Baby Tamia : Judge orders a halt
Utah authorities have finl say on delaying adoption
Daily Southtown (Chicago, IL)
A Cook County judge tried Wednesday to halt a Utah adoption in its tracks as Harvey mother Carmen McDonald continued her fight to reclaim her baby from an adoption agency her lawyers say coerced her into giving up her infant.
Cook County Presiding Judge Michael Murphy ordered the Utah adoption of McDonald's daughter Tamia revoked pending the outcome of the case. The child will remain with the unnamed adoptive parents in Utah, but Murphy wants the six-month legal process of adoption to stop.
"We'll see if the judge in Utah takes my suggestions," Murphy said.
The legal custody of the baby would remain with the adoption agency, A Cherished Child, during the proceedings, but the Utah court may choose not to follow Murphy's order.
Murphy also indicated Wednesday he already believed that state law was broken when Cherished Child flew McDonald, 20, from Chicago to Utah on Dec. 2, had her sign away her parental rights and flew her back within 24 hours.
"From the pleadings, I can't see that there isn't a violation, so you're not going to need a lot of time to prepare (for argument)," Murphy told lawyers for Cherished Child. "I don't think there's an issue."
The adoption agency's lawyer Denise Erlich said, "We believe the case is going to go further to (what is in) the best interests of the child, and we are preparing for that."
In Utah, McDonald was running a 102-degree fever, crying uncontrollably and suffering from severe post-partum depression, her attorneys say. When she told the agency she changed her mind about the adoption, the agency's director allegedly threatened to leave her stranded in Utah.
Attorneys for Cherished Child dispute that McDonald was mentally ill and say she wanted to sign the forms.
McDonald's lawyers say the adoption violated the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, a law governing inter-state adoptions on the books in both Utah and Illinois. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also is arguing for return of the baby to McDonald.
Officials in both states have ruled the adoption did not follow the compact, McDonald's attorneys say. Utah authorities said they were never notified of the adoption, and McDonald never was given a form explaining her rights under adoption law, according to attorneys.
It's not clear what Murphy's next step would be if he finds there is a violation of the compact when attorneys return to argue March 17. Attorneys for McDonald say Tamia must come home.
"(Judges in) other (similar) cases say that if you reward the wrongdoer, why even have an interstate compact," said attorney Lonny Ogus. "Everyone would start snatching babies."
Jonathan Lipman may be reached at email@example.com or (708) 633-5979.