CATCHING UP WITH ... MADISON WALSH
A very social life since adoption
Baby Madison Walsh made national news in the mid-1990s when a dispute arose over her adoption by Charlotteans Matt and Mindy Sides-Walsh. The birth mother agreed to the adoption, but she identified the wrong man as the biological father. The real biological father, Mark Humberson of Texas, then contested the adoption. A jury sided with the Walshes. Staff writer Jennifer Rothacker spoke with Mindy Sides-Walsh.
Q. How is Madison doing? She is in seventh grade at Hickory Grove Baptist Christian School. She's a great girl. She loves scrapbooking, is known for her love of shoes, but her passion is cheerleading. ... She was a sixth-grade cheerleader but didn't make the squad this year and was crushed. However, she has gone to every game and sat near the cheerleaders and cheered with her friends. That says a lot about her integrity, especially when you're 12 years old. She does well in school, but she has discovered it is really fun to be social.
Q. How about the rest of the family? I'm director of the Center for Leadership Development at UNC Charlotte. Matt is a (juvenile) court counselor. (Biological 11-year-old daughter) McKenzie has a great heart. She plays soccer and just made it to the regional spelling bee. Terrell, Matt's daughter from a previous marriage, is a junior at Texas State.
Q. You had an "open" adoption with Madison's birth mother, meaning you would keep in contact with each other. Do you still see her? She's not in the picture anymore; we're not sure where she lives now. She had a daughter who was 18 months old when Madison was born.
Q. How often does Madison see her father? She sees him a couple times a year: in the summer for 30 days, December for about a week and every other spring break. They (the father and his mother) treat her real well, they spoil her. It could have been a horrible situation, but they really do love her.
Q. Were any appeals filed? Our case went all the way to the Texas Supreme Court and changed the laws regarding child custody. In most states, the parent has the prevailing right. Now, in Texas, it's about the best interest of the child.
We also met members of the jury a few years ago. We send them a yearly update and tell them that jury duty does matter.
Q. Did your experience sour you on adoption? We felt Madison was meant to be our child; that's why you fight so hard. I know people prayed for us. So I am still a huge supporter of adoption. I still think it's a great way to build a family. I caution people to check out the laws. You're always responsible for your own adoption.
Catching Up With ...