- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 11, 2007


An 8-year-old Chinese girl at the center of a seven-year custody fight will begin visits with her biological parents this week, a Juvenile Court judge ruled last week.

Anna Mae He has lived with an American couple, Jerry and Louise Baker, since she was a month old and has seen her biological parents only a few times over the past six years because of the custody fight.

Judge Curtis Person said parents Shaoqiang and Qin Luo He will have a two-hour visit with Anna Mae on Thursday along with a court-appointed psychologist who will organize a series of visits to prepare the child for the family transition.

No timetable for a complete reunion has been set, but Judge Person said the psychologist will arrange meetings between Anna Mae and her parents “over the next four weeks, gradually increasing the duration and frequency of visits.”

“I’m very happy. This has been a long time,” said Mrs. He, whose English is limited.

Judge Person is under orders from the Tennessee Supreme Court to reunite Anna Mae with her biological family. That order, issued in January, overturned a ruling by another Memphis judge in 2004 that took away the Hes’ parental rights to Anna Mae. The decision came on a petition from the Bakers to adopt Anna Mae over her parents’ objections.

The Supreme Court said the Hes, who are Chinese nationals, did not understand American law and meant only to give the Bakers temporary care of Anna Mae so she could be covered by their medical insurance. Mr. He, a graduate student at the University of Memphis, had lost his scholarship and was out of work.

David Siegel, the Hes’ attorney, declined to give details of Anna Mae’s pending visits with her parents, citing the need for family privacy.

The reunion process “is going to depend on all the parties and how they respond and how Anna reacts,” he said.

Larry Parrish, the Bakers’ attorney, has said his clients will cooperate with the child’s transition.

Judge Person issued his directive following a meeting with both families and their attorney. Anna Mae did not attend.

The Hes have had a son and daughter since losing custody of Anna Mae, and they are eager to meet their big sister, Mrs. He said.

“They say they teach Anna Chinese so she can speak both languages, English and Chinese,” she said.

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