Adoptive Parents Win In Court

 | Adoptive Parents Win In Court
 |    CHICAGO, August 19 (AP) -- An Illinois appeals court has
 | ruled that a 2 1/2-year-old boy should remain with his
 | adoptive parents and not be returned to the birth parents who
 | wanted him back.
 |    The court's ruling was the opposite of the "Baby Jessica"
 | ruling, in which a Michigan couple was forced to return a 2
 | 1/2-year-old baby girl to her biological parents in Iowa
 | earlier this month. In both cases, the biological father had
 | objected because he had not been notified of the mother's
 | intent to give up the child at the time of the birth.
 |    In the court's 2-1 ruling Wednesday, Justice Dom Rizzi
 | wrote, "It would be contrary to the best interest of Richard
 | to switch parents at this stage of his life."
 |    "To hold that a child is the property of his parents is to
 | deny the humanity of the child. ... Richard 'belongs' to no
 | one but himself," Rizzi wrote.
 |    In the case of "Richard," a pseudonym used in court papers,
 | the biological father, Otakar Kirchner, went to Czechoslovakia
 | to visit a sick relative while his then-fiancee, Daniella
 | Janikova, was seven months pregnant.
 |    Janikova was told by a family member that Kirchner had
 | married his former girlfriend while overseas. She fled their
 | home and moved into a women's shelter. But Kirchner returned
 | to Illinois and tried to find her.
 |    On March 20, 1991, four days after the child was born,
 | Janikova signed a final consent to adoption. She refused to
 | disclose the full name of the father. She told friends and
 | family the child had died.
 |    In May, however, she moved back in with Kirchner and
 | confessed that the child had been given up for adoption.
 |    The following month, Kirchner filed documents trying to
 | enter the adoption proceedings and get the child back. But
 | Illinois law requires a biological father to file such papers
 | within 30 days of the birth. A lower court ruled that Kirchner
 | had no legal rights because the deadline had elapsed.
 |    The attorney for Kirchner and Janikova, who now are
 | married, said the couple would appeal the appeals court
 | decision.
 |    In a dissenting opinion, Justice John Tully noted noting
 | that Kirchner had contacted relatives, the hospital and even
 | searched garbage cans to determine whether his fiancee had
 | given birth. He also noted that the adoptive parents knew that
 | the father had not been notified of the adoption.
 |    "We cannot ignore the gross injustice perpetrated upon the
 | biological father in this instance," Tully wrote, accusing the
 | other two judges of assuming a "sacrosanct role formerly
 | reserved for Divine Providence."

     Several questions:

1. What is the message this sends (if any) about the rights and
   responsibilities of fathers?
2. Should the biological father be granted visitation?
3. Should the biological mother be granted visitation?
4. Should it make any difference that the adoptive parents knew
   the biological father hadn't given consent?
5. What does this say about the rights of children?
6. Was the decision the right one?