Custody battle over boy ends

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 21 Jan 2004


KUALA LUMPUR: A six-year custody battle between a 10-year-old boy's natural parents and adoptive mother, who had undergone a sex-change operation, finally came to an end after both parties reached a mutual compromise. 

At the High Court yesterday, Justice Md Raus Sharif dismissed the adoptive mother's appeal for adoption after her counsel Gobind Singh Deo informed the court of his client's intention to withdraw her application. 

Gobind Singh also informed the court that both parties had compromised and consented to several terms. 

They included the child remaining with the adoptive parents with access to his natural mother. 

Lawyer Yasmeen Sharif, who was assigned by the Bar Council Legal Aid Centre to represent the natural mother, confirmed that her client had agreed to the terms. 

The decision yesterday arose out of a court battle when the couple tried to legally adopt the boy in 1996, soon after the natural father gave him to them. The court, however, rejected the adoption petition then because the natural mother had not given her consent. 

To complicate matters, the adoptive mother was a man who underwent a sex-change operation 17 years ago. 

At the time the child was handed to her, the adoptive mother had legally married a businessman. 

The boy is still living with the adoptive parents although their adoption petition was thrown out by a Sessions Court in 1998. 

During the last court proceedings, lawyers for both the natural and adoptive parents argued before Justice Md Raus on the issue of whether the adoptive mother, being a married transsexual, has a legal right to adopt a child under the Adoption Act 1952. 

The issue was raised by the adoptive parents as a preliminary point in their appeal against the dismissal of the adoption petition which was still pending before they reached an agreement yesterday.  

Also at the last sitting, Yasmeen said although the 30-year-old natural mother was forced to leave her matrimonial home, she managed to take care of her other children by working as a maid. 

Yasmeen added that the mother worked hard to take care of her children and said it was not she who gave away the child but her husband. 

Yesterday, when asked how she felt about the agreement, the natural mother who has three other children said: “I have fought for this case for six years and for the sake of my son's future, I accept the terms.'' 

The boy's adoptive father when asked expressed similar sentiments. 

“He (the boy) has been with us since he was 18 months and now he is already 10,” he said.  

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