Adoption of Switched Baby Sought

In the face of hard scientific proof, two families are now dealing with the fact that Rebecca Chittum is not their blood relative.

The maternal grandparents of the 3-year-old girl, who was switched at birth with another baby and then orphaned last month, want to adopt the girl.

Genetic tests show that Rebecca is the biological daughter of Paula Johnson, who discovered last month the child she has been raising, Callie Johnson, was switched with Rebecca in the University of Virginia Medical Center.

Callie's biological parents are believed to be Whitney Rogers, 19, and Kevin Chittum, 25, who died July 4 in a car crash. DNA test results are expected this week.

Rebecca has been living with her grandparents since her parents were killed. Until Tuesday, Rogers' family had held out hope that tests would show Rebecca was biologically related to them, but they said they weren't surprised by the results.

Now Rebecca's maternal grandparents want to adopt her, their lawyer said Tuesday.

Correspondent Steve Smallshaw of CBS affiliate WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Va., reports that the grandparents' lawyer says they had prepared themselves for whatever the test results would be.

"The goal is to place in stone the legal status of these children, and we need Rebecca's biological father or mother's consent for that," said the lawyer, W.T. Robey.

Michael S. Irvine, the attorney representing the Chittum family, said adopting Rebecca would be a logical step. But he said it was premature to discuss adoption until all the DNA tests are complete.

"My understanding is that everybody is still planning to work together," Irvine said.

Plans called for an exchange agreement that would legally keep both girls where they are.

Consents would be signed from each side to permit adoption so that everything would be settled and definite, rather than in limbo, where things now stand.

Johnson recently met with her biological daughter, and both families said they plan to allow liberal visitation on both sides. The two girls met and played with each other over the weekend.

Johnson could not be reached Tuesday night to comment on the adoption proposal.
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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