SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- Whiz kid Adragon De Mello and his father, who was arrested last month on suspicion of child endangerment, marked Adragon's 12th birthday day Wednesday with birthday cake and a police escort.
'I saw him for 45 minutes. That's my ration,' said the father, Agustin De Mello, 58. 'It's hard to tell how he is.'
De Mello said two police officers and an unidentified family friend were present at the meeting at a local restaurant and 'I gave him a hamster for his birthday, but he can't take delivery until he gets approval.'
Adragon, who has been in protective custody since Sept. 19, had met with his father one other time since then. That meeting was held in the offices of the elder De Mello's lawyer, Paul Meltzer, under police guard.
Child Protective Services authorities had to approve the father-son birthday celebration, Meltzer said.
'(Adragon's) father has to beg to see him,' Meltzer said. 'We (had) to fight to get the father to see the boy on his birthday.'
Adragon graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz in June at age 11 after completing two years of school in one calendar year. He was slated to begin a mathematics graduate program at the Florida Institute of Technology in September.
Cathy Gunn, 36, Adragon's mother, chose not to reveal what plans she had for her son's birthday.
On Sept. 19, Gunn's allegations of a father-son suicide pact prompted police to search the De Mello home. They confiscated 10 guns, some loaded, and a suitcase full of ammunition.
De Mello was arrested the next day on suspicion of felony child endangerment. He was freed on bail after being let out early from a police-imposed 72-hour stay in the county mental ward.
De Mello maintained he kept the guns to protect himself and Adragon, who has received extensive publicity since his college carrer began.
'I'm deeply disturbed that the state intercedes and makes parenting decisions,' Meltzer said. 'He may seem a bit obsessive in terms of academics, but we say nothing of the obsessiveness of Brooke Shields's mother to make her a star.'
The elder De Mello said his brief reunion last week with Adragon was upsetting.
'He said 'Papa, I have bad news for you. Hoppy is dead,'' De Mello said. 'He is in emotional pain and I am grief stricken.'
Hoppy was Adragon's pet rabbit and was apparently killed by a Doberman pinscher at the foster home where Adragon is staying.
Patricia Vorreiter, the mother's lawyer, said Gunn has also visited with Adragon and found him 'well and relaxed and happy.
Gunn, who never married De Mello, filed a custody suit in early September after De Mello announced plans to take the boy abroad to pursue his education. At that time, De Mello said no U.S. school offering a Ph.D. program would accept the lad.
A Juvenile Court jurisdictional hearing was scheduled for Oct. 14, at which time Superior Court Judge Thomas Black was to decide whether to make Adragon a ward of the court or assign custody to one or the other of the parents.
'I can't imagine the parents are going to agree with whatever recommendations they're going to make,' Vorreiter said.
'I don't think you could get these people to agree on whether it's day or night,' he said.
If the court's decision is contested, a trial will be set.