(CN) – A mother who gave her twins up for adoption and later kidnapped them during a visitation is not entitled to see the children again, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled.
Allison Quets used in vitro fertilization to become pregnant, using donated eggs and sperm. After the successful procedure, she looked into the possibility of giving her twins up for adoption.
After giving birth to Hannah and Tom in Florida, Quets arranged for them to be adopted by relatives of her 67-year-old boyfriend. The agreement called for limited visitation and communication between Quets and the twins.
Three days later, Quets tried to have the adoption revoked. She claimed that she had signed the document under duress. The adoptive parents, Kevin and Denise Needham, moved to terminate Quets’ parental rights. The family court came up with a compromise that allowed Quets to have visitation.
Three days before Christmas 2006, Quets arrived for her visit with the Needhams, who live in North Carolina. She took the twins out of the United States.
Quets and the children were found in Canada four days after Christmas. The Needhams retrieved the twins, and Quets was charged with kidnapping. She was fined and placed on probation.
Quets sued to have the adoption invalidated, claiming that she was a victim of fraud. She also asked that her original open adoption agreement from Florida be enforced.
The trial court ruled that a parent who gives up a child for adoption lacks standing to sue for custody and visitation. The appeals court affirmed the decision, disagreeing with the Quets’ assertion that the open adoption agreement gives her standing.
“Plaintiff lost her right to seek custody of or visitation with the children when she consented to their adoption,” Judge Stroud wrote. “The open adoption agreement, being unenforceable in this state, was not sufficient to restore that right.”
Quets received some relief when Stroud overturned the sanctions that the trial court imposed against her for bringing the lawsuit.
According to the court’s 2008 decision in Herring v. Winston-Salem/Forsyth City Board of Education, “Rule 11 sanctions are inappropriate where the issue raised by a plaintiff’s complaint is one of first impression.”