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Teen father wins daughter in ruling


Judge says Fla. couple who tried to adopt infant must give her up


Houston Chronicle

GALVESTON -- A Florida couple who tried to adopt a Galveston County infant without the teen-age father's consent must give the baby to him, a judge ordered Wednesday.

"I'm happy, very happy," said the 17-year-old father, William Jardina. "It feels good inside."

Whether Stacy Goss, the mother of 2-month-old Kara Jardina, will be able -- or willing -- to visit or help raise the child was not revealed after the case was settled in a closed-door custody hearing.

Goss had agreed to the private adoption -- giving Kara to Donald P. and Christine Carr of Tampa even though Jardina refused to sign documents waiving his parental rights. Jardina said the planned adoption, shortly after the July 24 birth, caught him by surprise because he had expected to marry Goss and raise Kara.

Jardina, his parents, Chuck and Zana Jardina, and more than a dozen relatives applauded the decision.

Goss and her parents, Mike and Kay Goss of Dickinson, refused comment as they left the Galveston County Courthouse after the brief hearing before former Liberty County Court-at-Law Judge L.J. "Boots" Krueger.

"The attorneys reached an agreement," her attorney, Finis Royal, told The Associated Press after the hearing. "We agreed it would be in the best interests of the child for the child to be returned to the father."

Jardina, his parents and his Galveston attorney, Pat Reilly, said they were under a gag order by Krueger prohibiting them from revealing when or how the infant will be delivered from the Florida couple's home to Texas. Reilly would say only that he expected the Carrs to return the child "within the next several days."

Reilly said the parties could not discuss whether Goss, a 19-year-old Texas A&M University-Galveston student, will have parental or custodial rights.

Goss was a senior at Dickinson High School and Jardina a sophomore when they started dating.

Jardina, who works for his father's sand and gravel company and is finishing his high school education by correspondence, said he and Kara will move in with his parents at their Bacliff home for a few weeks, but he plans to raise the baby in the small home nearby that he's buying and has been living in since earlier this year.

"I have to get used to getting up with her and everything," he said.

He's eager to get his child back.

"I'm going to hold her and kiss her," said Jardina, who last saw the child for about five hours a couple of days after her birth. "She's mine, and I love her."

Jardina has received many phone calls and letters offering advice and opinions since he went to court seeking custody. He said those who think he's too young to raise Kara are wrong.

"I can't blame them for thinking that, but apparently they don't know me," he said.

His parents maintain that he is unusually mature for his age and will make a good father.

"He's not too young," said his mother. "His dad and I were only 19 when he was born and we've done fine; so he's had an example to go by."

The Jardinas have two daughters, ages 15 and 3, and another son, who is 11. Mrs. Jardina said she was thrilled by Krueger's ruling.

"It's a dream come true," she said. "Our prayers have been answered."

She said her son will have plenty of help raising the child.

"I'll be very deeply involved because William will have to work and I'll keep her while he's working," she said.

"This is our grandbaby and William's baby. She has a family that wants her."

The Carrs could not be reached for comment. Di Ann Sneed, the Houston attorney who helped arrange the attempted adoption for the Carrs, refused comment after the hearing.

1993 Sep 16