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March 31, 1995 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-03-31

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Family Wins Adoption
Fight After 28 Months

*8 53°°pius tax

(

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he Huntington Woods
household of Leslie, Mort,
Nicole and Mark Meisner
appears calm now. But for
the past 30 months, the mood has
been starkly different.
Leslie and Mort Meisner now
talk openly about two triumphs:
winning an adoption case that
put them through numerous out-
of-state legal procedures and wit-
nessing the subsequent birth of
their own child that put them
through many high-tech medical
procedures.
The Meisners, who had been
unsuccessful during eight years
of trying to have their own child,
did not anticipate the problems
they eventually would face as
they became adoptive parents.
A friend told them about a
pregnant Pennsylvania teen-ager
who was trying to place her soon-
to-be-born biracial baby.
"We arranged to meet the
young lady in Pennsylvania one
week after we were told about
her," said Mr. Meisner, TV-2's
news director. "We met with her,
her mother and the birth father,
and it was really love at first sight
between our two families.
"We talked about our likes and
dislikes and how we'd raise the
baby if we were able to get her as
soon as she was born, and they
decided they wanted us to be the
parents."
Excited about the baby, the
Meisners did not dwell on the ini-
tial hint of trouble, which sur-

T

REFINISH WOOD FLOORS WE NEW

faced one month later, in October
1992. The birth mother, alleging
that the birth father was being
abusive, moved from Pennsylva-
nia to Kansas to stay with a rel-
ative. The Meisners saw Nicole
for the first time within an hour
after her delivery in Kansas.
"We went into court there, sat-
isfied the state laws and brought
Nicole home when she was two
days old," Mr. Meisner said. "We
thought that all that remained
was going back to Kansas at a
later date for the final adoption
proceedings.

More than $100,000
in legal fees.

"We were supposed to go back
in November or December (1992)
for the final hearing when we got
served with papers by the birth
father saying that he was going
to challenge the adoption even
though he had consented verbal-
ly."
While the biological father
tried to have the hearings moved
back to Pennsylvania, the birth
mother remained firm in choos-
ing adoption.
The judge, who decided
Kansas jurisdiction was proper,
subsequently disqualified herself
from the case. The next judge
ruled the case should be moved
to Pennsylvania.
The Meisrlers — working with

attorneys in Michigan, Kansas
and Pennsylvania at a final cost
of more than $100,000 — fought
hard to keep the case in Kansas.
They were advised this would be
in their best interest.
To win the jurisdictional issue,
they went through two years of
court action, leaving Nicole in the
care of friends when they were
not in Michigan.
The decision was made in their
favor in early 1994 and was up-
held by the Kansas Supreme
Court in October.
According to the Meisners'
Kansas attorney, Douglas Green-
wald, the biological father could
not be reached by his own lawyer
in the last months of litigation.
The young man was not present
for the final hearing.
The appeal deadline expired
in January and because the nat-
ural father has remained inac-
cessible, the Meisners and their
lawyers are confident the adop-
tion is secure.
"The final hearing relied on
abandonment," Mr. Greenwald
said. "The biological father had
provided no support.
"If you read the newspapers
now, there are a lot of these con-
tests (between birth parents and
adoptive parents). The most im-
portant thing is to get the writ-
ten consent of the natural
parents. Every state has rigorous
rules so people need a good at-
torney to dot the i's and cross the
t's."

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