JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 3½-year-old boy at the center of a three-way custody battle was handed over to his biological mother, leaving the couple who had been raising him since his birth in tears.
Evan Scott's (search) mother, Amanda Hopkins, who had won a court battle, picked up the boy Thursday for a "transitional visit" to his new home. Hopkins lives on a Navy base in Illinois with her husband and infant daughter.
Dawn and Gene Scott, who have cared for the boy since his birth in May 2001, are still seeking to overturn a judge's order denying them custody.
"I know he is confused," Dawn Scott (search) said in an interview Friday on NBC's "Today." "I know he didn't understand all this turmoil happening in his life right now."
The Scotts, of Atlantic Beach, hugged and kissed the boy as they handed him over to the mother. After the visit of a few days, Evan is expected to return to Florida for about a week before moving to Illinois.
The timetable for Evan's visit was not released and most court records on the boy's case have been sealed by a judge. Under Florida law, adoption records are not public records.
Hopkins and the boy's father, Steven A. White Jr., never married, and she did not learn she was pregnant until she sought medical treatment for injuries suffered when she was assaulted in the residence they once shared, court documents show.
Hopkins supported the Scotts' adoption of Evan until it appeared the court might grant White's request for custody.
"I have sympathy for everyone on all sides of the whole situation," Dawn Scott told "Today." "It's been really difficult for everyone. I am sure she found herself in a difficult position. But our main concern is the best interest of the child."
Calls by The Associated Press to attorneys for White and Hopkins were not returned Friday.
When Hopkins was pregnant with the boy, she met the Scotts and agreed to a private adoption. The Scotts watched Evan's birth, and he was placed with the Scotts two days later.
The adoption was supposed to become final in August 2001, but a month before that, White filed a motion demanding immediate custody. The Scotts claimed White should not be able to block the adoption, but a judge disagreed.
Hopkins has another child, age 19 months, with her husband in Illinois.
The Scotts will continue trying to overturn a judge's ruling, said Susan Pniewski, their attorney. While giving Hopkins custody, the court ordered that White be given liberal visitation rights.