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Twigg v. Mays

Impact

As with Gregory Kingsley before her, Kimberly's story inspired a 1991 made-for-television mini-series Switched at Birth, a book, and a 1993 interview with Barbara Walters on the television program 20/20. Though the trial was over, surprising events related to the case continued to unfold. Later Patricia Webb, a dying woman who worked as a nurse's aide at Hardee Memorial Hospital in 1978, proclaimed that two babies had been deliberately switched under doctor's orders. Threats were made to safeguard the secret. Parties to the Twigg case expressed doubt over the claim since it also contradicted some aspects of Barbara Mays' medical record concerning the diagnosis of cervical cancer which eventually lead to her death.

In March of 1994, Kimberly Mays moved out of the home she had fought to keep. With her father's signed permission, Kimberly entered a YMCA Youth Shelter in Sarasota, a residential house for runaways and troubled youths. Astonishingly, Kimberly decided to live with the Twiggs.

The Twigg case highlighted the controversies in child custody and children's rights cases. Dakan's decision was remarkable in its recognition of the "psychological parent" over biological parental rights. Also in 1993, in the In re Baby Girl Clausen case, a court ruling went the opposite direction by ruling in favor of the biological parents claiming custody from adoptive parents. In Twigg, the court following "in the best interest of the child" principle, in Clausen it recognized the compelling arguments in favor of the rights of the biological family. Clausen favored parental rights over children's needs, Twigg chose the opposite.

Ironically, several years later another case arose involving children unknowingly switched at birth. In July of 1998, a three-year-old girl survived a Virginia traffic accident that killed her parents. Hospital tests shockingly revealed she was not their biological child. During the following months while the child was being taken care of by her grandparents, the biological parents and another child were identified. Visitation procedures between the two families were agreed upon. However, custody arguments soon arose, and by December of 1998, the possibility of lawsuits against the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville were threatened. The rights of children in such situations still remain poorly defined.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Twigg v. Mays - Significance, Switched At Birth, The Rights Of A Child, Impact, Child Emancipation