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Surrogate Baby Is Finally Named; Custody Hearing Nears End

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The warring parties in a custody case agreed Thursday on a name for the baby girl who has been the focus of months-long legal wrangling between a surrogate mother and the biological father.

The baby’s name will be Marissa Jordan Moschetta.

Until the agreement, surrogate mother Elvira Jordan had called the baby Millessa, while the biological father, Robert Moschetta, and his estranged wife, Cynthia, had named her Marissa.

In testimony before Superior Court Judge Nancy Wieben Stock, Jordan, 42, explained that she always had planned to call her first daughter Millessa and has called her that since her birth 15 months ago.

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“It’s going to be hard to call her something else,” Jordan sobbed, adding that she would compromise “if I have to . . . in the best interest of our baby.”

Jordan, who lives in Cudahy, also has three sons.

Shortly after Jordan’s testimony, the stipulated agreement was announced in court by her attorney, Richard C. Gilbert.

The Moschettas, after nearly 10 years of trying to have a baby of their own, agreed to pay Jordan $10,000 to bear a child through artificial insemination.

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Shortly before the baby was born, Cynthia Moschetta said, her husband told her he wanted a divorce and planned to move out and raise the child himself.

But when Jordan learned of the impending split, she felt that the surrogacy contract had been breached.

Robert Moschetta, 35, and Jordan were granted parental rights during a court hearing last April. The judge ruled at that time that Cynthia Moschetta, 51, had no parental rights because she had no biological link to the child.

Now they are back in court again to determine custody. The baby currently lives with Robert Moschetta in Lakewood.

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Cynthia Moschetta, a registered nurse with a doctorate in education, cried Thursday as she testified about her relationship with Marissa and how it has continued to flourish, even though the baby was taken away from her. She helped raise the child for six months before the couple separated and Robert Moschetta moved out of their Santa Ana home, taking the child with him.

She told the court about her trips to the zoo and the park with Marissa and the painful separations after each visit.

How does she act when it is time to go home? she was asked by her attorney, Leslee J. Newman.

“Well, she gets kind of melancholy and wants me to hold her constantly. . . . She knows we are going back; she wants me to hold her,” she said in a tearful voice.

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Testimony in the custody hearing concluded Thursday, with closing arguments scheduled for Tuesday.

Outside the court room, Jordan’s attorney, Gilbert, said he and his client are “scratching and clawing” for the judge to award more time for Jordan and the child to be together, including overnight visits. Jordan is currently allowed nine hours a week with the child.

“The child needs more time with her mother,” he said.

Attorney Edie Wittick Warren said her client, Robert Moschetta, was agreeable to doing whatever was in the “best interest of the child.”

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She said she stands by a court-ordered report recommending that Robert Moschetta be granted sole custody of Marissa.


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