One of the big fears in domestic adoption, for potential adoptive parents, is that their child is going to be taken away years later and returned to the birthparents. This fear is fueled, mostly, by stories that have made it into the press, with images of sobbing children being forcefully removed from the people with whom they have lived for years.
Every PAP out there can imagine the heartache, the tears, the misery such a ruling would cause them. The reportage generally makes one think that this happens out of the blue, that the adoptive parents are kind, loving folk who were blindsided by the biological parents and the courts.
Of course, years' worth of court filings don't make such wonderfully gut-wrenching TV, and that sort of thing just gets glossed over.
On January 23, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Anne Mae He should be returned to her biological parents, Shaoquiang (Jack) and Qin Luo (Casey) He.
The case is difficult for Americans to comprehend. When Anna Mae was newly born, Jack and Casey, facing money and legal problems, sought foster care for her.
Here in the States, that's a big red flag. What?! Don't those parents love their children?! Who would just dump their child like that, especially a newborn?! It's just Not Done.
However, in China, it's quite typical for Chinese parents to foster their young children out for a year or two, typically to a family member. Young adults, searching for good jobs, move to the city, work long, hard hours. When they have a child (or children), they send them back to the grandparents, so they can concentrate on their jobs without having to worry how the long hours impact their children.
So we have two different cultures, two different viewpoints. The facts are, the Hes sought someone to foster their daughter until they pulled out of what they expected to be a temporary situation, and thought they had found someone in the Bakers. The Bakers, seeing it from the eyes of Americans, thought that the Bakers were wanting to relinquish the child for adoption.
Things got worse from there. There were accusations that the Hes were unfit parents (but, "unfit" as they were, DHS never tried to take custody of the next two children the Hes had). There were accusations that Casey He was overemotional and hysterical (what would you do if people to whom you had entrusted your child--temporarily as you thought--called the cops on you and insisted you no longer visit?). There were sexual harassment charges against Jack He, which he was acquitted of. And on and on. At each step, both sets of parents fought long and hard for what they believed in.
There are official chronologies of the case all over the internet. The Bakers and the Hes have been in court over this situation for years now. It's not a case of biological parents deciding, years later, that they had made a mistake--it's a case of a long-term court battle. Just as it was in the case of "Baby Richard", and other well-known cases.
The Tennessee courts are requiring social worker counseling for both families in an attempt to ease the transition. It will be a difficult transition--Anna has been raised all-American. For the last few years, she has only seen the Hes as adversaries. The Bakers have promised to continue the battle.
I have no doubt the Bakers really, truly believed that the Hes were relinquishing Anna for adoption. I also have no doubt that the Hes really, truly believed it was a temporary situation. I hope that both sets of parents can let go of any bitterness and work together to make this as smooth as possible for Anna.
And I also hope that, whenever potential adoptive parents bring this case up as one of those horrible cases where an adoptive child is ripped from his or her adoptive parents arms, someone who knows the facts and chronology can speak up and reassure them.
This situation is one reason why we decided we couldn't adopt domestically--because we simply couldn't figure out when we would stop feeling the biological parents had a right to rescind their relinquishment, and when we would feel fully, ethically able to fight like wildcats for our child. I can't imagine having OmegaDotter taken from us. But at the same time, I can't imagine spending years and years dragging it through the courts when it was obvious the biological parents, from the beginning, didn't think it was a "real" adoption.
Wikipedia information is always to be regarded with a somewhat jaundiced eye--people can edit anything they want. But since I have been following the case for many years, I can say that the Wikipedia article about the Anna Mae He case lays things out pretty clearly the way they happened since I've been keeping track.
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