exposing the dark side of adoption
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Paternity not certain, lawyer says



St. Petersburg Times

The Texas teen trying to derail a Tampa couple's adoption of an infant girl might not even be the child's father, the couple's attorney said Monday.

"At this point, what I know is, somebody in Texas has filed a paternity action saying, "I don't even know if I'm the father. Let's get a blood test,' " said Anthony Marchese.

Marchese represents Christine and Donald Carr, the Tampa couple who have cared for baby Kara since shortly after her birth July 24.

William Jardina, 17, of San Leon, Texas, near Galveston, says that he is Kara's biological father, that he never consented to the adoption and that he will fight to raise the baby himself.

Jardina and his family have told his story at length to reporters in Texas and Florida. They claim Kara's mother misled them and whisked the baby away without notice.

For the first time Monday, an attorney for Kara's biological mother, Stacey Goss, spoke about the case.

"She's favorably impressed with the Carrs," said Finis Royal, a Houston attorney. Goss supports the adoption, he said.

"There are lots of things we could get into that would be like (Jardina) did and posture in the newspaper," Royal said. "But we don't think that's what's best for the child."

If Jardina proves to be Kara's biological father, he would have standing to fight the adoption.

"At this point, there's no legal relationship between Jardina . . . and the baby," Royal said. "If the blood test says he is the biological father, there are rights."

But even those rights can be terminated. If attorneys for the Carrs can show that Jardina failed to support Goss and Kara before and after the birth, a court could decide that he has, in effect, given up his rights as a father.

The determining factors differ somewhat in Texas and Florida. Which state's law will apply? "That's the $64 question," Marchese said. Both he and Royal think the case should proceed as a Florida adoption.

A Texas judge is scheduled to hear initial arguments on that issue at a hearing Wednesday in Galveston.

Jardina's attorney, Patrick Reilly, did not return numerous phone calls.

The laws in both states address factors such as whether Jardina helped care for Goss during the pregnancy, paid for any medical care, paid for the child's support, was present for the birth and acknowledged paternity.

"As public policy, we can't let an individual wait to see the child born healthy before asserting parentage," Marchese said.

In general, he said, "A guy who doesn't marry the mother, acknowledge his child formally or sign on the dotted line, has to take some other affirmative steps. And a blood test lawsuit doesn't cut it."

Jardina has said he learned of the adoption July 9, when he received legal papers to give up his rights. After telling Goss he would never give up his baby, Jardina said, he thought she had given up the idea. They finally told his parents Goss was pregnant 12 days before the birth.

Jardina has said he arrived at the hospital an hour after Kara was born. Two nights later, Goss returned to the Jardina home and posed for photos with the baby, before returning to her mother's home. That was the last the Jardinas have seen of Goss or Kara.

- Information from the Associated Press and the Houston Post was used in this report.

1993 Aug 31