Friday, December 29, 2006
Mom Takes Her Kids Back!
http://www.newsobse rver.com/ 102/story/ 526049.html
Twins Holly and Tyler Needham are missing.
Police suspect birth mom took twins
Stanley B. Chambers Jr., Staff Writer
DURHAM - Police were searching Tuesday for 17-month-old twins they think were taken from their adoptive parents by their biological mother.
Denise Needham, who has custody of the twins with her husband, Kevin, pleaded for their return Tuesday evening. "We're scared to death," she said. "I just want them home safely."
The babies' birth mother, Allison Lee Quets, 49, of 1718 Trailview Lane, had visitation rights to pick up the twins every third weekend and keep them from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday. Quets picked them up Friday at the Needhams' Apex home and was scheduled to return Holly and Tyler on Christmas Eve.
About 15 minutes after 6 p.m., there was no sign of Quets, and Denise Needham contacted police.
Quets might be driving a 1998 white Plymouth Voyager with North Carolina tags LRJ-6644 or Florida tags E377HZ, said Durham Police spokeswoman Kammie Michael. Quets could be heading toward Florida, where she previously lived, or Louisville, Ky., where her sister, Gail Quets, and mother live, Michael said.
Investigators were completing a search warrant Tuesday evening to gain access to Quets' phone records, said Durham Police Detective T. Tuck.
The Needhams were scheduled to talk with FBI agents late Tuesday evening, Tuck said.
Trying to get custody
Gail Quets said her mother is suffering from renal failure in an intensive care unit at a Louisville nursing home. Allison Quets wanted her mother to see the twins before she died, Gail Quets said, but Allison Quets never mentioned plans to travel to Kentucky. Gail Quets said she last talked to her sister about a week ago.
Gail Quets also said her sister was trying to regain custody of the twins.
Allison Quets had hyperemesis, a severe form of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, and became so frail that she worried about being able to take care of her children, her sister said. A friend, through a relative, introduced her to the Needhams, who were interested in adoption.
The Needhams have a teenage daughter and tried unsuccessfully through in vitro fertilization to have more children, Denise Needham said. She would not discuss how they came to know Quets.
Signed away rights
Allison Quets was told she would be involved in the twins' life "just like family" and signed her parental rights away in Florida, Gail Quets said. But Allison Quets had second thoughts about 10 hours after giving up her parental rights.
But, according to www.adopting. org, Florida law allows birth parents to reverse their consent up to three days after signing over parental rights or placement of the child with the new parents, whichever is later. Even after that three-day period, the adoption may be challenged if the court finds that the consent was obtained by fraud or duress.
"I don't know if she ran, but if she did, I understand why because she was very afraid that if she won the appeal, that these people would not return her children," said Gail Quets, who has an adopted son. "She has already spent all of her life savings on legal fees trying to get her children back."
Denise Needham confirmed that Allison Quets has appealed the adoption. She also said she voiced concerns to a judge that Quets might flee with the twins. But the judge thought Quets was not a flight risk, Needham said.
Holly, who has a small freckle on the back of her right hand, has light brown shoulder length curly hair.
Tyler, who has a birth mark on his chest, has short brown hair.
Both have blue eyes and weigh about 23 pounds. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call 911 or the Durham Police Department at 560-4427.
Stanley B. Chambers Jr. can be reached at 956-2426 or at stan.chambers@ newsobserver. com.
http://www.newsobse rver.com/ 102/story/ 526049.html
Twins and birth mom still missing
By Sarah Ovaska and Eric Ferreri, Staff Writers
DURHAM - Six days after they left for a court-sanctioned weekend visit with their birth mother, 17-month-old Apex twins have yet to be reunited with their adoptive parents.
The FBI is assisting Durham police in the effort to find Tyler Lee and Holly Ann Needham, thought to be with their biological mother, Allison Lee Quets. The three might have headed toward Kentucky, where Quets' ailing mother lives in Louisville, or Quets' former home state of Florida.
The twins' adoptive parents contacted Durham police when Quets failed to return the children, but an alert wasn't issued for more than 24 hours. No Amber Alert went out.
An Amber Alert is part of a high-profile national system designed to find children soon after they are abducted. It is used when children are thought to be in imminent danger and is issued to other law enforcement agencies and distributed to local media.
The adoptive mother, Denise Needham of Apex, said Wednesday that she and her husband, Kevin, had been advised by authorities not to talk publicly about their ordeal.
Quets, 49, who moved from Orlando, Fla., to Durham this year, was trying to regain custody by appealing the adoption, said her sister, Gail. Allison Quets had been sick during her pregnancy and worried about her ability to care for the twins. A mutual friend put the Needhams in contact with Quets, her sister said.
Denise Needham declined to talk Tuesday about the adoption details.
Quets, who was living in an apartment near The Streets at Southpoint shopping center in Durham, had monthly visitation rights, according to public records. She was scheduled to drop the twins off at the mall early Sunday evening but never showed up, prompting the Needhams to call Durham police at 6:24 p.m. about what the police were calling a "child custody dispute."
An off-duty police officer went to Quets' apartment twice that evening but could not find her or the twins. Because the Needhams did not have court documents outlining the custody arrangements, Durham police say, they did not take further action that night.
A police spokeswoman did not say why the department didn't seek an Amber Alert. She referred questions to the FBI.
FBI spokesman Tim Stutheit said the federal agency was assisting Durham police but declined to comment further.
The next day, on Christmas, the Needhams called Apex police at 2:35 p.m. to report the twins as missing, said Apex Police Chief Jack Lewis. Officer Stacy Hale called law enforcement agencies in Kentucky and Florida, as well as his counterparts in Durham, to try to find the children.
The police department is frequently called about visitation issues, which are routine in divorce cases and don't always go smoothly, Lewis said. Within a few hours, he added, it appeared to Hale that the twins' disappearance wasn't ordinary.
At 6:49 p.m. Monday, Apex police reported Tyler Lee and Holly Ann Needham as missing to the National Crime Information Center, a national database. Bulletins went out to emergency communication centers up and down the East Coast, asking police to be on the lookout for Quets, the white Plymouth van she could be driving and the blonde, blue-eyed twins, Lewis said.
The bulletins are not typically as high a priority as Amber Alerts, but they still reach a number of police agencies.
An Amber Alert wouldn't have been appropriate, Lewis said, because the children had been in Quets' care for several days and did not appear to be in imminent or serious danger.
The Apex police turned the case back over to Durham police.
At 8:12 p.m. Monday, shortly after Apex police initiated the East Coast missing persons alert, Denise Needham called the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The center coordinates the national Amber Alert system, although an alert was not issued.
The national organization never contacted its North Carolina counterpart, though.
"I would have liked to see it handled in a more timely fashion," said Lois Hogan, the North Carolina center's supervisor.
Hogan said she heard from a Durham police detective at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. She urged Durham police to contact local media about the missing children, and the police agency sent out a news release at 7:04 p.m. Tuesday.
Despite the FBI's involvement, it was unclear whether word of the missing children had reached all who could help.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Louisville Police Department had not been contacted, said Alicia Smiley, a department spokeswoman. Quets' mother is seriously ill in a Louisville nursing home, and Quets had mentioned to her sister that she wanted her mother to see the children before the older woman died, Quets' sister said.
In Florida, Highway Patrol Sgt. Jorge Delahoz said Wednesday that his agency knew about the Quets case. He offered a description of the two cars Quets owns -- a silver Acura and a white Plymouth van -- but said he could not release any other information.
Details of the adoption and Quets' appeal were not publicly available Wednesday. In Florida, adoption cases are typically sealed.
Mothers' typical role
Birth mothers who give up their babies for adoption often have some level of involvement in a child's life, said Joe Kroll, executive director of the Minnesota-based North American Council on Adoptable Children.
Usually, that means an annual letter to and from the child or the child's adoptive parents, perhaps with photos. On rare occasions, the birth mother will be a more regular presence in the child's life, attending birthday parties or other significant events, Kroll said.
But it would be "highly unusual" for a birth mother who is appealing an adoption to have regular, unmonitored visitation, Kroll said.
"Those visitations, in a contested adoption, should be supervised," he said.
While the abduction of a child by the birth mother is certainly traumatic for the adoptive parents, it's "rare, rare, rare, rare, rare," Kroll said. "It's prevalent ... in divorce situations."
Sharon Thompson, an adoption attorney in Durham, said Wednesday she was surprised that the birth mother had visitation rights. "Normally, it's usually a total cutoff of the birth parent's rights," she said.
But if the adoption is being appealed, a judge might have decided to allow visitation so the birth mother remains in the children's lives until the matter is settled, she added.
(News researcher Denise Jones contributed to this report.)
Staff writer Sarah Ovaska can be reached at 829-4622 or sovaska@newsobserve r.com.
News researcher Denise Jones contributed to this report.
This case will cause a lot of backlash for adoption - especially open adoption. But, yes, if people just stopped fighting to hold onto kids as if they were possessions, these situations would not occur.
And so it damn well should! The moment the 911 call was made, EVERYTHING to do with that "adoption" should have been suspended pending psychological reviews. NO adoption should be certified if the birth mother is not legally represented during the entire process.
"if people just stopped fighting to hold onto kids as if they were possessions, these situations would not occur."
That is an extremely trite and pathetic argument. One that I would expect from an uneducated 14 year old child. The alternative to your argument is that they be passed around like toys! I would expect EVERY parent would fight to hold on to their kids!
"people who give kids up for adoption do not DESERVE them!"
You ignorant bigot! How dare you presume to make generalizations on people you have absolutely NO IDEA about! I hope that you are not indicative of the standard of person granted adoption. God help the children!
In 40 years since I lost my daughter to adoption, this is by far the most ignorant, bigoted comment i have heard since "Any dog can give birth."
You obviously have never read a book about adoption in your life and know nothing about what you speak or write.
I suggest you read (if you can): The Girls Who Went Away by Fessler
FYI - your own mother might have lost a child to adoption...or any of your neighbors, or teachers, or your attorney, your physician, or bank manager...