Police were searching Tuesday for 17-month-old twins they think were taken from their adoptive parents by their biological mother.
Denise Needham, who has custody of the twins with her husband, Kevin, pleaded for their return Tuesday evening. "We're scared to death," she said. "I just want them home safely."
The babies' birth mother, Allison Lee Quets, 49, of 1718 Trailview Lane, had visitation rights to pick up the twins every third weekend and keep them from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday. Quets picked them up Friday at the Needhams' Apex home and was scheduled to return Holly and Tyler on Christmas Eve.
About 15 minutes after 6 p.m., there was no sign of Quets, and Denise Needham contacted police.
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Quets might be driving a 1998 white Plymouth Voyager with North Carolina tags LRJ-6644 or Florida tags E377HZ, said Durham Police spokeswoman Kammie Michael. Quets could be heading toward Florida, where she previously lived, or Louisville, Ky., where her sister, Gail Quets, and mother live, Michael said.
Investigators were completing a search warrant Tuesday evening to gain access to Quets' phone records, said Durham Police Detective T. Tuck.
The Needhams were scheduled to talk with FBI agents late Tuesday evening, Tuck said.
Trying to get custody
Gail Quets said her mother is suffering from renal failure in an intensive care unit at a Louisville nursing home. Allison Quets wanted her mother to see the twins before she died, Gail Quets said, but Allison Quets never mentioned plans to travel to Kentucky. Gail Quets said she last talked to her sister about a week ago.
Gail Quets also said her sister was trying to regain custody of the twins.
Allison Quets had hyperemesis, a severe form of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, and became so frail that she worried about being able to take care of her children, her sister said. A friend, through a relative, introduced her to the Needhams, who were interested in adoption.
The Needhams have a teenage daughter and tried unsuccessfully through in vitro fertilization to have more children, Denise Needham said. She would not discuss how they came to know Quets.
Signed away rights
Allison Quets was told she would be involved in the twins' life "just like family" and signed her parental rights away in Florida, Gail Quets said. But Allison Quets had second thoughts about 10 hours after giving up her parental rights.
But, according to www.adopting.org, Florida law allows birth parents to reverse their consent up to three days after signing over parental rights or placement of the child with the new parents, whichever is later. Even after that three-day period, the adoption may be challenged if the court finds that the consent was obtained by fraud or duress.
"I don't know if she ran, but if she did, I understand why because she was very afraid that if she won the appeal, that these people would not return her children," said Gail Quets, who has an adopted son. "She has already spent all of her life savings on legal fees trying to get her children back."
Denise Needham confirmed that Allison Quets has appealed the adoption. She also said she voiced concerns to a judge that Quets might flee with the twins. But the judge thought Quets was not a flight risk, Needham said.
Holly, who has a small freckle on the back of her right hand, has light brown shoulder length curly hair.
Tyler, who has a birth mark on his chest, has short brown hair.
Both have blue eyes and weigh about 23 pounds. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call 911 or the Durham Police Department at 560-4427.