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Anna Mae He Ordered Home

January 24, 2007 permalink

Tennessee has finally reversed a case of legal baby-stealing. Jack and Casey He gave their daughter for temporary care, in accordance with Chinese custom, while they were unable to care for her themselves. When they tried to get her back, the foster family refused and obtained lawful custody though the courts. Today's story does not show the level of court hostility to the He family up to now. They raised a legal defense fund through donations from supporters. When a judge terminated their rights, he ruled that the defense fund belonged to the girl, not the parents, and confiscated it. This case had become an embarrassment to the United States, since the Chinese Embassy took an interest in the case. For the full story, refer to the He website.



Court orders Anna Mae He returned to parents

Jack and Casey He
Jack and Casey He talk to reporters Tuesday after learning that the Tennessee Supreme Court cleared the way for them to be reunited with their daughter Anna Mae He.
Photo By Mike Maple / The Commercial Appeal

Brenda Waudby
Louise Baker comforts her daughter Hope, who broke down in tears during a press conference at their lawyers office on Tuesday.
Photo By Karen Pulfer Focht/The Commercial Appeal

By Richard Locker and Lawrence Buser

January 23, 2007

NASHVILLE -- The Tennessee Supreme Court today ordered Anna Mae He returned to her birth parents, Chinese nationals Shaoquiang ‘Jack’ He and Qin Luo ‘Casey’ He.

"Justice has been served," Jack He said this morning.

The transfer of custody from Jerry and Louise Baker to the Hes will not occur immediately, and there was no immediate word about whether the Bakers will file an appeal to federal court.

The state high court ordered the case back to Shelby County Chancery Court "to be expeditiously transferred to the Juvenile Court of Shelby County for the entry of an order that implements a plan to reunited (Anna Mae) with her natural parents."

Anna Mae, who turns 8 on Sunday, has been raised by the Bakers, of Cordova, since she was 3 weeks old.

The Hes contended they placed Anna Mae with the Bakers temporarily while they were facing financial and legal hardships.

They have been trying to regain custody for years, but a Shelby County judge terminated their parental rights and awarded custody of their daughter to the Bakers in 2004, a decision upheld by the state Court of Appeals last year.

After the oral arguments before the state Supreme Court last October, Jerry Baker told reporters that he and his wife will pursue the case "as far as necessary" to retain custody and said "there would be a lot of stress" if Anna Mae were removed from their home.

"She has been with us almost eight years. We're the only family she knows," Jerry Baker said.

The state Supreme Court ruled 5-0 that the "undisputed evidence shows there was animosity between the parties and that the (birth) parents were actively pursuing custody of (Anna Mae) through legal proceedings" during the four-month period just before the Bakers filed a petition for termination of parental rights.

Therefore, the high court said, the trial court erred in finding a "willfill failure to visit" Anna Mae by the Hes -- which would have been grounds to terminate their rights.

The court also concluded that the parents’ consent to transfer custody and guardianship of Anna Mae He to the Bakers "was not made with knowledge of the consequences of the transfer."

"Only a showing of substantial harm that threatens the child's welfare may deprive the parents of the care and custody of (Anna Mae)," Chief Justice William M. Barker wrote in the 20-page opinion.

Justices Janice Holder, Cornelia Clark, Gary Wade and special justice Adolpho Birch concurred.

"Evidence that (Anna Mae) will be harmed from a change in custody because she has lived and bonded with the Bakers during the pendency of the lititation does not constitute the substantial harm required to prevent the parents from regaining custody," the opinion said.

Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal