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Baby Richard’s Adoptive Parents Exhaust Their Appeals

June 19, 1995

CHICAGO (AP) _ They brought him home as a newborn, changed his diapers, helped him learn to walk and talk and loved him as if he were their own.

Only he wasn’t, and now, with their legal appeals exhausted, Kimberly and Robert Warburton finally must accept that they will never live with Baby Richard _ now a tow-headed 4-year-old _ again.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Warburtons’ latest _ and probably last _ attempt to regain custody of the boy, who was removed sobbing from their Schaumburg home April 30 after a four-year court battle.

The case eventually involved Gov. Jim Edgar, the Legislature and, on three occasions, the U.S. Supreme Court. Along the way, it prompted Americans to re-evaluate adoption laws, the best interests of adopted children and the rights of biological parents.

``There are no words to express how saddened we are,″ the Warburtons said in a statement.

``We had a lot of hopes and expectations of the United States Supreme Court, which today has gone down the drain,″ said their attorney Jerold Solovy.

The justices, without comment, refused to hear the couple’s claim that they were wrongly denied a full custody hearing before the Illinois Supreme Court ordered them to surrender the boy to his biological father. The high court also rejected an appeal filed by a guardian for the boy.

The boy’s biological father, Otto Kirchner, expected the court victory, said his attorney, Loren Heinemann.

Baby Richard is the pseudonym for a bright-eyed little boy the Warburtons named Daniel, who loves Power Rangers and balloons and fishing.

The Warburtons adopted the boy in 1991, four days after his then-unmarried mother, Daniela, agreed to give him up.

Kirchner, who had been estranged from the mother and initially thought the baby was dead, began court action to gain custody 57 days after his birth and married Daniela a few months later.

The Illinois Supreme Court invalidated the adoption in 1994, ruling that Kirchner’s parental rights were improperly terminated.

Whether the Warburtons ever see Daniel again remains to be seen.

When Kirchner took the boy in April, he told him he could contact the Warburtons whenever he wanted to. But there have been no phone calls and no visits. The Warburtons say their attempts to contact Daniel have been rebuffed.

Kirchner maintains that the boy has adjusted so well to the move to the Kirchner home in suburban Mokena that he has not once asked to see the only family he’d ever known.

``Our doctors have said that contact right now is not necessary for Danny,″ Heinemann said. A visit will probably take place ``at some point in time, if anything else, for some closure,″ the lawyer said.

The Warburtons, who have a 7-year-old son, said: ``Regardless of the court’s decision, our commitment to Danny is carved in stone, as well as in mind and spirit. We will do all within our power to ensure that Danny is well cared for ... and ensure that he can see his brother, who misses him every day, and the parents who raised and love him.″

``To all those who prayed for Danny, from the bottom of our hearts we thank you,″ the Warburtons said. ``However, please do not stop praying for him now as he will need your prayers more now than ever.″

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