Operation Vanessa

Join us as we read the Bible Cover to Cover! This is the first week… the first assignment is Genesis 1-4 (which should only take you 10 or so minutes).

During the pendency of our adoption process, when we were waiting for A.J., I read many blogs and a few books trying to understand all of the issues associated with adoption. Particularly, I learned that it is EXTREMELY important to place yourself in the position of the other members of the “adoption triad” before you decide to adopt.

This is so we can help to foster change in false public perceptions and false adoption biases. For instance, we are not heroes for adopting. Natural parents are not heroes for relinquishing. And, adoptees – no matter how good the parenting – will most certainly suffer feelings of loss, abandonment, and confused identity.

TriadThis adoption triad is composed of the child, the natural parents, and the adoptive parents. There are, generally, senses of loss among all parties. There’s the child’s loss of her original family that she was born into. There’s the natural parents’ loss of relinquishing the child that they created to another family. And, generally, among the adoptive parents, there’s the loss of not being able to conceive (not always, but most often), as was the case with Marie and me.

So, with this as a “reminder filter,” if you will, to try and be respectful to all members of the adoption triad, I present to you this sad story.

Adoption Gone Wrong

In July, 2008, a California woman filed a petition for a formal adoption of the daughter that she had been raising – in California – for about 6 months. The adoption went smoothly. The birth mother, from Ohio, claimed that she became pregnant from a “one night stand” and did not know the father.

Well, it turns out that the birth mother was lying.

She did, in fact, know the birth father. And, she never notified him of the adoption.

And, as you may have surmised thus far, the birth father (living in Ohio) wants full custody. And, generally, courts will side with the birth parents using the logic that it is in the “best interests of the child.” Honestly, I believe in the spirit of this logic. I do believe that a child is almost always better off with her natural parents, particularly as it relates to emotional health.

But, this case is a bit different. From the Huffington Post:

Before you condemn the birth mom for lying, consider these harrowing facts: Benjamin Mills, Jr. [the birth father] has four other children (none of which he has custody of); he has a child endangerment charge on his record; and he has been imprisoned for domestic violence – once pulling the birth mother so hard by the hair that when the police arrived at the house, they discovered bloody clumps of hair all over the floor. So when the mother could not care for baby Vanessa, do you blame her for not listing this man as the father on the adoption papers?

The California courts passed the buck and deferred jurisdiction to the Ohio courts. And, sadly, the Ohio court system has ruled that the child should be placed with the birth father’s mother (in Ohio) on July 16, while the issues are more formally sorted out.

In my view, this is a terrible result.

Yes, courts should favor natural parents. I truly believe that. But, courts should also take into account the risks to the child, and – to me – this one is a no brainer (because of the birth father’s criminal history).

What do you think? How can we prevent this from happening in the future?

If you agree with me, sign the petition!

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2 Comments

  1. saundra saundra
    July 8, 2010    

    This is an adoption nightmare that crossed my mind in your process. Is there a right or wrong in Vanessa’a case? The adoptive parents love and are loved . In my opinion they are the rightful parents. It is a shame about the Birth father, Maybe he finally grew up enough to want his child. But. Sad situation indeed.

  2. Nancy Nancy
    August 30, 2010    

    I think it’s great you are spreading the word about the cased involving Vanessa. I strongly disagree however about the rights of birth parents and the reason is most people have no idea what goes on in our court system each day. Those rights of birth parents are taking away the rights of our children to grow in a healthy and stable environment. Everyone should have civil rights including all the kids out there that are being destroyed while judges give too many chances to people that do not deserve these children. I have seen this time and time again. Our news is filled with stories of horrible abuse and a history of the court giving people too many chances. We need to give these kids a chance.

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In May, 2005, Rob was a secular, Jewish, thirty-something, Los Angeles, personal injury attorney whose idea of getting up early on a Sunday was getting up for the third quarter of the first televised, NFL games.

Thirsting on the idea of playing in a band for the first time in a decade, Rob finally accepted his neighbor's request to get up at seven-in-the-morning on Sundays in order to participate.

Eleven months later, his world was turned upside down by Jesus. Instantly, he began leading songs on the worship team and, today, he now leads that same LIFEhouse worship team in which he was initially invited to join as a non-believer.

God is cool like that.