Despite OK Court Order, South Carolina Couple Not Giving Up Baby Desirai

Tuesday, October 15th 2013, 6:20 pm
By: News On 6

A South Carolina couple, who is trying to adopt an Oklahoma girl, is refusing to follow a judge's order to return the girl to Oklahoma.

The attorney for the biological father in this latest case said there is a clear conflict of interest.

It sounds remarkably similar to the "Baby Veronica" case. The custody battle over Veronica, between her adoptive parents in South Carolina and her biological father in Oklahoma, went on for nearly four years, until the father announced last week he was ending his fight.

Baby Desirai's biological father hopes his case has a different ending.

"It's hard because nobody wants to listen, you know?" said father Jeremy Simmons.

Simmons is fighting for custody of his 5-month-old daughter, Desirai, and has the support of Desirai's biological mother's Absentee Shawnee family.

Desirai is currently with the family in South Carolina, despite an Oklahoma County judge's ruling in September that the Absentee Shawnee tribe should have custody.

"I'm pretty tired of it. I don't get much sleep," Simmons said.

9/11/2013 Related Story: Court Rules Baby Desirai Must Be Returned To Oklahoma

Paul Swain is on the other side of this tug-of-war. He represents the South Carolina couple, and claims the case was dismissed in late July and the judge's ruling isn't valid.

The couple is moving forward with completing the adoption.

"I mean, they're just like any other couple that wants to adopt a child," Swain said.

Swain also represented Matt and Melanie Capobianco, as they fought for custody of little Veronica.

"The whole thing has got a bad odor," said Simmons's attorney, Don Mason.

Mason said he questions a close connection Swain has to another player in both the Veronica and Desirai custody cases. Heritage Family Services, a Tulsa adoption agency, is under contract with DHS to administer what's called an ICPC, or Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. It's a report that's done for every case where a child is adopted across state lines.

Paul Swain is the chairman of Heritage Family Services' Board of Directors.

"I think it's a gross conflict of interest," Mason said.

Swain and the owner of Heritage Family Services deny any conflict, pointing out that Swain came on board the Veronica case three years after the ICPC was completed.

In a statement, Heritage's director, Mike Nomura, said, "I have not treated Mr. Swain or his clients differently in regards to ICPC cases. His clients do not receive any favorable treatment."

Swain said there's never any talk during board meetings about specific ICPC cases.

"He's not cutting us any special deal that somebody else is not getting. We're following all the same rules," Swain said.

DHS told us there have never been any concerns about a conflict of interest between Nomura and Swain.

Nomura's contract with DHS to administer the ICPC report expires in 2014.