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.WHO HAS MORAL RIGHT TO THIS CHILD POOR
MOTHER OR WELL-TO DO RELATIVES?
BY JANE WHITAKER
Who has the moral right to a child
the mother who brought it into the
world, though she. may now be in
very humble circumstances, or the
would-be foster parents who are able
to supply the child with every com
fort and some luxuries?
Which should be given the greater
consideration the longing of moth
er love, sung through the ages as the
greatest and purest and best of all
love, or the future of the child which
may be made brighter through the
advantages it receives in childhood?
This is a problem in the chancery
court in the case of Mrs. Annie Cop
page of St. Louis, Mo., against Louis
L.eu and Charlotte Leu, 2409 W. 56th
Mrs. Coppage, the mother of the
child, married James Coppage in
1900, and has two children, Hazel,
14, and Odell, 12. She claims that
in 1911 her husband deserted her,
leaving her with almost no means of
support and she was compelled to go
to work to provide a very meager
living for herself and two children.
In October, 1913, she says Mrs. Leu,
an aunt of the children, offered to
send Odell to school in Chicago and
provide for the child until such time
as the mother felt she could take bet
ter care of her, and it was the under
standing 'that Odell should spend her
holidays with her mother.
The first holiday came in June,
1914, and the mother waited for her
baby girl to come home to her, but
the entire summer was spent in an
exchange of correspondence as to
whether the child should be sent to
St. Louis or the mother should come
to Chicago and visit her, and it had
not been settled when school opened
again, so the mother did not see
In May, 1915, Mrs. Coppage says
she was seriously ill with stomach
and heart troubteand a telegram was
sent asking that Odell be brought to'
her mother immediately, but this was1
ignored. On May 22, 1915, the moth
er says she sent $3.50 for the child's
carfare out of the little money she
earned, but still Odell was not re
turned to her. -
In June, 1915, growing desperate"
for a sight of her baby, she asked her'
brother-in-law, Otto Gerken, to come,
to Chicago and get the child, but he
was not able to obtain her from Mrsi'
Then the mother borrowed money
to come to Chicago and tried to get
her baby, finally appealing to the
Legal Aid Society to help her. "
A petition for a writ of habeas'
corpus was filed and the writ issued.
On June 15 the matter was broughr
before Judge Jesse A. Baldwin and
evidence heard in the case.
Mr. and Mrs. Leu said they had
grown to love Odell as their own1
child and they had believed they were
to be permitted to keep her. Mrs1.
Coppage recited the arrangement she"
claimed to have had when she per-
mitted Odell to come to Chicago to
her aunt and said that she earned4
$5.40 a week herself; that she re:
ceived $3 weekly from the estate of'
her grandmother, and that an uncle
who earns $70 a month was going1
to live with her, so that she would be
able to take care of both her chil
dren in a humble way, and she de
manded that her baby girl should IxS'
given to her.
Odell, who is at the age when he'
friendship can be won with a stick dF
candy, when asked who she prg
ferred to live with said she would w
rather stay with her aunt because
"mother sometimes" didn't have'
things to eat," and Judge Baldwin'
continued the case until July 15, per-
mitting the mother to have the cusv
tody of the child until he should d&
cide which was best fitted to hava
Ot 4, .i.
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