Are parents those who give birth to a child or those who care for a child? Does nature or
nurture make a woman a mother? As more and more heartbreaking tugs-of-war between
biological and adoptive parents surface, anyone searching for a baby has good reason for concern
(Casey 119).
Baby Jessica was raised from infancy by adoptive parents, Jan and Roberta DeBoer. For
two and a half years Jessica was at the heart of one of the most bitter custody battles in America,
caught between the parents in Michigan who reared her and the parents in Iowa who gave birth to
her and wanted her back (Ingrassia and Springen 60). Cara and Dan Schmidt took screaming
baby Jessica from her home in 1993 when they won their court battle to get her back (Casey 119).
Baby Jessica is just one of the many victims of child custody battles in America.
Jane and John Doe adopted a baby boy, Richard in March of 1991. Richard’s biological
mother, Daniela Kirchner, gave up her son while her boyfriend, Otakar, was out of the country
visiting his family. He had left Daniela just two weeks before Richard’s birth. Daniela had heard
rumors that Otakar had been cheating on her with another woman, in Czechoslovakia, so she
decided to lie to him about their baby, Richard. She told Otakar that Richard had died just four
days after his birth. In May of 1991 Otakar returned to Chicago and the couple reconciled.
Daniela told him about the adoption of their son and how she lied to him about his death. Eighty
days after Richard’s birth, Otakar challenged the adoption. He claimed that he had no knowledge
of his son until his return to the US and now he wanted his son back desperately (Ingrassia and
McCormick 44).
The Does met in seventh grade in a suburban Chicago school but didn’t start dating until
they were in their early twenties. Married in 1979, Jane, a paralegal, and John and a son. They say
that they had not sought to adopt another child but were “bowled over” by that first call about
Richard. Never did they expect that legal briefs and litigation would dominate their lives for the
next three years (Alexander 40).
After three and a half years of court battle, baby Richard was torn away from his adoptive
parents where he had lived since he was four days old and returned to his biological father, who
had never seen him before (Terry A1).
Wendy and Tom Yack adopted a week old baby girl, Rachael Marie, in 1980. After five
years of trying to conceive and five years of failure, Wendy and Tom broached the subject of
adoption and began to like the idea. When Rachael was only two months old Wendy and Tom
learned of Mary Beth Hazler and Robert Grimes, Rachael’s biological parents.
Mary Beth was seventeen years old and had broken up with her boyfriend, Grimes, when
she was three months pregnant. Grimes had more than twenty arrests as a juvenile and had once
faced charges of assaulting a police officer. After the Yacks had cared for Rachael for over two
months they were informed that Mary Beth and Grimes had reconciled and decided they wanted
their child back.
Less than four months later, Wendy and Tom were served with papers ordering them to
return Rachael to her biological parents. They were filed just twenty days before the end of a six
month waiting period required by Pennsylvania law before an adoption becomes final (Yack 98).
In June of 1981, Rachael was placed in foster care before the court reached it’s decision.
At that time the judge had concluded that the Yacks had no rights to Rachael, but he was still
deliberating whether Mary Beth and Grimes were fit parents. Four weeks later, the judge ordered
Rachel to return to the Yacks pending a final decision.
The Yacks were overjoyed but the child who came back to their home wasn’t the same
little girl. She stared at the walls. It was as if she knew. On July 10, 1981, sixteen month old
Rachael was taken from her home by Mary Beth and Grimes forever.
Wendy stated, “I feel to this day that we were used. We were caretakers, a baby parking
lot, while the birth mother got her life in order. Tom and I were falling in love with a baby we
thought was our daughter, and Mary Beth was finishing high school and deciding whether she
wanted to take