Anna Mae likely to suffer trauma as a result of transfer - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Anna Marie Hartman and Allison Martin

Anna Mae likely to suffer trauma as a result of transfer

We're learning more about the custody battle surrounding a 7-year- old girl and the Tennessee Supreme Court's ruling to place her back in the custody of her biological parents.

The fate of Anna Mae He has come full circle back to Juvenile Court. It has been a very high profile case filled with emotion.

Custody experts say the public's concern for Anna Mae He was not a factor in determining her fate.

It seems everyone has an opinion about a little girl being taken from the only parents she's ever known. But, for now the State Supreme Court has the last word on the fate of Anna Mae He.

"These are always the most difficult of cases because you're dealing with a child," says Attorney, Mitch Moskovitz.

Moskovitz specializes in child custody cases.

He says the Supreme Court's reversal of custody hinges on a very simple premise, the opinion that Jack and Casey He never abandoned their daughter.

Moskovitz adds, "having said that, theres no easy transition for this child, whether it had been six months or six years."

In 2005, Chancery Court Judge Robert Childers ruled that Anna Mae should remain with her foster parents Jerry and Louise Baker because of several reasons:

-She had developed a strong psychological and emotional attachment to the Bakers.

-The Bakers had provided a safe, stable, healthy, loving environment, and removal would cause substantial harm to the little girl.

-There was clear and convincing evidence, that both Mr. and Mrs. He were unfit parents.

But, once the High Court ruled out abandonment, it couldn't consider those concerns.

"The Juvenile Court in this instance will have to be so delicate, relative to minimizing the impact that it will have on this child," says Moskovitz.

The Bakers could seek a federal appeal but experts say reversing Anna Mae's fate now would be highly unusual.

The Shelby County Juvenile Court has been ordered to prepare a transition plan that will minimize the trauma to the little girl.

They will likely enlist the help of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers.

So, within 12 days, the Hes and the Bakers will be back at Shelby County's Juvenile Court to work out the transfer of little Anna Mae He. It will be a transfer that - experts say - will be painful at best.

Avita He and her brother Andy will soon share their home with their big sister.

"We have told them many times that they know you have a sister. And we have assured them many times your sister will come back," explained father, Jack He.

At the same time, Anna Mae He - seen in pictures as a toddler - will lose the family she's known for nearly eight years.

"You're not just removing her from her home you're removing her from her grandparents, her aunts, her uncles, her cousins, her sisters, and people she has known all her life," said Larry Parrish, attorney for Jack and Louise Baker.

The Tennessee Supreme Court ordered Anna Mae He be sent back to her biological parents, who sent her to live with Jerry and Louise Baker when she was just a few weeks old.

She's been with the Bakers ever since.

"The fact that these are her biological parents is not going to make it any easier for her to her to go. When you're 8 that doesn't really matter. Your mom and your dad are the people you've been with," said child psychologist Rebecca Rutledge.

Rutledge says, no matter how well it's handled, the transfer will be heartbreaking.

"She's going to have some issues with security, she's going to have some issues with where she really does belong, she's going to have some grief issues," she said.

Jack and Casey He say they want to make it easier by keeping the Bakers in their daughter's life, a life that could soon see dramatic change.

The Bakers' only appeal now would be to the U.S. Supreme Court.

They have 90 days to make that decision.


Click here to email Anna Marie Hartman.

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