Ex-Convict Dad Will Retain Custody Of Tennessee Girl Who Was Taken Away From Adoptive Parents

| by Allison Geller

A 9-year-old girl who was taken away from her biological father at the age of 2, then given back when he was released from prison, will stay with him for the rest of her childhood.

A judge ordered 9-year-old Sonya to return to John McCaul’s Nebraska home when he was released from prison. Sonya has lived in Tennessee with adoptive parents Kim and David Hodgin since the age of 2.

According to the New York Daily News, McCaul first requested custody of Sonya in 2009 when she was 4. He was serving jail time on a gun charge at the time -- a 15-year sentence that was reduced to 7 1/2.

The DCS and the court decided that it was in Sonya’s best interests to be with her biological father.

"He has been, as far as we can tell a good father," said Rob Johnson, a spokesperson for the Department of Children’s Services. "He's fought for his daughter. Doesn't have a perfect record, not a boy scout but he's done everything the state of Tennessee has asked."

The Hodgins say that as soon as Sonya went back to live with her dad, she allegedly called them and begged to come back. Her father was nice to her, she said, but she didn’t like his home and missed her adoptive parents.

"What's happened in this court today is devastating for Sonya," David Hodgin told WZTV after the court decided that Sonya would stay with McCaul.  "Sonya doesn't deserve the pain that this court and DCS is giving her."

The DCS is continuing to check in on the girl. The Hodgins haven’t given up on their end of the custody battle—they filed an appeal right after the judge announced his decision. The hearing is set for June 18.

Sources: New York Daily News, WZTV