JERSEYVILLE, Ill. (KMOV.com) -- It was supposed to be the best day of their lives.
Tonya and James Ray of Jerseyville, Illinois thought they were adopting a baby girl in October. After struggling with infertility for years, the Rays arranged for a private adoption with the birth mother.
The birth mother called Tonya Ray in October saying, “It’s time.”
The Rays met Alisha Cobb at a hospital in Alton where the little girl was born. They hired an attorney and filed a petition for adoption in Jersey County, where they reside.
After spending several days in the hospital with the baby, the Illinois Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) received a hotline call reporting a risk to the child.
The birth mother told News 4 she struggled with heroin.
James Ray told News 4, “The baby started having withdrawals, they told us she would be staying longer.”
The Rays never imagined what happened next: DCFS took temporary custody of the child. The new parents said they weren’t provided any answers and were frustrated when a judge in Madison County denied their request to intervene.
According to a spokesperson with Madison County courts, since juvenile proceedings are strictly confidential, they cannot comment or confirm there’s a case in Madison County.
“When you have a family here ready to take this baby and give her the life she deserves and the state takes on another child they can’t afford to support I don’t get it,” James said.
News 4 reached out to the National Council for Adoption, and according to adoption advocate Dr. Ryan Hanlon, the State of Illinois should consider the wishes of the birth mother.
Hanlon added, “In general there’s a process where birth parents can identify who they want to be adoptive parents even in a system where the child welfare system is concerned.”
In this case, Alisha Cobb told News 4 DCFS has gone against her wishes.
“I can’t financially take care of her right now. They can’t have kids and I would rather give them (the Rays) a chance to do it and I still have a chance to see her,” she said.
According to Cobb, the baby is now being cared for by a non-blood relative.
A DCFS spokesperson told News 4 the relative is a licensed foster parent and has custody of some of the baby’s siblings.
The spokesperson added, “This decision was upheld in court on October 16 and DCFS cannot place a child in the home of people who are not relatives or the legal equivalents of relatives if they are not licensed as foster parents.”
Cobb has eight children but doesn’t have custody of any of them. She also said she’s not sure about the identity of the biological father of the girl the Rays are hoping to adopt.
Hanlon says the Ray’s shouldn’t give up.
The couple is still hoping for a phone call from DCFS or the court system to explain the decision.
A DCFS spokesperson also contends, “This is a very unusual case and a sad one for the Rays.”