Saturday, October 9, 2010

What Ever Happened to Baby Emma? and good news on the Wyrembek boy

Lorraine
Late Breaking News: This comes from Toledo:  "The Vaughns have signed new papers agreeing to give Grayson Wyrembek back to his father, Benjamin Wyrembek, by the end of the month, never to see him again, and to drop all further resistance to the law and justice and to stop trying to take this child from his Ohio family. Wyrembek apparently had, or is still having, a lengthy visit with his son over the weekend, and will continue to have such visitations until he the end of the month. To which we add: Great!

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While we wait and watch to see what happens to Benjamin Wyrembek's son, there is another case of father's rights being denied, this one in Utah, my least favorite state: A young father in Virginia, John Wyatt, 22, was given the round-around by the Sentara Potomac Hospital in Virginia, but eventually learned two days later that the mother, college student Emily Colleen Fahland, managed somehow to relinquish in Utah.

Uh, oh....Utah and them Mormons like to get those babies away from single mothers...
and once a baby is relinquished in that state--no matter how soon after birth--it is very difficult to pry that child away from the adopters, no matter what.

Although the father immediately sued for custody, a Utah judge awarded the adoptive parents (who are keeping their name out of the media) temporary custody. Wyatt sought relief from the Utah Court of Appeals; in the meantime, a Virginia judge granted Wyatt full custody rights last December, ordering baby "Emma" to be returned to Virginia, where her legal and biological father could claim her. But the Virginia attorney general's office said it lacked the authority to retrieve Emma from Utah. What? This means that if you can get a baby across state lines, you simply defer to the other state?

As a result, Wyatt is still fighting to get Utah to recognize his parental rights. In Utah, a birth mother's consent is irrevocable once she signs the paperwork, no matter if she is still groggy from giving birth. In Utah, most of the state offices and judgeships are held by Mormons and the church is overwhelmingly biased against unmarried couples or single mothers having and raising children.** (For writing a less-than-happy perspective about relinquishing a child, I was kicked off a blog run by a Mormon.)

Wyatt and Fahland are dating once again, and hope to raise their baby together. Fahland's attorney, Sharon Fast Gustafson, says her client--the mother of the baby called Emma--gradually came to regret her decision to relinquish her child. Wyatt says: "It's hard to sleep knowing your child is out there and you've never seen her. I'm never going to stop, though." Emma is now 19 months old. This is another nightmare scenario, like that of Benjamin Wyembrek and his son, "Grayson," that involves denying a father the right to raise his own child, and a culture greedy to get babies from mothers as soon as possible after birth with no time for careful deliberation after giving birth.

Joan Hollinger, a University of California at Berkeley professor and a leading authority on adoption law, in an interview with the Washington Post, called Utah's decisions in the Baby Emma case "outrageous" because Wyatt filed for custody in Virginia just eight days after Emma's birth. Utah laws and court decisions, she said, "make it virtually impossible for an out-of-state father to prevent the adoption of an out-of-wedlock child when the mother is determined to go forward." Utah, noted the Post, is "culturally conservative, and lawyers say the powerful Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with its emphasis on family values, has strongly encouraged adoption-friendly laws." Amen.

The kind of legislation that Jane Edwards is working on--which would give mothers more time, and more protections, before they irrevocably sign away their babies--would change this scenario, and we would not have adopters claiming they can not give back the child to his or her rightful parents, simply because they already have the child.* 

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* Yes we can reform state adoption laws!
** Putting the birth family first in adoption

Jane wrote about the Wyatt case in June, Fathers Day 2010: Unmarried Fathers Who Fight for their Rights to be a Dad
 For the story in the Washington Post, see: Whatever Happened To ... the battle over Baby Emma:

14 comments :

  1. How did this child end up in Utah if she and her natural parents are from Virginia?

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  2. Perhaps it would be a good idea to picket the adoption agency or adoption lawyer who facilitated this adoption? Like the people who hang outisde abortion clinics with coat hangers and baby dolls only this would seem a bit more sane.

    It might be good to draw negative media attention to those businessess.

    So sad that this happens/happened it really is tragic.

    It ought to be illegal to take a pregnant woman to a different state to the one she lives in.

    So much adoption reform is needed.

    So sad, really quite distressing to read this story.

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  3. That they were allowed to hold on to that child for 10 months after the father was awarded custody is ridiculous and damaging to the child. Children are people with human rights, not property to be divided up. This makes me shudder.

    After the passage of time the adoptive parents will no doubt argue that to return the child to her family after so much time would be detrimental to her, having already bounded with them; a situation and result that they have created.

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  4. Robin - they managed to sneak the child out of Virginia while the father was busy trying to find a lawyer and start a court case to get his daughter.

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  5. Sometimes a pregnant woman has to leave the State I understand as she is so harrassed and 'cared for' by the potential expectant adopters of her baby.
    What a mess!Next month is National Adoption Awareness Month, agood opportunity to 'go to'

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  6. Well after reaidng that it seems Emma's mother finally made a statement through her lawyer that she regrets the adoption - there goes the excuse some of the other side made that John was lying about Emily's regret. I imagine she is not involved in the court case because she believes he has a better chance of winning without her involved? But it is nice to know she will be involved in her daughter's life if Utah for once finally does the right thing and returns Emma to Virginia's jurisdiction.

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  7. I don't get it? You sit here in judgement and against adoption, when you didn't even want to raise your own child? I never cease to amaze me that the bmoms who are the most vocal and anti-adoption are the ones who didn't want the burden of raise their child. Please explain? Is it guilt

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  8. Anonymous,

    You really have no idea of what mothers have had done to them. Especially the mothers of the Baby Scoop Era and sadly too many of those unethical practices have become common again in the adoption industry.

    I am a Baby Scoop Era ADOPTEE. Please apologise to the mothers here for your crass statement.

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  9. Hey Anonymous,
    Since "shut the hell up, you have no clue" isn't a sufficient argument for your absolutely idiotic comment, here goes...

    Of course, every "FIRST MOTHER" suffers guilt but that has nothing to do with this post, honesty, integrity and not allowing adoption agenices, attorneys or even the money laden LDS church to KIDNAP children from their parents IS what this post is about.

    Take your rude comments elsewhere or educate yourself prior to commenting again.

    Thanks!

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  10. @anonymous,

    I agree with Sandy. I,too, am a baby scoop era adoptee and my mother NEVER wanted to give me up. She NEVER got over it. There has always been pressure on umarried women to give up their babies (at some times more than others). Also, this is a crisis situation. Many bmothers feel frightened, alone, may believe they lack adequate resources and succumb to the pressure that adoption is the best option. Some mothers don't realize until after the birth what it really means to give a child up. This is why women need considerable time after the birth to reconsider their decision. You certainly cannot assume that this first mother or others did not want to raise their child.

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  11. @ anonymous: You said: "I never cease to amaze me that the bmoms who are the most vocal and anti-adoption are the ones who didn't want the burden of raise their child. Please explain?"

    You never cease to amaze me either...

    Let me explain. No, that would take too long and be far, far,far above your pay grade so let me merely sum up.

    One of the reasons "the bmoms" are the most vocal and anti-adoption is BECAUSE WE REPRESENT ONE-HALF OF THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE TO LIVE WITH THE SOUL CRUSHING AFTERMATH OF ADOPTION. The other half are the adoptees.

    And yes, I am yelling at you.

    Guilt? You betchya. Guilt because I bought into the lie that if I loved my daughter "enough", if I was a "good enough mother," I would give her away to people who could give her so much "more."

    Guilt? You betchya. For denying my daughter her birthright and her heritage by giving her to complete strangers because I believed I wasn't a good enough mother for her.

    It wasn't as matter of not wanting the "burden" of raising my daughter AT ALL. "Burden" didn't enter into the thought process for a single moment.

    It was a matter of self-righteous, snot-nosed people just like you, passing judgment on single mothers like me. It was a matter of people just like you telling me that only selfish women keep their children to raise and that if I were to do the same, my daughter would be condemned to a lifetime of abuse, neglect, poor grades, and low self esteem. It was a matter of being told by me religion and my culture that I was not good enough, I would never be good enough, and that to keep my daughter would prove I was a bad mother and a bad person.

    Until and unless you take the time to education yourself about all sides of the adoption equation (and not just the state/church sanctioned version of adoption=bliss, bmommies=bad people who should just shut up and go away, and adoptive parents=angels among us), I respectfully submit you should keep your comments to yourself, because frankly you sound like a complete and total yahoo.

    Sincerely,

    M.

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  12. P.S. Dear Anonymous: Please excuse my grammatical errors in the post above. I wrote it while I was taking care of my three "burdens"...er, I mean children that call me Mom. I didn't have a lot of free time to edit.

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  13. Yes, it is the case that women should have a reasonable period of time to decide if they want to relinquish custody--unfortunately, people are so convinced that the baby won't "bond" if it doesn't immediately go to others that this is an issue.

    However, my feeling is that there are far more cases in which the biological father of a child is abusive, acted kind and loving prior to impregnating the mother, and then turned only after the mother was pregnant than there are cases in which the father has been badly treated.

    I believe that the law in Oregon is a good one. If the father is not involved with the mother during the last few months of the pregnancy, and she chooses to put the baby up for adoption, then the adoption should be final.

    This is an excellent reason for men to practice birth control if they'd rather not lose a child to adoption, and an excellent reason to marry any woman they plan to impregnate.

    I do understand that there are abuses of the system, and you are right to be concerned about the pressure brought to bear on young women to give up a child, but I do not agree that fathers should be able to retrieve a child or prevent an adoption unless the father has been involved in the pregnancy.

    I do not actually believe that adopted children suffer overly much when they have good adoptive parents. Many children lose their parents at a young age, and are raised to be perfectly happy adults. While I do think that more than a few adoptive parents reject a child after s/he grows out of his/her baby cuteness, more than a few biological parents reject a child after s/he grows out of his/her baby cuteness.

    Someone is going to wind up hurt here--there is no solution that will not cause someone to be harmed. But, it is my belief that children stand to experience more harm by allowing fathers to prevent an adoption or to reclaim them than to allow mothers to sign away custody.

    Women do not sign away custody lightly--and one main reason is to get the child away from his/her abusive biological father. Actually, that's one reason they choose abortion even over adoption, something that obviously terminates the potential life of that child.

    I think you are a tad too extremist here--not all children are harmed by adoption, not all fathers should automatically get custody due to a biological connection.

    But, yes, I do think that adoption is too often done too quickly. I agree that women with less education are often duped. I believe that open adoptions should be enforceable and that more women should be offered them (if the woman is stable). I believe that if the father wishes an open adoption, that he too should have contact (if the father is stable).

    But, I am not as anti-adoption as you appear to be. This is a very unbalanced view.

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  14. Are you an adoptive mother/father/grandparent? What is your perspective here?

    and COMMENTS CLOSED.

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