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Saturday, March 26, 2005; Page A06

Adoption Error Enables Mother to Regain Baby

CHICAGO -- A 6-month-old girl at the center of an interstate custody battle was reunited with her biological mother after a judge ruled that the adoption agency in Utah mishandled the paperwork.

Carmen McDonald, 20, picked up Tamia on Thursday night at O'Hare International Airport. "It's the best moment in my life," McDonald said.

McDonald had given up Tamia by signing away her parental rights in a Salt Lake City motel in December. But she sued the adoption agency, A Cherished Child, in January to get Tamia back, claiming the agency pressured her into signing.

Cook County Judge Michael J. Murphy ordered Wednesday that Tamia be turned over to Illinois officials. He had ruled last week that the adoption agency violated the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, which requires adoption paperwork to be completed in the state where a child is born, not where an adoption takes place.

The baby had been living with Steven Kusaba, 50, and his wife, Lenna Carol Habbeshaw, 45, the Utah couple who planned to adopt her, since December. Utah authorities seized the baby and put her in an emergency shelter after the couple were arrested March 17 on charges of possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia and child endangerment.

IMPERIAL, Pa. -- A former police chief accused of stealing tried to eat a piece of evidence -- a receipt -- during a court hearing, authorities said. Darryl Briston scuffled with a state trooper during a preliminary hearing Thursday and elbowed the officer when he tried to stop Briston from eating the receipt for $1,334 he received for repair work to a police car, police said. Briston has denied cashing the check and not putting the money in the borough's account.

BOSTON -- The FBI said an agent shot and wounded bank robbery suspect Kenny Robinson on Thursday, more than three weeks after Robinson, 44, was suspected of taking $4,000 from a Boston bank.

IOWA CITY -- Police were investigating whether a body found Friday is that of Jetseta Marrie Gage, 10, who authorities said vanished Thursday with a registered sex offender. Roger Bentley, 37, was questioned but has not been charged.

-- From News Services

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