JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Outrage over Miranda Wilkerson's case has grown over the past two days, and a local adoption attorney says it could have turned out differently.
"The only home, the only person this child she has ever known she's being ripped away from to be put with a stranger," said Michael Shorstein, a board certified adoption attorney.
Shorstein is referring to a Baker County judge's decision to place the almost 4-year-old Wilkerson with a man who was her late mother's husband. Wilkerson's family said the man, Donald Ray Coleman, is not Wilkerson's father. Coleman is also a registered sex offender.
UPDATE: Protest Planned for Friday Afternoon
Shorstein said in all his years practicing adoption law, he's never seen a case like this.
"How could it possibly be in the best interest of the child? To be ripped away from that environment? To be moved across state lines. That, to me, is bizarre," said Shorstein.
He's been an adoption lawyer for 20 years, and said he would've handled the case much differently-- starting with not filing for adoption of Miranda in the first place.
"In a case like this, it she would have just left it alone, status quo, and then if she would have filed it would have been a slam dunk abandonment case," he said.
Shorstein said the family and its attorney should have built a case for years against the presumed father before starting legal proceedings. Coleman is considered little Miranda's father because he was married to Miranda's mother at the time she was born.
"Once you're serving the father, then it triggers ego and pride and fathers don't just disappear. They always show up to fight," he said.
Because it's an adoption case and the hearings are closed, he said it's impossible to know exactly what went on inside that courtroom- but now it's in the judge's hands.
"At this point, once everybody's lawyered up and going, you gotta play it til the end," he said.
He added that Miranda's grandmother will have the opportunity to appeal the judge's decision.