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Baby, father to be reunited


Tampa couple who attempted adoption to return her


The Tampa Tribune

TAMPA - A family near Galveston, Texas, celebrated, and a couple in Tampa grieved after they reached an agreement Wednesday that an 8-week-old baby will be returned to her teen-age father.

Donald and Christine Carr of Tampa, who had sought to adopt baby Kara, decided to forego a legal battle and return her to 17-year-old William Jardina of San Leon, Texas.

The Carrs made their decision out of fear that litigation could stretch out for months or years, harming the baby and others involved, said their attorney, Anthony Marchese of Tampa.

"It was based on the [Carrs'] decision not to prolong the agony," he said.

The Carrs declined requests for interviews. Instead, they issued a brief statement saying they had acted "in the best interest of Kara." The baby has lived with the Carrs since she was 3 days old, and apparently was still with them in Tampa Wednesday.

"We thank Kara, who enriched our lives beyond measure and who brings joy to all she touches," they said. "You will always be in our hearts and in our prayers."

It wasn't disclosed when she will be returned to Texas.

Jardina's former fiancee, Stacy Goss, put the child up for adoption before the baby was born. Jardina was not consulted about the decision.

Marchese said the Carrs were influenced by the Baby Jessica case - a highly publicized Michigan adoption case in which a 2�-year-old child was returned to her birth parents after living all her life with a couple attempting to adopt her.

Marchese said the Carrs will not try to see Kara.

"This is a grieving process they must go through," he said. "They have lost a child. They have to go through this before they can pick up and move on with their lives."

Donald Carr is a Marine major at MacDill Air Force Base. His wife left her job with a Tampa brokerage firm to rear Kara.

At the home of Jardina's parents, Chuck and Zana Jardina, who operate a gravel business in San Leon, family and friends gathered to celebrate.

Chuck and Zana Jardina said they intend to help their eldest son rear Kara, and the new father and daughter will live with them for at least the next few months.

"We're thrilled it's over and that William's getting the baby," Zana Jardina said. "William's excited to death. I'm getting the baby bed back out. The last time I put it away, I thought it would stay there for a long, long time, but it's coming out again."

The Jardinas' three other children range in age from 3 to 15.

"I love her; I mean that's my baby," William Jardina said after the settlement was announced Wednesday. "It feels good inside."

Asked their feelings about the Carrs, Zana Jardina replied, "Deep inside, I probably do feel sympathy for them. But this is our baby - I wish we'd had the last 7� weeks with her."

The Jardinas contend that Goss placed the baby with the Carrs for adoption against William's wishes and without their knowledge.

Attorneys for the Jardinas, the Carrs and Goss had planned a hearing Wednesday in Galveston before Judge L.J. "Boots" Krueger. It was expected to be only the start of a legal battle.

Instead, the attorneys conferred for 45 minutes in Krueger's office, then emerged to announce the agreement, which Krueger approved.

The Carrs didn't attend the hearing.

The attorneys involved announced they had agreed to keep most details of the agreement secret for 30 days, including Kara's whereabouts and when she will be returned.

They wanted to avoid scenes like those in the Baby Jessica case, in which news cameras followed the child during the transfer, Zana Jardina said.

She said Wednesday afternoon that she assumed Kara was still in Florida, but didn't know for sure. She said the Jardinas were awaiting instructions from their attorneys as to when and where they would pick up the baby.

"I think it will be within a week, but I'm just guessing," she said.

Details of the negotiations also were kept secret. But Zana Jardina and Marchese said no financial compensation of any kind was involved, and William was not asked to take a blood test to prove paternity.

Zana Jardina said there has been no discussion of whether Goss will have any contact with Kara or be involved in rearing her baby.

Goss, 19, and William Jardina were high school sweethearts at Dickinson High School, near the Galveston Bay coast in Texas. They got engaged while she was attending Texas A&M University in College Station, he said.

The two kept her pregnancy secret, but Jardina said he didn't know she was considering an adoption until he was served with papers 12 days before the baby's birth asking him to relinquish parental rights.

He refused. Shortly after the baby's birth July 24, he said, Goss gave her to the Carrs without his knowledge.

Officials of the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services have said they are investigating whether the adoption violates laws against unlicensed child placing.

Nancy Gibbons of the department said Wednesday that investigation will continue despite the agreement to return Kara. In Texas, she said, a lawyer who isn't licensed to handle adoptions is not allowed to bring a mother and prospective adoptive parents together.

Attorney Di Ann Sneed of Houston, who represented the Carrs in Texas, denied that there was anything improper in the placement.

She said Stacy Goss placed the child with the Carrs, and the Carrs "did not give anything to Stacy in return for the adoption."

Thomas Oldham, a family law professor at the University of Houston, said Wednesday the Carrs had little chance of winning a legal fight.

"It was clear from the start that there was a huge barrier to the adoption," he said, because William Jardina had refused requests from the Carrs to relinquish his rights as Kara's father.

1993 Sep 16