Race furore as addict wins son

AT THE end of a legal tug-of-war that gripped Chicago because of overtones of racism and political favouritism, one of the city's leading power couples - an alderman and his wife, an appeals court judge - have been ordered to return their three-year-old foster son within a year to his natural mother, a former cocaine addict.

The ruling was a stunning victory for Tina Olison, 37, who is black. Her child, known as Baby T, was taken from her when he was just days old by a child welfare agency because traces of cocaine were found in his body at birth. The infant was placed with foster parents - Edward Burke and Anne Burke, an Appellate Court Judge. The Burkes, both white, had been seeking legally to adopt him.

Judge Judith Brawka said it was based in part on the progress made by Ms Olison, who had recovered from cocaine addiction, had secured full- time employment and had found religion.

Judge Brawka noted that an elder brother, called Boy B, who had been placed with his maternal grandmother, would also be returning to Ms Olison's care under court instructions. She ordered a transition period of 12 months before Baby T is returned definitively to his mother. Throughout the case, black leaders claimed the case would be slanted in favour of the Burkes because of their political standing and colour. One black pastor kept a vigil outside Alderman Burke's office at the beginning of the trial.

Ms Olison wept when she heard the ruling. "My stomach is finally unknotted," she told reporters. "When God is for you, he's greater than the weight of the world against you." Complaining that the decision had been delayed for two years, she said it was because of "pure political clout".

The ruling brings bitter disappointment, however, to Mr Burke, who is Chicago's longest serving city alderman, and his wife. Both in their fifties, they have four grown-up children of their own. Some observers said their case may have been hurt because they had baptised Baby T as a Catholic. Ms Olison is a member of the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ, where baptisms are not performed on infants.

Ms Olison was admonished by the judge, however, to be sensitive in celebrating the ruling and not to treat it as a "prize you have won". The judge told her: "He is not the spoils of war after a battle. He is a human being."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high