A Florida mother claimed in a federal lawsuit Tuesday that her constitutional right to "family integrity" was violated when Orange County officials put her kidnaped son up for adoption without notifying her.
"We're saying the state and county violated our client's civil rights in that they are depriving her of consortium with her son," said Amiee Isfalt, an aide to lawyer Robert Glasser, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Kay Nelson in U.S. District Court.
Filed Suit in State Court
Last week, Nelson filed a state court lawsuit seeking to void the adoption and gain the return of the son she claims she last saw when he was 3--in 1980.
"They've taken the family entity and thrown it away," Isfalt said. "Without notice or a hearing, they deprived (Nelson) of her rights to association with her own family."
Both lawsuits allege that Nelson was awarded custody of her son in Nashville, Tenn., in 1979. Her ex-husband was granted visitation rights, but while the father was visiting his son in 1980, both disappeared.
Nelson said she attempted to find them but gave up after police and her own lawyer said her only hope was to hire a private investigator, which she said she could not afford. She resumed the search with the encouragement of her new husband and eventually learned that her son's birth certificate had been sealed by order of the Superior Court in Orange County.
Sources have said that her former husband brought the boy to California, then turned him over to juvenile authorities. Nelson alleges that the Orange County authorities failed to conduct a proper search for her before allowing her rights to be terminated and the child to be adopted.
Deputy Orange County Counsel Susan Strom declined comment on the lawsuit Tuesday but has said that county agencies routinely conduct thorough searches for the parents of juveniles in such cases.