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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.

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
J. Mil October 12, 2010, 8:42 PM


Josh Smith October 12, 2010, 8:42 PM

Rebecca, the Vaughn’s didn’t cooperate with the transition plan in OH because they had custody in IN. This is under a valid and lawful IN order. Once IN changed their minds, the Vaughn’s have cooperated. You check the timeline. I’m sure your omissions are unintentional. I’m just trying to shed some light on the actual facts.

Rebecca Herman October 12, 2010, 8:43 PM

If Mr. Wyrembek never contacted the Vaughns, then why is it on record in their Indiana adoption petition that he sent them money for Grayson?

According to what is available about Pushcar online, the father was in the process of establishing paternity at the time the adoption case began, he was not yet the legal father, there was a pending case about paternity in juvenile court so the adoption was stayed until the juvenile court had determined paternity. So again, you are not stating the facts.

Josh Smith October 12, 2010, 8:47 PM

Rebecca, the Pushcar adoption was filed under 3107.07(a)…..that is a legal father adoption case.

Also, the adoption process, as written, promotes a hearing or trial in the first 4 months to determine what parties consent is required. This trial was scheduled and then stayed. If that trial would have happened, Grayson’s fate would have been decided early in his life.

Rebecca Herman October 12, 2010, 8:48 PM

It was not a valid Indiana custody order and the Supreme Court of Indiana made the proper decision, the custody order was never lawful or proper and the courts ignored the law in granting it. It was just as invalid as if a kidnapper took your child to another state and waited a year and then got that state to agree to let them keep the child. The custody order was binding from the home state, Ohio. At the time the paternity action began Ohio was Grayson’s home state and there are specific laws in place to prevent exactly this, physically moving the child to another state for enough time, hoping for a more favorable ruling when the original home state has an active custody case and has not given up jurisidiction.

Forbis party of 4 October 12, 2010, 8:51 PM

Robin, I think this is a great article! “the best interest of the child”. In this situation, the birth mom was doing that before Grayson was born. She found out she was pregnant, & decided she would carry this innocent child to term & she chose the Vaughns to be Graysons parents. You have to ask the question, what are the birthfathers motives? He knew she was pregnant
with his child & yet never supported her emotionally or financially. If the birthmother thought Ben was “fit”
why didn’t she give him Grayson?
Why has Ben refused numerous times to drug testing? If your “clean”
than u would have no problem with
that Request. @ Rebecca you say
the Vaughns have “lost EVERY court case for almost 3 years”. Then how
have they been able to have custody
of Grayson for 3 years? Again, the
birth mother had 3 choices in her
decision 3 years ago & she was
doing what she beleived to be “the best interest of the child.” My heart
breaks for the Vaughns & for
Grayson, his bubbie & little sister. I
will continue to support the Vaughns
100% & will continue praying for
them. I can’t understand why a
birthfather would want to rip his son
from the only family he’s ever known.
I think Ben is selfish & I question his
motives. To me he’s nothing more
than a sperm donor & Jason Vaughn is Graysons father!!

Josh Smith October 12, 2010, 8:52 PM

Rebecca, of course the IN order was lawful. It was ultimately dismissed. However, it was lawful. Just as the Juv court order visitation, then suspended it pending a homestudy, then suspended the homestudy requirement. All of those orders are lawful, they are just contradicting. Just like the IN order.

Also, the ICPC in both IN and OH approved the adoptive placement with the Vaughn’s. It is another misrepresentation to call it kidnapping.

Have a good nights sleep. Good night

Rebecca Herman October 12, 2010, 8:52 PM

Also, perhaps this would have been decided a LOT faster if the Vaughns hadn’t been so freaking uncooperative about DNA testing. Once they gave in to that the results were available within a month! But they held out a year refusing. Stop blaming the Father here, he tried to do this in a timely manner, the Vaughns resisted him at every step of the way in order to drag this out so they could use the “well we are the only parents he knows” argument. Well, he sure wasn’t that attached to them at 17 days old, yet they resisted and resisted and prevented the paternity test and thus the ruling on the father’s status for as long as they could. Just to get the reaction horrible writers like this one have about how cruel it is to take him away from people who never lawfully adopted him because they held on to him physically for 3 years.

Rebecca Herman October 12, 2010, 8:55 PM

because they kept appealing and appealing so the case wasn’t settled. every ruling they lost so they’d appeal and get to keep him til the court ruled… they’d lose again, appeal again, drag it out some more…

the mother’s exclusive rights end once the child is no longer in her body. She didn’t have to raise Grayson. his father was more than willing. she has the right not to raise him. she has no right to make that decision for anyone else. and I do pity the vaughn children for the horrible lies their parents have told them about someone elses child being their brother. despicable, completely indefensible, and sick behavior.

Mom of Three October 12, 2010, 8:57 PM


I will be glad to read the report. I am curious as to your statement that the Vaughns didn’t know that Grayson was on the birthfather’s insurance. If I was able to read it in the court documents, surely they must have? I understand that the Vaughns love Grayson and that Mrs. Vaughn had several miscarriages for which I am empathic, however, once the paperwork was filed, they were made aware of a possible father..they did everything in their power to block him. That’s the difference. How long did DNA take and why? The Vaughns went to court to block it. It’s all in the court documents. As far as what the birthmother stated, let’s be honest here…none of us were there in that relationship and she is not the most trustworthy character. She created this mess and the adoption agency prolonged it. They should have never released a baby that where the father did not sign off. On their own paperwork, the exhusband stated that he was not the biological father. That left a whole can of worms opened! Even Mr Vaughn stated that they knew the biofather did not sign off and they just believed it would go away. The only loser here is Grayson as he was denied his father and is now attached to people that don’t belong to him. They all need to work together for HIS best interest.

Rebecca Herman October 12, 2010, 8:57 PM

actually the Indiana order was not proper and would not have been entitled to full faith & credit because it didn’t properly follow the interstate custody rules. so another state would not have had to honor it.

Friend  October 12, 2010, 9:14 PM

The birth father made horrible choices early on which caused the birth mother to want to give the baby up for adoption. He was no where around.
The Vaughns simply wanted a baby. They did everything by the book. Throughout this whole nightmare, the birth father could have called, written letters, requested pictures, supported, sent birthday cards, Christmas gifts, but he never did. Litigation is NOT support.
Hindsight is 20/20 people. Where is the love in your heart tonight? Do you honestly believe these people are being selfish? Regardless of what has gone down in 3 years, the birth father should do the right thing and GENTLY be a part of his sons life. Not just abruptly take him on the 30th. He is not at all considering Grayson’s best interest.
The Vaughns have been nothing but graceful in this whole ordeal. They have more than cooperated with ordered visitations. They have extended trust and respect to the birth father. Going forward, the question is WHAT NOW? What a blessing it will be to all involved if they can work out an agreeable arrangement in the name of LOVE FOR GRAYSON. No one is looking for a “win” here. The Vaughns NOR Mr. Wyrembeck. I can’t imagine anyone would agree that a 3 year old would be just fine with leaving his home, everything he has ever known. His very core is at stake here people. How can he be expected to take comfort from someone he doesn’t know or trust? How can anyone think that he doesn’t have RIGHTS of his OWN? What NOW?

reading is fundamental October 12, 2010, 9:21 PM



“If Grayson is on Mr. Wyrembek’s insurance, Mr. Wyrembek never communicated that to the Vaughn’s.”

This is laughable! He never communicated that his child was on his insurance to the Vaughns? Did they not read the judgment awarding him custody of his son? It’s not a question of if, it’s a “FINDING OF FACT” signed on that document signed by the judge.

“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.”

Mr. Wyrembek SENT MONEY TO HIS SON, in 2008 and 2009, per the Vaughn’s own ADMISSION in their THIRD adoption petition submitted to Franklin County court in Ohio. He sent money at least 3 times. That document is attached to the Supreme Court Petition. READ it. The ABSURD part of this, is that he was never ordered by a court to send them a dime. I don’t know why he did, but he sent money to his son even though the people holding his son were blocking his court ordered visitation.

What statutes were on their side? The Ohio Probate Court, Juvenile Court, Court of Appeals, Supreme Court, Indiana Circuit Court, Indiana Supreme Court ALL RULED AGAINST THE VAUGHNS. The Ohio Court of Appeals said their arguments were without merit.

“He wouldn’t talk. Mr. Wyrembek never contacted the Vaughn’s. This birthfather didn’t call for 35 months.”

The father FILED TWICE to be allowed visitation or parenting time with his SON. In 2008 and in 2009. BOTH times the Vaughns appealed and tried to block visitation. He was granted WEEKLY visitation and the Vaughns only showed up to ONE. They were successful in blocking visitation for one year, until the Indiana supreme court dismissed their emergency order. Are we supposed to believe that the people who ignored the Ohio court’s order to have weekly visitations were waiting on to allow them to speak by phone? The people who got an emergency stay to block dna testing, were waiting patiently to allow the father to speak with his son?

“Vaughn’s and the adoption agency attempted to contact the birthfather in the first 60 days.”

Interesting, since the Vaughns filed in January 2008, to have his parentage complaint dismissed. In January 2008 they were asking a court to not allow this man to get a dna test on his son. But we’re supposed to believe that they were ready and willing to do the right thing if he’d just answered. Why not do the right thing anyway? Why not allow the man to have a dna test for over a year? The man who signed the adoption papers stated he was not the biological father. Why try to prevent the man saying he is the father, from knowing with certainty?

“As a father, I can’t go a day without knowing how my child is doing.”

As a father, imagine you have been granted visitation with your son, but the people who have your child ignore the court order. Imagine you have been granted custody of your son, but the people holding your son refuse to comply with the court order to turn him over to your custody.

The Adoption Agency was found to be in CONTEMPT of court for NOT COMPLYING with the Feb 2010 Order. The Executive Director was given a 30 DAY Suspended Sentence. But those are they same people who were complying?

Mom of Three October 12, 2010, 9:35 PM


The Vaughns are cooperating NOW. After reading the court documents, the Vaughns have done everything in the power to block this father, even blocking his visitation. How can you support a child, when everything you do is blocked?? They were probably hoping this father would go away. The only reason they are cooperating now is the Judge threatened to take Grayson immediately if they did not comply. You are right though Grayson is the only thing that matters. This is a lose-lose situation…The Vaughns should have done the right thing in the beginning and they could have moved on to a child that was available and needing their love. This is a child not a game of finders keepers…

reading is fundamental October 12, 2010, 9:47 PM

Pay close attention to the “Litigation is not support” comments. It’s more than just a media soundbite, it’s a clue to their case.

The Vaughns are on their THIRD Adoption Petition, the first two were dismissed in Ohio and Indiana. The dismissals were upheld in both Indiana Supreme Court and Ohio Supreme Court.

The third petition has been filed in a different county in OHIO. The Ohio courts said the first petition was “prematurely filed”. That’s because, if you want pursue an adoption without the consent of the father, a year needs to pass without him supporting and contacting the child. The Ohio Courts ruled that that year could not begin until the father was declared the legal father in March 2009.

Now for their third petition they need to convince the court that he did not support and contact his son from March 2009 - March 2010. They need to convince the Ohio court to ignore the following: That another Ohio Court gave him custody of his son in January 2010. That agency did not comply with the Ohio court order to turn over custody in February 2010. That there was no child support order by any court, but he sent money to his son anyway. That his son was on his insurance since he was declared the father. That he filed for and was awarded visitation with his son by another Ohio court, but that visitation was blocked by their ex-parte filing in another state. That he did visit with his son. The list goes on.

It sounds absolutely ridiculous for anyone to suggest a father who was awarded custody of his son, should be obliged to send money to the people who weren’t cooperating with Ohio court orders to return his son or to allow visitation. It seems even more ridiculous when you there has been no order made by the court for him to send anything to the couple holding his child. It seems absurd to say in any context, that if you’re fighting for your child, you’re not supporting them. But as repetitive and ridiculous as the phrase “litigation is not support” has become in the case, it is essential to their third adoption petition. Somehow I don’t see an Ohio court ignoring all the previous court rulings and subscribing to the “greeting card” theory of terminating parental rights in contested adoptions.

Mike October 12, 2010, 9:58 PM

Wow, this is absolutely insane. “Because of her constitutional right to choose what to do with her body, no man should be able to object to this newborn adoption.” What kind of logic is that? Abortion and adoption are NOT the same thing!

Christina O'Brien October 13, 2010, 3:38 AM

This article IS BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN———valid, valid, valid points regarding the rights of women. Thank you for writing it——-will you please sent it to the judges who are failing this child and this family!!!!

Josh Smith October 13, 2010, 4:32 AM

Good Morning,

I see that the father’s rights advocates were busy over night. If the Dad’s they fight to protect would satisfy their responsibilities we wouldn’t be in these types of situations.

Mr. Wyrembek sent 25 dollars of “child support” in October of 2008. This is an acknowledgement of his responsibility to support his child. It wasn’t a birthday card, birthday money or any other misrepresentation by the advocates on this page. It was child support. The Vaughns position is that 25 dollars from the time of conception to the child’s first birthday isn’t enough. The Ohio Revised Code agrees with that position. The Supreme Court Justices agreed with the advocates on this page that father’s don’t have any responsibilities. It is a sad day for kids.

It strikes me that the advocates on this page have spent more time in the last 24 hours communicating and caring that the birthfather did in the first 24 months of Grayson’s life.

By Grayson’s 2nd birthday, 25 dollars no phone calls, no letters, no birthday cards, no presents, notification of this mystery insurance, nothing from the Dad. As everyone can agree. Legal documents don’t buy diapers and formula. He simply didn’t support.

Litigation is not support. The Indiana order was a valid order….whether the adovcates on this page like it our not. Just like when the Ohio Courts declared the Vaughn’s “not a party” to the custody proceedings in Jan of 2010. That is a valid order whether the Vaughn’s like it or not. Despite having custody in IN, OH declared them not a party. Not fair, but it is valid until an appeals court declares it invalid.

Have a great day

phyllis  October 13, 2010, 4:41 AM

This is about a woman’s right to make a life plan for her child particularly if the bio father has not shown any interest in her or her unborn child, however, more importantly is the child who has been with his adoptive family since birth. What about his rights as a human being to stay with his loving family. Attachments to his mother and father, brother and sister should never be broken. As unfortunately as it is for a man who MAY want to raise his child his rights should never trump the rights of this child to stay where he is. If bio mother and a bio father have equal rights and they have different opinions regarding the life plan for the child, the mother, who will carry this child, should have the final word about the care of her child. She has the responsibility to provide for the child. If she decides she can not do that she has the responsiblity to choose an option she deems necessary, and what is in the best interest for the child. Grayson was placed with the Vaughn’s at birth. He knows no one else as mommy and daddy. He has a loving brother who is 7 and a ‘twin-like’ sister who is 5 months younger. Putting all of the adult’s rignts behind Grayson’s rights is the right thing to do. This bio dad contributed a sperm pre-conception and $25 since his birth. Yes, he has litigated, but litigation is not support. A birthday card might have been a nice way to show he was interested in his son. That never happened.

Anonymous October 13, 2010, 5:01 AM

I think the author of this article forgot to take it to its logical conclusion. The author decided that fathers should have no rights regarding their offspring, that only mothers should be able to make decisions. The logical conclusions is that mothers should be able to raise their children by themselves with no outside assistance. They should be able to do it without the income a man might bring into the household. And they should be able to do it without asking the rest of the world to feel sorry for them.

I would also like to say that the mother’s opinion that the father isn’t suitable is just that, an opinion. I don’t like my ex-boyfriend very much. If people asked, I’d say they should stay away from him. Does the author of the article think that, legally, he should be stripped of all his rights as a member of society just because I, a person she has never met, have formed that opinion about him?

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