A Disputed Adoption Leaves Family in Limbo

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Playing Family Fights to Keep Adopted Daughter

Three years after Braelynn’s adoption, the only parents she’s ever known may lose her. Tammy and Edward became Braelynn’s foster parents when she was just three weeks old. Her biological mother was unable to care for her and her father was in prison.

When Braelynn was 2 and a half, Tammy and Edward’s adoption became final. This fall, they were notified that their adoption had been vacated. Her father had been released and wanted to regain custody.

The case is currently in appeals court – Tammy and Edward are contesting the vacation of the adoption. They are terrified that they will lose their three-year-old daughter.
Attorney Areva Martin explains that there are disputes about whether the biological father made efforts to contact Braelynn and to provide for her financially. An adoption order can be challenged like any court order.

Watch: Growing Up in Foster Care

“These cases are always so heart-wrenching,” she says. “You need loving, caring parents to step in and provide foster care” for children whose own parents may be incapable. There are more than 400,000 children in foster care across the United States.

Tammy says the biological father waited until the last possible day to contest the order. Tammy and Edward have had no contact with him and don’t know his situation.
Attorney Martin explains that courts consider the best interest of the child. Tammy and Edward have an open adoption, and Braelynn’s biological mother sees her regularly. Tammy says they’d be happy to let her biological father have visitation as well. Braelynn has had one visit with her paternal grandmother 17 months ago.

Watch: Inspiring Couple Adopts Special-Needs Children

ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork points out that we’re only hearing from one side of the dispute. “You and your husband are angels on earth,” says Attorney Martin, for the love they give their foster children. The Edwards have five foster children as well as three biological ones.

The Doctors contacted the bio father and his lawyer, but they would not comment. Tammy says that aspects of foster care can be wrenching, and their story is unfortunately not unique. “No matter what happens, you’re Braelynn’s angel,” Dr. Stork assures her.