Woman jailed for marketing baby for adoption may get custody due to legal flaw

August 24, 1993|By Robert Enstad | Robert Enstad,Chicago Tribune

A woman who is in an Illinois state prison for shopping her baby around to couples across the country now is trying to regain custody of the same child she gave to a California couple for $11,100.

And because of an apparent flaw in how that adoption was handled a year ago, Angela Andrews could win back the baby she promised to five couples and one adoption agency in four states.

Andrews, of Antioch, Ill., who received about $50,000 in cash and gifts from the couples, said in an interview last week in the Dwight (Ill.) Correctional Center that she is refusing to sign new adoption papers that would give custody of "Baby Rachelle" to the Burbank, Calif., couple.

The Los Angeles County Department of Children's Services sent the 22-year-old woman new adoption papers July 16, apparently because the original adoption is invalid.

But Andrews said last week that she will not sign them and vowed to go to court in California, if necessary, to get back her daughter.

"I just want my baby back," said Andrews, who added that relatives would care for the child while she completes her nine-year prison sentence.

She said she was "forced and bribed" into giving up her daughter only hours after her birth in a Burbank hospital in September.

But apparently because of questions with the way the adoption was handled in California last year, Andrews may have an opportunity to get her baby back.

It is not clear what went wrong in the adoption procedure.

But Lili Ahmadi, a spokeswoman for the Department of Children's Services, said the case remains open.

Andrews' refusal to sign the adoption papers as the birth mother, however, has put the adoption in limbo, according to legal experts. Terry Pounds, 24, who is serving a four-year prison sentence in the baby-selling scam and is the father of the child, also is opposed to signing new adoption papers, Andrews said.

Herma Hill Kay, dean of the University of California Law School in Berkeley, said California law requires the consent of both biological parents for an adoption.

"If she does not sign the consent form, the adoption cannot proceed," Ms. Kay said.

Andrews was urged to give her consent in a letter sent with the new adoption papers last month.

Andrews blames Allen C. Hultquist, the San Diego attorney who represents the couple who now have her baby, for forcing her to turn over the girl.

She said the lawyer was aware through another attorney in California that she was trying to peddle her baby to several couples and not actually give any of them the baby.

"He told me that if I didn't sign the adoption papers that authorities would be notified," said Andrews. "He said, 'You have the money so just leave.' I was sitting there crying because I did not want to give up my baby. Mr. Hultquist said that if I did sign the papers I would not go to jail.

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