Custody and Adoption Issues Surround Missing Baby Case

By Minara El-Rahman on January 06, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Gabriel Johnson is a missing baby with a trail of custody and adoption disputes that may have led to his disappearance. ABC News reports that his mother, Elizabeth Johnson, allegedly ran away with her son Gabriel when his biological father, Mr. Logan McQueary, refused to sign off on an adoption of their son to Mr. Jack Smith and his wife Tammi. The Smiths claim that Ms. Johnson informed them that she left the baby with a young couple in San Antonio, Texas.

Ms. Johnson reportedly fled Arizona with her son before Christmas. As a result of her disappearance, Ms. Johnson lost custody of her son when she failed to make a court appearance on Dec. 28, 2009. Police apprehended her alone in Miami the next day. She was arrested for interfering with custody of the child.

Ms. Johnson is sticking with her story that she left her missing baby with a young couple in Texas. She reportedly thought she was doing a closed adoption with the couple. She purportedly cannot remember their names or their license plate number. Ms. Smith claims that Ms. Johnson told her that she purposely tried not to remember details in order to prevent herself from changing her mind and taking her baby back.

While this story is strange, it brings up the question: How do you go through the process of adoption? 

Adoptive parents can not just adopt a baby in the park. There are certain steps that need to be taken in order to adopt a baby.

  • Adoptive parents must participate in a "home study". This is to educate and prepare the adoptive parents for adoption, collect information about the adoptive parents, evaluate their fitness as parents, and to help them find a suitable child that is a match for them.
  • Adoptive parents must get the consent of the biological parents to adopt. There are some exceptions when only one of the parent's consent is required -- such as when the father's identity is unknown, or in some states when one parent has been awarded sole custody and the other has for a period of time not communicated with or helped support the child. This is a big decision because it means that the biological parents give up their rights and duties with regards to their child.
  • Adoption needs court approval through an adoption petition. Some states also require an adoption hearing before the adoption becomes final.

In this case, Ms. Johnson's alleged handing over of her missing baby to an unknown young couple would not be a "closed adoption" or any type of adoption. Ms. Johnson claims that she had good intentions. She told a CBS affiliate: "I made a hasty decision and I thought it was OK. They approached me. I was out alone with the baby at the park. I trusted them, I believe in my heart they are good people." While she may have had good intentions, police still need more information in order to locate the missing baby. Anyone with information about Gabriel Johnson is being requested to call the Tempe Police Department at 480-350-8311. 

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