8.21.2013

# 83: STANDING MY GROUND FOR VERONICA BROWN



PAGE # 83
Wednesday
8/21/13
9:45 am


As far as I am aware, the Veronica Brown custody battle is currently in some kind of mediation process.  As both parties are under a gag order, there is little information to be had.  This is probably best for Veronica, and likely protects her from a media frenzy.

Of course, I am personally breathless waiting to learn the outcome of this case.  I have purposefully delayed writing anymore of the Baby Lily narrative.  As my readers are already aware, my last several posts, all pertaining to Veronica Brown, represent an unprecedented and sudden shift from the straight narrative form of this blog.  At this time, I am going to post something pertaining to our story, but out of our story's narrative order of things, because I would like to share an alternative response to a contested adoption with the adoption community and the general public who is (and all should be) interested in such matters.

The following is the exact communication I wrote to our attorney after learning that the birthfather of Baby Lily was contesting her adoption.  New readers of this blog should not assume that Lily was thereafter returned to her birthfather.  Adoption law, as it currently stands, has too much room for unethical practice.  And neither we nor either biological parent ended up with Baby Lily.  I do promise to get on with the Baby Lily story soon, and return to the last chronological point of things, but for now, here are the exact words I wrote to our attorney:
We do NOT want to fight a legal battle with a birth parent who wants his child.  Married or not [the attorney thought "our case" was winnable because the birthfather was unwed, and furthermore, the birthmother was married to a different man], it does not sit well with us and we don't even know his side of things.  Our only hope is that he does not truly want to parent this child, and is angry about being left out of everything.  Otherwise, we don't see how our continued participation in this matter is justified.  We may be the best home for Lily, and our hearts are broken for sure, but we need a swift and clear resolution.  We are simply devastated for Kendra as well.  But we cannot risk losing a child at any later point in time.  It would be unfair to Lily and our other two children.  Please advise.
Even now, as I read what I wrote then, I am ashamed of the line, "Our only hope is that he does not want to truly parent this child..."

After all I have now learned about adoption, I would not wish for anyone's biological parent to not want them.  If I could rewrite that sentence now, it would read:

I do not wish for either of Lily's natural parents to relinquish their daughter.  But, if the natural father is truly not interested in parenting this child, and is angry about being isolated from this adoption process, well then, that is the only situation in which I see this adoption possibly moving forward. 

With the exception of the above revision, and the line "we may be the best home...", I am able to look upon the rest of my original words knowing that I had Lily's best interest in mind, and showed a concern for all the involved parties.  I understood immediately that entering into a legal battle with Lily's natural father could never be in her best interest because:

1)  Court cases and appeals processes take very long.  This would place Lily at risk of having to be removed from our care years into the future.

2)  How would we ever explain to Lily that she was adopted because we fought her biological parent in court?

3)  Although all the professionals involved in this case thought we were the "best home" for Lily, a family involved in a legal battle, by definition, will endure psychological, financial, and emotional turmoil; therefore, such a home would hardly be a "best home" for anyone. 

4)  And...how could anyone say we were the "best home" for Lily in the first place?  Should we start redistributing the nation's children based upon some person in power identifying better, best, and most best homes?  

And now, I am off to Google "Baby Veronica" news and hope I find an update that is truly serving Veronica Brown's best interest, that is morally sound, and is founded on truth, love, and empathy.  

Have a great day,
Jennifer :)

24 comments:

Victoria Gallegos said...

I love that you took the time away from the baby Lily s tory to help with Veronica Brown. I understand that Lily didn't end up with either biological patent. And honestly, I may be able to stretch my imagination and see fighting for a child that you know without a doubt needs to be away from their parents. But in the case of Veronica, I wholeheartedly believe they should have given her back at the age of 4 months. But they didn't. So let me go further out. At the age of 27 months, when Dusten won custody, the fight should have been over. Period. I understand loving a child that is not biologically yours. I have done it myself. But with any child, you have to love them enough to do what's best for them. And fighting to take a girl away from a loving, fit father is not what is best for her. I honestly wish they had given up. There is no reason the world should know that Veronica exists. But now that we do, I am glad that we can band together to do our part to help her.

I can't wait to hear the rest of Lily's story. But thank you for the time out. :)

Jennifer said...

Victoria,

Yes, it is true that there are cases where children might be better off away from bio parents as in the obvious case of abuse (although even this position is controversial in the field of mental health professionals. I remember during graduate school viewing a case where a father who had sexually molested his daughter was working with a therapist and trying to preserve the family unit. It was a hard case to watch and the majority of the class felt the father should lose his parental rights and not even be given the benefit of trying to work through his sexual issues).

But--to my point--the issue of some parents being truly unfit is just another thing that enables unethical adoptions to proceed. PAPS are told that a bio parent is unfit and are told all kinds of stories. But how can any PAP know whether such stories are even true? This exact topic will emerge in our own story here with Baby Lily, and it will impact me in very personal ways as I am a survivor of abuse.

More to come...

Jennifer said...

Oh and just to clarify my own reaction to the sexual abuse case in graduate school--I personally had a very hard time watching it and did not think it was in the child's best interest to leave her vulnerable to future possible sexual abuse. I still wonder about the long term outcome of that case and whether my gut reaction was off or not.

Jay Iyer said...

Hi Jennifer,

I too am unable to think of much else besides fervently wishing that Veronica's best interests are being assessed as I write this. I am completely floored by the "Save Veronica" mantra taken up by the Capobianco camp. It is clear that she does not need saving from her father and her current home. The other mantra they have taken up is "We stand for Veronica's rights" Veronica's rights to what? A home with prospective adoptive parents? I didn't know there was such a right! There is a fundamental right to marry, to procreate, to be together as a biologically connected family, unless there is a question of that family's fitness as properly assessed by a family court. Veronica's fundamental right would needlessly be taken away if she goes to live with the Capobiancos - so I am not sure which of "Veronica's rights" they are touting at this point.

It is interesting that you mention how you were assessed as the best home for Baby Lily. For a long time, I was convinced we were the best parents for my foster daughter Nina - but as my husband said: "There is no better parent, only a different parent - and if Rayna is rehabilitated, then it is better for Nina to be with that parent than with us."

I know how adoption-shy you are, but my experiences with the foster system have convinced me there are some children who really need an adoptive home - not so much for consistency and stability, although those are good things, but for safety. When their safety is severely compromised, I believe there is a need for placement in a home outside of the biological parents - ideally a relative, but sometimes that is not possible.

I have had my good and bad experiences with the foster system and I have seen instances of families in it being railroaded by foster parents, social workers, etc. but, overall, I have faith that it can help many children regain a stable, nurturing, loving, safe home (and in our county, there is a strong commitment to reunify whenever possible). It is difficult to adopt through our county foster system, especially if you are looking to adopt an infant/toddler where the wait can be longer than 4 years. This gives me faith that adoptions are not unnecessarily being pushed on these children, that possibilities of reunification or relative placement are thoroughly vetted before getting into adoption by a non-relative. I saw a pretty detailed investigation and lots of documentation in regards to our adopted son.

Hope to hear good news about Veronica soon,

Jay

Jennifer said...

Thanks Jay for your thoughtful comment...

One of my two best friends is adopted and she was adopted at the age of 5 out of an "orphanage." I don't even think that term is used nowadays. Anyhow, her bio dad was in prison and her bio mom lost custody of her at the age of 2.5 to child services. She then went in and out of several foster homes, one where she was almost adopted, and then into a home for orphans.

When her APs took her home at age 5, it was very hard and a lot of trauma to work through. She is, of course, amazing and a real success story. Not that adoption hasn't impacted her life forever--it has, but she is a mom herself now, a mental health professional, and actually does adoption home studies. She is amazing.

So, yes, I do agree that there are situations where fostering/adopting is great. Actually, we thought we would go to China bc we thought there were "real" orphans there (then I learned about child trafficking, etc. so that is now out of the question!). We have talked about fostering, and we might pursue that someday, but lately my husband is saying he is done bringing anymore kids into our care. We half-raised his little sister (she was 10 when our oldest was born, and we were just barely in our 20s), and we've got a near 18 year-old and a toddler. My husband says we have kid-fatigue. But he says maybe someday we will have the time/energy in the future.

Best,
Jennifer :)

Myst said...

Jennifer, your story, and indeed the way in which you handled it continues to take my breath away...

"2) How would we ever explain to Lily that she was adopted because we fought her biological parent in court?"

The fact you evn asked yourself this and could be empathetic enough to think it shows you were always on a different level to most PAP's and adopters I know.

For this reason, I believe you would have made excellent parents for Baby Lily had circumstances been different.

Who knows what the children will think when they were adults? Amber has no idea what went down to bring about her adoption however at this point I don't think it would make much of a difference to her. She really doesn't care if I live or die and from what I have seen in her and the way she has been raised, I doubt that changing any time soon.

Thank you and Jay and those asdoptive parents for being different and not like the C's. Thank you for seeing the child at the heart of this - in your case both Lily and Veronica. If only the C's had a drop of your heart, compassion, perhaps they would be able to see Veronica as she is, a person and not a possession they must win at all costs.

Lots of love xxx

Jay Iyer said...

Jennifer I completely understand not wanting to raise another child, even temporarily. We have no plans to adopt any more children, nor to foster at the moment. I could see us fostering sometime in the future. I wish you and your family the very best! Thanks for your empathy and sensitive, beautiful writing.

Jennifer said...

Myst...

Hugs to you :)

Unknown said...

Myst I really feel like crying every time you talk about your daughter. I SO wish you could have raised her but since you didn't, at the very least I wish she had more respectful, empathetic adoptive parents.

I am extra emotional today because five years ago today, Nina left our home and reunited with her mom. I am missing her terribly, but am also thinking of how well things have gone for her in the last five years and feeling gratitude that we are still a part of her life.

Terminating somebody's parental rights should be a HUGE deal - and if it ever needs to happen, the biological parents should be treated with a great deal of respect. I cannot understand a supposedly "advanced" country and culture that treats birth families like dirt.

Today I am thinking of Nina's mom Rayna and I am so glad she was not subjected to the insults being hurled at Veronica's father, Dusten Brown. I cannot understand why, during this time of mediation that is hopefully working in Veronica's best interests, the news suddenly republishes allegations regarding Dusten Brown's lag in child support payments. Seriously, folks, even if it is true, do you realize how serious it is to terminate somebody's rights as a parent? This is a fundamental right, for Heaven's sake!!

Rayna went through 18 months of rehabilitation for some pretty serious neglect - THAT'S the way it should be, thank goodness her rights weren't just terminated. And now we think it's fine to just up and terminate the rights of someone who never had his child taken away by CPS and clearly has been a nurturing father for almost two years?!!! There is a disparity in the standards there that makes no sense to me.

Thank goodness Rayna doesn't have to answer to this disturbingly large group of people who seem to think it is OK to minimize biological parents - and Happy five year Anniversary to Rayna and Nina.

Many hugs to you, Myst - sorry for the long rant but there are too many stories like yours and it makes me angry that there is even one such story.

Kellie C said...

It concerns me that Lily did not end up with her father. I hope that isn't because she was given to someone else and they fought him. That sounds so crazy, but a lot of things in adoption sound crazy (like most of Veronica Brown's case).
When my daughter asked for her daughter back from her uncle and asked for the adoption to be stopped they told her they couldn't do that and even if they could her daughter would go into state custody. I didn't believe them because none of the lawyers we consulted said that would happen. It was never even suggested that would happen. For some reason it's always worried me what they were saying was true.
I worry about the Veronica Brown case, too. I have a hard time believing she would be safe with them. Maybe that's my own experience with adoption shining through because I've always felt the same about my granddaughter being with my brother-in-law and his wife. They and the C's are so obviously only concerned about themselves that it seems as if they don't really care about the children they are raising.
I've thought before that maybe if Dusten Brown would have let them have visitation maybe things would not have got this far. I don't know, though. He didn't trust them, and I don't blame him.

Jay Iyer said...

By the way, the "Unknown" poster at 1:16 p.m. today was me, Jay Iyer. Not sure why it registered as "Unknown."

The link below gives me hope that perhaps Dusten Brown may retain some rights after all this (and hopefully, more importantly, Veronica gets to be raised in her biological family):

http://www.newson6.com/story/23176837/expert-says-cherokee-courts-may-have-final-say-in-baby-veronica-case

Jay Iyer said...

I know I am spamming your blog with comments today, but I have been thinking a lot about your question below:

"2) How would we ever explain to Lily that she was adopted because we fought her biological parent in court?"

I am thinking that the only way there is even a prayer of engaging the heavily pro-adoption group in a manner that does not get them in defensive "attack mode" is to try and understand how they think, then address those thoughts. With that in mind, I tried to answer your question (replacing "Lily" with "Veronica") as the Capobiancos might, if Veronica posed this question to them some day. Here's what they would tell Veronica about her adoption:

"A long time ago, when you were still in your birth mother's tummy, your birth mother was all alone and sad with nobody to help her. She loved you very, very much and you know she still loves you, don't you? That is why she likes to speak with you and visit you sometimes. But even though she loves you and really wanted to keep you, she knew she would not be able to take care of you, to give you not only love but a nice house, nice things, a Mommy and a Daddy. So, out of love for you, she chose us to be your Mommy and Daddy, to love you and take care of you.

Your birth father loves you too. But in the months before you were born and when you were very little, your birth father was not around to help take care of you and your birth mother. You needed a Mommy and Daddy to take care of you from the moment you were born, and so we became your Mommy and Daddy.

We know you may have heard or read about how your birth father fought us so he could take care of you. But you see, when you are not there to take care of a baby from the moment when they are born or even before they are born, then the judges say you are not allowed to change your mind later. We have loved you for all of your life, since before you were born, so the judge said we get to be your Mommy and Daddy because you needed to be with someone who was there to love you from the very beginning and who would always be there for you. The judges said your birth father could not come and take you away from us because he did not take care of you when you were a little baby and he did not take care of your birth mother when you were in her tummy. He does love you, though, and you know you can talk to him whenever you want to, right? You are so lucky you have so many people who love you - your birth mother and her family, your birth father and his family, and us. We are all your family, honey, even though you live with us."

So there you go! There are obviously many ways to point out the flaws in this type of thinking and I am not going to go into it, but one underlying premise is abundantly clear and can be seen within that reasoning: that unwed birth fathers can easily be taken out of the picture in the push for more adoptions and their parental rights brutally and readily terminated.

J said...

I can't decide if I think the gag order is in Veronica's best interests.

Initially, I thought it was. I was (and am!) very frustrated by the lack of information, but this is her life, and she has no choice in whether her face is plastered over national media. And now all her future friends, acquaintances... everyone... will know her story.

But after thinking it through, maybe all of the information *should* be out there. If the Capobiancos gain custody, I'm not convinced that both sides will be presented fairly or accurately. Or even at all. Being able to Google the case and the conflicting ideas and stories would at least give her more information about her own past, and how her present came to be.

I do think I might change her name though, while being open with her about what her name was. While I wouldn't usually think this is a good idea (and how would you cahange an almost 4 year old's name anyway?), I do think she deserves some privacy from Googling friends.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Jennifer, this will just be short but your story is the kind that lets me know there are good people like you involved in adoption scenarios. Your first sentence in your letter to the lawyer says it all.

It was heart-breaking, however, to read that neither biological parent, or you, ended up with Lily. But at least you know you did the right thing. '

Namaste.

Jennifer said...

Thanks Lorraine,

Yes, I do believe we did the right thing; unfortunately, I felt incredibly powerless regarding what I witnessed overall--and also very intimidated by the attorney who is a person of political power and connection here where I live. I can only imagine the powerlessness one must feel when they are being kept from his/her very own child.

Best,
Jennifer :)

Jay Iyer said...

I am sure you saw this investigative article on Baby Deseray:

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/08/27/underbelly-us-adoption-industry-trafficking-native-children-151006

The lawyer appointed himself as legal guardian of the child - the clout, the power, the fine tuned schemes of the adoption attorneys reminds me of parts of your "Baby Lily" story. I can see why you were intimidated - and how very, very hard it is for biological parents to get their children back once these attorneys get their hands on them.

The paternal grandmother of Baby Deseray is a writer and has also written a heart wrenching post about how this baby was snatched away from her son. The Dusten Brown scenario repeated all over again - and the same adoption agency and attorney involved!

Jennifer said...

Jay,

Yes, when the lawyer has the legal guardianship, it is a huge conflict of interest and is one of the plethora of problems with adoption law in this country. It is definitely what impacted our Baby Lily case as well. And the attorney was supposed to be representing us! It's all craziness!

I am aware of this other case as well. Thank you for posting the link to the article. If you have the link to the blog post, that would be appreciated as well. I do think I came across it earlier, but am not sure how to find it again.

Maybe all this will get us somewhere in terms of adoption reform sooner than later. At least that is my hope.

Best,
Jennifer :)

Jay Iyer said...

Jennifer, the first time I read about the adoption attorney appointing himself/herself legal guardian was in your narrative, and my stomach gave a lurch. Shocked doesn't even begin to describe how I feel - how in the world can these types of practices be allowed to go on?!!!

Looking at Suzette Brewer's write-up about Baby Deseray, I feel that these well-oiled baby-stealing operations, run hand-in-glove with many powerful people (perhaps some judges too? Who knows!) have GOT to be investigated and blown wide open in light of her investigative reporting and the publicity of the Baby Veronica case. I am optimistic that this will end in a big scandalous investigation that will unearth a lot of nefarious practices, conflicts of interest, underhanded dealings between court personnel and adoption attorneys, railroading of the less connected biological families, etc. It has got to, if I am to have any faith at all in America's commitment to its children.

Here is the link to Baby Deseray's grandmother Marjorie Simmons' blog:

http://authormarjoriesimmons.wordpress.com/

There are a few posts on it.

Jennifer said...

Jay...

Thanks for the links. As for the judges, just wait till I get to that part in our story. And then it gets even worse. And I did not know where to turn, besides the social worker, and she too was of no help.

Jennifer

Jay Iyer said...

Makes me heartsick just thinking of all that is to come in your story, but I am so glad you are telling it. All I can think about these days are the children who are victims of these abusers of power, the unnecessary adoptees and their helpless biological families.

I just got off the phone with Nina and feel renewed gratitude that she is safe with her mother. But for every Nina out there I think there are least a hundred, likely more, children and their parents who did not get the break and the support that Rayna and Nina did.

Jennifer said...

Dear lis...

I did not publish your comment, but thanks for your alert. I did make the name correction back to the alias. Your note was much appreciated!

Best,
Jennifer :)

Tricia said...

I've just stayed up past my bedtime reading this memoir. I hope you get back to it soon. Isn't that selfish?! I also have Veronica Shock. I can't understand how even 1 person in the universe thinks what is happening to her is OK.

Jennifer said...

Tricia,

No not selfish at all...in fact, it is encouraging for me. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment as well.

All the best,
Jennifer :)

lis said...

Oh good! Glad to help :)