All's Bad That Ends Badly

This series of articles in the Washington Post yesterday and today covers the battle that Shaoqiang and Qin Luo He have waged for the past seven years to recover their daughter, now named Anna Mae, from foster care. The Hes say they placed their daughter temporarily with the Bakers, a foster family from their church, but that the Bakers later refused to return custody of the child to the Hes.

So much is wrong here, and not just with foster care and adoption - the disadvantage our legal system places on immigrants (He was accused of sexual assault while a student at the University Memphis, and although acquitted, lost his scholarship and student stipend as a result); the cultural bias of the area in which the Hes lived; and, taking nothing away from the love I'm sure the Bakers felt for Anna Mae, their sense of entitlement to the child.

The first article quotes the ruling from the Tennessee Supreme Court, which should be applauded for stating this so clearly: "Financial advantage and affluent surroundings simply may not be a consideration in determining a custody dispute between a parent and a non-parent."

But the judge in Memphis who took away the He's parental rights in February 2004, suggesting their custody battle was simply a ploy to delay their deportation, needs serious reeducation. He is undoubtedly not alone in this need.

No winners here, especially Anna Mae. This transition will be hard for her, and I hope she receives the support and counseling she needs for as long as she needs it, here and in China when her family returns.

Chinese Parents Win Back Their Daughter 1/23/07
Court Rules Against Foster Parents 1/24/07


Mom2One said…
Very well stated, Margie. I read an article about this last night and was at a loss for words about how to articulate any coherent thoughts about the judgment; you've done that so well that I'm just going to provide a link here.

One thing that I hope people don't gloss over when they read about this -- it's not really about adoption after all. Anna Mae was never adopted by the Bakers; that was never the Hes intention.
Lori said…
We had a similar case to this end in tragedy in Indiana when I was there. Felix Chen was taken away from his mother because she tied his hands with a cotton bathrobe belt to prevent him from hitting himself due to pain from a kidney disorder. He was in foster care for almost four months and his mother wasn't allowed to speak with him in Chinese, which was the language he was most comfortable speaking. His mother noticed during her twice-weekly visits with him that he was weak, and on the day of his death he fainted during their meeting, but the supervisor failed to seek medical attention.

The government settled out of court with his parents over his death last year.

I'm generally a believer in our social welfare system, but stories like these are utterly disheartening.
Lori said…
(actually, reading the articles - I posted too quickly! - they're actually not very similar cases except at the level of cultural miscommunications and how they have radically changed the lives of the children involved - sorry about that)
Ryan said…
How heart breaking for everyone involved. Anna Mae is going to have her world turned upside down with her upcoming move to CHina. I can't even imagine what it will be like for her. Especially since she will be so far away from the Bakers. Wow. I'm sure the Bakers are devestated. I really feel for them. At the same time, I feel for the Hes who have tried so hard for so many years to get their baby girl back. Now that she's 8, it's going to be rough for them. I can't believe it took 7+ years for the situation to get resolved... crazy.

Margie said…
Thanks, Mom2One, for the link - and Ryan for the comment.

Lori, I actually see a similarity between the cases, which is the legal system's failure to properly serve speakers of other languages, whether they are immigrants or not.

One of the articles pointed out that the Hes were unable to visit regularly because they had had a dispute with the Bakers, the police were called in, and the Hes were told to leave the Baker premises. But in 2001 the Hes and Bakers got into an argument, the police were called and the Hes were ordered to leave the Baker home. Four months later, the Bakers filed an abandonment petition against the Hes. It appears on the surface at least that the Hes were in a catch 22 but didn't realize it. That, IMO, is a failure of the legal system, and really does draw a parallel with the case you mention.

So sad, really a mess.
Kathy said…
Frankly, The Bakers disgust me. And
Mr. Baker's last statement from the
link about "God protecting these
girls" makes me angry. They should
have returned the child to her parents in the first place. I just
can't stand it when people use the
name "God" to justify themselves.
Susan said…
Margie, you articulated so CALMLY what I was feeling, but my head was on the verge of exploding, I was so upset. You nailed it though.

I do not "feel" for the Bakers at all. They manipulated the system out of a sense of white supremacy, because they felt it was better to give the girl an "American" life than to think of letting her live with her own family.

And it makes me so sick to hear people talking about "the only parents she's ever known." Um, why WAS that? WHY are they they only parents she's ever known? Because the selfish Bakers never acknowledged her true parents, culture, language, country etc. The whole thing makes me so sick and sad.

It is adoption corruption at its very worst.
daughterof2women said…
I just hurt for that little girl who is an innocent victim in all of this and who will suffer the most. I think it is ridiculous that it took that long to resolve this. Seven years is a long time in a child's life.
paula o. said…
Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.

To think that the Bakers felt they actually had the right to make the decision not to return Anna Mae to her parents is beyond my comprehension.

Despite all of the injustices against him and his wife, for Mr. He to still show such respect for the Bakers for the benefit of his daughter, is truly the epitome of selflessness.

I feel that the right decision has finally come, but sadly - and especially so for Anna Mae - it has come much, much too late.

You're spot on about the sense of entitlement, Margie. This is NOT about the Bakers wants and needs.

The weak argument of "emotional upheaval" that the Bakers tried to plead in their attempt to keep a child that was not theirs could have all been avoided if they had kept Anna Mae's best interest in mind all along.

My heart goes out to Anna Mae and her parents.
zoe said…
Ditto, Paula.

I find it hard to feel for people who are reaping the emotional turmoil of the things they themselves knowingly sowed in such a calculating way. And I'm at a loss to understand how the courts let them get away with all of this. They should have had *no* rights to this child whatsoever, at any point in time.

What the Hes have lost can never be given back to them. :( said…
I have no sympathy for the Bakers.
Melissa said…
Wow, what a heart-wrenching story. Thanks for posting about it. I had seen it advertised that this case was to be discussed on Nancy Grace the other night, but was unable to stay awake to watch it. I am apalled that these folks were allowed to keep that poor child as long as they did. What a betrayal to the Hes. My heart goes out to them (the Hes).
Melissa said…
Just in case anyone is interested - I think that Nancy Grace episode might re-air on Saturday on CNN HN. Since I fell asleep, I have no idea what the take on it was.

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