It was a rough day in court today in Dickson, Tennessee for Dave and Kim Hodgin. They are the adoptive parents of a 9-year-old girl named Sonya, who desperately want her back. She was removed from their home and returned to her biological father after living with them for nearly 8 years.
Today the Hodgins went to court to ask the juvenile court judge to vacate the order which sent Sonya back to Omaha, Nebraska to live with her father. They also asked for visitation rights with her. The judge denied their request to vacate the order, ruling that Sonya will remain with her biological dad in Nebraska, at least for now. He did not rule on them being able to visit with her. That is under review.
Dave Hodgin, the adoptive father, spoke out after court saying “what happened in this court today is devastating for Sonya, Sonya doesn’t deserve the pain this court and DCS has given her. We will never stop.”
Many legal questions are involved in this particular case. Attorney and children's advocate Areva Martin and Carrie Gasaway, an attorney for Sonya's biological father, discussed the custody battle.
Read more about the case...
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When Dave and Kim Hodgin adopted their daughter Sonya back in 2008 they were thrilled. Dave said he was “ecstatic.”
They had been caring for her and fostering her since before she was two at their home in Dickson Tennessee. But their joy didn’t last long. Just over a year after Sonya’s adoption was finalized, a juvenile judge in Tennessee reversed it.
Why? Because he ruled that her birth father’s parental rights had been erroneously terminated. You see, the biological dad had been sentenced to 15 years in prison, which in Tennessee is enough to make you lose your parental rights if your child is under the age of 8. But what the court didn’t know was that before the adoption was finalized, Sonya’s biological dad had cut a deal to have his sentence reduced to 7 ½ years. That allowed him to fight for the adoption, which was later finalized, to be reversed.
Randi Kaye has an exclusive interview with Sonya’s adoptive parents, who had her ripped from their arms in January of this year.
Dave Hodgin recalled the emotional day: “…and Sonya's crying her eyes out. Screaming bloody murder, ‘Please don't let them do this, daddy, please mama don't let ‘em take me.’”
Watch Randi Kaye’s report for the full story and a preview of the family’s next steps in court.
Watch Randi's report about the May 16th hearing
Editor's note: In an interview on AC360, Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke with an attorney, Paul Clement, representing the adoptive parents.
A custody battle involving the "best interests" of a 3-year-old Cherokee girl will be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court, an issue spanning the rights of adoptive parents and the desire to preserve Native American families within tribes.
The justices announced Friday they will hear an appeal from Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who legally adopted little Veronica in 2009, shortly after the birth mother agreed to give up the child. Oral arguments in the case will likely be heard in April with a ruling by late June.
International adoption expert Dr. Jane Aronson has seen the consequences of politics interfering with adoptions across borders before.
Like the law signed Friday by Russian President Vladimir Putin that prohibits families in the U.S. from adopting in Russia, similar measures in the past have destroyed orphans' chances at finding a home. "At any one point there have been moratorium, repeatedly," says Aronson.
Her message to parents is one of determination. "There is never a reason to give up hope," she tells CNN's Randi Kaye. Over the course of decades of work, Aronson has seen families parent from a distance and maintain a relationship despite the complications of international adoption restrictions.
Robert and Kim Summers have a crib by their bed, a stroller waiting in their dining room, and clothes for a baby boy who may not be permitted to come home to them.
The couple has visited Preston in Russia and they felt a connection. Kim Summers says seeing him was "the most joyful day" in her life since her wedding day.
They were eager to welcome a baby into their family after trying unsuccessfully to have their own child. But Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that prohibits the adoption of Russian children by people in the U.S.
The father of a baby girl who is nearly 2 years old now, and did not even know she existed until last year is battling her adoptive parents for custody.
Army Staff Sergeant Terry Achane was away on duty when his wife gave birth to their daughter. Tira Bland put their daughter up for adoption behind his back while he was gone, and he spent months searching for her when he returned home.
Six months after baby Taleah's birth, Bland admitted what she'd done. When the father called the adoption family, instead of directing him to his daughter, court records show the agency refused to help.
Mr. Achane's lawyer sent a letter to the adoptive parents, Jared and Kristi Frei, asking his client be allowed to spend time with his daughter, and that letter was ignored. The Freis then filed another adoption petition. A Utah court judge found that "Mr. Achane's opportunity to develop a relationship with his daughter was deliberately thwarted,” and the court ordered the adoptive parents to turn over the child to her father by January 16th, 2013.
Thea Ramirez believes that one statistic often gets overlooked in the fiery debate over abortion. She’s founder and president of Adoption-Share, a website that serves as a networking tool for birth mothers, adoptive parents and adoption agencies. Her profile is part of AC360's series "What Keeps You Up at Night," which focuses on election issues.
Ivan Watson | BIO
Though Oksana is 4 years old, she is much shorter than other children who are a year younger. She barely talks, and yet doesn't hesitate to climb up in her puffy dress to sit next to a visitor on a couch, after flashing an impish smile.
Administrators at Children's Home Number 59 in Moscow say Oksana was found by police, after apparently being abandoned. She was then delivered to a hospital and eventually ended up at this orphanage.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
We have received no official notification that adoptions of Russian orphans by Americans have been suspended, but it is clear the recent controversy has slowed down adoptions in some parts of the country.
The United States is sending a delegation to hold talks with Russian officials, now scheduled to take place on April 29 in Moscow. The United States plans to emphasize the importance of intercountry adoptions between our two countries, and will discuss our mutual concerns about how to better protect the welfare and rights of children and all parties involved in the intercountry adoption process.
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