Memphis, Tenn. A state appeals court Wednesday refused to return a 6-year-old Chinese girl to her biological parents, who put her in the custody of an American couple shortly after her birth.
The 2-1 Tennessee Court of Appeals ruling upheld a lower court decision that took away the parental rights of Shaoqiang "Jack" He and Qin Luo "Casey" He to their first-born child, Anna Mae.
The five-year struggle by the Hes, Chinese citizens who live in Memphis, to regain custody of Anna Mae has drawn support from the Chinese Embassy in Washington and led Chinese community groups to complain of cultural bias in Tennessee courts.
Shaoqiang He received word of the appeals court decision while at work as manager of a Chinese restaurant.
The decision will be appealed to the state Supreme Court, said David Siegel, an attorney for the Hes. Anna Mae, meanwhile, will remain with Jerry and Louise Baker, who have raised her since shortly after her birth in January 1999.
Larry Parrish, the Bakers' attorney, said the custody battle could go on for up to three more years and end up in the federal courts.