ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - A South Carolina couple is speaking out about their fight to keep the little girl they believe is theirs. Braelynn, 3, has lived with the Tammy and Edward Dalsing since she was three weeks old.
In 2015, they say they legally adopted her. But a court recently ruled she belongs with her biological father.
"I'm just blown away," Edward said. "I just don't understand how you can do this to a child."
According to court documents, Braelynn's biological mother gave up her parental rights while her father was incarcerated.
Because of that, his rights were terminated. But her father argues that never should have happened and last month a judge agreed, vacating the Dalsing's original adoption order.
"It would be the equivalent of having both of your parents die," Tammy said. "Well, your whole family, her sisters, her brothers."
Life with the Dalsings is all Braelynn has ever known. The couple says they started fostering her when she was just three weeks old. She's three and a half now.
"The judge was so clear on why she chose us and why she did not choose the biological father or his family members," Tammy said. "She was very clear."
But that clarity faded two months ago, when Braelynn's biological father appealed the adoption order and a court agreed citing a previous ruling which said being incarcerated wasn't enough of a reason to terminate a parent's rights.
"I was just stunned when we got the word from... when we got the word from the appellate court," Edward said.
The Dalsing's have requested a re-hearing with the state court of appeals as Braelynn continues to live with them. They say the little girl has never met her biological father.
"All of a sudden I'm going to look at her and say, 'I'm sorry baby girl but I can't be your mommy anymore and daddy can't be your daddy anymore. And you can't live here anymore.' She is not going to understand that," Tammy said.
But Braelynn's biological father disagrees. His attorney sent WBTV the following statement on his behalf:
Braelynn's best interest is what the Dalsing's say they're fighting for.
"Biology does not make a mother and a father, love does," Edward said. "And she is very much loved where she's at. That's where she needs to be."
Braelynn's biological grandmother is also involved in this fight and also wants her to be returned to their family. A decision from the court of appeals could come at any time.
South Carolina DSS had no comment on the case.