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Baby Jessica case

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For the "Baby Jessica" who fell down a well in 1987, see Jessica McClure.

The "Baby Jessica" case, was a well-publicized custody battle in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the early 1990s between Jan and Roberta DeBoer, the couple who attempted to adopt the child, and her biological parents, Dan Schmidt and Cara Clausen. In August, 1993, the supreme courts of Iowa and Michigan ordered her returned to Schmidt, who named her Anna Jacqueline Schmidt. The case was widely publicized as the "Baby Jessica" case after the name given her by the DeBoers.[1] The case name is In re Clausen 442 Mich. 648 (1993).


Anna was born in 1991 to Cara Clausen, who placed her for adoption with Jan and Roberta DeBoer without telling Schmidt that he was the father; she also put a different man's name on the birth certificate, further obscuring paternity. The adoption process was handled by the DeBoer's attorney, whom Clausen erroneously thought was also her attorney. Five days after the birth, Clausen changed her mind, informed Schmidt of his paternity, and told the DeBoers that she wanted to cancel the adoption. Clausen and Schmidt later married, and Schmidt went to court to get Anna back, arguing that he had not given up his parental rights to his daughter. The DeBoers, who had named the baby "Jessica", battled to keep the child for 2½ years, but ultimately lost their fight. Roberta "Robby" DeBoer later wrote a book called Losing Jessica about the case and the DeBoers established a child advocacy group called Hear My Voice that advocates for children involved in difficult custody cases, with a pro adoptive parent angle. A TV movie, Whose Child Is This? The War for Baby Jessica was produced, dramatizing the events, but was heavily tilted in favor of the DeBoer's perspective. In the film, the DeBoers, who were better educated than the Schmidts and in a better financial position, were portrayed as the ideal family living in affluence, and the Schmidts were portrayed as low-class, unsuitable parents living under squalid conditions.

Anna said in 2003 that she has no memory of the DeBoers and was doing well with her biological family.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Baby Jessica Case Updates". Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan, USA). 2001–2003. Retrieved 2007-02-15. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Martin Guggenheim (2005). "Getting and Losing Parental Rights: The "Baby Jessica" case". What's Wrong With Children's Rights?. Harvard University Press. pp. 50–96. ISBN 0-674-01721-8. 

External links[edit]