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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
Rebecca R October 13, 2010, 1:29 PM

Wow - reading the article AND all the comments is quite interesting. The article was unbelievably illogical and ill-considered. I won’t begin to debate the merits of the case cited; that’s being done well by others. My comment is this: the adoption system is flawed, but not in the way Robin Sax indicates and her fix isn’t a fix at all. Our system doesn’t need MORE children available for adoption ~ it needs more ethical, transparent, open and respectful OF THE CHILD WHO HAS NO SAY practices and the all mighty $$$ as got to be removed as the carrot held out for all to use and abuse. Adoption has life long consequences that everyone seems to want to forget or ignore and assume that all adoptive parents are simply wonderful, all placing parents awful and all adoptees are so much better off with those that “truly wanted children” ~ PUHLEEZE ~ so not the case; and any fixing of the system should be done now while there are fewer adoptions occuring BECAUSE women have other choices. And the author was quite short cited when she noted only three choices ~ you left out family members assisting in the care of the child via temp or permanent custody, guardianship (which is an option in some states), allowing the father to assume sole custody and responsibility and foster care placements. I would say that’s a whole lot more that the simplistic three that were offered.

Marley Greiner October 13, 2010, 1:31 PM

Nancy: fathers right are nothing new. The battle has gone on for years, and as someone in the legal profession you should know this. Of course, there there is nothing the adoption industry hates more than a father who grasps his rights. I’m familiar with several recent cases and I know of no dad who is getting a pro bono ride. The cost alone, in bringing these suits,along with the public pilloring of those who do, is enough to discourage action. Why is adoption the only adversarial action in which a person who is being sued considered a scumbag for fighting back?

There is no Constitutional right to adopt and there is certainly no right to adopt somebody elses child. Sax and some of the commenters here clearly believe that a woman can do whatever she damn well pleases with her kid without a father’s input. Sorry, guys. A life child isn’t a fetus.

Adoption is one of the most corrupt rackets in the US today. Why else is it practiced under the cloak of secrecy? So dense that bastards aren’t even allowed to have their own birth certificates.

Anonymous October 13, 2010, 2:05 PM

It must be nice to only know what you have read about this case and pass judgement on the Vaughns. Anyone that has been involved in this knows that most of the details have been in chambers and conference rooms outside of the courtrooms. With that being said:
This may be a little late but I have to say this. The Vaughn’s were never in contempt of any court. Each ruling that was issued to turn over the baby was followed by a stay of that ruling. Some here have suggested that the stay was unlawful because it was later released…..what do you expect the Vaughns to do when they received the stay???? Ignore the stay??? Check with OH or IN to make sure it was ok???? Really???
Next when the Vaughns were ordered to give visitation early on in OH, they made one request of the bio dad. That was to take drug test. The court asked him and he initially agreed. Then refused….why wouldnt he be willing to take one?? If I was asked to take a drug test to see my child, you can bet I would take it right now. what did you expect the Vaughns to do??? Give the baby to someone with a drug history and that just refused to take drug test??? Really???
It is my understanding that he has sent a whopping total of $220 in 3 years. What do you think that was for? So he could now say that he has sent money. This is the bare minimum so the folks here can say at least he sent money….Really???
In the IN court, the Vaughns and the bio dad mutually agreed to a transition plan. Then in OH, the bio went back on his word and offered only to honor his word on the transition plan if the Vaughns dropped all other adoption proceedings. What did you expect them to do? Accept that he isnt a man of his word and abort the plan???? Really??
The “fit” bio dad has done the bare minimum the entire time throughout this whole thing - this is once he was told to “man up” and do something (his words not mine). He had to be challenged to do the bare minimum in his “fight” for his child.
I wonder about the outstanding lessons that he will teach Grayson:
1) Sleeping with married women is okay
2) You can get away with doing the bare minimum and still win
3) Your word doesnt really mean anything, so change your mind if you want to.
4) Drugs arent that bad just dont take a drug test when asked.
Looks like the bio mom had pretty good foresight and made the right decision to me.

CT October 13, 2010, 2:25 PM

I want to remind everyone that the OH Supreme Court didnt think that the Vaughns were “dragging this out”. I am sure that if they thought it had no merit and just being “drug out”, the Supreme Court would have voted against the Vaughns 7-0. Anyone want to tell me how they really voted?? I am sure you know, but it was 4-3 (both times). Obviously, someone (3 OH SC Justices) thought there was merit to what the Vaughns were doing for this child.

Elizabeth October 13, 2010, 4:08 PM

It always saddens me to see how hateful people can be.
To call the Vaughns kidnappers is completely ridculous. They went through the legal route to adopt a child. A birth mother chose them and they were there for the birth. Being a mother myself, I know that it does not take very long to fall in love with a child and the “mama bear” instinct to settle in. The Vaughns are only protecting their child. Yes, Grayson is not their biological child, but in their hearts he is their child. Any loving parents would fight for their child.
That is not to say that the biological father does not love his child. Yes, he has filed all the appropriate suits/motions to have custody of Grayson, but for him I have questions.
Why did you not feel the need to be there supporting the mother when she was pregnant? No, you didn’t have to have a wonderful relationship with her, but if you were truly wanting this child you would have done everything possible to be there and support her so that he would arrive in this world already loved and healthy. Why weren’t you there when he was born? You knew the mother was pregnant, yet you weren’t there. Some might say, well the mother had an affair and he didn’t even know if it was his. True, but if there was even a thought that the child was his, then he should have been there. My brother went through a similar situation where his wife had an affair and got pregnant. He didn’t know if he was the father, but you better believe he was there every step of the way until that child was born and the paternity test was taken (and I have to say the test happened hours after the birth, not months because my brother was there and fighting for his rights). When he found out the child was not his, he walked away, but had the child been his, he would have been supporting him from the beginning.
Why wasn’t Mr. Wyrembek doing this if he wanted the child. Why did he wait 17 days after the birth to file for a paternity test? If he wanted this child so bad, he should have been knocking down the hospital doors when Grayson was born.
I just feel actions speak more than words.

Hopeful October 13, 2010, 4:48 PM

I want to commend this mother for making one of the toughest decisions a woman must make in her lifetime. Being faced with the decision of abortion, adoption, or being a single parent…she made a decision that put her child’s best interest at heart. I can’t imagine being in her shoes, having to make that decision, thinking you did the right thing, and then having to relive it all 3 years later. How is it that the birth mother has the right to choose abortion without the consent of the birth father but cannot make that same decision about adoption, a choice that is obviously in the best interest of the child? It sickens me that young girls and women everywhere will read these stories and make a life altering decision out of fear that their decision could come back to haunt them one day.

It amazes me to read how so many are so quick to defend this man in the name of father’s rights…do you personally know this man? Yes, fathers have rights but with those rights also come responsibility. Where was this man throughout her pregnancy? What many of you seem to be ignoring is the fact that this man KNEW about the pregnancy, accompanied the birth mother to a doctor’s appointment, and then abandoned her to carry the burden of this pregnancy on her own. Yes, he signed the putative father registry…AFTER the birth of this child. However, he made his choice long before that when he decided to abandon the birth mother during her pregnancy. Why should a man who abandons a mother and child during her pregnancy have rights to that child after the fact? You don’t get to choose when you want to be a father and then claim father’s rights. How do we protect mothers and their unborn children from fathers who don’t want to be involved but don’t want someone else to raise their children?

Sandy October 13, 2010, 5:33 PM

Your article is right on! Thank you! Glad to see someone writing a story that mentions the rights of the birth MOTHER.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times…..just because someone is a sperm donor doesn’t mean he is a father. If you don’t support the woman while she is pregnant, can not support your child after he is here (or even try or attempt to reach him) - YOU ARE NOT FIT TO BE A PARENT. Let’s not forget about criminal history either. Why is the birth father being considered the most important person by the courts? Why are the birth mother’s and adoptive parents being treated as the least important? Only in America would someone who had an affair with a married woman, provided no support, and has no means to support a child be considered a “victim” by our liberal court system. Disgusting.
Most importantly - GRAYSON should be the one who is looked after here - not the biological father.
Bring on the negative comments.

Cargen October 13, 2010, 6:45 PM

Here’s the other thing non-Grayson supporters…. Everyone keeps saying the Vaughn’s should have turned Grayson over when bio dad signed the registry. Really??? Would you turn your child over to someone who may or may not be the father. It is infuriating that Ohio took 17 MONTHS (that’s right 17 MONTHS) to prove paternity. By that time, the Vaughn’s knew all about bio dad and his history and would you not fight for your child to protect him from someone you know to be a drug user with no job and violent tendencies? I can almost bet that most of you who are preaching father’s rights would strongly fight this man if he were your ex-husband and wanted your child so why are you going to fault them for doing the same? Don’t get me wrong, I am ALL ABOUT father’s rights, but you have to earn them. I was raised by my father and I am soooo much better for it. He fought to get us out of a bad situation and it took a long time for the court system to listen to him and that’s all the Vaughn’s are tyring to do is get the judicial system to listen to them. So, no, I don’t believe a child belongs with someone simply because it’s their biological parent. Anyone can be a bio mother or father, it takes a lot more to be a parent.

Marley Greiner October 13, 2010, 7:47 PM

Actually, those filing with the pfr before the adoption application is filed only gives putative fathers the right to notice. It does not stop an adoption. Ben also filed a paternity claim. That is totally different. A paternity claim stops an adoption plan cold until things are sorted out legally.

Gentle Care has a long history of hinky adoptions. People who think so highly of the agency should look around. A few years ago, Gentle Care’s entire social worker staff walked off the job due to its poor ethics. (Care to discuss it’s price list for children of color—the darker the baby the less the cost—I saw a copy). Back a little farther, the agency was one of the big players in keeping the birth records of Ohio’s adopted adults sealed. Gentle Care has no credibility. If there’s a bad adoption in Ohio it comes from one of three agencies. Gentle Care is one of them.

Finally, why is so much hatred of men being spewed here?

Susan October 13, 2010, 8:39 PM

Who are these people that are leaving such insensative, unreasonable, & ridiculous comments??? Now I know someone left the bag of idiots open! It enrages me the the world has been taken over by egos! I won’t dispute that this biological father may indeed love his son…But only the best he knows how to…Unfortunately sometimes your best just isn’t enough. While it is indeed unfortunate that this ever got to this point, the bottom line today is that it did. It is now that, if this man sincerely loves this child, he will look beyond his ego and make decisions that are in the best interest of Grayson. Removing Grayson from the love of his family and the only life he has ever known will forever scar his soul and weaken every fiber of his being. His spirit will forever be broken. I sure hope that this biological family is prepared to deal with the consequences that will last a lifetime. Sacrifice and selflessness define being a parent. Neither is apparent in this biological father. I will keep Grayson in my prayers and I will not abandon hope.

Jessica October 13, 2010, 8:48 PM

I have a good friend who recently got a girl pregnant. He has had little to do with her since shortly after she became pregnant. Not entirely his choice. However, he will be a wonderful father, and has already sought out legal help to make sure his rights as a father are able to be exercised immediately upon the birth of the child. Just because Wyrembek didn’t financially support this woman (who was married to another man) does not mean he won’t be a good father. And it most certainly doesn’t mean that he doesn’t deserve rights to his child. It makes me sad to think there are so many close minded people out there. People of all kinds, from all walks of life, make great parents. Should Wyrembek have slept with a married woman? No. Should he have supported her once she was pregnant? It would have been the “right” thing to do. Does it make him a bad person or a bad father? Most definitely not!

George October 14, 2010, 4:52 AM

Once again a bunch of people sitting around with nothing to do but judge other people. Why don’t you all go to the Ohio website and look up what the law says about this case. Keep your openions to yourself, and read the adoption laws
as they apply to this case. That’s what the judges should have done but, THEY DIDN’T. This bio dad has an extensive arrest record, in most
cases if he already had a child, the courts would be taking the child away instead of giveing him one……and yes the adoption process in this country IS badley broken….idiots…why do you think most families are going out of country to adopt……….wanna help your cause……get the facts!!!!!!

Hopefule October 14, 2010, 5:09 AM

@Jessica, your friend may make a great dad and may be a good person however, the Ohio law is clear…”a putative father must financially and emotionally support the birthmother during pregnancy”. In this case, this man failed to do those things.

Carol October 14, 2010, 6:07 AM

Interesting to note that all those giving such rave reviews of Ben do not know him personally. Maybe he is as great as they think I do not know for sue. I would like proof of insurance for Grayson, proof of a job at the present time, proof to know he is prepared to take on the role of a father and mother to this child. The court appointed advocate for Grayson did make home visits and did file a report and did state that she thought if would be in the best interest for Grayson if he stayed with the Vaughns. That was the first report filed now somehow that has been lost in the many papers filed, but there is a copy. If you knew the Vaughns for any length of time, you would know they are good people who have a bond with Grayson that is as strong as any have with their children and would never hurt him.

anon October 14, 2010, 6:35 AM

How many of you have biological children and had to prove you could parent them prior to taking them home from the hospital? How many of you have or know someone who has a criminal record (no matter how minor) and parent a child? Just because someone has made poor choices in the past does not mean they will continue to make them. People grow and learn. Now, if they have a history that involves hurting children, murder, etc. of course social services would need to step in and assess the situation. That does not appear to be the case with this father. And for those Vaughn supporters who claim to know the real story, remember, we are talking about a woman who wanted to place her child for adoption and knew that her husband was not the biological father. It would not be a stretch to think that maybe she wasn’t telling the agency or the Vaughns the complete truth. Also, adoptive parents are not immune to criminal records and can still adopt with a criminal past. Very few crimes will exclude someone from adoption. They can also have mental illness, get divorced, and abuse/neglect children. So, for those of you who keep bringing up a possible criminal record with this father, do you believe that anyone with a criminal record can’t parent? That would be a whole lot of kids needing new homes.

Has anyone considered the fact that perhaps this birthmom did not want support from Ben? What then in those cases? Maybe she was trying to work things out with her husband, maybe she was so busy with her other two children and getting a divorce she didn’t want to be bothered, maybe being in contact with Ben was too much of a reminder of her poor choices? Only Ben and the birthmom would know the answers to these questions.

Becca October 14, 2010, 7:21 AM

I am not going to sit here and try to pretend that I know all of the details of this case or the legalities of the adoption process. And unless you are an expert I would hope that you leave your “leagal opinions” out. What matters here is that a loving couple vowed to love & protect this child from the day he was born to the day they died. They followed all the right steps with the adoption agency & the birth mother. And there isn’t a parent out there that can say they would just turn their child over without giving it every fight they possibly could. This obviously is a tragic situation for all parties involved.

Sarah October 14, 2010, 9:02 AM

Becca, the problem is that they didn’t really follow all of the right steps. They knew that the birth mother’s husband was not the biological father, which should have immediately raised red flags for both the Vaughns and the adoption agency. They also knew that the then-putative father had registered by the time they filed for the adoption. They tried to adopt a baby who they knew didn’t necessarily need to be adopted. That, in my mind, was their big mistake.

I do feel awful for them because it must be incredibly painful to go through this. But, it must be even worse knowing your child is out there and you can’t even hold him. The biggest victim in this is, of course, Grayson. But he has a biological family that has been fighting for him since he was a newborn. He should have been returned within months of his birth, not years. The Vaughns either received terrible legal advice or knew what they were risking when they chose to pursue the adoption anyways.

Angela October 14, 2010, 9:25 AM

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!?!?!?!? BULL FLIPPING CRAP! A father has just as much right as the mother to his child. What the hell are these people smoking cause i WANT SOME!

What about a man’s reproductive rights? Are they some how reduced to nothing because they don’t have vagina’s? That is discrimination! I know 5 man who are parenting THEIR child alone because the mother didn’t want to and all of them have done a darn good job!

Furthermore, it is not the mother’s job to “deem” a father unfit to parent. That sole responsibility is up to the court system. UGH!!!! How can people really believe this crap?!?!

Valerie Thomas October 14, 2010, 9:41 AM

Thank you so much for the information in your story. Yes, I am a supporter of the Vaughn family because I have known them for a very long time and know of ther loving home and surroundings that Grayson has been rasised in. The court system has failed this family and so many others, many mothers are afraid to put their babies up for adoption because of this very same mess. For people to assume they know the whole story just because they looked at the court documents on line does not mean they know all the facts. This mother knew what she wanted for this child by way of her decision and now what she wanted is being disregarded. Grayson is being taken from the only Mommy, Daddy,BROTHER AND SISTER he has ever known and being given what? Total strangers, that’s what!! He will not have a brother and sister to play with any longer, and no Mommy to hold him when he’s sick or scared! My heart aches for this child for being caught in the SLOW to act court system!

George R. McCasland October 14, 2010, 10:14 AM

If a father were to take his infant child from the mother, and LEGALLY drops the child off at a Hospital ER under the State Safe Haven Laws, should the mother be blocked from getting the child back, as this father was, and the child placed up for adoption? If she challenges the adoption, and wins three years later, should she get her child back?

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