Friday, January 7, 2011

The imaginary conflict between the rights of parents and children

Jane
Benjamin Mills has joined the sorry list of fathers seeking to prevent the adoption of their children. His now two year old daughter, Vanessa Doss, was born in Ohio. Her mother, Andrea Conley, consented to her adoption, stating untruthfully that Vanessa’s father was unknown. Vanessa was adopted by 45 year-old Stacey Doss, a single woman in California.

Mills sued for custody in Ohio and contested the adoption in California. A California court ruled that the Ohio courts had jurisdiction and ordered the child returned to Ohio. 

Mills, the father; Rena Jordan, his mother and the girl’s grandmother who has custody of two other children Mills had with Conley; and Doss, the would-be adoptive mother seek custody of Vanessa. Mills is not an ideal father; he does not have custody of any of his four other children and he has been convicted of domestic violence. The Ohio court will determine whether Mills is fit to have custody, and, if not, who should have custody. This is an orderly and appropriate process.

Doss, however, is not satisfied with letting an Ohio judge determine Vanessa’s best interests; she wants the California court to ignore the violation of Mills’ paternal right and give her custody, and to that end has appealed to the California Court of Appeal.

Like other would-be adoptive parents, instead of trusting the courts, she has also turned to the media where Robin Sax of the Huffington Post is spouting the usual clatter trap about the only mother the child has ever known. Perhaps Sax shouldn’t be expected to understand arcane legal concepts such as letting Mills have the opportunity to defend himself in court and not lose his rights because the child’s mother lied; one would think law professors would know better.

One would think wrong. Fifteen have filed an amicus brief with the California Court of Appeal supporting Stacey Doss. (An amicus brief is a written legal argument by persons who are not parties to an action seeking to persuade the court to adopt a particular legal principle.)

In the brief written by James G. Dwyer who teaches at William and Mary College of Law, the professors argue that ‘”the fundamental Fourteenth Amendment right of intimate association protects the family relationship that she has formed and that is central to her basic welfare, precluding the State of California from intruding into her home and ending her family life.’” (Dayton Daily News)

This alleged right of “intimate association” comes from court decisions upholding the right of private organizations to discriminate on the basis of gender, race, and sexual orientation. To claim that the right of intimate association protects a two year old from her father is nonsense. And, of course, this two-year old did not form any family; it was imposed on her.

Prof. Dwyer says he believes the case has strong potential to attract the attention of the United States Supreme Court because it’s the perfect test case pitting the rights of children against the rights of birth parents.” (Emphasis added.)

That the rights of children are in opposition to the rights of parents is an often-repeated but false dichotomy. An adoptive father decries in Atlantic’s “The Daily Dish,” the Canadian government’s attempts to reunite foster children with their parents instead of freeing them for adoption when they are young. “In Canada, our system stills weighs heavily the rights of the biological parent over those of the child.”

The father, seeking to adopt another child candidly admits “I wish that it were different, that families would adopt these [older] children. But those of us unable to have children of our own want to start families. Our motivation is not charity. We want infants.” (Emphasis added.)

There you have it – according to those seeking to adopt, the adoption industry, and their media allies simple-minded child welfare authorities and soft-headed judges have colluded to fetter adoptive parents, thwarting the best interests of children.

When it comes to the right of adults adopted as children to know their identity, however, the “rights of the child chorus” changes its tune. It’s birth mothers whose rights are paramount as the adoption industry, joined by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union chant the “birth mother privacy” refrain. A specious argument since the constitutional right of privacy is the right to be protected from the government, not from one’s children.

This rights rhetoric reflects our skewed demographics where many in the upper middle class are unable to have children and have become dependent on the lower classes to provide them children either through adoption or egg "donations" and surrogacy. These affluent but infertile would-be parents truly believe that they would make better parents than those with fewer resources but seemingly limitless fertility. Once on the adoption track, they and their friends conjure up a conflict between the rights of biological parents and their children with the only resolution keeping the adoptive family intact. The only rights they are really concerned about is their perceived right to the children of others, now and forever. In short, this conflict between the rights of the child and the rights of the parents is non-existent and those fifteen law professors and the ACLU attorneys ought to know it.

The law is simple. It honors the bond which nature has created between a parent and child. If the parent breaks the bond, then society must step in and provide care for the child. However, the parent is entitled to a hearing to determine whether the parent broke the bond. This is known in legal parlance as fundamental due process, and the father of this child deserves this whether or not he has a stellar record.  We don’t know about the present, and as child welfare experts tell us and we have seen, children typically fare best when raised in their biological families.

Is the system perfect? No, judges make mistakes on both sides of the ledger. However if the law were otherwise-- allowing a sort of squatters rights to children—the result would be mass kidnappings which unfortunately do occur in some countries. The children are not always taken to idyllic adoptive homes. Some are forced to become soldiers or work as slaves or prostitutes. When a society fails to protect and respect the family, chaos results.

36 comments :

  1. Whenever I think of the rights of children esp in versus parents, I think of the following.

    UN Rights of the Child....

    http://www.crin.org/docs/resources/treaties/uncrc.asp

    Article 7

    1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

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  2. A feminist adopteeJanuary 7, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    Good lord, what is this woman afraid of? I will assume she loves the baby, but all the man wants is another court to consider the action. These stories of not letting fathers have rights to their children make me crazy mad!

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  3. After reading several articles about this case, I cannot put my support behind this man. He has a terrible history, including non payment of child support and a stint in prison for domestic violence. The natural mother's reasons for wanting to give this child a better life away from this man make a lot of sense. I fear for this child's safety. While I would normally back a father's rights to his child, this man's character causes me grave concern.

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  4. Where was he during her pregnancy? Many men run as soon as a woman gets pregnant they don't want to be responsible for their own babies. Please don't say mothers are the same way. When a woman carries a baby for nine months and gives birth she is invested period. Her life is altered forever. Even more so if she loses her baby in adoption.
    I wonder about the abuse he alleged had was it with mother. Still if he were around he would have known more
    What was going on. Men don't feel same as women who bear babies.

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  5. "Mills is not an ideal father; he does not have custody of any of his four other children and he has been convicted of domestic violence."

    Lovely. "Not an ideal father" a bit of understatement there! That the natural mother wanted to give this child a better chance than being raised by the abuser's mother like her other children seems a better choice here, since neither parent seems fit.

    Supporting the rights of the father in this case seems to illustrate that the natural parent can never be wrong, no matter how questionable, and the prospective adoptive parent never right, no matter what the circumstances.

    I understand legal precedent, but this comes down to the life of a child. There is out of control hyperbole in the last paragraph about The End Of Society As We Know It if the biological family is not protected, beginning with "the result would be mass kidnappings"....and ending with "When a society fails to protect and respect the family, chaos results." This is way over the top, and hardly relates to the sad case this post began with.

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  6. Dear Multiple Anonymouses (and also I suspect, Adoptive Parents):

    The problem here is that if the case is won on the merits of the law professors' briefs, that decision would jeopardize all parents' rights to raise their own children.

    You folks are not looking past your own noses to see the full implications of what the professors are arguing for. The father, Benjamin Mills, might indeed not gain custody, but it should not be because the child has the right to be brought up by someone else simply because she has already been in their home while Mills is fighting the child's adoption.

    Anyone arguing that point should be willing to give up one of their own biological children to a wealthier family, then fight that decision in court while years tick by...while the child [and the adults taking care of her] then has the right to the "family relationship" she has formed in the meantime. It's malarkey, pure and simple.

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  7. Not entirely unrelated, but I would LOVE to hear FMF's stance on the recent goings on at the State Department changing "mother & father" on the passport application to "Parent 1 & Parent 2."

    Tom Perkins had this to say about it: "Only in the topsy-turvy world of left-wing political correctness could it be considered an 'improvement' for a birth-related document to provide less information about the circumstances of that birth."

    He further goes on to argue against the change by asserting, "since science has yet to master human cloning, the newborn human being has always received half of his or her genetic inheritance via the sperm of a male parent, i.e., the father. It would be helpful if a certificate related to 'birth' would identify which is which." (http://www.frc.org/newsroom/state-departments-abolition-of-motherhood-and-fatherhood-takes-political-correctness-to-a-new-level)

    Does anyone else find this a terribly specious argument coming from an organization that wholeheartedly endorses adoption as it is currently practiced, replete with falsified birth records that erase the child's actual mother and father?

    Looking forward to your response -

    M.

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  8. Wow - lots of people with the same name - wonder what their parents were thinking to name them anonymous...sorry could not help myself...

    As an adoptee both my mother and father count and if one wanted to parent, then that should be the first action and end of story.

    As an adoptee if I found out that either of my parents wanted to parent me and my mom or dad or both said no we will fight you in court, then that really would not have gone over well. It may not have impacted me as a child but as an adult it would have...and you do realize we do grow up and become adults right?

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  9. As an adoptee I would thank my lucky stars if my mother tried to keep me away from an abusive man. I would hope that she would be able to parent me herself but if there was some extreme circumstance that made her unable to do that, I would understand that she was doing her best to protect me. And that is being a good mother.

    While I understand the legal principles and don't agree with "the only home the child has ever known" argument, I do hope that this man is declared unfit.

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  10. I guess it is no big deal to deny someone due process if a baby is to be had.

    The last I heard it wasn't against the law to be a crappy parent otherwise about 70% of us would be denied parental rights. Even with the domestic violence allegation, I don't know all the details so am not going to make a judgment on that. A parent deserves the opportunity to raise his own child.

    It is amazing that Ms. Doss's character is given a pass when all we know about her is she is willing to keep a child from her family because she "loves" her so much.

    Then we hear the wail, "but its about the kids, man!" No, quite obviously it is not. It is about Stacy Doss.

    I wonder if these anonymi would feel the same if someone was waging a campaign against one of their own sons right to parent his own child.

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  11. P.S.

    I should add I think it is no small matter that Ms. Doss who is waging the campaign against the father is also a PR professional.

    I am sure she is a rather formidable opponent it takes more than a little fortitude to continue this fight.

    Maybe Mills has some good qualities after all. Maybe not, I don't have all the facts and neither does anyone here. That is why the argument against due process is so absurd.

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  12. I am neither an adoptive parent nor anonymous, I am a natural mother and do not like to see us supporting this man in any way. Given the particulars of this case, I do not think it will set any precedent that will endanger decent fathers seeking custody in the future. There are too many rotten special circumstances here. It only makes us look bad to stick up for this man or his case.

    This is not just a mediocre parent or someone's opinion smearing his good name, but one who was convicted of domestic violence and was jailed for it. He has hurt family members before, and the 4 other children he has sired are with his already overburdened mother.

    I would hope that if anyone in my family was an abuser, I would not support them getting custody of any child and would help the decent caregiver fight it, to keep the child safe. I don't enable abusers, even if it were my son or daughter. "Crappy parent" and "criminal abuser whose other children are already being raised by someone else" are not the same thing.

    Perhaps some people are anon here because they do not want to deal with the personal attacks expressing an opinion like this is sure to endgender from some commenters, not the list owners, but others who feel "better dead than adopted."

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  13. Anons, Mary Anne,

    You're missing the point. We have not put our support behind Benjamin Mills; we have put our support behind the rule of law.

    There has been NO court determination on the merits of the case, that is whether Mills' failure to consent to the adoption prevents the adoption, and if so, whether he should have custody of Vanessa.

    The California court simply said that because the child was born in Ohio, her parents are in Ohio, the facts in dispute took place in Ohio, an Ohio court should hear the case. This seems eminently fair.

    As Joy pointed out the facts reported in the media may or may not be correct. Even if correct, there may be mitigating circumstances. We do not know.

    Doss' position and apparently that of the 15 law professors, is that because Doss took Vanessa from Ohio to California, whether legally or illegally, Doss is entitled to the child based on "the only mother the child has even known." To make her case play better in the media, Doss has added a host of unproven allegations tending to show that that Mills is unfit to be a father.

    In a civilized society, everyone, even the Benjamin Mills' and Jared Loughners of the world, are entitled to their day in court.

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  14. I have to agree with Maryanne on this one. Getting a conviction for domestic violence is difficult and spending time in jail for it is rare. Either this fmother had a super attorney or the case is horrific. This reminds me of cases (that had nothing to do with adoption) where a mother went underground with her children to protect them from a father's sexual abuse. I admire these women even though they were denying the father his parental rights. And it certainly sounds like Vanessa's n-mom chose adoption to keep Vanessa safe. And the child's SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT. (Although I do have to question her choice in creating another child with this man in the first place).

    Also, I do not think we are all missing the legal point nor do I think that not supporting this one man will endanger father's rights for all time. We are simply emphasizing another point called common sense.

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  15. Better dead than adopted?

    I didn't read that in any of the posts.

    Who posted that Maryanne?

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  16. If the father is truly dangerous to the child then the mother should have ensured his rights were stripped, legally, through the courts. Trying to do an end run around the law is not the correct way to do things...

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  17. Robin wrote:"Also, I do not think we are all missing the legal point nor do I think that not supporting this one man will endanger father's rights for all time. We are simply emphasizing another point called common sense."

    Thank you Robin. This appears to be an especially egregious case of a father the courts have already proven unfit in convicting him of domestic abuse. This kind of case and publicity it gets does more harm to father's rights than good, and I can hardly see it as landmark case that will affect father's rights in general, no matter what state it is heard in.

    If we are arguing "letter of the law" on these kinds of cases, it can't be one sided, or we are just as biased for the biological parent as many are for the adoptive parents regardless of the facts of each individual case.

    Personally I care about the child, not so much the parent on either side. This child would most likely be endangered with the father. I do not care at all about an abuser. Those who abuse children, adoptive parent or biological parents, do not deserve a second third, and fourth chance as this man has already gotten. Knee-jerk reactions on either side are upsetting.

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  18. Denying someone due process would in fact be endangering all parental rights.

    The doctrine of stare decisis demands that it would influence subsequent cases in California as well as other states through secondary source. http://www.answers.com/topic/stare-decisis.

    The law is a complicated instrument and "common sense" isn't part of it, after all who is the arbiter of common sense?

    Plus no one deserves to be tried in the media, it hardly takes a legal scholar to discern that. People often misrepresent others to their own end as Maryanne illustrated here witht her "better dead than adopted" allegation that is a product of her imagination.

    No one is saying the child belongs with a child abuser, all people are saying is that parents of children deserve due process, even if the word adoption is bandied about.

    It is about a civilized legal system. Through my own professional experience, I have learned not to jump to conclusions without reading the facts of the case on an individual basis. That is a very naive practice.

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  19. I think the father's fitness to parent is a red herring here. It's not a referendum on either Doss or Mills.

    This is CLEARLY about family law and jurisdiction. The matter needs to be decided in Ohio. Ms. Doss clearly feels threatened and is stalling. There is no proof that Ohio will give custody to the father.

    Does Doss have the legal right to subvert the decision of the California court because she is potentially insecure about an outcome?

    Legal precedent doesn't matter? Really?

    I thought that Jane's comment about squatter's rights was an excellent--and frightening--analogy.

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  20. I am a natural mother who also interned in a domestic violence shelter. I don't blame the mother for not doing things legally. The courts often seem biased against domestic violence survivors.

    Also, an abuser isn't likely to change their behavior on their own. Even with help only 1%-5% of abusers change. Also, abuse doesn't stay at the same level. It continues to escalate. The book "Why Does He Do That?" by Lundy Bancroft really goes into the entitlement mind set of abusers.

    It kind of reminds me of a question on a moral development test. If your spouse was dying, and the druggist charged 10 times what the life-saving drug cost to make, and you couldn't get the money, would you steal it?

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  21. Joy wrote:"People often misrepresent others to their own end as Maryanne illustrated here witht her "better dead than adopted" allegation that is a product of her imagination."

    This is hardly a product of my imagination, Joy, because various anti-adoption activists have made statements to this effect many times. Usually it is in the context of what is worse, having a child die or losing a child to adoption, with many concluding that surrender is worse. That has come up on this forum several times, as well as on other blogs and forums.

    Taken literally it was a bad choice of phrase on my part, though, as it is exaggerated, but no more exaggerated than Jane's fear of "mass kidnappings" or "chaos" if this case does not go to Ohio to be litigated.

    I have no problem with the Ohio courts deciding this case, but do not see it as crucial to any other case. I do not know anything about the prospective adoptive mother, but she sounds like she has to be better than a convicted abuser. This blog post was not just about the bare bones of the need to try the case in Ohio to provide due process but went off on tangents about adult adoptee access and ACLU, which has nothing to do with this case. Also, sad to say, the rights of children can indeed be at odds with the rights of birth parents. Giving birth to a child does not always mean that the parents have the child's best interest at heart. If so, we would have no child abuse. This idea is not always a "false dichotomy" as Jane suggests. This case also has nothing to do with the "lower classes" providing children for adoption or eggs or surrogacy.

    There is a whole lot more here than where this case is tried, and it does imply support of any biological parent, including a convicted abuser, over any prospective adoptive parent. That is what I am objecting to, not whether the case is heard in CA or OH. Not placing a child with a known abuser who happens to be the biological father is hardly "An Imaginary Conflict."

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  22. I don't know, but Dwyer said Mills' case is diminished by the fact that Mills’ mother, who is raising Mills' other two children, also is suing for custody.
    “It would be unprecedented for a court to rule
    that an unwed father has a constitutional right to have a child placed in the custody of a non-parent.” That makes sense, but then she is Vanessa's grandmother and is raising her full siblings. However, it is interesting that this is a new development, and that she was not trying to get custody from the get-go.

    My feeling is that the mother probably did the wrong thing (lied) for a right reason (to protect her child), but then again, who knows what acrimony exists between these two people.
    I understand the legal principles and believe they should be respected. But, like Robin (adoptee) and others, from what I know I hope Mills does not get custody of his daughter. The grandmother? I'm not so sure, but I think it's a little odd that she's making a legal claim at this stage of the game.

    Haigha

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  23. Joy wrote: " I have learned not to jump to conclusions without reading the facts of the case on an individual basis."

    When someone has been convicted of a crime and served time as well as other charges such as prior arrests, DUI, child endangerment, etc. are a matter of public record. This can all be verified by court documents. I do not think that Ms. Voss is using her PR skills to put a spin on this case. Whatever Mr. Mills has done criminally is well documented and verifiable.

    If I had a son with this type of record, I would not hesitate to testify against him in court. Also anon 10:21 knows what she is talking about. Abuse usually does get worse rather than better. The child's first mother has probably had enough dealings with the legal system where she did not feel protected and was trying to protect her child.

    Maryanne wrote" "There is a whole lot more here than where this case is tried, and it does imply support of any biological parent, including a convicted abuser, over any prospective adoptive parent."

    Agreed.

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  24. Robin,

    Two issues have become confused. Let me try again to explain. What should happen is that a court determines whether the adoption is legal. If not, whether Mills is fit to be a father. If not, who should have custody of Vanessa. Determining fitness involves analyzing all the facts surrounding the father's ability to care for the child.

    As for being convicted of "domestic violence" -- there is in all likelihood no such specific crime and I should not have taken this from the news account. There are many crimes referred to as "domestic violence" when the victim is a spouse or intimate partner. These include oral threats, a slap, a battery, an assault with a weapon, many others; we do not know what happened that resulted in a conviction and we don't know what actual crime he was convicted of. Obviously the conviction is something the judge will consider in determining Mills' fitness.

    What Doss and the 15 law professors are trying to do is get the courts to accept the argument that she would be a better parent than Mills and the court should not consider whether Mills is fit or unfit. In other words, she wants the court to disregard Mills' constitutional right to have his child unless he is proven unfit by claiming the child's "right" to live with what she believes to be a better person trumps his right as a parent.

    The problem with this line of reasoning is that anyone's child become vulnerable to the claim that the someone else is a better parent. It essentially gives rights to baby snatchers.

    "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."
    -- Justice James Heiple, Illinois Supreme Court in the "Baby Richard" case.

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  25. Well said Jane.

    While I am not inclined to weigh in on the merits of this particular case, which has yet to be heard. Which I think is the point of this post, that there is a resistance to hearing this case--I will say that I find the accusation of domestic violence to be next to meaningless without the facts of that case.

    I do not assume that the grandmother is overburdened, I do not know that she is not. I do not find it strange in the least that her claim is "new" that may have been the private plan all along. I do think it is odd that the grandmother has custody of the other children, the mother nor father do. Why? I don't know.

    I will say emphatically that I do NOT assume good intention on the part of the mother. I have seen too many Medea-like, albeit often very pretty creatures pass before my own eyes to give a mother a pass because she is the female parent. I have only seen family court be very biased towards mothers, against fathers. I have seen very good fathers really struggle to gain access to their own children.

    People plead out to unfair convictions ALL THE TIME. Does that mean Mr. Mills did? No, not in the least. He may be truly reprehensible, then again, he may not.

    Do I think that the Orange County Register would look at a large black man from Ohio with prejudice? You bet your bottom dollar. Many in Orange County, California think Ohio is a 3rd world country add the black and the big, oh yeah.

    Considering Ms. Doss' position as a PR pro, and that is ALL she is getting the paper to publish is also telling. Trust me, in a custody battle you pull out all stops. If Mr. Mills is sophisticated enough he will have is own reasons to attack Ms. Doss. Everyone has dirt.

    That being said, I think that Mr. Mills deserves due process, unless I am wrong Ms. Doss fled Ohio with the babe in tow to make it more difficult to contest the adoption. I mean he would have had to get baby fluids to establish paternity so surely she was aware of this extraction.

    That being said, will the day in court necessarily result in what is the best interest of the babe? The law is imperfect, who knows? I see that Mr. Mills has been linked in these comments to women who underground-railroad it to avoid continued abuse of their children. No such accusation has yet to been levied against Mr. Mills. It is quite the witch hunt, excuse the mixed gender metaphor.

    I certainly hope the best interest of this child are served. As arrogant as I am, I couldn't possibly divine that from what I have read, and it may not be possible for the courts to. For a parent to be denied due process, and for people to argue for that based on what we can glean from this very limited view just baffles and saddens me.

    For people to argue AGAINST due process, just well, that is how a lot of people think. The schools I went to had a strong emphasis on critical thinking. I wish they all did. A lot of this thinking reminds me of demagoguery, sorry to sound harsh but it does.

    Mom is not always good, things aren't al ways what they seem, I think the constitution and our legal system is kind of heart-breakingly beautiful and I hope it works as it is meant to.

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  26. Pam Conley, Vanessa's maternal grandmother, is quoted here:
    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local-beat/Custody-Battle-Judge-Says-Girl-Must-Return-to-Ohio-97686014.html
    as saying that Vanessa's biological siblings have "good opportunities" with Mills' mother Rena Jordan, who is raising them.

    If that's the case, and Mills' mother was willing to raise Vanessa too (which apparently she was), I wonder why Andrea Conley lied to get Vanessa adopted by Doss.

    Haigha

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  27. I think what we ( general) are missing is the very important fact that the father isn't raising ANY of his children. How can you fight for custody when you can't even raise the ones you have? This mans children where place by CPS in his mother's home because of abuse/neglect. How does that warrant "due process?". Yes the adoptive mother was wrong in fleeing with the child, but who wouldn't considering the "history" of the "whole family" ( there is dysfunction here)? Too many times we have all read about children placed back into home where they are abused and killed ( in NYC it's common to read about these kids ALL the time).

    Who would be able to bare the thought of returning a child back into a dysfunctional family, to later learn the child had been placed into fostercare because of neglect/abuse OR worse has been killed?

    I am not saying the amom is right, but let's be honest, regardless of adoption status , I think we all can agree if presented with the same situation who wouldn't do the same?

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  28. Anon said)"I think what we (general) are missing is the very important fact that the father isn't raising ANY of his children. How can you fight for custody when you can't even raise the ones you have? "

    Indeed. I am wondering if there would be this outcry about "due process" from this quarter if it had been a birthparent who had fled with the child to a more favorable jurisdiction? Somehow I think much pity and many excuses would be invoked, making that parent a hero who defied an unjust law.

    What I see here again and again is favoring the birthparent in such disputes no matter what, that old favorite of Thomas Aquinas, "natural law" often being invoked, along with fears of "mass kidnapping" if natural parents do not prevail in every one of these contested custody cases, no matter how bad they may be as parents.

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  29. In some locales domestic violence is a crime and it is pertinent to this situation. What has been verified: Mr. Mills spent 8 months in prison for choking Vanessa's fmother to the point of unconsciousness. He dragged her around by her hair while she was holding another child. He has one open case of child endangerment with CPS and lost his driver's license due to non-payment of child support. It would behoove children's rights if someone with this type of history was declared unfit.

    Although I do not condone the fmother,Ms. Conley's actions (i.e. lying), as an abused woman she was probably acting out of fear and in survival mode. She stated that with Vanessa it was the first time she felt able to stand up to Mr. Mills. Many people have done something they wouldn't normally do when their back is against the wall.

    It is hard to say at this time who would be the best caregiver but Vanessa does deserve a loving and secure home. And sometimes adoption is the best way to accomplish that.

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  30. Robin said, "Although I do not condone the fmother,Ms. Conley's actions (i.e. lying), as an abused woman she was probably acting out of fear and in survival mode."

    Yep. Based on the information you've provided (which helps explain a lot of things that had been puzzling me), I think you're right.

    Haigha

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  31. Thanks, Robin (adoptee) for researching this:"What has been verified: Mr. Mills spent 8 months in prison for choking Vanessa's fmother to the point of unconsciousness. He dragged her around by her hair while she was holding another child. He has one open case of child endangerment with CPS and lost his driver's license due to non-payment of child support."

    That does not sound like unsubstantiated rumours generated by a PR person. It does explain a lot. This man deserves no support from anyone, no matter what others in this case have done.

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  32. I'm convinced; Benjamin Mills is a bad guy, rotten to the core. Letting him have little Vanessa would be a travesty. The case against him is a slam-dunk. So why doesn't Stacey Doss just go to Ohio, present the damning evidence, and walk off with Mills' daughter? Because maybe there's more to it?

    Instead she wants to litigate in California, apparently based on the argument that possession is 9/10th of the law or should be.

    Why did Doss try to adopt a child from Ohio in the first place? After all, there are lots of poor black families in Los Angeles, just north of affluent Orange County where Doss lives.

    Doss may have been bamboozled by the adoption agency which convinced her that by taking a kid across the country, she could avoid legal complications -- out of sight, out of mind. Or perhaps Vanessa's mother was led to believe by the adoption agency that Mills couldn't contest the adoption if the kids was two thousand miles away. The adoption agency didn't tell them that the law has a long arm.

    And speaking of the adoption agency, maybe it told Vanessa's mother to lie and say the father was unknown. I've heard this is a common practice by some agencies.

    Fortunately, it's the courts, not bloggers which will resolve the case. It's time to move on to other topics.

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  33. This is an interesting article regarding adoption when there is an abusive first parent.

    http://ouradopt.com/adoption-blog/aug-2010/faitha/expecting-mothers-abusive-situations-considering-adoption

    This may be from a pro-adoption blog, I didn't read any thing other than this article.

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  34. Here in the UK, Vanessa would have been on the child protection register before as she had siblings under CPS and there was a history of domestic violence. There would have been a plan in place for who would look after her? Where are your social services eg social workers? Why are there private adoption agencies involved and I suppose what gets me the most is - why has Vanessa's first mom had yet another child she doesn't want to look after?

    Here in the UK, keeping natural families together has been the guiding principle however with the rising number of children in care and the fact that the outcomes for these children are so dire is swinging the pendulum the other way where the risk of not terminating parental rights early on and making the child available for adoption as young as possible sentences them to a life of misery in care.

    I think the question here would be - what would have happened to Vanessa if her mom wouldn't have put her up for adoption - and I think because of the nature of this blog - that question is being overlooked.

    Londoner

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  35. http://unknown-father.blogspot.com/

    hello my name is david archuletta and i believe that no matter the worth of the father, he or the family should be allowed to parent baby vanessa.

    ReplyDelete
  36. i also feel that i was robbed by the first mother, the adoption agency, the adoption attorney, and the new jersey department of human services. they took away my identity because of my Parkinsons disease condition. N.J.S.A 9: 3-39 1 b, c allows these people the right to steal children.

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