Our story on the battle for 2-year-old Jessica DeBoer being waged by her biological parents and would-be adoptive parents (PEOPLE, July 19) brought us more than 1,000 letters, one of the largest responses in the magazine’s history. Overwhelmingly, correspondents expressed their outrage over the court’s decision to return Jessica to her birth parents, Cara and Dan Schmidt. Fifty-three readers, adoptees themselves, took issue with Joe Soll, director of the Council for Equal Rights in Adoption, who claimed that separation from one’s biological parents inevitably damages one’s self-esteem and ability to function.
BATTLE OVER JESSICA
You can’t imagine how close to home your story hit. Nine years ago, we had “Rebecca” for two weeks. Then her biological mother changed her mind. She married the biological father. Rebecca’s name was changed, and she has been in and out of foster care. Her parents are now divorced, and her father is in prison on a rape conviction. My heart breaks for the DeBoers. When our courts don’t consider the impact on the child, something is terribly wrong.
Gosh, Cara and Dan Schmidt are just model parents. Cara lies about the identity of her baby’s father. Then she changes her mind and tries to take the child away from the only home the baby has ever known. Dan, who has already fathered one child out of wedlock, decides he is ready to become a dad after he breaks up with the mother. And now these two lovely people want to change a 2-year-old’s name during the most traumatic time of her life. I don’t know how the Schmidts can say they are concerned with Jessi’s best interests.
MARCI MULLIKIN, Hamden, Conn.
As an attorney, I am ashamed to be part of a legal system that is not mandated to consider the best interests of a child nor the devastating effects its decision will have on that child’s life. The courts may be correctly interpreting the written law but, in doing so, have committed a grievous injustice against both Jessica and the DeBoers.
ARDEN B. EDELCUP, Lincolnshire, Ill.
If I were the DeBoers, I would cash out now, pack what’s important, head for unknown parts with Jessica, start a new life and never look back. Why honor a system that badly failed them all?
TOM DESIMONE, North Hollywood, Calif.
How do you prepare a toddler to leave the only world she has known? And who, with any kind of heart, would ever force anyone to do so?
LORI JACKSON, North Little Rock, Ark.
At 15, I gave birth to a baby boy. Because of my age I was not given a choice: I was told to sign the adoption papers, giving up all legal rights to my baby. When I married my husband three years later, he said we could seek legal counsel to see if we could gel my son back. I wanted desperately to find and love him, but that would not only have devastated him but also the two people who had loved and nurtured him for those years. Now, almost 18 years later, I still wish I had my baby boy, but in my heart I know I did the right thing. If the Schmidts love their daughter as much as they profess, they should stop being so selfish and realize the torment it is going to cause Jessica.
The DeBoers knew nine days after Jessi/Anna was in their home that the adoption attempt was fatally flawed and this child would never be available for adoption. The DeBoers have inhumanely held on, and their present “anguish” is due to their own selfishness. The situation that the DeBoers now face is. due only to the fact that they challenged laws designed to protect birth parents as well as adoptive parents.
CAROL TAITE, Ypsilanti, Mich.
Thank you, Joe Soll, for deciding for the rest of the adopted population that our “ability to function in the world” is “damaged.” Speak for yourself, buddy. The world and I are functioning just fine!
LISA LEIKER, Aurora, Colo.
What would Joe Soll’s life have been if he had not been adopted? Don’t blame your inability to function on being adopted, Mr. Soll. Take the blame yourself.
LISA SMITH, West Carrollton, Ohio
I am an average 19-year-old student and am completely offended by your so-called guide to teenage slang. Not all teenagers are “scrompin’ ” (having sex) or “frying” (taking LSD) or licking their plates to get their “kibbles and bits” (crumbs of cocaine). In fact, 26 percent of the slang words or phrases in your article referred to drugs, sex or violence. No wonder teenagers get such a bad rap. I have a slang phrase for you—”Take a flying leap” and give us a break!
ROBERT ISMERT, Denton, Tex.