Judge orders boy, 3, to birth mom he doesn't know


IN THIS PHOTO released by Debbie Grabarkiewicz on Wednesday, Evan Parker Scott is shown.

news07LRContributed Photo JACKSONVILLE -- For almost four years, Dawn and Gene Scott have doted over their boy Evan, treating him like a little prince, indulging his love of Hot Wheels and ham sandwiches.

But because their adoption was never finalized, a judge says the Scotts have to return Evan to his biological mother, whom he has never lived with, in a child-custody case involving three families and nine judges.

As the little boy napped Wednesday, Dawn Scott said she and her husband are still trying to understand how someone would take him away.

"He's our only child. We've raised him since the moment of his birth. We are
losing our son, our life," she said.

"My husband and I prayed for a child. We prayed for him and he came into our lives. But something went terribly wrong," she said. "We hope there is some kind of review and Evan gets his day in court."

While the Scotts, both 44, prepare their son for what is known as a "transitional visit" -- a several day trip to his new home in Illinois with his birth mother -- the Scotts' lawyer, Susan Pniewski, is trying to come up with a way to prevent the transfer, which she says would not be in Evan's best interest.

"He is treated like a prince and that's going to end tomorrow," Pniewski said.

The parents have to follow the order of Circuit Judge Waddell Wallace III to hand over the boy, but they will continue trying to overturn his ruling on appeal, she said. All parties in the case are under a court order not to discuss when the boy will be turned over to his biological mother or where she lives.

The transfer was expected to happen in the next few days.

The Scotts are devastated at the strange turn of events tearing their son from their arms.

About four years ago, the Scotts met Amanda Hopkins, an unwed mother, who agreed to a private adoption during the final weeks of her pregnancy.

The Scotts watched Evan's birth, on May 5, 2001.

"We thought he was such a blessing," she said. "His name, Evan, means gift from God and young warrior."

Evan was placed with the Scotts two days later and an adoption petition was filed two days after that.

The petition stated the Scotts had consent of the baby's biological mother.

The consent of the child's father, Steven White Jr., was not needed, the petition said, because he had not established his paternity through a court proceeding, had not acknowledged he was the child's' father and had not filed an acknowledgment with the Office of Vital Statistics.

In addition, he had not provided any support to the mother or the child.

Hopkins and White never married, and she did not learn she was pregnant until she sought medical treatment for injuries suffered when she was assaulted by White in the residence they once shared, court documents show.

The adoption was supposed to become final on Aug. 22, 2001.

But just a month before that, White filed a motion demanding immediate custody of Evan.

The Scotts claimed White should not be able to block the adoption, but a judge disagreed.

Hopkins supported the Scotts' adoption of Evan as late as August, until it appeared the court might grant White custody.

Pniewski said she doesn't know why Hopkins, who is now married to a sailor in Illinois and has a 19-month-old baby, now wants to scuttle the adoption by the Scotts.

"I don't know what her motivation is," Pniewski said.

Calls to attorneys for White and Hopkins were not returned Wednesday.