SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Jan. 25 -- Following four years of court fights, it took the Illinois Supreme Court less than four hours Wednesday to decide in favor of placing a nearly 4-year-old boy with the biological father he has never seen. The Illinois Supreme Court issued a one-sentence order allowing a legal motion by Otakar Kirchner to take immediate custody of the child, known as 'Baby Richard,' into his custody. Kirchner had fought since 1991 for custody of his son, who his then- girlfriend placed for adoption without his knowledge or approval. No details about why the court acted as it did were provided, although high court spokesman John Madigan said written opinions would be issued at a later date. Kirchner had wanted immediate custody of the boy, who has been living with a suburban Chicago family since he was less than 1 week old. Kirchner's attorneys Wednesday argued the adoptive parents should not be permitted any custody hearings because the Supreme Court last year overturned a lower court decision that found Kirchner to be an unfit parent. Madigan said the ruling 'takes the Supreme Court out of this case. It's settled.' Details about when the child would be shifted from his adoptive parents to Kirchner's custody have yet to be worked out. Jerold Solovy, attorney for the adoptive parents, called the state Supreme Court's ruling 'contrary to all I have ever known about the law. With all due respect to the court, I can't justify it in my mind.'
Solovy said he plans to file a motion by Thursday with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to have the state court's ruling overturned. He could not say how long that would take or when the boy could be shifted to a new home. 'We're going to do everything possible to avoid having that happen in the next few days,' Solovy said. Heinemann, who argued before the Supreme Court that Kirchner's rights as a parent were violated, said every effort would be made to avoid a scene like that which surrounded the transfer of custody of 'Baby Jessica,' the then-2-year-old girl who was ordered returned to her biological father in 1992. In that case as well, the mother and father had broken up and the mother put the child up for adoption without the father's knowledge. 'Baby Jessica' was carried kicking and screaming into a car that took her from her adoptive parents. Kirchner lost his child in 1991 when he broke up with the boy's mother. He later reconciled with her and they married. She initially told him the boy was born dead, and he did not find out until nearly a month after the legal deadline for contesting an adoption that the boy survived.