Another Adoption Tug Of Love

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Another custody battle involving a child in line for adoption took a heart-tugging turn in Atlantic Beach in northern Florida Saturday. Three-and-a-half-year-old Evan Scott was taken from the only home and parents he's ever known and given to his birth mother.

"How can they do this to a little boy? How can they do this to him?" cried out would-be adoptive mother Dawn Scott.

But CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassman reports Amanda Hopkins had sued to reclaim Evan when she heard his biological father might try for custody.

That blocked Evan's final adoption by Gene and Dawn Scott, to whom Hopkins agreed to give Evan when she was still pregnant. The Scotts got Evan when he was two-days old.

Dawn Scott complained that little Evan never got his day in court.

In disputed adoption cases, say child advocates, kids like Evan seldom get their day in court. It's the adults' rights that matter; children are treated like property.

"That's the problem with this case," child custody expert Debbie Grabarkiewicz told Strassman. "The court focused on the baggage claim holders of the suitcase, as opposed to focusing on the suitcase."

Outside Chicago on Sunday night, Evan Scott arrived at his new home. "I just want to let everybody know that I'm happy that's we're home. He's home where he should belong," Hopkins said.

Even her custody is temporary, while the courts sort out where Evan belongs for good.

"We're devestated. We have an appeal. We still have hope," says Dawn's husband, Gene.

Which means, Strassman points out, Evan could change families, yet again.
Thomas Atwood, President and CEO of the National Council For Adoption, tells Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm, "This is exceedingly rare, thankfully. People shouldn't be frightened away from adoption. Clearly, this should never happen. The courts really let Evan down here. They turned out that what should have been a decision about what's best for Evan turned into a debate about the rights of the adults involved."

When are adoptions rock solid?

"Within the first 72 hours after birth," Atwood says, "birth parents aren't allowed to sign away their rights. After that, states have revocation period of anywhere from zero to 30 days, typically, during which time the parent can change his or her mind and take the baby back. After that, after the end of the revocation period and before the adoption's finalization, they can only take the baby back if they can prove fraud or duress. Once the finalization is achieved, within anywhere from six to 18 months, depending on the state, then nothing can bring the baby back.

"After (the state) revocation (period), it is very difficult for the child to be removed from the adoptive parents' home.

Atwood continues, "You definitely need to do your homework in choosing your (adoption) agencies and your attorneys. You need to check references, check the adoptive parents and the work that's done before. When you do that, they'll be able to give you a good idea as to how likely it is you'll be able to adopt and what your profile is with respect of the birth parents, who choose you as adoptive parents.

"There are safeguards you can take and stories like this shouldn't scare people away from adopting."
  • Brian Dakss

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