Precinct 333

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Why Couples Don't Adopt American Children

My wife and I want to adopt, her health permitting. But stories like this make us think twice, since we lack the means to do a foreign adoption.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For almost four years, Dawn and Gene Scott have doted over their boy Evan, treating him like a little prince, indulging his love of Hot Wheels and ham sandwiches.

But because their adoption was never finalized, a judge says the Scotts have to return Evan to his biological mother, whom he has never lived with, in a child-custody case involving three families and nine judges.

If that was all I knew, I would be appalled. But it gets worse.
The Scotts are devastated at the strange turn of events tearing their son from their arms.

About four years ago, the Scotts met Amanda Hopkins, an unwed mother, who agreed to a private adoption during the final weeks of her pregnancy.

The Scotts watched Evan's birth, on May 5, 2001.

"We thought he was such a blessing," she said. "His name, Evan, means gift from God and young warrior."

Evan was placed with the Scotts two days later and an adoption petition was filed two days after that.

The petition stated the Scotts had consent of the baby's biological mother. The consent of the child's father, Steven White Jr., was not needed, the petition said, because he had not established his paternity through a court proceeding, had not acknowledged he was the child's' father and had not filed an acknowledgment with the Office of Vital Statistics. In addition, he had not provided any support to the mother or the child.

Hopkins and White never married, and she did not learn she was pregnant until she sought medical treatment for injuries suffered when she was assaulted by White in the residence they once shared, court documents show.

The adoption was supposed to become final on Aug. 22, 2001.

But just a month before that, White filed a motion demanding immediate custody of Evan.

The Scotts claimed White should not be able to block the adoption, but a judge disagreed.

Hopkins supported the Scotts' adoption of Evan as late as August, until it appeared the court might grant White custody.

Pniewski said she doesn't know why Hopkins, who is now married to a sailor in Illinois and has a 19-month-old baby, now wants to scuttle the adoption by the Scotts.

So an abusive uninvolved sperm-donor wants custody. Should be simple as all get out -- NO! You waited too long under the law and you are not a fit parent.

And then, when the courts start making moves to grant him custody, the mother who gave up the child and supported the adoption decides to play "screw daddy" and demands custody.

And in the mean time, the only parents this child have ever known are left out in the cold, despite the clear fact that allowing the adoption to proceed is the only option that is in the best interests of the child.
Debbie Grabarkiewicz, director of case advocacy for Hear My Voice, a child advocacy organization, said that outside of the Scotts, no one in the case has considered what is in the best interest of Evan, which she says is to remain with the Scotts.

"The system failed Evan in this one," she said. "He is bonded to that family."

Hopefully the appeals court will get this one right. And then the legislatures can fix adoption law in this country to prevent such travesties in the future.


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