What to Know
- Justin Johnson and the baby’s mother, Rebecca Sanders, said they have filed complaints with various agencies after Sunday's incident.
- The order was filled by Sanders’ mother, Betty Osceola, in tribal court shortly after the birth.
- If the baby is with the grandmother on tribal land, only the federal government can get involved and possibly take the child back.
The battle over a baby born in a Miami-Dade hospital who was taken by Miccosukee Police officers days after her birth ended Thursday night as the child was reunited with her mother.
Justin Johnson and his attorney appeared at a 1:30 p.m. hearing inside a court in the Miccosukee Indian Village located in southwest Miami-Dade.
Johnson and the baby's mother, Rebecca Sanders, had been looking to regain custody of their one-week-old daughter, Ingrid Ronan Johnson, after she was taken from Baptist Hospital in Kendall on Sunday due to a court order obtained by the baby's grandmother.
After the hearing, the couple's lawyer said the baby would be reunited with her mother.
Bradford Cohen, the mother's attorney, said the couple went through a "horrific" experience.
"Getting a baby torn away from you on the second day, getting it taken out of your room when you are in the middle of breastfeeding. It’s pretty horrific," Cohen said.
Johnson and Sanders said they filed complaints with various agencies – including Miami-Dade Police and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs after Sanders says officers, along with hospital security and staff, came into her room shortly after Ingrid was taken by a doctor Sunday morning.
"He said something was filed where I lost custody of my daughter and I said 'how, I'm in the hospital, I haven't been given any notification, no hearing, nothing whatsoever,'" Sanders said Wednesday. "And he said he doesn't have an order, hasn't seen one and doesn't have it on him but was told to come to the hospital to take my daughter."
The order was filled by Sanders’ mother, Betty Osceola, in tribal court shortly after the birth. The couple claims Osceola is upset and does not want Johnson, who is white, in the child’s life.
According to the order, the grandmother claimed the father was violent toward Sanders while she was pregnant. Sanders and Johnson denied those claims, with Johnson calling them "false."
"I can’t even begin to explain how hard this has been. I don’t see how people of the Miccosukee tribe can look me in the face and tell me this is OK,” Johnson told the Miami Herald.
The Miccosukee Tribe, which currently has less than 600 members, does not fall under the jurisdiction of the state of Florida, which has led to issues in the past with officials in Miami-Dade and across the state.
If the baby is with the grandmother on tribal land, only the federal government can get involved and possibly take the child back.
One of Florida’s two U.S. Senators, Marco Rubio, tweeted Wednesday night, calling the incident a kidnapping and saying that "this won’t end well" for the tribe if they don’t return the child.
Osceola, who owns a major airboat tour business on the reservation, convinced a Miccosukee judge to grant her temporary custody.
"This is what you would expect to see in any state court, in Florida, when it comes to the well-being of the children, there is a concern they are either going to end up in dependency court, or a relative getting temporary custody of them through the family courts," said an attorney for the grandmother, Spencer West.
Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez issued a statement that an “immediate inquiry” into what took place had begun to determine if there is anything the agency can do.