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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
Kristen October 14, 2010, 1:57 PM

I think what the father’s rights people are missing in this case is the best interest of the child. Since when do the rights of an adult noncontributing member of society trump those of innocent ones that can’t speak for themselves. NOT ONCE in this case has there been a hearing for “The best interest of the child.” NOT ONCE have the Vaughns (who by the way followed the adoption proceedings to the letter of the law and only wanted to provide a loving home to a child), gotten to present the evidence against Ben Wyrembeck that includes his prior arrests for violent behavior and possession of drug paraphenalia. Nor have they been able to present his refusal to take 2 court ordered drug screens, his unemployment status, or the fact that he abandoned this pregnant woman on the side of the road AFTER learning she was pregnant. That act of neglect meant BY LAW that this birth mother did not need to notify him of this adoption. The reason the Vaughns appealed visitation between Ben and Grayson is because at that 1st visit the court appointed guardian ad litem failed to even appear to supervise the visit. When the Vaughns returned at the appointed hour, Mr. Wyrembeck and his family were forcing Grayson to call him daddy- both confusing and scaring Grayson. Does that sound like a man with a child’s best interest at heart? NOT ONCE has Ben asked for photos or updates of Grayson’s well being. Would any of you parents (mothers OR fathers) just hand over your child without a fight, especially given those circumstances?! I sure as hell wouldn’t! The psychologic toll on Grayson after the current forced visits is unbelievable! He cries, is lethargic, and no longer makes eye contact with people. This well adjusted, thriving child is the one paying the biggest price! SHAME ON THE COURTS! SHAME ON ANY ADULT cheering this on! It is a travesty of justice, and my faith in the judicial system to protect the innocent is shattered! Where are the social workers, the guardian ad litems, the systems put into place to make sure this environment is safe?!! WHO is looking at what is best for Grayson? I certainly believe fathers have rights. A sperm donor that abandons a pregnant woman on the side of the street does not a father make!

Sarah October 14, 2010, 4:11 PM

Kristen, it seems like you know the family, so I will try to be understanding.

It has always been in Grayson’s best interest to be with Ben. Why? For the same reason it’s in Jackson and Addison’s best interest to have always been with Jason and Christy. Absent abuse and neglect, being with the biological parent is in the child’s best interest. When he was a baby, the Vaughns hung onto Grayson - they did that because THEY couldn’t bear to lose him, not the other way around. Hanging on to a child who has never been yours for 3 years and then claiming best interest is a dangerous precedent.

This “criminal record” you’re referring to is a JUVENILE record, meaning Ben was a child. There is no reason to believe that as an adult, he will be a good parent. Jason and Christy didn’t have to pass a home study to take their biological kids home did they? It’s a little thing called fundamental rights to natural children.

If the Vaughns had not filed what they admittedly knew would be a contested adoption (Jason has been quoted), Grayson would not be suffering right now. The Vaughns knew that the adoption was not guaranteed but taught Grayson that they were Mom and Dad. Grayson got attached to them only because they held onto him. Right or wrong, that’s a fact.

The Vaughns figured that they could adopt the baby without getting the biological father’s consent. Whoever advised them to do that is not a good lawyer. There were always red flags with this adoption and they made a huge gamble. How anyone can try to adopt a child who already has a family is beyond me. Adoption is for children who need homes. It is not for kids who have families but other people think they can do a better job.

The birth mother was married and she said that she was the one who broke up with Ben. So, let’s not pretend like she was a victim who was relying on Ben for support. She had a husband and he didn’t even know if he was the father. What was he supposed to do considering she broke up with him? He was supposed to file with 30 days of the child’s birth and that’s what he did.

Of course Ben is fighting for his baby, he is the father. Something tells me that if Jason was in Ben’s shoes, he wouldn’t give up his child either. Ben has been granted custody and the Vaughns have been resisting, but every day they hung onto the baby, they made it worse for Grayson.

Sarah S October 14, 2010, 4:39 PM

I am really saddened by this situation and many of the comments below. As a birthmother who has been following the results of this case it seems grossly unfair that the best interest of Grayson, the Vaughns and the birthmother are being totally disregarded. Certainly if the biological father had been a resonable person to take care of Grayson the mother would have given him a chance. There must be some reason that she woudln’t have wanted him to raise Grayson.

In my case I can’t remember if the birthfather signed away his rights or not. But years later she shouldn’t be aloud to come back in and try to claim the rights of a child (as if the child were property) that he doesn’t even know. This father can’tpossibly have Grayson’s best interests at heart. If he had wanted to be involved he would have been from the beginning and this wouldn’t be an issue. But that is the case he wasn’t there for the pregnancy or the birth and hasn’t supported Grayson all these years since then.

From the outside looking in it looks like the biological father is interested in Grayson’s best interested but instead is interested in His own desires. The Vaughn’s have joyfully sacrificially opened there home to grayson as their own child from birth. They have ALWAYS had his best interest at heart and have supported both the birthmother (during her pergnancy and birth). They have taken the part as the father and should have the same rights as the bioligcal father.

anon October 14, 2010, 5:55 PM

It saddens me to hear people say that the Vaughns are “the only family Grayson knows” and that his biological father is a total stanger to him. If this is true, then the Vaughns are not doing their as adoptive parents by talking about adoption with their child. If they have done any research at all and/or followed the recommendation of professionals, they would have been talking with Grayson from day one about who his birth mom and biological father were, sharing pictures with him, etc.

While I don’t dispute the Vaughns are providing a loving home for Grayson, that is not what their sole purpose was in adopting. They wanted a child because they thought they couldn’t have another biological child. Take a look at the fees adoption agencies charge. People don’t pay $20,000 and up just to provide a home for a child.

Lastly, while I believe that allowing Grayson to be with his biological father is following the law in Ohio, I know others do not. Putting the law aside, using one’s moral compass would tell one that a child with a biological parent who wants to parent them should have that right. Just because the Vaughns or someone else doesn’t think that person is the best person to parent, who are they to judge? Ben has not done anything to prove that he is an unfit father. People with juvenile criminal records and records as adults for that matter parent children every single day. For those that know the Vaughns and think they know the whole story, remember, the birthmom could have told the Vaughns and the agency what she wanted them to believe. Happens all the time.

Erik L. Smith October 14, 2010, 9:48 PM

Josh Smith is misguided. The issue in Lehr v. Robertson was whether a putative father who had not filed in the putative father registry, and never sought custody of his child, was entitled to notice of the adoption proceeding.

The father in G.V. was NOT PUTATIVE at the time of the hearing, he FILED in the putative father registry, he SOUGHT CUSTODY, and he RECEIVED NOTICE of the adoption proceeding.

If you say there should have been a hearing on the father’s efforts—that is a valid argument. But you can’t claim a definitive record where no such hearing took place.

Angelic October 15, 2010, 8:28 AM

It is rediculous to say that a father does not have equal rights to his child. If the courths have deemed this man suitable to raise his child, that should be the end of the dispute.

As for the Vaughns, they disgust me and anyone like them is equally disgusting. To think they feel they have the right to take this man’s child is horrid.

It will be a glorious day when this little man can be with his family, his real family.

GAL in Texas October 15, 2010, 1:02 PM

As a GAL in Texas I find it extremely selfish of the adoptive parents not to agree to a transitional period for “their” child. If they really wanted what is in the best interest of the child they would continue a relationship after the child is returned. How sad.

reading is fundamental October 16, 2010, 8:47 AM

Here we go again with the DISINGENUOUS comments. “Ohio took 17 months to prove paternity.” But don’t mention to the public WHY!

Don’t mention to the public that the father filed a paternity action to get a dna test in December 2007, when his son was 2 months old. Don’t mention that the Vaughns filed a petition to dismiss his paternity action in January 2008, when his son was 3 months old. Don’t mention that the Vaughns filed another petition to block a paternity test, this time an emergency petition in September 2008, when his son was 11 months old. In that petition they claimed the father had been trying to get dna testing done in September, nearly 9 months after he first asked. The Vaughns were granted that emergency petition to block the parentage action and only CONDITIONALLY agreed to allow a paternity test in February 2009, 14 months after the father asked. His son was then 16 months old, he asked when his son was 2 months old. In March 2009, the test results proved he was the father. IT TOOK 1 MONTH FROM THE TIME THE VAUGHNS CONDITIONALLY AGREED TO ALLOW DNA TESTING FOR THE RESULTS TO PROVE HE WAS THE FATHER. 15 MONTHS AFTER THE FATHER FIRST ASKED FOR A DNA TEST, 16 MONTHS AFTER HE REGISTERED AS THE POTENTIAL FATHER. THE COURTS DISMISSED THEIR ADOPTION PETITION 2 MONTHS LATER IN JUNE 2009.

You can try to BS the public all you want with half-truths and spin, most people aren’t paying close attention and won’t ask you to prove anything. But you can’t BS the courts. That’s why 6 courts including 2 state Supreme courts have thrown out 2 adoption petitions in this case. That’s why the courts have upheld the ruling that the father should have custody of his son. That’s why the Guardian ad litem filed a favorable report for Grayson’s return to his father. That’s why the court said it’s in Grayson’s best interest for his father to be his legal and custodial guardian.

Keep posting all the half-truths and spin you want on the board, the courts see them for what they are, and that’s why Grayson is spending time with his father in preparation for the court ordered transfer.

reading is fundamental October 16, 2010, 9:04 AM


You’d like to see proof of insurance, and proof of employment from the father? Do you think he needs to prove that to you, or to the juvenile court whose job it is to determines the best interest of the child?

Your comment about the Guardian ad litem finding that Grayson should stay with the Vaughns is quite strange, since the Ohio court made its ruling awarding custody to the father, contingent upon a favorable report from the GAL for the father. In the court records it says the GAL filed that favorable report for the Father in February 2010, at which point the court order the father be awarded custody. In September 2010, another court, this time an Indiana court, wrote that it was urging the Vaughns to comply with the suggestions of the GAL in facilitating the transfer of custody.

That court has already ruled that the best interest of the child is to be with his father, AND the judge talked about his employment, insurance, and emotional ability. YOU CAN ACTUALLY READ THE JUDGE’S DECISION FOR YOURSELF, BUT SINCE THIS ISN’T THE FIRST TIME THESE DISINGENUOUS COMMENTS HAVE BEEN POSTED, I THINK YOU’RE MORE ABOUT POSTING MISINFORMATION THAN READING THE FACTS.


“Plaintiff has made efforts to obtain possession and custody of his child since December, 2007. He was granted visitation and there was an interim agreement for visitation resulting from a mediation held at this Court. The Vaughns were present, participated in the mediation and agreed to an interim order for visitation. A subsequent mediation was scheduled to which the Vaughns failed to appear.”

“Plaintiff is employed and lives independently”

“Plaintiff has the ability to financially and emotionally care for the child.”

“Plaintiff has had the child covered on his insurance since he found out that he is the biological father.”

“Plaintiff is the legal, biological father of the child. His rights were never terminated.”

“There is NO Adoption.”

“It is in the best interests of this child that custody be awarded to the Plaintiff and that he be designated as the residential parent and legal custodian of this child. Any further delays in these proceedings do not serve the best interest of the child.”

CAROL, if you want to read the entire decision awarding the father custody, or many of the other court documents, they’re available at the Ohio Supreme Court’s website, under Online Docket. Search by case numbers ‘2009 - 2355’ and 2010 - 1375’. Additional court documents from Indiana Courts and US District Court are available online. The comments posted on the link below have information on the sources for those documents.

reading is fundamental October 16, 2010, 9:13 AM

I keep reading the Vaughn supporters posting about his ‘arrests for violent behavior and possession of drug paraphernalia” and yet ABC news through their GMA article is saying that it’s a JUVENILE RECORD of arrests. He’s an adult now, not a kid. None of those claiming it’s anything else has posted any documents in support of their claims. Further, the courts in both Ohio and Indiana, who are there to protect interests of the child, hear all the evidence and know the truth about all the records, don’t see him as any risk to his son and have awarded full custody of his son.

reading is fundamental October 16, 2010, 9:39 AM

Another of the disingenuous comments being made is that the father hasn’t contacted his son. What are they are not telling the public when they make that claim?

They aren’t telling the public that the Vaughns went to court to block the COURT ORDERED WEEKLY 4 HOUR VISITS with his son, that he requested and was awarded. They were successful in getting a stay that blocked those visits for A YEAR.

In August 2008, the father asked for visitation. This was before the Vaughns had even agreed to a dna test.

After the adoption was dismissed in June 2009, the court issued an order giving the father visitation rights. The Vaughsn file a motion and got the visitation dismissed.

The father filed a SECOND petition for visitation in August 2009 (a year after he first asked). The visitation is again granted. The Vaughns appeal, but the visitation goes ahead.

He gets exactly ONE four-hour visit with is son, in August 2009. The father and the child’s grandmother are present and get to meet the child they never gave up.

In September 2009, the Vaughns ask a different court in a different state to grant an emergency ex-parte petition. Ex-parte meaning only one side participates, and the father is neither represented nor heard. That petition grants the Vaughns temporary custody and blocks the weekly 4 hour visits that father got with his son. That emergency order is in place for ONE YEAR, until the court vacates it in September 2010.

Does that seem like they were encouraging visitation? The father having been denied even 4 hours a week with his child because of their petitions, should have believed that they would allow him to speak with his son on the phone, send pictures and updates if he asked, and read greeting cards to his child if he sent them? What would give him that impression?

In the ‘findings of fact’ by the Ohio Juvenile Court from January 2010, it also says there was an interim agreement for visitation - made during mediation, but the Vaughns did not show up to the following scheduled mediation.

“Plaintiff has made efforts to obtain possession and custody of his child since December, 2007. He was granted visitation and there was an interim agreement for visitation resulting from a mediation held at this Court. The Vaughns were present, participated in the mediation and agreed to an interim order for visitation. A subsequent mediation was scheduled to which the Vaughns failed to appear.”

D28Bob October 16, 2010, 12:58 PM

Let’s take the emotion out of this case and look at it the way the law would.

If my girl friend and I buy a car together, then split up and she decides to give it to a dealer without getting my signature on the title, the dealer should know that he cannot sell the car until I sign off. As soon as I realize it’s missing, I report it as stolen. At that point it’s the dealer’s problem.

If the dealer then sells the car to another couple, that couple should not expect to be able to keep the car just because they put gas in it and garaged it for three years. No matter how much nicer their garage, no matter that they love the car and keep it shiny, it was never their car!

This is exactly what happened in this case. Grayson was never eligible to be adopted, which is why the courts ruled that no adoption ever took place. Yes, I feel sorry for the Vaughns and all the expense they have gone to, but they should be upset with the agency which misrepresented Grayson as a child without a family. I hope at least the agency refunded them their fees, which for a white male infant were probably over $30,000.

I suppose they could take their refund and go to a Third World country and buy another child. One whose parents don’t have the resources to fight rich Americans in court.

shawnie October 16, 2010, 6:34 PM

Spot on, Sarah. All of this carrying-on about the “best interest of the child” is completely out of place in this situation. It is PRESUMED to be in the best interests of a child to be with a fit biological parent if at least one exists. It is only when there are two fit parents, or no fit parents at all, that we need weigh the alternatives to decide that the child’s “best interest” is.

Biological parents are not required to demonstrate to the world that they can do a better job of parenting than anyone else in order to take their flesh-and-blood children home. They have the fundamental right to do so.

Sonny October 16, 2010, 11:50 PM

“Adoption is for children who need homes. It is not for kids who have families but other people think they can do a better job.”

Right on. I think this sums it up really well.

As a mom, it scares me to think that near strangers, richer than me, could claim to be better parents to my kids. And that a lot of women on here would agree with them.

The Other Mike D October 18, 2010, 11:13 AM

“Grow up, be adults, Support doing the RIGHT thing. This boy is not property. He is a human being!!!!!”

Exactly…hes not the MOTHERS property to decide to do with as SHE pleases.Father and mother BOTH have a responsibility to the child and father is trying to do his since mother decided she couldnt.And lets not forget for the “history” folks here is that SHE commited adultery. Not him. The simple reason she gave this child up is hubby said hell no.

The squatters tactic is not uncommon is adoptions where one parent objects because it has been successful. In this case though it would not surprise me if the Vaughns had not paid a substansial amount of money to the incubator (mom) and now are trying to protect thier investment. They have used every delaying tactic in the book to steal this man child and lost.

The Ohio SC got this one exactly right. RvW not withstanding once the child is post-partum both parents have EQUAL right to decide thier childrens best interests. One should not trump the other.

@Rebecca Herman
Spot on Rebecca!! But I fear youre fighting a losing battle hon. You cant confuse idiots. They know what they know and the facts be damned.

The Other Mike D October 18, 2010, 11:21 AM

Some of you people here are really amazing!! How the hell do you expect the dad to “help” mom when shes MARRIED??!! Do you honestly think her husband would say…”no problem dude…you got my wife pregnant so you can come by and help out”.

Many of you still lambast the father about refusing the drug screen. Why should he? Take a drug test to see his own child. B******T!!

I see a lot of people here saying poor mom..she had such a hard choice yada yada yada…She was an adulteress. She gave up the child because she had a one night stand that went wrong.

Spin it how you want….I realize this forum is heavily estrogen enhanced but dad is not in the wrong here for wanting to parent HIS (not the Vaughns) child. I see moms everyday who have a lot worse histories that the dad here but you dont see them subjected to the same scrutiny.

coltov mocktail October 19, 2010, 2:35 PM

This piece is illogical in the extreme.

Respecting a father’s right to parent his own child over a mother’s desire to donate it to strangers in no way infringes on a woman’s control over her own body.

To think otherwise prioritizes placating the emotions of a woman ahead of her newborn’s real needs.

Adults would do well to set these emotions aside.

George C October 19, 2010, 2:51 PM

In fairness, the father should be able to obtain full custody and the mother should be compelled to provide child support.

John CS October 19, 2010, 4:02 PM

I am completely amazed by the illogical and wacky statements made by those like Josh, Phyllis, and Christina-not to mention the author. The birth mother conspired to keep a man she obviously disdains (maybe for no reason at all-maybe he didn’t want to marry her). She commited fraud. The potential adoptive parents have tried everything in their power to keep the bio-dad from his bio-son. Something is significantly wrong when Josh, et al, cannot/refuse to see that.
I can say I am a lawyer too (which I am not) for any number of reasons. I could have written a better and more intelligent article using logic and actual law to explain the opposite of the author’s conclusion.

Anonymous October 19, 2010, 10:17 PM

It’s astonishing that anyone could even bring themselves to feel the way these women do. If they don’t want the kid at all, and don’t even care what happens to it, why on earth do they object to the kid having the parent that loves them and wants the best for them? It’s inexplicable. They don’t care if a total stranger gets their kid, yet they would rather kill the kid than let the kid live with his real dad. It’s hard to believe that any human being could be that hateful.

As far as “both parents” being responsible for this, Christine, you are out of your mind. The dad has done everything possible to give the kid the best life possible, and the fraudulent adoptive parents AND the mother who lied about the child’s parentage AND the adoption agency, all knew from the beginning they were kidnapping a child from a perfectly fit parent. They alone are responsible for the disruption of the child’s life.

Finally, none of these women who feel this way have ever seen a child reuinted with his father. It’s truly an amazing thing to witness. As soon as the nagging fear mongerers are out of the kid’s life, he immediately embraces the real dad just as though they were never separated. All of their fear mongering is utterly baseless.

Robin- you need to think about what you would do if you gave birth to a child, then gave it to the nurse, and then started asking what happened to it, and then they told you they couldn’t give you information. Would you or would you not go ballistic? It’s no different for men. That’s what happened to this child and his dad.

I just hope the dad can undo all the damage done by these women. I know he can, if they ever find the balls to enforce the order they supposedly made nine months ago.

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