Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Behind the Jamie Kiefer Headlines

In 2007 a story made headlines of a mother "kidnapping" her child.

JACKSON, Miss. - Two women and an armed man stormed a home wearing masks and kidnapped an infant one of the women had given up for adoption, authorities alleged Sunday. The baby was found unharmed at a military base three states away.

Investigators found the 5-month-old girl early Sunday at Fort Bragg, N.C., and planned to file state kidnapping charges against her biological mother, Jamie Kiefer, and related charges against the child’s biological aunt, Rikki Swann, said Special Agent Jason Pack, an FBI spokesman in Jackson.

“Apparently it was related to the adoption of the baby,” Pack said. “Apparently Ms. Kiefer had changed her mind about the adoption.”

I was recently contact by the grandmother of the child at the center of this storm and has learned what did not make the headlines. In a telephone interview Charmaine Tryst told us that the kidnapping charges were dropped when it was confirmed that the baby was her own child and that there had been no adoption, nor was one filed for.

Jaimie Kiefer’s husband had wanted the child to be adopted and knew of a co-worker who wanted a child. Arrangements were made. Jaimie gave birth on February 1, 2007 and approximately Feb 12 she signed papers at the office of Mississippi attorney, Dan Davis, with whom she spent just minutes. She left with no copy of what she had signed.

That night, after signing she called the prospective adoptive mother and told her she changed her mind but she was dissuaded from revoking consent and re-convinced that it was best. She called and called and asked for the name of the attorney and was stonewalled.

Two weeks later she moved to Maryland with her husband but was so distraught with post partum depression she kept hearing her baby crying. They found an attorney who helped them locate a Mississippi attorney and they returned to Mississippi and began with a new attorney on May 11.

By July, still deep in post partum depression and grief over the loss of her baby a friend convinced her to take matters into her own hands in an act that landed her in prison for 6 years. Although kidnapping charges were dropped, she was charged with breaking and entering the home and one of the friends who helped allegedly had a toy gun. The father’s rights were terminated and even the child’s maternal grandmother, who applied to adopt her was refused when her name was added to the indictment as a conspirator for knowing about it after the fact.

Jaimie’s mom is distraught having lost her daughter and granddaughter and is working to get Jaimie released on house arrest so she can care for a subsequently born child who has multiple disabilities.

This is a horrible tale all stemming from a total lack of proper counseling and shoddy adoption practices. Unlike any other type of crisis – attempted suicide, grief over the death of a loved one – instead of insisting that the person make no rash decisions at a time of extreme duress…only when there is a baby that is wanted by another is a person’s emotional distress so exploited. Where a potential jumper would be talked down, a recent widow comforted, a mother who considers adoption is offered legal abandonment and lawyers who will whisk their child away.

If only every expectant mother who ever considers adoption could know and understand the ramifications and irrevocability of adoption. How horribly sad, though, that Jaimie Kiefer (as did Allison Quets) felt driven to do so out of utter helplessness and frustration with the legal system. Mothers who are working through the legal system to overturn adoptions are finding it taking YEARS and more money than one can possibly earn in that time.

I by no means condones taking the situation into one’s own hands and make no judgment whatsoever on the merits of either of these women as fit mothers. I do however deplore adoption practices that totally deny any and all rights of a mothers – and fathers – to options counseling, ample time to decide, separate legal representation and ample time to revoke a decision made under duress.

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