Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Anna Mae He Custody Case....Was there Parental Alienation?

The custody case of AMH made national headlines and if you have not heard about it, all I can suggest is to go ahead and google it. You will find several articles written about it. Some support the He's, Anna Mae's natural or birth parents and others support the Baker's, the foster parents. Whatever your opinion is about this case, it was a case fraught with accusations, tensions and a very lengthy legal battle over who should be allowed to care for Anna Mae.

I do not know either family and have no personal experience with either of them. All I "know" is what was written in the media, which I think slants articles and persuades the public right or wrong when needed. The case was presented as the He's, a Chinese family attempting to make their way in America, had a baby girl who was premature. Jack He, the father, was fighting his own legal battles and they needed help. According to written articles they placed Anna in foster care until they could get on their feet financially. This was to be temporary and later I read until Anna reached the age of 18. This sounded odd to me, but I also had to remember that there is a language barrier as well. I wish not to argue whether the He's could speak and write in English or understand, but what concerns me is the legalese that is used. I speak English and was brought up in the US and for the life of me, I can not always understand the legal wording of documents.

As I would read the stories presented in the media, I did not feel inclined either way towards which family would be best for Anna. The media painted a picture though. The Bakers were wealthier than the He's and could provide more for Anna. That does not make them better parents. From one news media article they print: "The Bakers live in a five-bedroom, 4,800-square-foot home in the Davies Plantation area east of town. Their $414,000 house sits on more than an acre of rolling Tennessee hills. There are colorful play sets in the well-groomed backyard. Inside there is a media room with surround sound and a 53-inch TV, a Jacuzzi and a central vacuum system." I think, "who cares?" Obviously the media and the courts care. In the same article this is printed: "The Bakers began caring for Anna Mae on Feb. 23, 1999, and the Hes say they visited their daughter at least once a week. When the three months ended, they still were not able to care for Anna Mae. Mid-South Christian Services could no longer handle their case because the agency's supervision is limited to 90 days in temporary custody cases. So the two couples negotiated the next step on their own." And this: "Over the next year, the Hes say they continued to visit Anna Mae and told the Bakers they wanted her back. They say Jerry Baker asked that the arrangements stay in place until his then-pregnant wife gave birth to her own child." and this: "But the Bakers say in court documents that the Hes abandoned Anna Mae by not visiting enough and failing to pay child support. For the past year, the Bakers have refused the Hes' official requests to give Anna Mae back. Last month, the Bakers insisted, through Parrish, that Mister He take a DNA test to prove that he was Anna Mae's father. The test proved that he is."

In another news media article this was written: "But things only got worse for the struggling couple. In April 1999, a month before their custody was to end, He was arrested in the sexual assault case. The Bakers agreed to continue caring for Anna Mae—but only if they were named the child's guardians, which would give them full parental rights. The Hes agreed, they say, but without realizing the agreement could only be reversed by court order. "If we had known that by signing custody to the Bakers we would end up in court, facing termination of parental rights, we never would have signed it," says Jack, who now works at a Chinese restaurant. The Hes visited Anna Mae some 80 times before tensions flared. "The more Jack and Casey wanted to visit their daughter," says one of their pro bono attorneys, David Siegel, "the greater resistance they received from the Bakers." (As evidence, Siegel points to a journal that Louise kept.) In April 2000 and April 2001 the Hes petitioned to regain custody of Anna Mae but were turned down because of their unresolved legal problems. Then, on Jan.28, 2001, Anna Mae's second birthday, the Bakers denied the Hes' request to take their daughter for a family portrait, saying she was ill. The Hes refused to leave without her, prompting the Bakers to call the police. Intimidated, the Hes, who say they feared they would be arrested, didn't try to visit for a period of four months—which may constitute legal abandonment in Tennessee—and the Bakers went to court seeking to terminate the Hes' parental rights and formally adopt Anna Mae. Once, while shopping last December, the Hes happened to spot Anna Mae, who was with two of the Bakers' daughters, Hope and Aimee. According to Hope, 18, Casey put her hands on Anna Mae and screamed, "That's my baby!" Such incidents fuel the Bakers' contention that the Hes are emotionally unstable."

As I stated before, I do not know either family, have never met them and know nothing about the case, except for what was written in the media and from reading some court documents. I do have some concerns though. At first I was slanted towards the Baker's as they obviously could provide a better home and environment for Anna Mae. By all media accounts she seemed to be doing well with the Baker's as well. The He's were painted very poorly as well, as Jack He had some accusations against him and seemed to have some financial difficulties and the perception that the Chinese only want male children. I believe this was carefully depicted by the media slant on the story.

A few things I found from reading court documents was that Louise Baker was born in 1961. This should make her 47 years old. In 1989 she underwent a tubal ligation after the birth of their third child. If my math is correct, this should make this child 19 years old. In 1998, (this would make Mrs. Baker 37 yrs old) the Baker's decided they wanted another child and Mrs. Baker underwent a reversal of her tubal ligation. The Bakers considered adopting a child, but they wanted to try to have a child of their own first. The Bakers previously submitted a “Foster Home Application” to Mid-South in 1997. In response to the question “Why are you interested in providing a foster home?” on the application, the Bakers responded by stating, in relevant part, that they “were first interested in adoption of a newborn, but thought we would try foster care of newborns for a couple of years.”According to Mrs. Baker, they were considering adoption, and serving as foster parents allowed them to decide if adoption was something they wanted to pursue. After submitting their application, the Bakers began serving as foster parents for Mid-South. I also believe that the Baker's did have another child as well, because news reports state that they had a daughter born the year after they took in Anna Mae.

What concerns me and bothers me about this case is that from media reports this case did not present like a foster family wanting to adopt a child, but a custody case when the issue of custody was not a point. Mrs. Baker kept a notebook detailing visits, dates, time, length of stay and gifts brought for Anna Mae. In one article this was stated: "The Hes continued to visit Anna Mae regularly for about an hour a week. Louise Baker began to keep a diary in which she documented the Hes' visits to Anna Mae, writing down when the visits were, how long they lasted, how the Hes interacted with Anna Mae, and what gifts they gave her. In October 1999, friction began when the Hes wanted to take Anna Mae out of the Bakers' home and the Bakers refused. Louise Baker wrote "We would like to get visits to every other week. We feel like they would wean away, but the last 2 visits we could see Casey is wanting to come more." In November 1999, Jack He told Jerry Baker they wanted to regain custody of Anna Mae. Jerry replied that they did not want to give up Anna Mae and that Louise was pregnant and he didn't want her to miscarry. The Hes contacted the juvenile court officer several times during these months complaining about problems with visitation and talking about wanting to get custody back." My questions are do the agencies that you are are foster parent with require or suggest that you keep a notebook of visits with such detail? Was there an underlying motive in the keeping of the notebook? If there is no requirement or suggestion, then I must presume that there was an underlying motive.

From all accounts that I have read, the Baker's were foster parents without the promise or hope that they could adopt Anna Mae. I believe they used the legal system and the He's inability to completely understand the English and legal language and their fear that they would be arrested if they sought to visit Anna Mae as a way to legally terminate the He's parental rights. These manipulative actions are the same actions that alienating parents use against target parents.

Other news reports stated that Anna Mae did not want to learn the Chinese language and that she thought she was Mexican. I immediately thought that the Baker's were denying Anna Mae her heritage. This immediately sent up a red flag for me. Had the Baker's adopted a child internationally that was not of their race, what would they have told this child? A white American couple adopting a child that is not of their white race they can not easily deny or lie to a child that they were not adopted. How were they going to explain to her when she got older? Unless the truth was told, the lie would eventually come out. I think children that are adopted will eventually seek their heritage, sometimes just for answers or who they look like. This provides closure.

I think the Baker's were a family that wanted another child and they went though several avenues to achieve this. A tubal ligation was reversed, adoption was an option and they fostered children. I applaud them for wanting to provide a home for a child. The He's were disadvantaged financially and more. Casey He wanted her daughter and I do not think she intended for Anna Mae to be adopted or if she did to lose contact with Anna Mae. She may have wanted more than she could provide and I think every parent wants that. There is a line that was crossed in this agreement and I think the Baker's exploited this line. I believe they used everything possible to gain custody of a child, that was not theirs to begin with. They used the best interest of the child against the He's, they did everything possible to forbid visitation and to encourage the He's to back off. They denied Anna Mae her heritage. Somehow this was to be better for Anna Mae.

In closing I would like to point out a few things. A larger home with all the current technologies and toys does not make a better home for a child. A better income to provide the best schools, and other material possessions does not make a better home for a child. Money does not buy love, but there are many that think they can. A family that relies on the help of others in the raising of their children, relies on the generosity of others and sacrifices to provide, does not make them bad parents.

I would like to know your views.

Parental Alienation is abuse! Stop the abuse!


  1. I agree with you, children belong with their REAL parents.

    I've been following the Anna Mae He story because it parallels our story. My 2 grandkids were kidnapped from their dad based on totally bogus charges by CPS. Their own mother brought these charges and then gave up all rights to them and disappeared.

    A friend stepped in and offered to help if dad would sign over custody to her on the stipulation that they would be returned when dad was done dealing with the hell of CPS. Little did we know that this manipulating woman had her own agenda of keeping the kids forever.

    This "freind", as we discovered over time, is a drug addict with signs of Munchausen By Proxy. She was constantly drugging my grandson by lying to doctors about imaginary illnesses. Our attempts to get help from legislators and medical associations fell on deaf ears.

    We finally gathered enough money to hire a lawyer but it was a total waste of time and resources.

    We finally got the kids back after twelve years because this woman tripped herself up by landing in the hospital four times this year for overdosing on drugs.

    Don't expect any help from the courts. The only thing they're concerned about is your money. They don't care if a child dies. In fact, they'd like that because they'd just get richer from lengthy court litigation.

    saludevil at aol dot com

  2. I am sorry to hear about your grandchildren. I hopw they are doing well.

  3. Hello:

    The book, A Family's Heartbreak: A Parent's Introduction to Parental Alienation has been published and is now available. For legal reasons, I wrote the book under the pseudonym Mike Jeffries.

    You can order the book at our new website -- The book is also available on; however you will receive it faster if you order it from our website.

    We created the new website to coincide with the release of the book. If you have the old Hugs to Heartbreak website bookmarked, in your contact information, or as a link on your webpage, please replace it with this new URL. If you are interested in a link exchange, please go to and fill out the Submit a Resource form.

    We wrote A Family's Heartbreak: A Parent's Introduction to Parental Alienation to raise the visibility of an issue that as you know, affects millions of parents, children and extended family members every year. We're confident A Family's Heartbreak: A Parent's Introduction to Parental Alienation will help anyone dealing with this very painful situation and educate the legal and mental health professionals involved in these cases.

    If you order a copy, please provide a comment about the book on the new website or on Amazon. We look forward to your feedback.


    mike "jeff" jeffries
    Author, A Family's Heartbreak: A Parent's Introduction to Parental Alienation.