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Family: It's an Affair of the Heart

August 22, 1993

Kimberly Mays, the Florida teen-ager who was separated from her biological family at birth, has won what she wanted--to remain with the only man she has ever known as her father.

A judge has ruled that Robert Mays is Kimberly's "psychological parent." That compassionate decision recognizes that biology is but one of the criteria for what constitutes a family.

Kimberly's famous case is quite different from the famous case of Jessica, the 2 1/2-year-old Michigan girl who recently was "returned" to her biological parents in Iowa. The Mays litigation did not involve a straightforward battle between adoptive and biological parents.

Kimberly and another baby were switched at birth, apparently by mistake. The switch, discovered five years ago, led to an unusual legal challenge. Kimberly's biological parents sought visitation rights; those were granted, but after a while Kimberly wanted no part of a mother and father whom she considers strangers.

Those "strangers," Ernest and Regina Twigg, have lost twice. Nine years after a hospital sent them home with the wrong baby, they lost that child to congenital heart failure. Their heartbreak was compounded when scientific tests showed they couldn't have been the natural parents of the daughter they had nurtured until her death. The discovery led them to Kimberly--now also lost to them.

These have been tragic events for the Twiggs. But the judge has rightly recognized that the best place for Kimberly Mays is with the man she calls Dad. For this case, biology is not necessarily destiny.

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