The Ties That Traumatize

A bitter custody battle over Baby Jessica sets adoptive parents everywhere on edge

SOMETIME BEFORE MIDNIGHT ON April 20, two-year-old Jessica DeBoer of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is scheduled to disappear, leaving behind a heartbroken couple she calls Mommy and Daddy, a dog named Miles, her yellow bedroom and just about everything she has ever known, except perhaps a few favorite stuffed animals. Under court order, the dark-eyed, inquisitive girl will be transported 400 miles west to the small farming community of Blairstown, Iowa, to begin life anew as Anna Lee Schmidt.

Jessica is not likely to go quietly. The child is the victim of an appallingly slow and wrenching struggle between the couple who...

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