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Baby Vaughn: Failed Adoptions and False Choices

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Guest blogger Robin Sax: Few people would disagree that abortion is one of the most hotly contested issues in our country. The passion from the pro-choice and pro-life camps is evident. From printed words to television screens, from debate podiums to our living rooms -- whenever the issue is even mildly discussed, tensions flare on both sides. Seldom is there an opportunity or an issue that bridges both viewpoints. But now we have one: the broken adoption system in the United States. That's because the right of a mother to choose (pro-choice) and the desire for the child to be born (pro-life) are both at play whenever a mother takes the adoption route.

Grayson
Abortion laws affect many areas of American life. Take their effect on crime, for example. Many are familiar with the theory that legal abortion reduces crime. Proponents of the theory argue that unwanted children are more likely to become criminals. In particular, it is argued that the legalization of abortion in the United States after Roe v. Wade has reduced crime in years since. Opponents generally dispute these statistics and will point to some negative effects of abortion on society. This camp encourages women to choose to put their children up for adoption rather than have abortions. 

Every mother has a right (and a responsibility) to develop a life plan for her unborn child. Today, as most of us already know, there are essentially three legal options for an American woman who is faced with an unwanted pregnancy: 1) Keep and parent the child, 2) Have the child and place him/her up for adoption or 3) Terminate the pregnancy. Obviously the choice is very difficult, and thus the source of many heated debates. But the great misfortune is that the adoption system is truly broken in America. 

The mechanisms to both put a child up for adoption and to adopt a child are fraught with so many problems. Many will pursue an adoption option in a foreign country (sometimes risking medical difficulties in the child) rather than stay domestic. The domestic system has a high probability of failed adoption, legal difficulties or failed placement. Therefore, women who have an unwanted pregnancy are choosing to terminate rather than pursue adoption as a viable alternative. In turn, more Americans must go abroad to China, Russia, etc., to adopt.

A woman should have a valid alternative to either aborting her baby or being forced to raise a child she does not want. Adoption should be that valid alternative. But some states will not recognize a mother's right to place her child up for adoption. This leaves a woman with only the two alternatives: aborting or parenting. In the case of Baby Grayson Vaughn, the birth mother had the constitutional right to place her newborn child up for adoption. Her choice was protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Because of her constitutional right to choose what to do with her body, no man should be able to object to this newborn adoption. Any interference from a unwed father can be viewed as a violation of freedom of choice, a violation of privacy rights and of Due Process. 

So how is that 3-year-old Grayson is caught in a torturous battle between his prospective adoptive parents, Jason and Christy Vaughn of Sellersburg, Indiana, and his birth father, Benjamin Wyrembek of Swanton, Ohio? Will this case end in tragedy on October 30 -- the day the Ohio Supreme Court has ordered the boy to be returned to his birth father (a total stranger) and be taken away from the only parents he has ever known? 

While some people criticize the Vaughns, thousands of their supporters are in a fight against the clock to save Grayson from what experts have deemed "court-sanctioned child abuse." How is custody of Baby Vaughn even an issue when his birth mother herself chose the Vaughns as parents, acknowledged her own inability to care for the child and expressed the belief that Benjamin Wyrembek is not fit to parent his child? Why are we punishing this mother for choosing adoption as a viable option and selecting the Vaughns -- loving parents -- to be her child's mom and dad?

It has been three years since Christy Vaughn first held Grayson after he was born; she took him home nine days later. Now the courts want to take this child away from the only parents -- and siblings -- he has ever known. One question we might ask: Does Grayson's mother regret having her child? Any birth mother faced with this kind of contested adoption could understandably regret that she did not choose abortion

A woman must have the constitutionally protected right to place her newborn up for adoption, and not be forced into electing either abortion or parenting an unwanted child. While the "father's rights" people may be going crazy out there, please know that I agree that fathers deserve rights (of course!). But in this specific case, the woman's rights trump. And I am not alone in my thinking: The Supreme Court agrees. In Planned Parenthood of Central Mo. v. Danforth, the Court made it clear that the reproductive rights of a woman are constitutionally protected and superior to the claimed rights of all others, even her husband. 

Adoptive children and families are suffering injustices, as in Baby Vaughn's case, with the unfair adoptions laws. We must speak out and begin to mend this terrible state of affairs.


next: Bob Saget Posts Video of Screaming Baby
151 comments so far | Post a comment now
Mom of Three October 12, 2010, 8:03 PM

Josh,
According to the court documents posted at the Ohio Supreme Court that is not true. Do you have a link? I would be interested in reading GAL report. Also, in reading the court documents, there was never a PHD report done, only one that Mr. Vaughn said when they went to court to bar the birth father from having visitation. I am not a hearsay person..I deal with facts and from what was posted on the Ohio Courts website, the Vaughns are dragged this through numerous courts only to get the same result.

Josh Smith October 12, 2010, 8:03 PM

Rebecca, check out the disent in Caban v. Mohammed. Two supreme court justices talk about the possibility and scenario of a newborn adoption conflict. Both favor the mother. There has never been a new born adoption case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. This will be the first….

Rebecca Herman October 12, 2010, 8:04 PM

Have you read the Ohio court’s arguments at all Josh Smith? There are two statues concerning consent to adoption - the one about supporting the mother during pregnancy only applies if the father has not made efforts to establish paternity. If the person disputing the adoption is a legal father rather then putative father, the adoption can only proceed without his consent if he didn’t support the child for one year after being declared the legal father. The Ohio court does not support or agree with your belief that the status of putative father is frozen in time if the potential adopters can rush to the courthouse before a DNA test can be done.

Anonymous October 12, 2010, 8:04 PM

Excellent article! Clearly a MOTHER has a right to the best interest for her child and she made that decision and to see Grayson today, it is obvious he has a blessed, loving home and family. Litigation is NOT support! I have yet to hear one comment about anything this “father” has tried to offer Grayson in 3 years other than having his lawyer file litigation! Meanwhile he has built an amazing life with his FAMILY and there is NOONE out there with any amount of love in their heart that could think taking a 3 year old from their parents (the only parents he knows) is going to do anything but harm him! The mother made a choice and had a right to do so! She could have chosen abortion, but she didn’t she chose LIFE with the Vaughns….people that are showing everyone what it means to LOVE THEIR CHILD!!!

Rebecca Herman October 12, 2010, 8:07 PM

also Josh - dissent does not make law. When justices disagree, the decision of the majority is binding. Also good luck with this case at the US supreme court because there is little chance the court will even consider it.

Ali October 12, 2010, 8:11 PM

Thank you Josh for finally posting something soo true! PLEASE lets stop talking about Rights….what about his responsibilities!? CLEARLY, if he were responsible he would have financially and emotionally supported the birth mother….that did NOT happen! Again, noone ever speaks about Grayson and his wellbeing other than the Vaughns and their supporters!! Why is that?

Josh Smith October 12, 2010, 8:13 PM

Rebecca, I don’t disagree that the Ohio Supreme Court held in a split decision 4-3 that the status of a father can change. What I said is that the statutes clearly define that the definition of a putative father is any man that has not been DETERMINED PRIOR to the the filing of a petition for adoption to be the father of the child. The probate court identified Mr. Wyrembek as a putative father in the original adoption petition. Then he changed the status. This is a case of first impression and the justices changed the law as written. I guess Ohio judges are now lawmakers

Cassi October 12, 2010, 8:16 PM

***Clearly a MOTHER has a right to the best interest for her child***

A FATHER has the EXACT same right!

As for what the father has done, outside of fighting immediately for his child once he learned he was his and battling against a couple who have fought him in every way, I suggest you research the links that were left for the court papers that state the “facts” not the heresay.

In there you will find the many attempts the father has made to be a supportive part of his son’s life, only to be denied by the Vaughns. And to this day, his son has been on his medical insurance since he was just an infant.

Be sure to read the official court documents all the way through - a long task, but well worth the effort - before declaring what you “know.”

Rebecca Herman October 12, 2010, 8:18 PM

The Vaughns blocked him from forming a relationship with his child, ignored court orders for visitation while appeals were ongoing, delayed the DNA testing, etc etc. They didn’t care about Grayson’s best interests, all they cared about was themselves. If they cared they wouldn’t have kept dragging this out and letting him get older and more attached as every single court continued to rule against them. The legal presumption is that it is in the best interests of a child to live with a fit biological parent. “Best interests” beyond that can only be found when the biological parents are both unfit or unwilling. You can’t take a child from a fit biological parent just because the adopters have a nicer home, or let the child get attached while they purposely dragged out the court case. The legal precedent it would set would be atrocious and encourage even more people to do the same to guarantee adoption of a child whose father was unwilling to consent. And this father has been willing to have a relationship and resposibilities for his child since he was born. He wanted full custody and to fully support the child himself. The Vaughns selfishly blocked him from doing that. (and by the way, he sent birthday money to the Vaughns for Grayson, which was pretty generous since I wouldn’t have trusted them with any money if they were unlawfully keeping my child from me!)

Josh Smith October 12, 2010, 8:19 PM

Mom of Three, I’m trying to find the link. The GAL reports were filed in the probate court and Juvenile Court in OH. The PHD report was filed in the OH juvenile court, the IN circuit court and IN supreme court.

The GAL and the PHD absolutely recommended the Vaughns. Not a lie.

Rebecca Herman October 12, 2010, 8:21 PM

Josh Smith - this is not the first time that ruling has been made in an Ohio adoption case. They were following a precedent from an earlier Ohio adoption case and agreed with that precedent. I believe the previous case In re adoption of Pushcar.

J. Mil October 12, 2010, 8:22 PM

The facts of the matter are this…Benjamin KNEW that she was pregnant with HIS child. He CHOSE to not to “stick around” during her pregnancy and wanted nothing to do with the baby (Grayson)! Not until shortly after Grayson was home with the Vaughn’s did he begin to file the suits to prove his paternity. This seems like a completely selfish act. Let’s face it…those of us that have children…if you truly love your child, you will do what is “best” for your child, even if that means a lifetime of heartache for you. Grayson has been with the Vaughn’s for 3 years of his life (all he has ever known). Benjamin should have let it go a long time ago! Grayson has a family. This isn’t about the adults involved, but it’s about an innocent 3 year old. Why can’t people see this? Grayson is not some prize to be “won” as Mr. Wyremback seems to think. Being a “sperm donor” doesn’t make you a father. And he is clearly NOT fit to be a father with an “assault and drug paraphenalia” criminal history. EXCELLENT ARTICLE!!!Come on people…WAKE UP!!!!!

Cassi October 12, 2010, 8:26 PM

Ali - what about the Vaughn’s responsibilites? They knew within weeks of his birth that his father did not want to give him up for adoption, and that he was not made aware, during the pregnancy, that he was the biological father (stated in the court documents, which are the only facts I go by.) If they were so concerned about Grayson, why did they fight him, over and over again, in court battle after court battle (including the testing to prove he was Grayson’s father- court documents) and go so far as to sue judges (again in court documents) who didn’t agree with them so they could drag this out as long as possible on the hope that, as we’ve seen, the response would be “well they’ve had him for so long, they are the only family he’s known.”

They are the only family he’s known because they have refused to return him to his father for almost three years now.

You can’t play the sympathy card when the ones you are defending have fought for so long, in every way possible, to keep father and son apart.

Josh Smith October 12, 2010, 8:27 PM

Rebecca,

You continue to unintentionally omit facts. The Vaughn’s had custody of Grayson from September 11, 2009 to Sept 1, 2010. The Indiana court declared IN the home state of Grayson took jurisdiction and gave the Vaughn’s custody. It wasn’t until a year later that Indiana declared they made a “mistake” on taking jurisdiction. Since September 2 the Vaughns have been trying to get a transition plan established for the transfer. The courts order immediate return. Which I believe we can all agree would be determintal to the baby. The Vaughn’s disobeyed the 1 day return order only to have IN and the Ohio Supreme Court issue stays on those ridiculous orders. After the transition plan was agreed too, the Vaughn’s and Mr. Wyrembek have cooperated fully.

Rebecca Herman October 12, 2010, 8:31 PM

If they have been willing to agree to a transition plan, then how come the Ohio courts ruled that they refused to cooperate with the GAL about a transition plan? I think you are the one intentionally omitting facts here in order to justify kidnapping and stealing a child from his father. The Ohio custody order was always correct, Indiana choosing to ignore it didn’t make it incorrect.

Rebecca Herman October 12, 2010, 8:32 PM

look at the court documents…. look at the timeline… the 24 hour surrender order only came AFTER both Indiana and Ohio courts agreed that the Vaughns and the adoption agency had refused to cooperate with the GAL’s recommendations about a transition plan. The courts were, quite justifiably, fed up with the Vaughns ignoring their orders.

J. Mil October 12, 2010, 8:36 PM

The public DOES NOT KNOW all of the facts involved here (nor should they, I suppose). Cassi…the Vaughn’s ALSO knew how the birth father treated the birth mother during her pregnancy. WHY would you want to hand over the baby you just adopted to a man like that? Oh, and by the way, this birth father that everyone on here is so in favor of also REFUSED to take drug tests. Hmmmm…

BestInterest October 12, 2010, 8:37 PM

Is there one single person who has read this article that actually CARES about this LITTLE BOY????? Listen to all of you. When you become a parent, you become selfless. If this sperm donor really cared about his son, and was actually selfless, he would LEAVE HIM ALONE. If he takes this child, he is KNOWINGLY causing life-long psychological damage from which the child will never recover. NEVER, people. Don’t we have enough broken people in this world, you are all OK, with ruining this little boy’s life????? Are you humans?? Do you have a heart?? THIS CHILD’S RIGHTS are more important than ANY OF THE ADULTS INVOLVED!!!!! Grow up, be adults, Support doing the RIGHT thing. This boy is not property. He is a human being!!!!!

Josh Smith October 12, 2010, 8:38 PM

Casi,

The Vaughn’s and the adoption agency attempted to contact the birthfather in the first 60 days. He wouldn’t talk. Mr. Wyrembek never contacted the Vaughn’s. Mr. Wyrembek never asked how his child was doing. If Grayson is on Mr. Wyrembek’s insurance, Mr. Wyrembek never communicated that to the Vaughn’s. As a father, I can’t go a day without knowing how my child is doing. This birthfather didn’t call for 35 months. No birthday cards, No presents, no letters……..especially with the statutes, as written, were on their side? The real question is why wouldn’t Mr. Wyrembek send 10 dollars per month to help with diapers, medicine or toys.

Rebecca, you are correct about the case. Pushcar was a legal father case under ORC 3107.07(a) not a putative father case under 3107.07(b). It wasn’t applied to putative fathers until this case.

Rebecca Herman October 12, 2010, 8:41 PM

Other children have been returned to their biological families at a similar age and suffered no long-term damage, are doing great, and are glad they were returned to their biological parents. Look up baby Jessica she is doing fantastic, she is an adult now, and never wants to see the potential adopters again.

Also your argument basically justifies kidnapping. Doesn’t matter how you got a child, if you keep them long enough and are taking care of them ok then you keep the child forever regardless of what laws you broke. That’s just not ok and would set a terrible precedent. It’s in the best interests of ALL children that their relationships with their fit biological parents are protected by law and that people are not allowed to steal other people’s children because they selfishly dragged it out in court long enough for the child to form a bond.


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