DNA Tests Confirm Parents of 'Baby 81'

DNA test results confirm that a baby boy rescued from tsunami debris in Sri Lanka (search) and dubbed "Baby 81" (search) belongs to the couple who launched a wrenching court battle for his custody, a court announced Monday.

The finding ended weeks of uncertainty and drama surrounding the infant, who became a symbol of families torn apart by the Dec. 26 tsunami, and set the stage for a reunion Wednesday with his parents Jenita and Murugupillai Jeyarajah.

"I am so happy, and I only have to thank God for giving my child back," Murugupillai, the boy's father, said. "We've got the results for all our hardships."

Nine couples originally claimed the boy in the coastal town of Kalmunai. The Jeyarajahs were the only couple to file a formal claim, but they couldn't document it because their records were swept away in the tsunami.

The court had ruled that the baby must stay in the hospital until DNA tests could confirm his parentage, and the family underwent the testing Feb. 9.

The judge unsealed the results from an envelope during a hearing attended only by lawyers Monday, read them aloud and then ordered the couple, hospital officials and baby to appear before the court on Wednesday.

"Since they are the biological parents, I have noticed them to appear on that day and we will hand over the baby," Kalmunai Judge M.P. Mohaideen said after the hearing.

"The reason they had to go through a DNA test is to ensure that the baby is not discriminated against," Mohaideen said. "This is the first such case in Sri Lanka and it is a historic case."

The couple's lawyer, S.H.M. Manarudeen, was embraced by a weeping Murugupillai after he broke the news to the Jeyarajahs.

"We will go and see the baby this evening. We're happy," said Jenita, the baby's mother.

The child's name is Abilass, and he was born Oct. 19, the Jeyarajahs say. He was pulled from his mother's arms when the tsunami hit on Dec. 26, they say.

Rescuers found the baby amid mud, debris and corpses after the tsunami, and he was named "Baby 81" because he was the 81st patient admitted that day to the hospital in Kalmunai, 185 miles east of the capital, Colombo.

Jenita Jeyarajah has said that as soon as she regains custody of her baby, she will fulfill vows to smash 100 coconuts at a temple of the elephant-headed Hindu god, Ganesh (search), offer sweet rice to the warrior god, Murugan (search), and kill a rooster for the goddess Kali (search).

The family lost all their belongings to the tsunami and have been living in a camp close to the town.