on felony drug charges, including cocaine possession. Illinois officials -- arguing for the return of Baby Tamia -- were told Monday the couple remain in a Utah jail.

Utah's assistant attorney general, Carolyn Nichols, said the couple's arrest prompted them to begin legal proceedings to remove Tamia from the couple's home.

While Baby Tamia is no longer with her prospective adoptive parents, Nichols said the adoption agency that placed her remains involved in the legal proceedings.

Today, Utah officials plan to ask a judge there to grant control of the custody case to a Cook County judge, who last week agreed there were legal problems with the way the adoption was carried out.

Hearing Wednesday

Cook County Judge Michael Murphy ruled that the agency violated interstate adoption laws when taking Baby Tamia from her mother, but he hasn't decided yet on the issue of custody.

Murphy said he will base that decision on what's in the "best interest" of the baby. He has scheduled a hearing on the case for Wednesday.

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