Judge delays decision in adoption dispute
November 30, 2005 (Jacksonville, FLA) (WLS) -- A toddler is at the center of a bitter custody battle that has stretched across three states, but the fate of Evan will stretch on even longer. On Wednesday, testimony started in his child custody case. The wrangling of the case is taking a toll on the boy who is being pulled by three families -- his adoptive parents, his biological mother and his biological father.
The judge said at the start of the trial on Wednesday, "This is an extraordinary case, everything that could go wrong has." That proved true when a few hours later an attorney for the Glenview mother was taken away from the courthouse in an ambulance, she wasn't feeling well. Apparently, these proceedings are taking a toll on the boy at the center of this case as well.
For nearly all of his four-and-a-half years of life, Evan has been at the center of a legal struggle. Despite concerns for Evans well-being, Florida Judge Waddell Wallace said Wednesday he would delay making a decision on the boy's future for two more months.
"I'm appalled, it's just more delay, more delay. That's been the whole problem. He's going to be 5 years old before the judge makes a final decision," said Dawn Scott, Former Adoptive Mother.
Amanda Hopkins of Glenview gained custody of the child from Dawn and Gene Scott last year. The Florida couple adopted Evan at birth -- but the adoption was later dissolved because Evan's father, Stephen White, never gave his okay. Amanda lost custody to Stephen earlier this month when prosecutors charged her husband, Michael Hopkins, with abusing the boy. Now, even Amanda's own mother says Evan shouldn't return to Illinois.
"My daughter at the very beginning did the right thing," said Rosemary Vaughn, Evan's Maternal Grandmother.
When Vaughn was asked, "Why did she want him back?" She replied "I don't know, I don't know I haven't figured that out and she hasn't talked to me about her feelings," said Vaughn.
"Evan is fine. She misses not having him there. His little sister missed him. The she heard, he wanted to come home," said Elaine Lucas, Amanda Hopkins' Attorney.
A psychologist hired by Evan's father testified Wednesday that the boy is now suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder --- a result, she says, of the alleged abuse, not having a permanent home, and not knowing who to call "mom and dad."
"It's tough on him and I don't think we always see that but deep down, we know it is," said Garrett Barket, Stephen White's Attorney.
The judge said he's not going to wait for a Cook County court to rule on whether or not Michael Hopkins abused his step-son. It's unclear if -- due to the attorneys health problems -- testimony will resume Thursday.
In the meantime, this four-year-old boy waits in a hotel room while the adults fight it out.
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