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In re Kirchner

Supreme Court of Illinois
649 N.E.2d 324 (Ill. 1995)


Otakar Kirchner (plaintiff) and Daniella Janikova planned to marry. Janikova became pregnant with Kirchner’s child, Richard. Before Richard was born, Kirchner traveled from the United States to his native Czechoslovakia to tend to a dying family member. After Richard was born, and while Kirchner was still out of the country, Janikova put Richard up for adoption and devised a plan to tell Kirchner that Richard had died during birth. Mr. and Mrs. Doe adopted Richard with the knowledge that Janikova knew Kirchner was the father and that Kirchner had not consented to the adoption. The Does acquiesced to Janikova telling Kirchner that Richard had died. Kirchner eventually discovered that Richard was alive and brought suit to gain custody. The trial court found that Kirchner was unfit to be a parent due to being an unwed father and failing to show interest or concern about Richard during the first 30 days after Richard’s birth. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court of Illinois reversed the lower courts and vacated the Does’ adoption of Richard, holding that Kirchner’s parental rights were never properly terminated. The Does, however, did not return Richard to Kirchner. Instead, the Does petitioned the Circuit Court of Cook County for an adoption hearing based on an Illinois law requiring that, upon the vacating of an adoption, a custody hearing be held to determine custody based on the best interests of the child. Kirchner then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus from the Supreme Court of Illinois. At this point, Richard was almost four years old.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

Dissent (McMorrow, J.)

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