Wednesday, January 8 2014 5:50 PM EST2014-01-08 22:50:22 GMT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
A Montgomery family is fighting to bring their legally adopted daughter back into their home.
The family fostered the girl for more than three years, but just before the adoption was complete a judge stopped them from seeing her. Now it's been almost a week, and the family hasn't seen or spoken to the girl they call their daughter.
Travis and Cheri Norwood became Layah's foster parents in 2010 when she was just 3 months old.
"She came to us as a baby and we took care of her. She became our child after one year, two years, three years. She identified herself as a part of our family," Cheri Norwood said.
After a year and a half, the Norwoods -- who already have five children, four biological and one adopted -- decided to make Layah a permanent member of their family.
"It was put on paper, the plan for this child is adoption by foster parents, and that was the plan for a year and a half," Cheri Norwood said.
"[Montgomery Family Court] Judge Anita Kelly was the presiding judge over the case the entire time. At three years we decided to hire an attorney, and he took our case to probate court in Elmore County. Judge Kelly was very opposed to us taking that action. On Christmas Eve, Judge Kelly ordered that [Layah] be removed from our home," Travis Norwood said.
The Norwoods were granted visitation rights. Layah spent every Friday and Saturday with them while the adoption case proceeded in Elmore County. Travis says that changed in late April.
"Judge Kelley has issued a restraining order to keep us from picking up our daughter," Travis Norwood said.
Judge Kelly granted custody to Layah's biological family.
Then, just two weeks later, Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen declared Layah legally a Norwood.
"A judge weighed the evidence, heard the decisions, and he reached a decision on May 8 and signed an adoption decree, that we have, and said that legally declared that Layah is our daughter," Travis Norwood said.
But the Norwoods haven't seen or heard from Layah since that day, and they're concerned.
Now the Norwoods are taking their case to the governor's office and starting a Facebook campaign hoping to get others to call and get Gov. Robert Bentley involved.
"Courts can take weeks and months," Travis Norwood said. "We're asking people to call the governor and say this is an issue of rule of law. You cannot separate parents and children. The police cannot be asked to do this. Judges have tremendous power, but they have limited power."
Cheri just wants her daughter home.
"It's quiet, we miss her at the table. I don't have her to tuck in at night time," Cheri Norwood said.
This is a complicated case with a lot of unanswered questions especially since two separate counties are involved. The biggest question is whether the adoption decree from Elmore County should trump the custody ruling in Montgomery County or vice versa.
The governor's office confirms it has taken calls about the case but has no intention of getting involved.
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