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Published: 1/15/2002

Teen mom, ex-boyfriend will not pick girl's parents

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Sylvania teenager accused of dumping her newborn baby in a trash bin will not get to choose the couple she wants to adopt her daughter, a Lucas County Juvenile Court judge ruled yesterday.

Judge James Ray terminated the parental rights of Natalie Nirdlinger, 16, and Kevin Wolfe, the baby's 19-year-old father, and awarded permanent custody of the 3-month-old girl to Lucas County Children Services.

Miss Nirdlinger is charged with one count each of attempted murder and child endangering for allegedly abandoning the infant. She has been certified to stand trial as an adult.

A woman dumping trash found the infant Oct. 10 in a plastic bag at Wellington House Apartments, 4312 Holland-Sylvania Rd., after hearing sounds from the trash bin. The baby, who was about 30 minutes old, was in a plastic department store bag, which had been tied shut.

Miss Nirdlinger and Mr. Wolfe, a college student, asked the court to allow adoption by a couple they favor to raise their daughter. The judge denied their motion to the third-party adoption as well as separate requests from Mr. Wolfe and his parents for custody of the child.

Judge Ray determined that it would be in the best interest of the baby to have her placed permanently with Children Services. The agency wants the baby placed with a foster couple.

Judge Ray said he could not comment on the case because judicial canons don't allow him to discuss juvenile court cases.

The baby has been in the care of the foster couple since Oct 15, when she left Toledo Hospital. The foster mother began caring for the baby in the hospital, the day after she was found.

Rod Brandt, a spokesman for Children Services, said the couple must wait until the baby is 6 months old before they can adopt her through probate court.

“This family has been involved with the care of this baby since she was 1 day old. There certainly is a bonding that has occurred. We will proceed with the idea that this couple will adopt this child,” Mr. Brandt said.

However, the decision made by Judge Ray could be appealed on several issues. Miss Nirdlinger, who was represented on behalf of her parents because she is a minor, and Mr. Wolfe could challenge the denial of a third-party adoption. Mr. Wolfe could appeal the decision denying his request for custody of his daughter.

The couple who wanted to adopt the baby from the teen parents could challenge Judge Ray's decision denying their request to join a hearing held Friday.

Mr. Wolfe, a 2001 Northview High School graduate, in December began visiting his daughter three days a week in the foster home when he returned to his Sylvania home on a break from Wooster College.

He learned that he was the father about five days after the child was born. He said he asked Miss Nirdlinger, who he dated until April, on five occasions about a rumor that she was pregnant. But she denied it each time, he said.

A member of the college swim team, Mr. Wolfe discontinued the two-hour visits with his daughter in January, when he went to Florida for a swimming training program.

Mr. Wolfe said in court that he and Miss Nirdlinger chose the prospective adoptive parents because they believed they could provide a stable atmosphere for their daughter. He said he preferred the Perrysburg couple because they shared similar religious beliefs as his own.

In asking the court for custody, Mr. Wolfe said he planned to get an off-campus apartment and his mother would move to Wooster to help him raise the baby.

Mr. Brandt said the judge's decision means that Mr. Wolfe will no longer be allowed to visit his daughter.

“In this situation, the court has severed any ties the parents may have with the child. We are not going to contradict that by continuing or allowing visitation. We do allow a good-bye visit, and if the father, Kevin, would like to have that, we will welcome it,” Mr. Brandt said.

Neither Mr. Wolfe nor his parents could be reached for comment.



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