Judge signs custody agreement
Court ruling determines status of children switched at birth
Jacqueline Roper, Cavalier Daily Associate Editor
Conley and Chittum were switched at birth in 1995 at the University Medical Center.
DAN LOPEZ - CAVALIER DAILY FILE PHOTO
Stafford County Circuit Court Judge James W. Haley Jr. approved an agreement Friday made between the families of two girls switched at birth in 1995 at the University Medical Center.
The agreement determines the custody status of Callie Conley, the child residing in Stafford County. The custody arrangement for Rebecca Chittum, the other child, was decided in a Buena Vista court in November.
The Stafford County agreement allows both children to remain with the families who raised them while granting visitation to the biological families.
Haley signed the order presented to the court on Friday, said Cynthia Johnson, attorney for Paula Johnson, who is Rebecca Chittum's biological mother.
The switch was discovered in July 1998 following a custody dispute between Paula Johnson and her ex-boyfriend Carlton Conley. Results from DNA tests showed neither Johnson nor Carlton were the biological parents of Callie Conley. Medical Center officials soon identified the other child involved as Rebecca Chittum, who left the hospital with Kevin Chittum and Whitney Rogers of Buena Vista. The couple was killed in a car accident a few days before officials tried to contact them. Chittum's and Rogers's parents share custody of Rebecca.
In November, a Buena Vista judge denied Paula Johnson custody of her biological daughter Rebecca. The court decreed she would stay with the Rogers and Chittums, and that Paula Johnson would have visitation rights, said Michael A. Groot, attorney for the Chittums.
Johnson then filed to formally adopt Callie so her rights as a parent would be recognized. But with Friday's agreement, Johnson and the Chittums both dropped their bids to adopt Callie.
What are your opinions on this controversy? And would you like to move back to your real family permanently if you found out that you were switched at birth?