Jan & Robby DeBoer

It’s not often that a two-year-old toddler makes the cover of Time Magazine.

But 26 years ago this month, the magazine reported on the story that by that point had the entire nation’s attention. She was known as “Baby Jessica,” the subject of an exceptionally bitter custody battle, pitting her birth mother against the couple who had legally adopted her.

That couple, Jan DeBoer and Roberta “Robby” DeBoer, eventually lost in court, and were forced to return Baby Jessica to her biological parents, Dan Schmidt and Cara Clausen.

A year later, the DeBoers wrote a book. That’s when I met them.

2 thoughts on “Jan & Robby DeBoer

  • October 7, 2019 at 7:06 PM

    They didn’t legally adopt her. The Schmidts intervened before adoption was finalised, and eventually the courts rejected the DeBoers’ petition to adopt because Dan Schmidt was recognised as the biological father and had not terminated his parental rights. There was also a claim that the termination of Cara Clausen’s parental rights was invalid because it was completed before the mandatory wait time after she gave birth.

  • January 19, 2020 at 8:10 PM

    They didn’t “legally” adopt her and it wasn’t just the birth mother who contested the adoption . The father — who had never signed the papers— was actually the one who one in court.


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