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Fla. Judge OKs Adoption Annulment

January 5, 2000

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ A man whose adoptive parents bought him from a baby broker for $200 has had his illegal adoption annulled, and his birth certificate will be amended with his biological mother’s name.

``I am very elated,″ said Michael Chalek, who received the court order Monday. ``The albatross on my head for the past 38 years is gone.″

Chalek, 47, a former Boca Raton resident now living in Estes Park, Colo., told Circuit Judge Maurice Giunta last month that he wanted his adoption annulled because his adoptive parents, both of whom are dead, sexually and physically abused him.

``I had a mother who fondled me until I was 11,″ Chalek said.

Chalek’s attorney, Mallory Horne, presented evidence from a divorce record that Chalek’s adoptive mother had a violent temper and was promiscuous. The details of that divorce had been withheld from adoption officials.

Chalek was born Jan. 25, 1952, in Jacksonville to Winnie Faye Higginbotham Yarber, a barroom waitress who had separated from her husband and became pregnant by another man.

Eight days after the birth, records show the child went home with Alex and Adela Chalek, who had sought help from baby broker Lenora Fielding.

At 11, Chalek found out he had been adopted and became intent on finding out about his birth family. In 1998, a judge granted Chalek access to his confidential records _ something rarely done in Florida without a compelling medical need.

Amid the 100 pages were notes from state caseworkers that showed Mrs. Fielding coerced Mrs. Yarber into using a false name on adoption documents and that Mrs. Yarber had asked a state worker if she could get her baby back.

Mrs. Yarber, who has since remarried, was contacted by Chalek in December 1998 and supported his effort to get the adoption annulled. His birth father died in the 1970s.

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