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.