Adoption ends battle for boy

A 4-year-old boy who changed homes three times is formally adopted by a cousin in Tennessee.

Published September 17, 2006

DAYTONA BEACH - A 4-year-old boy who was at the center of a protracted custody battle between his foster parents and his Tennessee relatives has been formally adopted by his maternal cousin.

Circuit Judge Frank Marriott approved the adoption Friday after rejecting an adoption petition from Denise and Ivar Baklid of Orange City, who cared for Christian in his early years.

"I only could have wished for it to have been done sooner," said the boy's cousin, Tiffany Delk, of Bell Buckle, Tenn.

Delk and her husband said Christian has begun kindergarten and continues counseling.

"I told (the judge) I wanted to live with them because I like them and they're my mom and dad," the boy said after the closed hearing at the Volusia County courthouse.

Christian, who turns 5 next month, changed homes three times in the legal battle that prompted debate on whether the state's policy to favor blood relatives over foster parents helps or hurts children.

The Baklids cared for Christian for 16 months after his birth. They had planned to adopt him in March 2003, when the Delks applied for adoption.

Christian lived in Tennessee for more than two years after the Florida Department of Children and Families removed him from the Baklids' home. An appellate court ruling in March returned him to Florida until a circuit judge denied the Baklids' adoption in June and sent Christian back to the Delks.

The Baklids dropped their adoption appeal last month, saying they did not want the boy to continue being shuttled between their home and his relatives.

During the custody battle, Florida law was changed to limit the state's power to remove a child from a foster parent or guardian seeking to adopt if the child had been in the home six months or more.