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Chinese couple in Tennessee will get their daughter back [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2007-3-8 09:21:50 |Display all floors ... battle_x.htm?csp=34

Eight years ago, a young man from China, He Shao Qiang, was studying in America, in the state of Tennessee. His wife Qin Luo had come to join him, and they were expecting their first baby.  Then, just before the baby was born, Mr. He was accused by another student of sexual assault.  Even though he was eventually acquitted of the charges, it caused him to lose his scholarship and income.

With no way to support their new baby or get her the medical care she needed, the He family placed their 1 month old baby girl  (Anna May) into foster care -- it was their understanding that this was a temporary arrangement until they were able to become financially stable enough to take her back.

But the couple (Jerry & Louise Baker) who took in Anna May were unwilling to give her back to her parents.  First, when the He's came to visit their daughter they refused to let them see her.  Then, after this had gone on for a number of months, the Bakers filed with the court for permanent custody of Anna May, claiming that the Hes had abandoned their daughter and not even come to visit her (!!!)  The local court ruled in the Baker's favor, and Qin Luo and Shao Qiang lost their little girl.

However, miraculously, after years in court, the Tennessee Supreme Court has just ruled that He Qin Luo and Shao Qiang are the legal parents of Anna May, that the social services in Tennesee need to work out a plan to restore Anna May, now 8 years old, to her parents, and that in the meantime they have the right to visit their daughter beginning this week.

That's the good news.  A story with a "happy ending" -- however, in real life, there will still be some huge problems:

1) Anna May only speaks English.  Her Mom only knows a little English.  At age 8, it will take a long time for this little girl to acquire the language skills she will need to communicate with her mother -- language skills she could have quickly acquired as a preschooler.  Furthermore, if the family does return to China, she will be way behind in her knowledge of Chinese characters, and thus way behind her classmates in almost everything.

2) Anna May has spent her entire life with her foster family -- including 4 brothers and sisters.  She is especially close to the one foster sister who is only 1 year younger.  She knows nothing of her real family -- it's my understanding that she hasn't been allowed to see them in years.  It will undoubtedly be a traumatic transition to a new family, new language, new culture.

3) While the He family have been very gracious -- Mr. He even said that Anna May is a lucky Chinese girl -- with 2 families to love her very much (implying that he will probably allow the Baker family to have continued contact with her), the Bakers are continuing to be the slimey, manipulative, sleezeballs they have been all along.  They are trying to get the visitation rights postponed, and they have taken the little girl on national TV, which has traumatized her (she ran screaming from the reporters).  Jerry Baker finally coerced her into talking to reporters by promising her $5 for every question she answered, and then asking leading questions about where she wanted to live, and who she wanted to be her parents. She answered the United States to the first question (she's never been to China) but refused to answer who she wanted to be her parents (with her foster Dad right there, that tells me the true answer is her Chinese parents).    Who knows what the Bakers have told this little girl about her real parents, and yet she seems to have an instinctive knowledge of where she belongs.

[ Last edited by karenb at 2007-3-8 03:43 PM ]

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Post time 2007-3-8 12:12:32 |Display all floors

It took them six years to get her back.

They must have missed her a lot during the six years when legal battle was going on for something that is simple as simple common sense: she was born by them and she was their daughter, not any one else's.

The US judge failed to have common sense.  So they suffered for six years.

And, the greedy amerikan couple taught her to say she wasn't Chinese, but rather, "Mexican".  Ho ho ho!

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Post time 2007-3-8 15:25:29 |Display all floors

I didn't hear about the Mexican thing

But I did go back and check the original court records, and found that the judge's ruling was just appalling --
1) The judge stated the He family had abandoned their child because they didn't visit for 4 months (the Bakers had them thrown out of their house by the police and told them not to come back),

2) The judge stated that the He family had not contributed any financial support to the child.  Idiotic!  The whole reason they turned the child over to foster care was because of their financial problems!  Plus, they tried to give money to the Bakers, but the Bakers refused to take it (they weren't legally allowed to accept money because no stipulations for child support had been made in the court order).  Furthermore, they DID bring food, diapers, clothing, and toys for Anna May on their weekly visits.

3) The judge compared the earnings of Mr Baker (a banker, making $450,000 a year) with Mr. He (zero -- due to losing his job) and stated that even if Mr. He went back to China he wouldn't be able to get a job, because of the one-child policy (they later had 2 more children) -- thus the judge said that the child was better off with the Bakers because they were better off financially.  The judge also said that Mr. He was a shady character because he was earning money in the U.S. illegally.  My question is, how else was he supposed to earn money?  His visa only permitted work on-campus, and that visa had expired.  The immigration officials permitted him to remain in America long enough to settle the custody battle, but did not give him another visa -- technically, he was an illegal alient.  Therefore, he could stay in America, but had no way to support himself legally (their church and the Chinese-American commuity helped out some).  It was damned if he did (work illegally -- to support the family) and damned if he didn't (no way to support Anna May).  

I have compiled a time line of some of the events below

[ Last edited by karenb at 2007-3-8 03:47 PM ]

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Post time 2007-3-8 15:29:58 |Display all floors


Pre-1995 – Mr. He received Master’s Degree in Teaching English as a 2nd Language from Hunan University.  Upon graduation, taught at Nanjing University from 1988-1995.

1995 – Mr. He comes to U.S.A. for further education.  Completed work on 2nd Masters degree at Arizona State University, then came to University of Memphis (in Tennessee) to pursue Ph.D.  He was still under a student visa, which only permitted him to work on-campus.  He was given a teaching position at the University of Memphis, and a 2nd part-time job.

1998 – Mrs. He came to join Mr. He in America.  Apparently they were not legally married at the time (at any rate, they were unable to show proof of a marriage certificate from China), but somehow she got a visa to come anyway.  In America, they lived together as husband and wife, and Mrs. He immediately became pregnant.

Mr. He accused of rape by another Chinese student.  Although he was later acquitted of the charges, the immediate result was that he lost his scholarship funding and was fired from his teaching job at University of Memphis, thus leaving the He family with no means of support, and also no way to legally work (he was in country on student visa which did not allow him to work off-campus).

Prior to Anna May’s birth, He’s considered giving her up for adoption, as they had no financial means to care for her.  They contacted a Chinese lady they knew at their church, Mrs. Chun, who worked for an adoption agency, but then they decided to keep the baby.

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Post time 2007-3-8 15:33:11 |Display all floors


January – Anna May He born (automatically became U.S. citizen).  Had respiratory distress at birth, which required 11 days in NICU of hospital (huge hospital bill).  Mr. He questioned whether Anna May was his child, and had blood tests done which proved paternity.  At this point, the Hes had no job, no way to pay hospital bill, were borrowing money to live on.   Their friend, Mrs. Chun (who worked for the adoption agency), suggested they think about temporary foster care.  They went to see Mrs. Sarah Cloud, at the Juvenile Court, who recommended 90 days of foster care to give them time to get financially stable.

February – Mr. & Mrs. He agreed to a 90 day period of foster care.  Mrs. Chun arranged for Anna May to go to the home of the Bakers, and Mr. & Mrs. He visited her there every week, bringing diapers, toys, and baby clothing for Anna May.  At one point, they tried to give $300 to the Bakers to care for the baby, but the Bakers said they couldn’t legally take the money.

April/May – Mr. & Mrs. He applied for and received a passport of Anna May, because it was their intention for her to return to China.  They began looking for someone who could take the baby back to China, where she could be cared for by family there.  They couldn’t find anyone to take the baby to China, and were still in poor financial position, and couldn’t decide what to do about the baby.  The 90 day period was coming to an end.  Although they wanted to take the baby back, they still had no income, no health insurance, no way to support the baby.  

June – the Hes and Bakers met with attorney Ken Weaver, who explained that custody of Anna May would go to the Bakers for a period of at least one year.  He told the Hes that they would retain some, but not all, of their parental rights.  For instance, the Bakers would make the everyday decisions for the medical care and daily care of Anna May.  The Hes were concerned about being able to still see Anna May on a regular basis, and they were assured they would have weekly visitation rights.  For these meetings, and for later court appearances, Mrs. He depended on a translator, which was often her husband. On the day that they actually signed the court order, Mrs. He was openly sobbing.  The interpreter explained to her the basic meaning of the court order, but did not translate it word by word.  It was clear to Mrs. He, however, that this was a temporary custody – the word “temporary” was spoken in both Chinese and English.

The Hes continued to visit their daughter every week, bringing food, toys, diapers, and clothing for the baby.  Within a few months, the Hes regretted their decision, and decided they wanted Anna May back.  Mr. He went to the Juvenile Court employee, Mrs. Sarah Cloud, to ask advice about how to regain custody of Anna May. Mrs. Cloud directed them to the appropriate court official, and advised them to hire an attorney.

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Post time 2007-3-8 15:35:15 |Display all floors


May – Mr. & Mrs. He filed a petition to modify custody (in other words, they wanted their child back).  Mr. Baker and Mr. He met together to work out some sort of agreement for returning the child.  They discussed the following, which Mr. He wrote down on paper:  the He family would regain custody, but they would stay in the Memphis area, and the Bakers would be able to visit the child twice a week.  However, in the event they were deported to China, they would give Anna May to the Bakers for permanent adoption (they wanted her to be able to go to Christian school and have the health care that America could offer).  However, at the custody hearing to consider the He’s petition, they indicated to the court that they intended to return the child to China, and it was their plan to send $25 a month (200 yuan) for her support.  The court refused the petition, and Anna May remained with the Bakers.

August – When Mrs. He arrived for her weekly visit with Anna May, she was met at the door by Mrs. Baker, who told her that she had an appointment and had to leave, and that Mrs. He couldn’t see her daughter that day.  Mrs. He refused to leave the house, and eventually Mrs. Baker called the police to remove her.  

October – Mrs. He gives birth to a 2nd child, a boy.  Mrs. He says that  A.C. Wharton, Mr. He’s criminal attorney (for the rape case), told them that unless Mr. He agree to plead guilty to the charges, the government would take their son and put him up for adoption.  The Hes immediately made plans to send their son to China.  They later had a 3rd child, a girl.  One of the reasons they lost the 2002 court case was because the judge said they exceeded China’s one-child policy, and thus would have difficulty finding employment in China, and providing for Anna May.

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Post time 2007-3-8 15:36:48 |Display all floors


January – On Anna May’s 2nd birthday, the He family went to the Baker’s house, and requested permission to take Anna May with them to a photo studio to have a family portrait done.  The Bakers refused to allow this.  Mrs. He became hysterical and crying, and the Bakers called the police.  When the policeman came, he told they needed to settle the matter in court, and they had to leave and not return.  Later, the police officer said he meant only not to return that particular day, but the He family thought he meant that they could not come back at all.  At the same time, the Bakers decided not to allow Mr. and Mrs. He to visit Anna May in their home anymore.  It was the Hes understanding that if they tried to visit Anna May at the Baker house, they would be arrested (they were already on shaky ground with immigration officials, so understandably nervous about police involvement).  Consequently, they did not visit Anna May for the next 4 months (they had visited her every week, or almost 100 times, up to that point).

June - The He family filed a 2nd petition to regain custody of Anna May, and began trying to visit again.  At this time, the Baker family filed for permanent custody of Anna May and the right to adopt her.

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