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Adoptive Parents Gave Up, But Judge Upheld Adoption Anyway

February 15, 1995

MIAMI (AP) _ A case of adoptive parents who reluctantly agreed to return their 5-month-old boy took a twist Wednesday when a judge told them they should keep the baby.

The biological mother, Sheila Sheil, had consented to the adoption with the condition that the birth father also approved. But she named the wrong man as Baby Michael’s father. Genetic tests revealed Franklin Velasquez was the father, and he objected to the adoption.

Sheil withdrew her consent, and adoptive parents Kim and Dennis Sowers of Fort Lauderdale agreed to surrender their son rather than have his life entangled in the courts.

Then reports of Sheil’s criminal history surfaced. In 1993, she served six months in prison on four felony convictions for stealing from a 90-year-old patient while on probation for other fraud and theft convictions. And last Friday, Velasquez withdrew his objection to the adoption.

Palm Beach Circuit Judge Lucy Brown upheld the adoption Wednesday in a written opinion that was not made public, lawyers for both sides said.

``The decision was based upon the credibility of the witnesses and the validity of the consent,″ said the Sowerses’ attorney, Charlotte Danciu.

Sheil’s attorney, Ellis Rubin, promised an appeal.

He added that Sheil, 40, of Deerfield Beach, ``was disappointed but definitely not surprised.″

Even though she almost lost custody, Kim Sowers said she hoped other couples would not be frightened away from adoption.

``The joy we’ve had with this little boy for five months and the life we have ahead of us _ nobody wants to miss out on that,″ she said.

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