NANTES: A French appeals court on Tuesday (Nov 25) denied a father custody of his 18-month-old son, who was put up for adoption at birth by his ex-girlfriend. Yoan Delorme, 29, was in prison when the baby was born and handed over to the state by his ex-girlfriend under a French law which allows women to give birth anonymously.
An appeals court in the northwestern city of Rennes overturned a decision by a civil court in nearby Nantes which in April ruled the child should be returned to his father. "It is the theft of a child ... he is my son, my blood, my whole life," Delorme said with tears in his eyes after the ruling was handed down on Tuesday, vowing to take his case to France's highest appeals court, the Cour de Cassation.
Delorme launched legal proceedings to recognise his son after he was born, but it was too late as the child was placed with an adoptive family in July 2013, two months after his birth. "On the same day that the child was placed, the local council was notified that legal proceedings for paternal recognition had been lodged with the prosecutor," said Delorme's lawyer Pauline Loirat.
"Despite this, the council did not react and kept the child with the family," she said, adding the adoptive parents were also "victims" in the case. The lawyer for the council, Jean-Christophe Boyer, argued that Delorme had been slow in making his intentions clear, initially asking only for the adoption to be suspended, and not for custody of his son.
Boyer said Delorme had only requested custody three months after the deadline in October 2013. He presented the court with more than a dozen expert opinions which agreed it would be "destructive to remove a child that is 18 months old from parents he calls mum and dad."
Boyer also raised concerns about Delorme's plans to change the child's name. The court also rejected a request for visitation rights. "Up until now, Mr. Delorme has never asked to see his son," despite the adoptive family agreeing to let him visit, said Boyer.
The family told RTL radio that after months of hell at the prospect of losing their son, "this is absolutely not a victory". However "we are obviously very happy to continue our life with our little boy."