In real life, the visitation issue drags on 'SWITCHED AT BIRTH'

April 28, 1991|By Los Angeles Daily News

Although "Switched at Birth" ends with the first meeting between Kimberly Mays and her biological family, the real-life saga drags on, in and out of court. At the time Bob Mays agreed to be a consultant on the film, he thought the matter had been put to rest.

"I certainly wanted to believe that when we decided to do the movie that the court case was over," he said. "It's only been since then that the problems have arisen again between the two families."

Although Mr. Mays said "the custody issue is over" and Kimberly will remain with him, "what we're dealing with now is the visitation issue. [The Twiggs] should allow us to continue to function as a family. If they want to find out what this little girl is all about, I can understand that. I do not understand why they want to jump in and take charge.

"They feel they should have her 50 percent of the time. She doesn't have time for this and doesn't desire it. They show no respect for where Kimberly and I are 12 years after the fact. I am remarried. We are a family unit. She can't just pack a bag every weekend. That's no life for a 12-year-old. These people are little more than strangers to her."

(The Twiggs, who also served as consultants on the film, will not comment on the case because of a book contract with Villard Publications, a subsidiary of Random House.)

In May 1990, Kimberly met the Twiggs for the first time, and she spent time with them on four other occasions through October. In November, Mr. Mays stopped the visits.

"I would have continued to allow the visits, but after her grades fell and her attitude changed, I brought everything to a screeching halt," he said. "I was having problems I didn't have with Kim prior to their entry into her life. The child did a 180-degree turn from the way she had been.

"I am so sick of them yelling, 'We have a right.' Kimberly has rights, too, to a childhood and happiness. If they are going to interfere with that, I guarantee I will be an obstacle."

When Mr. Mays was initially contacted about selling the rights to his story for a television movie, he was not interested. "The only thing I was concerned about was Kim," he said. "Keeping us on a steady emotional track was the only thing I could handle."

But the huge legal debt that continued to grow and the fear of being misrepresented in an unauthorized story convinced him to pursue the matter. Mr. Mays said he would not have consented if Kimberly opposed it.

"I didn't commit to doing this without Kim knowing," he said. "She understands all this as best a 12-year-old can understand. She's a lot more secure with what has happened."

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