' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: A father's right to raise his own daughter hinges on 'Indian Act'

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A father's right to raise his own daughter hinges on 'Indian Act'

Lorraine
At least two influential newspapers this morning are urging that the Supreme Court return a little girl who has been living with her natural father for the past 15 months to her adoptive parents. We write about "Baby Veronica," the three-and-half year old girl the South Carolina family court returned to her biological father, Dusten Brown, after he contested her adoption. When Brown agreed to give up his rights of the child to the mother--also signing a notice of adoption which he says he did not understand--he was being shipped off to Iraq. He assumed, he says, that the girl's mother she was planning to raise her.

As soon as he learned that the girl was being put up for adoption, he began fighting to raise her. He has another child; no one doubts he is a good father.


The matter of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl is being closely watched because the reason that Brown--as an unwed father--has any standing at all is because he is a member of the Cherokee Nation. Consequently the court will be ruling once again on the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act.

Here is The Washington Post editorial this morning:
"Yet lawmakers surely did not mean to protect the rights of Native American biological parents to the point that a child’s unwed, absent father can undo an adoption that her biological mother and legal custodian determined to be in her best interests, merely because she has a drop of Native American blood in her.
"If the justices rule against the Capobiancos [the adoptive parents], Congress should step in and fashion some sensible limits to the Indian Child Welfare Act."
 The New York Times
"Under the laws of both Oklahoma, where the biological mother lives, and South Carolina, a biological father is not allowed to intervene in an adoption once he has given up his parental rights. That’s the law in more than 30 states. But state courts are split over the meaning of “parent” under the Indian Child Welfare Act, and whether the answer should be based on state law.

"In cases like this one, it makes little sense to allow a biological father who was not in the picture from surfacing belatedly and vetoing an adoption that would be in the best interests of the child. The Supreme Court should reverse the South Carolina State court rulings."  
While totally ignoring a father's desire to raise his own child, or the right of an individual to be raised by a biological parent, the Times editorial subtley waxes poetic about the "open adoption" that Veronica’s birth mother, Christina Maldonado, entered into with adoptive parents Matt and Melanie Capobianco, "allowing the biological mother to visit the adoptive family to see that the child was flourishing." Given what we know about a great many "open adoptions"--that they close up tight--the use of the word "flourishing" indicates just how loverly the editorial board at the Times thinks an open adoption is.

'BABY VERONICA' IS NOW THREE AND A HALF
A positive sign, however, was yesterday's Washington Post story about the case, which fairly presented  both sides in this custody battle. We learn that the Copobiancos, after several failed attempts at in-vitro fertilization, turned to adoption. For his part, Dusten Brown told the Post that he tried numerous times to contact Maldonado, as did his parents, but she refused to respond. “She told me she didn’t want to hear from me no more,” Brown said. “It was either respect her wishes or bug her. Honestly, I wish I would have bugged her a lot more.” As he prepared to deploy to Iraq, he was served with adoption papers which he signed, he said, thinking it simply transferred sole custody to Maldonado. NOTE: In a comment I read on the Post site, someone related that Brown signed the adoption-release papers in a parking lot, and as soon as he realized what they were, tried to get them back from the process server.

The story carries a sweet photograph of Brown holding his happy and healthy daughter in her bedroom, recently painted pink and lavender. He married in June and is carrying for the girl with his new wife. The stories about this case duly note that while Mr. Brown is a registered member of the Cherokee Nation, his daughter is 3/256th Cherokee.

Part Cherokee and fully American, Veronica does not look unhappy as she leans on her father's shoulders. If she is returned to the Copobiancos they will be at this point, nearly strangers, as she has been with her father since Dec. 31, 2011, the day the South Carolina Supreme Court determined that she be returned to her natural father. In cases where the adoptive family have possession of the child, usually the media reports harp on how long the child has been with the new family, and dismiss the connection that the child has with her biological family. Indeed, the long story in the Post yesterday noted that Veronica was raised by the Copobiancos for 27 months, and that Matt Copobianco cut the umbilical cord.

PREVENTING THE BREAKUP OF NATIVE AMERICAN FAMILIES
The decision to return Veronica to Brown in 2011 was based on the Indian Child Welfare Act, written to prevent the breakup of Native American families. The law sought to keep Indian families together by erecting barriers to adoption outside the tribe by ending the shameful practice of removing children from their families and tribes, and placing them in foster care or allowing adoptions with non-Indian families.

Only once before has the Supreme Court considered the act in a custody dispute. In 1995 the justices decided that tribes must have the final decision on adoptions involving those who live on reservations. Native American twins had been placed several years earlier with a non-Indian family, and the justices ruled that they should be returned to their tribe. Justice Antonin Scalia has stated over the years that this was one of the toughest decisions he ever had to make.

While the legal decision in this case will turn on upholding the Indian Child Welfare Act, for us keeping a child with a natural biological father who wants her is key. Brown had no attorney representing him; no one made clear to him that his daughter was about to be adopted, something he never wanted. If the small part of Native American blood is the loophole that allows a daughter to be raised by her father, true justice will be served. We speak of justice that goes beyond how much native blood the little girl carries; she is her father's child, and she belongs with him. 

NOT FIGHTING FOR THE 'BEST INTERESTS' OF THE CHILD
When adoptive couples such as the Copobiancos continue their fight to raise a child not theirs biologically, when clearly there is a biological father who wants to raise her, it is not the best interests of the child the adoptive parents are fighting for; it is their desire for a child. We do not dismiss that they have grown to love the little girl in the months they raised her, but this is not reason enough to keep her from her father. The Copobiancos desire for a child overshadows what is best for anyone: that unless there are compelling reasons otherwise, a child deserves to be raised by his biological parents. 

After the earlier decision about the Native American twins, the tribe couldn’t find an Indian family to raise them, and the children remained with the adoptive parents. Not finding an appropriate Cherokee family will not be a problem in this case. Veronica already has one, her father.---lorraine

ADDITION ON 4/17, from USA Today:
"While Scalia appeared to align himself with the court's three female justices, Roberts was clearly leaning toward the adoptive couple, Melanie and Matt Capobianco. It appeared Roberts had some conservative justices on his side.
"The chief justice, whose two children are adopted, noted Brown had not shown interest in fatherhood or child support until the adoption. He said the law gives undue preference to Native American bloodlines, no matter how marginal.
"When Charles Rothfeld, Brown's lawyer, said the father originally had been "excited" by his fiancée's pregnancy in 2009, Roberts chimed in, "So he was excited by it; he just didn't want to take any responsibility."
________________________ 
Jane wrote about this case before in two posts at FMF:
Returning a child to her father is the right decision
Can the media get adoption right?
SOURCES
Indian Child Welfare Act may need some limits
Editorial: A Wrenching Adoption Case 
Baby Veronica’s loved ones wait for the Supreme Court to weigh in
Justices Take Case on Adoption of Indian Child
Does this read like a biased headline? 
The Indian Child Welfare Act was intended to prevent the breakup of Native American families and tribes. Has it gone too far?

Worth reading, from Politico:
The adoption industry's ugly side 
and from The Atlantic
Indian Affairs, Adoption, and Race: The Baby Veronica Case Comes to Washington

If readers come up with other editorials, we will add them here. 
We would love to see one where the opinion is that the child deserves to stay with her father.   

FURTHER READING

One Small Sacrifice: A Memoir: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects  "It's an unforgettable memoir" Award-winning journalist Trace A. DeMeyer's second edition has even more of her remarkable story and the disturbing history of closed adoption used to break up tribal families. ...What is known about the Indian Adoption Projects and the aftermath has been pretty much secret . . . Until now. A reader praised her book: The journey, the courage and openness of your work. It's very inspiring. The way 'Small Sacrifice' shares itself . . . it's as if the book were speaking . . . holding a talking stick with us all gathered in a circle . . . we come together through your sacrifice.--Amazon
 
The Indian Child Welfare Act Handbook: A Legal Guide to the Custody and Adoption of Native American Children
This is one-of-a-kind guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, enacted to ameliorate the problem of the removal of Native American children from their homes by state welfare agencies and private agencies and to ensure that those children would be placed in homes that reflect their cultures and traditions. Now revised and updated, it examines case law from courts around the country-this is not an issue confined to reservations and their border towns. It explains the history of the act and how is applied, as well as its procedural requirements.--Amazon

74 comments :

  1. It enrages me that 'reputable' newspapers such as these are so lax in doing their research. It is clear that they did not read the lower court's ruling! To paraphrase, that this is paramount to kidnapping a child and believing that if you keep them long enough, use delaying tactics that somehow the courts will believe that you have bonded and not place the child with their rightful parent.

    I only took two law courses but even I know that you can't expect the court to rule in your favour if you don't go in with 'clean hands'. The PAPs KNEW very early that the father wanted to parent, KNEW he hadn't consented and went ahead anyway.

    Shame on these newpapers!! Grrrrr.

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  2. What the hell is wrong with this country that people would WANT a child to feel rejected from one or both of her parents? I am so tired of tyrannical people sticking their noses through greed, infertile neurosis or laws made that end up hurting children in the families of others. Veronica is Dustin's child and no one else's and no man made paper will ever change that. He wants to raise his daughter and that is all that matters. All this red tape and dogma are reflecting great immaturity from those who are trying to get in his way. The adoption system also shows great immaturity being a business that makes money off of forcing some women to give away their children((or supporting immoral women who want to)which will only make the child feel unwanted by her and praising that cruel act to high heaven. I hate Veronica's adoptive parents for interfering in the natural order of Veronica's life which is TO be raised by her father.

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  3. Reba Four MedicineApril 16, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    I'm sorry, but the father signed away his parental rights. Anyone with an ounce of brains reads legal paperwork before signing it (or gets a professional to look it over). So I find his argument VERY weak. He also told the mother, on numerous occasions that he wanted NOTHING to do with the child.

    Then...many months later he changes his mind. And the adoptive parents are supposed to be okay with that? No. Heck no.

    He was an adult, going into the military, and fully capable of making an informed decision.

    At some point we need to hold adults accountable for their decisions.

    I say this as a natural mother, 1/32 Kiowa, and a staunch believer in the ability for people to make choices.

    Buck Wheat, you scare me. I would hate to think that some poor first mother would find your words and think that we are all like you. Have a little faith in humanity, will you? Why don't you simply trust in the great goodness of the Universe? I can't imagine that your soul is a very pleasant place.

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  4. So typical. I've been reading about this all over the net and I'm tired of reading "these are the only parents she knows". Our country's education system is seriously lacking in teaching reading and reading comprehension quite obviously. She's been back with her dad for 15 months, moving her now would cause more damage than ever. Of course, we don't consider that, and he must be unfit because anyone that places or considers placing a child is probably awful. Oh wait, that doesn't happen until afterwards, we are angels and gifts from above before that.

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  5. How can these newspapers be so clueless to not realize that staying with a biological parent is best for the child. Who gives a whip about the adoptive parents? Let's be concerned with the CHILD. And why does everyone complain about absent fathers but then cast aside a father that steps up for his child! thank god he's Indian!

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  6. Reba to Buck Wheat: "I can't imagine your soul is a very pleasant place."

    ?

    Buck Wheat, an adoptee, is just fine. She did not have the opportunity to grow up with her natural family. When you say you are a natural mother, I assume that you gave a child up for adoption, and possibly outside your tribe. Okay, we understand where you are coming from, but that gives you no license to insult others who have strong opinions about this.

    You may disagree with my opinion, and with Buck Wheat's, but insults like that reduce your take on this to throwing stones in a school yard.

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  7. What's wrong with this country? Why do we always seem to think that marital status is more important than biology when it comes to raising children? It's a pretty ridiculous attitude to have in a country where 50% of first marriages end in divorce, and an even higher percentage of second and third marriages end in divorce.

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  8. If as has been reported, it is true that Dusten Brown signed away his custodial rights in exchange for not paying child support, that weakens his credibility - certainly in my eyes, at least. But I don't know enough about the law to know whether it would weaken the case legally.

    As far as signing the adoption papers in concerned, I agree with Reba, no excuse for that. Stupidity just doesn't cut it.

    Maja, I do think the "only parents she knows" argument may work in his favor now. After all, he has been raising his daughter, looks like adequately, for nearly sixteen months. Taking her away from her father and returning her to the adoptive parents would mean yet another disruption for the poor kid. And he has the Indian Act to back him up.

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  9. This started as a comment:

    http://familypreservation.blogspot.com/2013/04/brown-versus-capobiancos-father-v.html

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  10. Reba Four Medicine

    The fact is that TWO COURTS have found in favor of the father and thus believe his account of the facts reasonable.

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  11. It's particularly irritating that the New York Times blithely assumes that returning Veronica to the Capobiancos is in her best interest. If the Gray Lady did even minimal research on adoption, it would learn that child welfare experts say that children should remain with their biological families if possible. Living full time with her biological father trumps having occasional visits with her biological mother.

    The Gray Lady as well as the Washington Post seem unaware that the purpose of adoption is to find a home for a child who has none. Veronica has a loving home where she has lived for the past 15 months. The would be adoptive parents ought to turn to the South Carolina child welfare agency and adopt a child who needs a home.

    This case also points to a major flaw in the adoption laws of most states which allow parents to lose their parental rights without benefit of legal counsel.

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  12. NYT and others may base their opinion on "best interest" on the very prejudiced guardian.

    In the end it matter snot what any newspaper says. it's all up to The Supremes. Gotta pray they get it right.

    Their decsion will not be based on best interest but on the validity today of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

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  13. Court testimony shows that the birth mother kept her plans to adopt the baby a secret from the father – because she knew that the father would never consent to give his child up for adoption. The father did not learn of the mother’s plans to give up the baby until the child was four months old and the father was on the verge of shipping out to Iraq. Once learning this news, the father immediately took all the legal steps he could consistent with the pressures of his deployment into hostile territory and subsequent combat.

    AND

    The court proceedings in this case revealed that the lawyers were at fault, in particular, according to the brief Dusten Brown’s attorneys filed with the Supreme Court, “[a]lthough Mother's attorney provided the Cherokee Nation with father's name while inquiring whether the child would be an ‘Indian child’ subject to ICWA, the attorney misspelled Father's first name and provided both the wrong day and wrong year for Father's date of birth; based on these misstatements, the Cherokee Nation responded that the child appeared not to be an Indian child, adding that any misinformation would invalidate that determination. Mother testified at trial that she knew the Cherokee Nation's determination could not be correct—and that she informed her attorney of that fact—but no further efforts were made to determine whether Baby Girl was an Indian child.”
    Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/04/16/baby-veronica-and-native-american-family-values

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  14. NOTE: In a comment I read on the Post site, someone related that Brown signed the adoption-release papers in a parking lot, and as soon as he realized what they were, tried to get them back from the process server.

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  15. Reba Four Medicine would deprive Veronica of being raised by her father in the interests of holding him "accountable" for his failure to understand a legal document.

    This is beyond mean; it is cruel.

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  16. Lorraine: "NOTE: In a comment I read on the Post site, someone related that Brown signed the adoption-release papers in a parking lot."

    Well, that was silly of him, wasn't it? What kind of person would sign legal papers in a parking lot?

    "and as soon as he realized what they were, tried to get them back from the process server."

    Not saying he shouldn't have his kid, but if what you say is fact - seriously duh.

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  17. some times the agency waits til the father is distracted. they have been known to tell natural mom's the father would be a poor example of parenting. to keep a child from her dad when they know he wants to be with her is cruel.

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  18. My understanding of the case is that the former PAPS are appealing the application of the ICWA to this case. If they win in Supreme court, the case may well have to go back to a lower court to decide based on SC adoption law.

    Under the ICWA, it does not matter why the father signed away his right. Under SC law, he would presumably argue that his consent was fraudulently obtained (and appears to have done so). That does not mean it was fraudulently obtained of course, if a birth parent changes their mind outside the revocation period (or they are unlikely to prevail in a best interests hearing), alleging fraud and coercion after the fact is a popular legal tactic. Just because someone testifies in court, it does not guarantee what they say is true. Perjury is common.

    If the case was to be decided on best interests (which I doubt), at this point the father would have a significant advantage.

    I understand why PAPs fight birth parents in court if they have custody and a real likely hood of prevailing. I don't understand why some continue to fight after they have lost custody and are unlikely to win on appeal. It doesn't help them or the child.

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  19. Honestly - I have some concerns about the law, this case, which I don't think are automatically unreasonable. First I will note that I DO NOT think that the child's custody should be changed at this point. She will be fine growing up where she is. I don't worship adopters or hate biological parents. I usually side with biological parents. I still have concerns with how this whole thing happened.

    I've noticed a lot of people who side with Veronica remaining with her dad seem determined to vilify her mother (and by this I mean her mother who gave birth to her, not her prospective adoptive mother). And I don't think the mother is automatically at fault here - I don't think there's enough evidence (by this I mean from the actual court transcripts from the trial court, things like that, not articles put out by either side) as to whether the mother did this out of malice or out of sheer frustration in a crappy situation. It's in the family court transcript that the father said he didn't feel obligated to support the child if they didn't marry. He would only do so if forced by court. The mother had two other kids she could barely afford - maybe she had little confidence in that process? Perhaps she was poor because the other father(s) wouldn't/couldn't pay? There's a lot to speculate on. But as a woman I would not be in a hurry to marry a man who indicated he would not willingly support our child without a marriage.

    To me, the facts indicate that both parents behaved foolishly, but I don't see the mother as a villain based on what's factually confirmed. She listed the child as Hispanic/Native American/Caucasian on the form - I don't see how that's inaccurate, unless the father being Native American means the mother's contribution is erased and the child only gets the father's heritage? I would think the listing of mixed race in Oklahoma would set off flags at an agency regardless so I'd pin that one more on the agency/lawyer.

    If it turns out the mother was not a villain I actually feel really, really sorry for her and all her children which would include Veronica. In that case I feel the father basically pulled a bait and switch. He knew her financial circumstances sucked. He still admits he didn't feel the need to help financially since she turned down marriage. If he had not said that, maybe she would have kept her baby and Veronica would be where she really belongs which is knowing BOTH biological parents. I don't agree with telling her that her stepmother is her mother. Her mother lives what, 5 miles away? They can't hide it forever. If the mother was not malicious and was simply beyond frustrated at the father's immature behavior, she should get to be a part of her little girl's life, too. It does Veronica no favors to pretend she doesn't exist.

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  20. Anonymous 11:20 PM said, "I don't understand why some continue to fight after they have lost custody and are unlikely to win on appeal. It doesn't help them or the child."

    Word, anon.

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  21. Under ICWA according to what is in the transcript from SCOTUS Day One. Either parent has the right to change their mind until the adoption is final. Does not matter if he signed and knew what he was signing - under ICWA he can change his mind.

    Interesting transcript - my understanding the GAL tried to say that the state court should not have made the decision based on the time when the father changed his mind but rather based on present - yet from his words it seems he wants SCOTUS to make their judgement based on the time when the state court ruled.

    Yet part of the above argument is that his role is to view it from the child's eyes - but apprently still views it from the eye's of the child when in the prospective parents custody - go figure...

    Kind of wanting his cake and eating it too...

    In case no one has read the transcript...

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/12-399.pdf

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  22. The four-day court case brought to light many shady things that were done by the attorney for the adoption agency involved.

    From Politico:

    "In the final months of pregnancy, the mother cut off all communication with Brown and worked closely with an agency and attorney to place the child with a non-Indian couple from South Carolina, the Capobiancos. Brown was not informed of Veronica’s birth on September 15, 2009. Instead, Veronica was placed with the Capobiancos three days after her birth in Oklahoma, and they relocated her to South Carolina shortly thereafter.

    "Four months later, the day before Brown’s scheduled deployment to Iraq, the couple’s lawyer (who was also the lawyer for the adoption agency) finally served Brown with notice of their intent to adopt Veronica. The notice was served to Brown in the parking lot of a mall.

    Immediately, Brown went to court to request a stay of the adoption until after his deployment (which, because of his military status, is provided for by federal law). He also began the legal steps to establish paternity and gain custody. He was then deployed to Iraq. Because the Capobiancos waited until just days before Brown was deployed, the adoption hearing was not completed until he returned home."

    So I would cool it about how the father is not a fit father and was careless about his daughter.

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  23. ADDITION ON 4/17, from USA Today:

    "While Scalia appeared to align himself with the court's three female justices, Roberts was clearly leaning toward the adoptive couple, Melanie and Matt Capobianco. It appeared Roberts had some conservative justices on his side.

    "The chief justice, whose two children are adopted, noted Brown had not shown interest in fatherhood or child support until the adoption. He said the law gives undue preference to Native American bloodlines, no matter how marginal.

    "When Charles Rothfeld, Brown's lawyer, said the father originally had been "excited" by his fiancée's pregnancy in 2009, Roberts chimed in, "So he was excited by it; he just didn't want to take any responsibility."

    He later made several efforts to be involved, but all were rebuffed by the girl's mother, Christina Maldonado. I believe mothers who are unwilling to raise their children do not want the fathers to have them because it makes the mothers look bad, and they realize that they may end up being more involved than if they gave the child up. This is what I believe happened in my daughter's case when she relinquished her first daughter to be adopted; she told me that the girl's father wanted to raise her with his mother, but my daughter would have none of it. Sometimes it feels like the cruelty of the first adoption (hers) has to be passed on to another. The idea is, I survived, you can too. It's an awful thought, but feels true.

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  24. "So I would cool it about how the father is not a fit father and was careless about his daughter."

    Nobody said that.
    What's wrong with saying that it's not smart to sign legal documents that you know are going to have an impact on your life and that of your family without knowing what's in them? It's true.
    It doesn't mean he's an unfit father or that he doesn't care about his daughter.

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  25. To Reba Four Medicine,

    "Then...many months later he changes his mind. And the adoptive parents are supposed to be okay with that? No. Heck no."

    Yes. Heck yes. After signing on the dotted line, biological parents still have a period of time (often months) to change their minds.

    Adoptive parents know this is a possibility.

    Maybe the father did not initially want his child, but he changed his mind.

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  26. Anonymous and Anonymous: Please choose a name--any name--and click on "Name/URL/"

    Your mother's, your middle, a name you wish your had. Any name. You do not need to have an URL. And you will still be as "anonymous" to everyone as you were before, including us. But you will sure make discussion easier.

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  27. Why doesn't Roberts have to excuse himself on this case. He is totally prejudiced!

    @Reba - Buick Wheat has one of the most beautiful souls going. Look inside before you tear apart another human being sitting behind a keyboard.

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  28. Barbara, my thought exactly. The adoptive parents on the court (someone on FB said that Thomas may have adopted kids) should recuse themselves from this case. But they haven't, and they won't.

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  29. If one of my natural parents had come back for me and I was then placed with my parent, and then some judge sent me back to the APs, when I became an adult I would have been screaming BLOODY F***ING MURDER.

    As anon 3:44pm said "What the hell is wrong with this country that people would WANT a child to feel rejected from one or both of her parents?"

    Children do not want to be given away by their parents. They want to feel that they are valuable enough to be kept.

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  30. I am the anon that posted at 2:44.

    It looks to me like there is some conflicting evidence as to who cut off who first, and why. The only thing that seems clear to me from the facts is that this was a mutually bad breakup in which neither adult behaved ideally. I keep seeing the father put up on a pedestal like he did no wrong and there was nothing he could have done better, while the mother is portrayed to be a completely heartless villain. I highly doubt that's actually what happened.

    I would not be rushing to marry a man who said if the wedding date wouldn't be moved up, he would basically have to be dragged kicking and screaming into court to pay child support. If she played games with him, then he is guilty of the same thing. It's not hearsay - it's in the court transcript.

    I do NOT think it would be a good idea to send V. back to the prospective adopters. That doesn't mean I think the father is a great person, and if he gets another chance, the mother should get another chance too based on the circumstances that prompted her to initially chose the adoption. He did say he wanted to avoid child support - you can't hide that - it's in the transcripts. And I certainly don't think he should be telling her that her stepmother is her only mother. Aside from the fact I disagree with telling a child a stepparent is their parent (unless they somehow had no other parent to begin with) - they live in the same town! Good luck keeping that a secret.

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  31. OK, so, who exactly is Charlene Verishine (Buck Wheat), as she was credited on another first mother blog? If she is this wonderful and well-known, why can't we find any of her writings about adoption under her actual name? She seems to be known at FMF as an adoptee and "one of the most beautiful
    souls going." At Change.org, she appears to be young, Canadian, with 6 top causes, including "animal rights" and "gay rights"--both laudable, in my book--but adoption is nowhere to be listed. Maybe someone could enlighten me. I'm confused.

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  32. Fluffy:

    I am uncomfortable publishing your comment since the person about which you write is choosing not to use her name here. You can email me at forumfirstmother@gmail.com if you like, though you know more about her than I do at this point.

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  33. robin, thats exactly how i felt. All comments and opinions seem to be directed at which parents should get the child...which parent is more deserving. who signed what, when, who is the winner and who is the loser just because one signed a paper, when he signed, what the fist mother REALLY wanted, what the paps are derserving of...I agree "WHAT THE F&*K" I don't care if this father signed the paper at the wrong time, I don't care what the lawyers say, I don't care WHICH SET OF PARENTS ARE THE winners..this child is losing because she can not live in peace because lawyers, and and paps want to win the game...possess the human. It makes me sick

    My opinion based upon what i have read is that this child belongs with her father, with her blood because that is the way it is suppose to be unless their is a compelling reason she should not. Its the only way it should be. DUH!!!

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  34. Anon 2:25 said "Yes. Heck yes. After signing on the dotted line, biological parents still have a period of time (often months) to change their minds.

    Adoptive parents know this is a possibility. "

    They do, however the adoptive parents often have the right to oppose the revocation of consent in court. This often results in a "best interests" trial which the PAPs may have a reasonable chance of winning depending on how suitable the biological parents appear to be and the views of the Judge.

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  35. That's OK, Lorraine. People do use pseuds for all sorts of reasons. The only line I draw personally as a reader is if the person has misrepresented his or her adoption experience, i.e., connection to the constellation.

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  36. dpen,
    I love your comments. I love how you always bring the focus back to the fact that these adoption situations are supposed to be (ha ha ha ha ha) about the child. It so often seems forgotten that there is a voiceless, powerless, young human being whose life will be dramatically and irrevocably altered by the outcome of any particular case.

    But it seems to all be about who did what and when and who was motivated by what. Not how this will affect the child who actually has to live it. No three year old on earth gives a hoot about who signed what, where and when. And unless there is abuse or neglect, she wants her orginal mommy and daddy.

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  37. "And unless there is abuse or neglect, she wants her orginal mommy and daddy."

    My observation of three year olds is that they want the people that they know and have been with, not necessarily their original mom and dad. That comes later,if at all, with knowing what adoption and surrender are about. I do not think any adult can speak for what an individual 3 year old wants. They can only speculate what they might have wished happened to them at that age.

    Custody cases are so messy and often hurtful to the child no matter who wins. They are just sad, as this one is. There are no automatic heroes or villains here, not the mother, father, or foster parents. The real shame is how these things drag on and on in the courts, as if there were just property rights, not real human beings involved.

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  38. The decision in this case will not hinge on "best interests" of the child or how long she has been with either parent, or parents, but how the ICWA is applied. It seems clear that the father has the law on his side but I fear that Roberts won't be able to see beyond his own emotions as an adoptive father. The law may seem impersonal, but how we made decisions is always personal.

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  39. maryanne, I don't know. There was a post on CafeMom earlier this week about a very young kid who is having a fit by being told that he did not come out of his mommy's tummy but someone else's. I get it that this does not apply in this case here, but Veronica is at least with one parent at the present time.

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  40. I agree that V. should remain with her Father.

    I also agree that his behaviors were less than heroic. He was more than happy to sign away his "rights" and parenting involvement as long as he assumed V.'s First Mother would be responsible for her care? Yes, a man of honor then....NOT so much.

    Only after he learned she had been placed for adoption did he see fit to intervene? I suspect he will have some explaining to do to this little girl one day and I wish him strength in giving that explanation.

    As to the First Mom; her motives may or may not have been influenced by fear, poverty, etc; we simply do not know. It is clear that she signed away her parental rights and has not wished to pursue the parenting if this child.

    Regardless of that, V.'s Father should still honor this First Mother and not create a layer of lies and fraud in perpetuating that his current wife is in fact V.'s only Mom. He should be held to the same standard we expect of AP's and maybe more so given his unique circumstances of this road to parenting.

    I see no real winners here sadly. V. will one day need real answers to some very sticky and hard questions. It's easy to lay the blame on the AP's, yet chances are they will not be around to be the convenient punching bags when this young girl becomes a young women and wonders openly about the early mess her life was.

    I wish them well ultimately; just sad all the way around.

    P.S. Why would a Supreme Court judge need to recuse himself? Would we ask the same of the one of the female Justices if she was a First Mother who relinquished? Are they not bound by the laws of a nation and able to see past their own experiences and biases? I believe the letter of the law has been served and will be upheld.

    Just because mainstream media does a poor job of researching and covering a story, does not a crooked judge make!

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  41. Maryanne, you are not adopted so you do not know what it is like to be a 3 year old adoptee. I absolutely believe I was grieving the lost of my natural mother at that age. And from what my a-mother has told me of my behavior, health, etc., prior to that age, I am convinced that I was grieving my first mother even much earlier.

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  42. Why didn't he want to pay child support?

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  43. According to some of the court documents, because the adoption was not finalized, the mother's TPR was also not finalized - not sure if it's something that varies by state, or is related to ICWA, that no final TPR is entered by the court until finalization? If her first choice is still the prospective adopters, it's possible she's waiting until the case is over and only filing to restore her rights if they lose? Either way, V. should know who she is, and know about her two half-siblings by her mother.

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  44. A point was made elsewhere that made perfect sense and hopefully I can convey it here.

    Everyone asks about why the father wasn't willing to pay support or didn't offer anything - why make the mother out to be some poor female in distress when all she has to do is go to court and file support paperwork - the paternity has been determined. She was not helpless yet people are seeing her as such but she had options and valid options. At the time of the babes birth - the father was employed by the US Army - pretty sure he would have been easy for the court to find - regular paycheck - and in reality that is how his child support is done with his other child. This father was not some unemployed couch surfer - the mother simply had to file papers.

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  45. @maryann:
    maryanne said...
    "And unless there is abuse or neglect, she wants her orginal mommy and daddy." My observation of three year olds is that they want the people that they know and have been with, not necessarily their original mom and dad. That comes later,if at all, with knowing what adoption and surrender are about. I do not think any adult can speak for what an individual 3 year old wants. They can only speculate what they might have wished happened to them at that age".

    Since you were never taken from or given up by your own mother, and you are not adopted, your comment is null and void.

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  46. "Since you were never taken from or given up by your own mother, and you are not adopted, your comment is null and void."

    I did not say I KNEW how this child felt, just expressed an opinion as anyone observing a situation can. My observation is limited and could be wrong. Nobody knows how this child feels but herself. Evidently some adoptees feel they can speak for all adoptees of any age, not just about their own feelings which are perfectly valid. But what about other adoptees who feel differently about their own situations, they do not seem to be tolerated either.

    As a mother who gave up a child, I do not feel I can speak for any surrendering mother but myself. If none of us can even state an opinion without being in the exact situation, then communication and dialogue is futile.

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  47. Well maryanne, now two adopted people (I am also a mother pushed into adopting out my child who got my child back) have told you the same thing. Me and Robin. So I think I made my point. And btw "observing" anyone is also futile as even sometimes 3 year olds don't act on their feelings. Neither adoptees or children were ever meant to be insects in a jar!

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  48. Nice bit of strumpetApril 19, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    Anon said "Well maryanne, now two adopted people (I am also a mother pushed into adopting out my child who got my child back) have told you the same thing. Me and Robin."
    So you and Robin are the Universal Adoptee now?

    "So I think I made my point."
    That must be a comfort to you. Enjoy.

    "And btw "observing" anyone is also futile as even sometimes 3 year olds don't act on their feelings."
    OK. no more observations then. Not from anybody. Especially no more observing behavior, because behavior is no indication of anything meaningful at all. The only thing that's true is truthiness itself, because it "feels right" on a "cellular" level and requires no evidence of any sort to back it up.

    BTW, I hope Veronica gets to stay with her father and the adults get to work things out so that she doesn't have to grow up with constant bitterness and feuding around her.

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  49. Mary ann, From what i have read of your comments you really believe that you can speak for the adoptive child/person. You are really what most of us adult/mature/educated adoptees complain about....DO NOT SPEAK FOR US! A three year old wants to be with their natural family, they don't want to be bounced around to please the adults, as a mmatter of fact as a newborn they want their 1st mothers...its only natural. I don't know how someone cant think otherwise....there is not a soul born thats says ..I WANT TO BE ADOPTED! They want to be taken care of by their mothers...their birthing mothers...when that can't happen it is a tragic loss to that little soul...not a wonderful thing to be celebrated.

    I honestly believe that most people believe that deep in their hearts but get caught up in the adoption machine and get their heads turned.

    Unless their is a compelling reason for a child to leave their natural family they belong with said family...they are NOT a prize for another family who needs a child/boy/girl/or a savior complex . People belong with their own unless they can't because of severe neglet or abuse...only.

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  50. dpen wrote:"....there is not a soul born thats says ..I WANT TO BE ADOPTED! They want to be taken care of by their mothers...their birthing mothers"

    I agree with everything dpen said, but also want to mention that children do not want to lose not only their natural mother and father but their entire extended family, their genealogy, their ancestry, their roots as well. They also, in most cases, do not want to lose their culture, their religion, their language and other aspects of their biological heritage. All of which can be lost with adoption.

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  51. Maryanne's comment was of a general nature, based on her personal experience and observations of children of around the age of three. Despite the context, it was not specifically about adoptees, as some have chosen to understand it.

    Her point that no adult can speak for what an individual three year old wants etc. is valid.

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  52. dpen, please show us an example where Maryanne has spoken for adoptees. Maryanne has been a steady voice for not speaking for other people, including first mothers. She confines her comments to her own experience.

    I would venture to say that no one can really speak for anyone else. Married people do not know what every married person feels; divorced people do not know what every divorced person feels; children of single or gay parents do not know what every other kid in their group feels. There is a huge range of emotions that comes with every human experience and two people can see the same experience entirely differently. Adoptees too.

    It should also be pointed out that the idea that a newborn wants or can even discriminate his or her "birthing" mother and will go into deep grief if she is not there does not make sense from any evolutionary or anthropolical standpoint and no bona fide attachment expert would ever make such a claim. Adoption grief comes later, once a child realizes he or she is adopted and can understand the meaning of that displacement. Moreover, making this claim and applying it to every custody case ignores a lot of other factors. Even between two natural parents, children may vastly prefer one. Children are not ideological. They prefer the people who treat them lovingly and respectfully and are open to their needs. Being a natural parent does not automatically translate into that skill. Being an adoptive parent adds an extra layer of challenge, and there's no shortage of failure there either. For the record, having read more about the case, I also think that Veronics should remain with her dad.

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  53. ". . . children do not want to lose not only their natural mother and father but their entire extended family, their genealogy, their ancestry, their roots as well. They also, in most cases, do not want to lose their culture, their religion, their language and other aspects of their biological heritage. All of which can be lost with adoption."

    Bullshite.

    They don't even know what that stuff is until they are much, much older. Again, you have to be able to understand what you have lost in order to grieve it. 3-year-olds don't give a damn about culture unless it comes in the form of something that tastes good. Many bio-kids also go onto to reject their own cultures and belief systems. It's never as black-and-white as the anti-adopts make it out to be.

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  54. dpen, you seem to think that you can speak for all adoptees. You don't. You can't. You don't understand my experience and my desires, especially when I was young.

    It's simply not true that all children need/want to sty with their birth mothers.

    I knew from a very young age that I didn't belong in my biological family. They simply weren't "mine". Without going into my whole story, my feelings proved to be correct. When I was later adopted, I found the family that I truly belonged to. It was an instant connection.

    My biological family didn't abuse me, but I didn't belong. My adoptive family has always understood me and my needs (unlike the woman who only carried me for 8 months).

    So, no, you don't speak for me or all adoptees.

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  55. " My observation of three year olds is that they want the people that they know and have been with, not necessarily their original mom and dad."


    If I believed that young children only wanted to be with the people that they know and have been with, then I would have to support all children who are placed for adoption staying with their PAPs and never being returned to their original parents, no matter what the circumstances. Even if the placement happened as the result of kidnapping or was based on fraudulent information. This is basically what the "best interests of the child" argument amounts to, and how PAPs who have had a child in their custody are still able to fight natural parents who may have changed their minds or who were fraudulently denied their rights to parent their child.

    @Fluffy,
    I forget your connection to adoption. Are you an adoptee? Have you lost all the things I outlined in my previous comment? I agree that a 3 year old would not have full understanding of those losses but by being adopted, she will at some point realize those losses and will be affected by them to a greater or lesser degree. My previous comment (7:02am) was about the whole effect of adoption on this child, not necessarily everything she will be able to understand at 3 years old. So bullshite to you, too.

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  56. The anon quoted below is exactly what I meant. I do not speak for adoptees. I speak only for myself, and yes, people from one group can have observations about other groups.Adoptees certainly have plenty of opinions about natural parents and what they should or should not have done. I do not think any one adoptee can speak for all adoptees either. Each must speak for themselves.

    I too think in this case the child should stay with the father. But each case is unique and has to be judged on its own merits.


    Anonymous said...

    " Maryanne's comment was of a general nature, based on her personal experience and observations of children of around the age of three. Despite the context, it was not specifically about adoptees, as some have chosen to understand it.

    Her point that no adult can speak for what an individual three year old wants etc. is valid.

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  57. Reading the many comments at this blog has given me a new appreciation for adoption. Let's see...children don't care who they are raised by and the primal wound is crap. Some adoptees even feel far more comfortable in a non-genetically related family than they do with their own flesh and blood.

    Of course, I have to acknowledge that there are a fair number of first mothers who seem to be hurting even decades after relinquishment. However, there are others who are sure they did a wonderful thing and feel selfless, brave and heroic. But whichever way it pans out for the natural mother, I'm sure almost everyone would agree that adoption is first and foremost about the child.

    So maybe when all is said and done, what we really need is more adoption not less. After all, in most cases, the PAPs are in more stable circumstances and are financially better off. And since the child doesn't care whether s/he is placed or not, and isn't affected either way, wouldn't it be better for every child to at least have more financial advantages?

    Perhaps I need to look into volunteering with one of those Crisis Pregnancy Centers to help encourage more young women to choose the 'adoption option'. Hmmmm

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  58. Julie - you are confusing what you thought you read - with what was written.

    Dpen said "most" and you read "all"

    And just like I cannot imagine any child wanting to grow up to be a "birthmother", or to be "infertile", I can't see any child when they are born wanting to be separated from the mother whose womb they lived in for all those months and be "adopted". The babe that can identify their mothers milk from other mother's milk and show a preference for it and many other preferences within a short time of birth.

    You had a different experience which does not preclude, or negate any other experiences that do not align with yours.

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  59. Nice bit of StrumpetApril 20, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-familiar-story-about-adoption-lawyer-tactics/2013/04/20/8ecabb40-a6c5-11e2-9e1c-bb0fb0c2edd9_story.html

    A familiar story about adoption lawyer tactics
    Saturday, April 20, 4:14 PM

    The arguments made in the April 16 editorial “Whose child is this?” were refuted by the collective findings of three courts, including the South Carolina Supreme Court, that ruled in favor of the rights of Dusten Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation and an Iraq war veteran, to raise his now 3½-year-old daughter, Veronica. This case is about a dedicated father’s deep desire to raise his daughter, who was never legally adopted by the adoptive couple, the Capobiancos.

    Beneath the surface, where The Post chose not to venture, is an all-too-familiar story about adoption lawyers who not only attempt to circumvent federal and state laws protecting Native American children and families but also seek to take advantage of new fathers actively deployed in the U.S. military. Both apply in this situation, and the South Carolina courts thwarted these efforts, holding true to the Indian Child Welfare Act and returning the child to her father, where she is now thriving.


    John Nichols, Columbia, S.C.

    The writer is a lawyer representing Dusten Brown in the Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.

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  60. Thanks for sending his letter in The Post. I sent one to the New York Times, but so far nothing has been published. I doubt they will. But one has to try.

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  61. Here's the transcript:

    http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2013/4/7186_nws_
    130417_BabyVeronica2.pdf

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  62. Strumpet: That link doesn't work. Sorry.
    Got another?

    ReplyDelete

  63. Reports on this case are woefully inadequate.

    It's shameful how slanted and inaccurate some of the information on this case really is.

    1.) Christy Maldonado and Dusten Brown were engaged when she conceived.
    2.) His military benefits only extended to her and child if they were legally married. Simple research will verify that assertion. One would have to ask why she didn't avail herself to the health care if she had any honorable intentions from the outset. One would have to ask if she knew those benefits were available, and if so, why she didn't avail herself to them. One would have to ask why it's considered in the child's best interests to turn down health care, or reasonable to expect someone to pay additional funds for something already available to her via marriage. One would have to ask how she can conclude he wouldn't provide for her if she knowingly, willingly turned down his offer for full health coverage via the military.
    3.) They remained in contact for 5 months of the pregnancy until she cut off contact as is noted in court documents.
    4.) She sends a text demanding child support she wasn't legally entitled to before the child's birth or forfeiture of his parental rights and I'll explain why. The crib, clothes, toys, bottles, swing, stroller, and anything else are all things he could buy and are not her possessions, meaning Christy's. Paternity would also have to be established through a CVS test, (Chorionic Villus Sampling.) He said he'd give her custody assuming she'd raise the child as noted in the court documents which one could reasonably conclude since he was departing for war, she's the obvious choice.
    5.) After he cedes what he thinks is custody to her, she cuts off contact and starts to look for adoptive parents in June of 2009 while not informing the father of this intention. Again, this speaks to her intent of viewing the pregnancy as a source of income. Dusten wouldn't just hand over cash, as she wanted, so she found someone who would.
    6.) She knowingly provided false name and dob to the CN when trying to clarify the child's lineage pre-adoption as noted in the court documents. She also says she wants to leave the father out of it which is also noted in court documents.
    7.) She puts no report order in place at the hospital then acts surprised that Dusten nor his family contact her.
    8.) 10 days after the babies birth, the baby is removed out of state to South Carolina.

    9.) The adoption was never finalized.

    http://www.postandcourier.com/...

    If not for her (the mothers) deplorable actions, ICWA wouldn't even be involved. Further, the CN verified he'd been involved for over a decade which is also verified by court records. Her intent to defraud him all along seem quite clear to me. She got money prior to the child's birth and after handing them physical custody. If I were the birth mother, I'd be worried about being sued for the recovery of all costs. It seems clear to me she was merely looking for a payday. Yet she was raised not to get married for money she claimed. Seems to me, that's precisely what this is really all about.

    If you read the 4th post down it will verify the applicability of military benefits to Christy Maldonado had she availed herself to them.

    http://blogs.militarytimes.com...

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  64. Thank you Anonymous, for enlightening our readers--and filling in even more details for me. We were responding here to the editorials in favor of the adoptive parents.

    But what is CN?

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  65. Oh, and so sorry...neither of the above links work as they just send us to the general page and not the specific story. I didn't see any fourth link down to made any sense. Pleas send the specific link to the story.

    If I send you to a story and just post www.firstmotherforum.com, for instance, that will bring you to the newest post, whatever it is.

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  66. Of all the the things the mother did or didn't do, I'd say not wanting to get married is not something she should be criticized for. Also, whether the mother wanted to get married should have no relation to who pays for the child's health insurance. But I personally think rushing a marriage someone is hesitant about because a baby is on the way is usually a catastrophically bad idea.

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  67. Sorry, that's the only link I have. Here it is again:

    http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2013/4/7186_nws_130417_BabyVeronica2.pdf

    Hope it works this time. I don't know why it doesn't work for you. It works for me.

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  68. Thanks, Strumpet, it works.

    Bedtime reading?

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  69. Fluffy,
    I think you are more nutter than fluff in that sandwich of yours that you call a brain. Robin & dpen, you two are my soulmates, no matter what you say in a comment about adoption it is like I felt it before you even posted. Maryanne, you just seem to like to argue not make points. So whatever.

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  70. "You had a different experience which does not preclude, or negate any other experiences that do not align with yours."

    If only all commenters, no matter which side of the issue they are on, realized this and stopped feeling insulted or threatened by another person's different perspective.

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  71. Just an ironic add here today.

    When I looked up who writes the editorials for The New York Times, I found that Lincoln Kaplan specializes in Supreme Court cases. I realized immediately I have one of his books:

    An Open Adoption by Lincoln Caplan (Jun 1990)

    $3.60 new (6 offers)
    $1.25 used (17 offers)

    Paranoia is knowing all the facts. Sometimes attributed to Alan Ginzburg, other times to Woody Allen, who probably used it in one of his movies.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Just an ironic add here today.

    When I looked up who writes the editorials for The New York Times, I found that Lincoln Caplan specializes in Supreme Court cases. I realized immediately I have one of his books:

    An Open Adoption by Lincoln Caplan (Jun 1990)

    $3.60 new (6 offers)
    $1.25 used (17 offers)

    Paranoia is knowing all the facts. Sometimes attributed to Alan Ginzburg, other times to Woody Allen, who probably used it in one of his movies.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Satan, or so they call meApril 24, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    @Anonymous 9:57

    "Fluffy,
    I think you are more nutter than fluff in that sandwich of yours that you call a brain..."

    AfreakingMEN. I love how she calls one's rightful heritage merely "stuff" they may or may not grieve. Only someone who has purchased a child of another from a baby broker would declare something so stupid and idiotic. Someone who is jealous and spiteful because they are possessive of a child that is not really theirs.

    I think I know what her connection to adoption is. Adoptoraptor nutter.

    ReplyDelete
  74. naryanne April 20, 2013 at 12:59 PM said "Adoptees certainly have plenty of opinions about natural parents and what they should or should not have done."

    Ah, but it's different when they do it.

    ReplyDelete

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