SWITCHED BOY WILL NOT BE TAKEN FROM MOM FOR NOW

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 2 1992 12:00 a.m. MST

      A 9-year-old boy at the center of a dispute between parents whose babies were mistakenly switched at birth will remain with his biological mother for now even though the woman lost a Supreme Court bid for custody.

      The high court Monday refused to hear Jodie Paul's appeal of a ruling that awarded custody to the boy's adoptive parents. Attorneys on both sides said the couple, Eugene and Edith Moore of Fort Knox, Ky., will likely have to go to state court to get the child back.Paul, of Griffin, Ga., said her son Melvin doesn't want to return to the couple.

      "Melvin is my son and I've been fighting for him a long time. Whatever the next step is, I'm ready to do whatever I have to," she said at a news conference with her attorneys Tuesday. "He wants to stay with us."

      Melvin has been living with Paul since Thanksgiving 1991, when he came for a visit and she refused to return him, saying his adoptive mother had abused him. Edith Moore has denied the accusation.

      Superior Court Judge Frank Eldridge in Atlanta gave the Moores custody while allowing Paul visitation rights. But Paul refused to recognize the order. When the Moores filed a contempt of court complaint, it was dismissed.

      The Moores filed a writ of habeas corpus in Superior Court in Spalding County asking Paul to show why she won't turn Melvin over, but that judge refused to consider the request until the appeals process was exhausted for Eldridge's order. Now it's up to the Moores to request another hearing.

      Paul, whose name then was Jodie Denise Pope, gave birth to a son Oct. 7, 1983, the same day another boy was born to a woman who planned to give her baby up for adoption.

      Griffin Spalding Hospital accidentally swapped the babies before sending their mothers home.

      The switch was discovered five years later, when Paul and her former husband, Walter Pope, were getting a divorce. Pope claimed he did not father their son, Cameron.

      Blood tests showed that neither was Cameron's biological parent. Paul learned the Moores had adopted her biological son and named him Melvin Eugene Moore.

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