Thursday, September 23, 2010

Biological Dad Seeks Return of His Son; Adopters Resist, Claiming: Best Interests

Sellersburg family continues fight for adopted son
Talk about courts that delay and laws that are stacked against natural parents of children! This is another case of what is out-and-out child snatching passively approved by our slow-moving legal system in America. But at least in this case an Ohio judge saw the light of right and has ordered that the three-year-old in question, now called Grayson Vaughn, be returned in 48 hours to his rightful, natural father. However, since the prospective adopters live in Indiana, they have been fighting the return of the child to his father in both states.

 But there they were, Jason and Christy Vaughn, this morning on Good Morning America holding on to the son they got three years ago and expecting that the world agree with them--just as did the insufferable DeBoers nearly two decades ago--as they insisted that they be allowed to keep this child because--it is in his best interests.  And what about his siblings? Our natural (biological) children who have gotten used to having him around, protested Christy. I love him just as much as I love my other children. Good for you, I was thinking, but you Go Directly to Hell for keeping this child when his natural father stepped up as soon as he learned of the child. He is not your child to keep.

I was screaming at the television set this morning and my husband wanted to know what was wrong. Adoption, I shouted. It's all cockeyed! These people are stealing another man's son!

Why do these people even have the gall to say their keeping him from his natural father is in Grayson's best interests? Because the Vaughns have fought him, whose name is not public, in two states since he began fighting to raise his own child. But are they going to do the right thing, now that an Ohio court has ruled against them? Oh no:
“We can still win this thing,” Vaughn said. “It’s just a matter of getting one of the motions to go our way. We can still stall, have a transition period or win or lose.”
The gist of the story is this: A divorcing woman, Drucilla Bocvarov, is having a child; the woman and her ex-husband decide to put the as-yet-unborn child up for adoption for; the Vaughns are in the delivery room.*  But her husband is not the child's real father; that is another man, Benjamin Wyrembek, and about 30 days after the child, called Grayson, joined the family in Sellersburg, Indiana-- and while they were still waiting for the appropriate paperwork to file adoption--he filed a paternity action in an Ohio court because he believed the child might be his. A year later, the court ruled Wyrembek was Grayson’s biological father, and the child should be returned to him immediately.

The Vaughns continued to fight on in Indiana, where they live. However, Circuit Court Judge J. Terrence Cody of Floyd County reviewed the case on Aug. 18 and determined Indiana does not have jurisdiction. The court ordered the Vaughns to return Grayson in 48 hours, but the Indiana Supreme Court (in a 4-3 vote) ordered an emergency stay with 29 minutes to spare and a sheriff’s department officer waiting in their driveway, Vaughn said.

Though the Ohio court ordered the return of Grayson on Wednesday, the Vaughns ignored that and plan to sit tight in their Floyd Country home until all the adoption are custody cases pending in several states are resolved, or until law enforcement officials show up to take Grayson away. If that happens, I fully expect that the media will be called by the Vaughns so we can see a crying child being pried from Christy's arms. Christy, incidentally, was four months pregnant at the time, and undoubtedly the adoption process was started before she knew she was pregnant.

While the adopters chose to go to the media in an effort to drum up public sympathy for their "plight," the attorney, Alan Lehenbauer, for the real/biological/natural/birth father sent this statement to ABC: “My client has sought the return of his child since shortly after birth and will not relitigate this matter in the media.”

Why can't people just understand that they do not have the right to another man's child simply because they want that child? What is wrong with their moral compass? Where do they get this sense of entitlement? It is worth quoting here Justice James Heiple, Illinois Supreme Court in the "Baby Richard" case, another case where father's rights finally prevailed:

If ... the best interests of the child is to be the determining factor in child custody cases ... persons seeking babies to adopt might profitably frequent grocery stores and snatch babies from carts when the parent is looking the other way. Then, if custody proceedings can be delayed long enough, they can assert that they have a nicer home, a superior education, a better job or whatever, and that the best interests of the child are with the baby snatchers. Children of parents living in public housing or other conditions deemed less affluent and children of single parents might be considered particularly fair game."
You are free to leave a comment at the (Indiana) News and Tribune website: Sellersburg family continues fight for adopted son. I did but the only one that is visible as I write is from another adopter who says if the child must be returned adoptions will go down. OMG. The world needs to hear from us, including adoptive parents who would not stoop to insisting that they are owed another man's child just because they already have him. --lorraine
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 Note: It is in evening as I make changes to the above post (adding names and further information) and I am getting comments about the character of the father and being called names (see comments) myself and hateful towards all adoptions; I am not printing the slanders about the father. No matter what, the fact remains: the boy is the son of someone other than the Graysons, and their keeping him from the minute Wyrembek, the natural father, proved his paternity and asked for him is tantamount to a kidnapping condoned by the courts. I stand by my words.

I had great parents, but I had to struggle to go to college; perhaps wealthier parents, if they had whisked me away in a grocery store when I was an infant, might have been so-called "better" by a court. But I doubt I would have felt that way when I grew up and wondered why I did not resemble anyone I knew.

*(See previous blog, The Case for More Time Before Signing Surrender Papers, to hear what I think of that.) And yes today I am using the word: adopter. These people deserve no better, and in any event, the adoption of course has never been finalized.

29 comments :

  1. This is a clear case of entitlement - and it is disgusting. I commented, but the one comment that the paper is allowing clear vision to - from an "adoptive" parent. Whining about how the child belongs with the adopters.

    Please, folks, speak up!

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  2. Thank you for your comments. This from a "must -remain-anonymous-for-confidentiality's-sake" individual who intimately knows this case...from the father's side. There are two sides to every story. The media told one. You have done good research on this.

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  3. I agree with much of what you have said. I also fully sympathize with the adoptive parents hearts, and can't imagine what everyone involved is going through. Let us focus on what is best for the child in the short-term also! "Returning" him withihn 48 hours is crazy! This child doesn't even know his father. A transition period is a must for this little boy.

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  4. Left a comment on the article, the only comment showing was the one about Indiana backing adopters *gag* (like they don't already), but it isn't showing and I cannot find any other comments so we'll see.

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  5. The transfer is going to be traumatic however much time the Vaughns and Grayson have to get ready, and it looks like the Vaughns will milk it for all it is worth in the media. And by the way they had 3 years to get the child ready. They have been in denial while kidnapping another man's son.

    Anonymous, would you also suggest that someone who was kidnapped and lived with another family for 3 years be given a transition time, to get used to the idea, or immediately be returned to his rightful parents?

    Just curious.

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  6. Lorraine, I'm very close to a father in KC who has been fighting the courts since his son was a few weeks old - and his son will be 6 years old this winter! Despite unanimous rulings in his favor by the Western Circuit Court of Appeals and even the Missouri Supreme court, the local court keeps delaying, dragging and ignoring the appellate rulings.
    The court continually sides with the adopters, who have since moved out of State with the child.

    The father (whose name is on the birth certificate) never gave his consent; though the court admits he is the father (and therefor pays child support) they finally granted him a weekend a month with his son. Since the appeals court ruled that an adoption was not allowed, the local court made the adopters legal guardians of the child and even granted a change of legal name!

    It's still going on all around us, folks, and the few who have the courage and resources to fight the legal battles are only the tip of the iceberg....

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  7. This is why I have a petition:
    "A Father's Right To Parent"

    http://www.change.org/petitions/view/tell_your_legislator_to_writeenact_a_fathers_right_to_parent_bill

    -Mara

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  8. Wow, I was very enlightened to a whole group of people I never knew existed when I read this blog article. You are vile and hateful and very disrespectful to adoptive parents, who we need more of!! I myself am a REAL/NATURAL/BIOLOGICAL...ETC, ETC mother. There are 2 sides to every story, but your viewpoint towards adoption is akin to a Muslim terrorist's viewpoint of Christianity - extremist, dangerous, and damaging.

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  9. YES!!! Lorraine, I was shouting at the TV, as well. This isn't the first time the "take the kid and run and stall" tactic has been used and it is about time that the law was obeyed by EVERYONE, including adopters. YES!!!

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  10. Jamee, I would submit that YOUR viewpoint is equally dangerous and damaging. We have two adults disobeying the law, harming a child who doesn't belong to them? He doesn't belong to them. DNA says so. The courts say so... who else do we need to say so? In what parallel universe is it ok to take another person's child and call it in their best interests. This isn't an adoption, an adoption is a legal instrument and the courts have deemed it null and void. So if it's not an adoption, what is it? Let's see, you withhold someone's child from them when the law has told you to give the child back. It's called kidnapping. I don't feel sorry for them, I feel enraged for that little boy and his father, who are this very minute still being denied each other.

    I am an adult adoptee, there are more "players" involved in adoption that need to be respected, rather than just the adoptive parent. Let them polish their halo's in the media after they give that man back his little boy.

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  11. JameeH said: "You are vile and hateful and very disrespectful to adoptive parents, who we need more of!!"

    Where do I start???

    No! Hateful and vile is knowingly taking a child that BELONGS to someone else. That amounts to kidnapping not adoption. (and yes they knew almost from the beginning that this child wasn't rightfully theirs, yet their lust for a child was more important than the real best interests of the child)

    Hateful and vile is keeping that child for three years with complete disregard for the father to whom the child belongs.

    Hateful and Vile are adoption agencies that act unethically in placing children all for the love of MONEY!

    I could go on and on, but I won't... Open your eyes...

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  12. "someone who was kidnapped and lived with another family for 3 years be given a transition time, to get used to the idea, or immediately be returned to his rightful parents?"

    This is in no way the same thing Lorraine. It's my opinion that to disrupt a child after 3 years within 48 hours is abusive. The transition should be made gradually, although from how you've described the adoptive parents that scenario is highly unlikely.

    This whole disturbing situation is created by a bunch of self involved adults. It's disgusting from the beginning.

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  13. As an adoptive parent of two older children this story breaks my heart, and the adopters are showing no love or respect for the little boy, who should have been back with his father immediately upon learning about his father. The longer they deny the truth of what is best for the child, the more damage they are causing him. He needs to be returned immediately; it should have happened much sooner, there is absolutely no excuse for such greediness and self-love.

    Keeping him from his father is truly a great sin. Kidnapping is a crime, and after this much time, the adopters should be punished.

    I also know the father in KC who has been fighting for six yers for his son, and as d28bob said, there are so many more fighting, or trying to, but fail to have the resourcces. I am totally disgusted with the adopters.

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  14. LMAO...did some rainbow farter just come on here and compare adoptees & natural mothers to terrorists?

    Listen up...No, put the kool-aid down and focus. I know it's hard to do that being so self-absorbed Ms. Adoptive Parent but YOU are the terrorist.

    You, American AP, are the reason the rest of the world hates Americans. Do you really think women WANT to give up their babies? Do you really think that there are millions of orphans "waiting for a fovever family"?

    Women who give up their children are mostly poor and doesn't want her child to die of starvation or disease.

    90% of children called "orphans" have at least ONE LIVING PARENT.

    You are taking children away from their parents and keeping them for yourselves!!!!

    YOU ARE THE TERRORISTS.

    Christians are called to help orphans AND WIDOWS. Why are you taking the children away from the widows? Why aren't you helping the mother keep her child? BECAUSE YOU ARE SELFISH, AMERICAN TERRORISTS.

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  15. I am an adoptee, and I understand full well the trauma of families being torn apart by a truly crappy system. However, demonizing adoptive parents by equating them to kidnappers and calling them child stealers really isn't the solution...in fact, it's the same tactic used to demonize first mothers/fathers and adoptees who speak out about the pain and injustice they've experienced.

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  16. Despite the very poor decisions made by the a-parents, I too believe this child needs some transition time in preparation for returning to his father. It's not right, it's not legal, it's anything bad you want to say about it, but these are the people he has been with for 3 years. However, it's also moot. Folks like this would be more likely to take the kid and run than admit they acted in such a reckless manner.

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  17. Lorraine,
    This makes me furious, sad and really concerned about the society in which we live when I hear yet another story like this. This is reminiscent of stories like the DeBords, Stephanie Bennett, and others that we in the Adoption community know well. Unfortunately, the common view, as expressed by JameeH, is that the longer they can keep him, the more right they have to continue.

    A society that puts so little value in Motherhood, that sees family as replaceable, and that possession is the ultimate point of law is a society in crisis, and I don't simply mean the economic one.

    And,the fact that after all these years after the DeBords this is STILL happening, and it STILL gets the kind of press that it does, is the saddest thing of all. Seems 5that there is no end to the love affair that our society has with playing God, controlling Nature and learning NOTHING when things go, as they inevitably do, go wrong.

    I hope that this one ends well, but I am very fearful. Meanwhile, I will be posting about Little Evelyn Bennett, trying to keep the story alive so that she can easily find it when the time comes for her to look for her mother, Stephanie.

    Meanwhile, America's love affair with the myth of Adoption as the 'Loving Option' goes on....

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  18. Lorraine, here's a parallel story which has a language barrier/penal institution/illegal immigrant status kicker. Interestingly, the ACLU (who oppose open access to OBCs) are representing the first mother.

    http://www.joplinglobe.com/local/x666130743/Carthage-couple-battle-for-their-adopted-child

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  19. I'm disgusted that this family think years of fighting in court are "better" for this child than returning him to his father. They are not bending over backwards for this child's best interest, they are bending over backwards to get media attention and for themselves. If they had given him back to his father 2 years ago when they were ordered to and left this out of the media the child would be so much better off. Now everyone in the country is going to know him as "that kid in the custody battle". I feel so sorry for this child and blame the adoptive parents for their actions.

    This isn't an attack on adoptive parents, it's a statement about these TWO adoptive parents, and people who cannot understand the difference between a case by case situation and "attacking all adoptive parents" need to reread this article again.

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  20. From Kathleen Moran Indianapolis, IN

    I feel very sickened reading about this. It is so creepy and cruel that the poor child is being made a pawn by the so-called adopters! They sound more like delusional kidnappers to me. I cannot believe this kind of thing goes on today in our country. What a shame. The entitlement that goes on is sickening and should be halted immediately and swiftly penalized. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Wake up people! I'm frightened that this kind of thinking is considered acceptable in our society.

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  21. I am utterly shocked at the commentary I am hearing hearing in this forum. I can say that I rest firmly in the middle of this, as I can see and empathize both sides, and can understand the anger from both. I agree that this hasn't been handled well, and the Vaughns could and should have relinquished him sooner. I can also understand the fears they have about the trauma this will cause him. But let's not apply broad generalizations to all the groups here. The adoptive parents aren't terrorists, and the biological father isn't a saint. And let's not make this a class issue - don't punish them because they are financially stable.

    SO fine, the law is the law, and he should go back, but there should be a transition period - because regardless of the black and white of this topic, there is a human being here and being "right" in any instance, isn't worth some terrible trauma if gradual can make things better.

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  22. Agreeing on the need for gradual transition if anyone here really cares about the feelings of the child. But I do not see it happening because I fear neither side would cooperate.

    These cases should never be allowed to drag on this long. They should be decisively and fairly settled when the child is still an infant.If the child is to be returned to the father or mother, it should have been done long ago.At this point,it is a tragedy for everyone but most of all the child. What good are these rulings if the law has no teeth and custody battles can drag on forever?

    By the way, yes, I would recommend a transition time even for a kidnapped child if the child were attached to the kidnappers and thought they were his parents, and did not remember his biological parents. The law is about possession, about who owns the child, but the child's feelings are something else altogether.

    I do not think children should be abruptly ripped from any circumstance if at all possible, and that includes foster care. But nobody ever seems concerned about those kids repeatedly losing "the only parents they have ever known."

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  23. What bothers me here is the legal disparity between infants placed for adoption and foster care children. The natural parents of infants placed for adoption are given fewer rights than are parents who have had their children taken due to abuse and neglect.

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  24. Quoting from the July 2010 Missouri Southern Court of Appeals case which overturned the involuntary adoption of the son of an imprisoned Guatemalan immigrant mother:

    "Adoption statutes, like all other similar statutes, must be strictly complied with and must be strictly construed in favor of the natural parent when the destruction of the parent-child relationship is at issue...

    "It is of course true that the [adoption] statute is to be liberally construed with a view to promoting the best interests of the child, but such liberal
    construction is obviously not to be extended to the question of when the natural parents may be divested of their rights to the end that all legal relationship between them and their child shall cease and determine. . . .
    [I]t must always be borne in mind that the rights of natural parents to the custody and possession of their children are among the highest of natural rights[.]...

    "Respondents argue that anyone can place the child for adoption and it is up to the parent to contact the police in opposition to the
    placement prior to the court allowing a transfer of custody. This proposition has no support in our laws or a civilized society...

    "By enacting this section, the legislature intended to prohibit the indiscriminate transfer of children, meaning that someone could not pass a child around like chattel...

    "The legislature developed a set of laws to determine how custody may be lawfully taken away from a parent; therefore, substantial actions outside of that statutory scheme were prejudicial to Mother.
    A parent's right to raise her children is a fundamental liberty interest protected by the constitutional guarantee of due process and is, in fact, one of the oldest fundamental liberty interests recognized by the United States Supreme Court...

    "We do not agree with Respondents' argument that any party can place any child for adoption so long as the court finds that it is in the best interests of the child. We have never allowed courts to choose between competing parents on the simple standard of "best interests" of the child. By allowing this type of transfer, we would not only contradict the statutory requirements, but would also open the door to the blackmarketing of children...

    "[W]hether living in Guatemala or the United States is more comfortable for the children is not determinative of the children's best interests . . . the 'best interests' of the child standard does not require simply that a determination be made that one environment or set of circumstances is superior to another...

    "We conclude that adoption statutes must be strictly complied with and must be construed in favor of the natural parents... We cannot excuse strict compliance or write exceptions into the statutes because the natural parents' rights to their children cannot be unreasonably disregarded... The trial court has the obligation to make sure the statutes are strictly followed, and the failure to do so in this case results in a deprivation of Mother's right to raise Child."


    Apparently there is now a 3-judge appeals panel in Missouri who unanimously agree that parent's rights are not easily dismissed, despite the length of time (4 years!) the child was cared for in another family.

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  25. Bob: do you have the woman's name? It was in the NY Times and that's what I'm asking.

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  26. Regarding a transition time -- sounds good but may not be workable. In the "Baby Richard" case, the birth parents agreed to a transition period. They tried to set up meetings to develop a plan. The adoptive parents and their advocate, a university professor of social work dragged their feet, didn't show up at meetings, and so on. Finally, the judge said "transfer the kid now!"

    The adoptive parents set a date for the transfer and called in the media to get pictures of four year old Richard crying as they handed him to his parents. Once in the car Richard stopped crying and never cried again. He thrived with his parents.

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  27. Hi, I write for a blog called Divorce Saloon and we discussed this case today. I am with you on this 100%. And while I feel sad for the parents who allowed themselves to bond with this child knowing that the biological father had contested the adoption almost from day one, my support is for the natural father in this case and the right thing is to return the child immediately as I opined on Divorce Salooon.

    "The Right of the natural parent to care and custody of his or her child is a fundamental constitutional right."

    As someone commented on Divorce Saloon, what if the father had taken that boy and lived with another woman for 3 years, then put the child up for adoption over and above the protests and objections of the natural mother?

    Well, I could go on. But I just wanted to say that I am with you on this, 100%. That child should be returned to his dad because his dad wants him.

    By the way, I want to steal one of your quotes and add to our post on this. Hope you don't mind.

    Sincerely,
    Jeannie Goldstein
    www.divorcesaloon.com

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  28. Regarding kidnapping...

    Actually, kidnapped children who have been held for an extended period of time ARE transitioned home.

    They aren't transitioned from the kidnappers, of course, but they are generally placed in therapeutic foster care temporarily while they are eased back into their families with the supervision of psychological professionals.

    Why? Because it IS stressful and traumatic for a child to make these transitions. Even when (for example, kidnapping or wrongful adoption) it's in the long-term BEST interest of the child to return to the family, the return has to be done carefully to minimize the damage in the meantime.

    Suggesting that kidnapped children are simply plopped back home like nothing happened after extended captivity isn't correct. They need time and therapy to adjust. So I think the same is needed for this child.

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  29. Dear MK: Read the later blog about how earlier transitions between warring sets of parents turn out. Transitions only work when the people who are refusing to turn over the child willingly participate.

    We at FMF are unaware of any who have.

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