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WABC7 : Lask Fights Custody Battle for Father

 Wabc7                    Custody Battle, With a Twist

(New York-WABC, April 3, 2001) _ A custody battle in Dutchess County is tearing families apart. A young single mother gave up her baby for adoption, but the biological father says he never knew he had a son, and now is demanding the child be returned to him. Lucy Yang talked to the father and has the story.

This complicated case goes to court in two weeks and will require Solomon-like wisdom to decide who gets to take the baby boy home. No matter how the judge rules, someone is going to end up broken hearted and empty handed. The question tonight what is best for a baby named Shiloh.

Every time he sees a baby on a plane or in a crowd, flight attendant Juan Campoverde wonders, is that my son?

Juan Campoverde, Biological Father: "I have a child out there, I want to give him the best, mold him to become a success in life. Why is that bad? I just want to be a dad, to do the right thing."

Except in this case, doing the right thing is not so easy. The 20 year old and his lawyer are suing to get the 20 month old baby Juan has never met. When he and Sabrina Morabito broke up two years ago, Juan says he tried numerous times to stay in touch but that his ex-girlfriend never took his calls and never told him she was pregnant. Shiloh is the fruit of their short-lived relationship, and now the center of an emotional custody battle.

When he was 7 months, Shiloh's mother handed him over to a Dutchess County couple for adoption. Five months later, Juan learned the truth, and now an appellate court has ordered the judge who handled the original adoption to re-open the case and decide what to do with the baby.

Susan Chana Lask, Campoverde's Attorney: "There's absolutely no reason why he shouldn't have the child. He's a single father, but there's plenty of single mothers out there that raise children too."

The attorney for the birth mother told us, "This adoption was lawful and in the best interest of the child. It should be left undisturbed."

Campoverde: "I wish her the best, I thank her, actually, for giving me a child. A lot of people say she didn't give him to you, she gave him to up for adoption. I say she brought him to this Earth and that's a lot."

Juan will not speak poorly of the birth mother but will say he is determined bring his boy home.

Campoverde: "I'm going to win this. I'm going to see my son, raise him, have him. And say, 'ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to my son.'"

As for the adoptive parents, who have obviously bonded with the baby by now, Juan Campoverde says this battle is not against them, it's about uniting a father with his son. Tonight, it's anyone's guess where little Shiloh will spend his 2nd birthday and every birthday thereafter.