Baby Tamia judge rules law was broken

Relates to:
Date: 2005-03-18

Adoption dispute: Child living in Utah may be a step closer to return to her birth mother in Illinois

Shia Kapos
The Salt Lake Tribune

An Illinois mother may be one step closer to getting back the baby she turned over for adoption to a Utah agency last year.

Cook County Circuit Judge Michael Murphy ruled Thursday that the federal law that dictates how interstate adoptions should occur was violated when Carmen McDonald gave Baby Tamia to Cherished Child Adoption Agency, based in Midvale, Utah. Therefore, he said, he will decide next week on a remedy for the violation of the Interstate Compact Act for the Placement of Children.

He ordered Tamia's mother and her grandmother, along with the Illinois Attorney General's Office, which intervened in the case on behalf of the Department of Children and Family Services [DCFS], to return to court with options for "remedying the situation." The case was continued to Wednesday.

"One thing to do is set back the clock and proceed as of the date of birth," Murphy said, adding that Illinois DCFS could then determine what is best for the child.

Throughout the hearing and in his ruling, Murphy referred to U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's book, It Takes a Village, saying it is important to keep "family units" together.

"If we set everything aside, shouldn't DCFS determine if the child should stay with the mother? How can I determine the best interest between two people when the Does aren't here?" he asked, referring to John and Jane Doe, the Utah couple hoping to adopt Baby Tamia. She has lived with them since December.

Lawyers for Cherished Child would not comment on Murphy's ruling. But Maria McDonald, Carmen's mother, said she was hopeful that the decision would set the ball in motion for her to see her granddaughter again.

"We're one step closer . . . but it's going to be difficult," Maria McDonald said.

Carmen McDonald, who says she suffered mental disorders and post-partum depression when she surrendered then three-month-old Tamia to Cherished Child in December, is the youngest of Maria McDonald's four children. The elder McDonald also has an estranged son who lives in Utah.

The McDonalds' attorneys claim, and Utah and Illinois officials have confirmed, that Cherished Child failed to follow procedures for reporting the transfer of Baby Tamia from Illinois to Utah and failed to give Carmen McDonald paperwork verifying the transfer.

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