Kujawa Update

The Department of Human Resources is facing tough questions after a mother allegedly deserted her kids.

This week we told you about a missing woman. Turns out she's okay, but she has told police she doesn't want to be found.

When Linda Jane Kujawa disappeared back in November of 2004, she left two girls with her husband who has no legal claim on the children. The big question now is what's going to happen to those girls?

In child custody cases in Houston County, the juvenile court system says a legal father is someone who was married to the mother of the child at the time the child was born or whose DNA test proves fatherhood--even if the child was raised by someone else.

That’s what's happening in the case of Linda Kujawa's two daughters. The 12 and 13 year old girls would like to stay with their stepfather, but he may not have the legal right to keep them.

They have a father who lives out of state and Mrs. Kujawa’s mother lives in Texas.

In a situation where it’s a father, the non-custodial parent must be a legal father, before he's considered a resource for any children.

Sometimes there is a closer bond between a child and their caretaker than the bond with a biological parent.

In that case, the caretaker could still petition the court for custody of the child. However, officials say it would be a battle.

The first step is to file a child custody petition. Once that's done, DHR or a court appointed investigator will do a home assessment, and after time a decision would be made.

Although Ricky Kujawa is not the biological father of the girls, he says he would take responsibility of them. And though he has only been married to Linda Kujawa for two years, and hasn't had the girls that long, he says he would take the girls because of a number of reasons.

Ricky Kujawa comments, "Of course, I would be more than happy to. As far as the legal obligations. But I would do anything in my power to keep them from going to a foster home---or their dad--but if they were sent to their grandma's house, that would be fine with me also."

Kujawa says he's already contacted DHR.

When News 4 spoke with DHR officials earlier, they said foster care or sending a child to an orphanage would be their last resort.