MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A Chinese couple regained legal custody of their 8-year-old daughter Monday after a seven-year fight to get her back from what was supposed to be temporary foster care.
Judge Curtis Person of Memphis Juvenile Court signed an order returning custody of Anna Mae He to parents Shaoqiang and Qin Luo He, Chinese citizens who came to the United States so Shaoqiang He could attend college.
The order revoked the temporary guardianship by Jerry and Louise Baker, former foster parents who had tried to adopt the girl over her parents' objections.
"As far as custody goes, that's it," said David Siegel, the Hes' lawyer. "That's no longer an issue. That's nothing that will ever be an issue again."
The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in January that Anna Mae He must be reunited with her parents and she began a series of meetings with them in March. Those meetings, which progressed to overnight stays and weekend visits, were overseen by a lawyer and psychologist appointed by the Juvenile Court.
In his custody order, Person said the Supreme Court mandate had been fulfilled.
Siegel declined to give details on the family's reunion.
"We want to make sure that Anna's privacy is protected as much as possible," Siegel said, "and the Hes simply want peace."
The state Supreme Court ruling overturned a decision by a Memphis judge in 2004 that took away the Hes parental rights on grounds of abandonment. The Supreme Court said the Hes put their daughter in temporary foster care after Shaoqiang He lost his scholarship at the University of Memphis and the student stipend that was his main source of income.