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Baby Jessica Case: 1993

Biological Mother Regrets Adoption, The Battle Over Jessica Continues

Defendants: Cara and Dan Schmidt
Plaintiffs: Jan and Roberta DeBoer
Plaintiff Claim: The DeBoer's sought to block the order of the Michigan Supreme Court to return Jessica to the Schmidts
Chief Defense Lawyer: Marian Faupel
Chief Lawyer for Plaintiff: Scott Bassett
Justices: William H. Rehnquist, Harry A. Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Place: Washington, D.C.
Date of Decision: July 30, 1993
Verdict: The DeBoer's request was denied

SIGNIFICANCE: The Baby Jessica case caused people to consider the risks and problems inherent in private adoptions.

In 1990, an Iowa woman named Cara Clausen found out that she was pregnant. Single and 29 years old, Cara had recently split with her boyfriend, Dan Schmidt, and was dating a man named Scott Seefeldt. Before the birth, she told friends she couldn't care for the baby on her own and would give it up for adoption. When the child was born on February 8, 1991, she named Scott as the father, and within two days, she and Scott signed papers waiving their parental rights.

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Jan DeBoer, 37, and his wife, Roberta (known as Robby), 32, were eager to adopt. She had had a hysterectomy some years before, so she could not become pregnant. The DeBoers had spent several years sweating out adoption procedures in Michigan, where adoption was legal only through bureaucratic public services. Iowa permitted legal private adoptions. A Cedar Rapids lawyer who was married to Robby DeBoer's cousin, heard about Cara's pregnancy and her plan to give the baby up for adoption. He put the DeBoers in touch with Cara. Another lawyer, John Monroe, took care of the required paperwork, and on March 2, 1991, the DeBoers took the six-day-old baby home, named her Jessica, and looked forward to becoming full legal custodians in six months.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994