Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July System Failures - Part One

by Robin Sax

When you see injustice all the time, as I do every day at work, you get used to it. It's a sad reality of my profession, where I too often witness bad results for victims of horrible crimes. But rarely do I see such disgusting manifestations of system failures as I did this past week in two cases. The first, the one I'm exploring today, is the case of Baby Vanessa. The second example will be up tomorrow, in part two of this post.

These two cases make one think of flipping through the Discovery Channel, TruTV, or the like, where one encounters unbelievably sensational crimes and incredible wrongs. I worry that we live in a disheartened, blasé society -- one that prefers to ignore critical issues rather than engage and change them. It's painful to watch our system fail our citizens, and I refuse to stand on the sidelines. This is important, and these two cases are
happening now!


The battle for baby Vanessa made headlines last week when a local KNBC Los Angeles journalist, Tara Wallis Finestone, got wind of the heartbreaking tug-of-war between the adoptive mother Stacey Doss (right) and birth father Benjamin Mills, Jr.

Doss adopted Vanessa at birth with the help of an adoption agency. This was a legitimate adoption. Unfortunately, however, the birth mother lied - under penalty of perjury - on the forms when she stated the child was as a result of a “one night stand” and that she had no idea of the birth father's identity.

Before you condemn the birth mom for lying, consider these harrowing facts: Benjamin Mills, Jr. has four other children (none of which he has custody of); he has a child endangerment charge on his record; and he has been imprisoned for domestic violence – once pulling the birth mother so hard by the hair that when the police arrived at the house, they discovered bloody clumps of hair all over the floor. So when the mother could not care for baby Vanessa, do you blame her for not listing this man as the father on the adoption papers?

Baby Vanessa, now two years old, has been ordered to return to Ohio where she will be cared for by her paternal grandmother, whom she has never met. Stacey Doss, Vanessa’s adoptive mother, was given until July 16 to turn over the child.

When Doss filed a petition of adoption for Vanessa on July 1, 2008, all she wanted was to give Vanessa the love, security and stable, supportive family network that she enjoyed. Since then, Stacey has been engaged in stressful and expensive (to the point of nearly wiping out all her income and potentially losing her home) litigation with the birth father (photo left) – a convicted felon who resides in Ohio and whose legal fees are being paid by the State of Ohio and the State of California.

Since birth, little Vanessa has lived with the only mother she knows - Stacey Doss - in Southern California. Baby Vanessa has been safe and happy and has an extended family of loving grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins with the Doss family. Stacey is being challenged by the birth father, who is African-American; Toddler Vanessa is bi-racial . While Stacey is Caucasian, her extended family includes bi-racial children and marriages . The big question is why does the birth father want to uproot Vanessa from her loving home with Stacy? What are his motives?
“I ask all decent people from both California and Ohio to help me in this cause, not only to ensure Vanessa stays permanently with the only loving family she has ever known, but to bring situations like this to the attention of the public for all adoptive parents who are fighting a fight like this,” said Stacey. “I'm frightened for my daughter and have cried endlessly at the thought of her being taken away from me and placed with complete strangers. How would you feel? In this instance the law has lost its common sense and regard for human decency . . . children are not a commodity that you put in a warehouse until a decision is made as to where to place them!” As you can tell, Stacy is distraught and at her wits end with trying to fight this.

Stacey has said, “Even though this case has been gut wrenching, the decision to adopt Vanessa is still the best decision I ever made.” Stacy plans to commit the rest of her life to adoption reform, making it easier, faster and more affordable so that no one suffers needlessly the way she and her daughter have.

Regardless of where you fall on the question of whether an adoptive mom should trump a biological parent – how about considering the best interest of the child? After all, in family court cases that's the exact standard that we use to determine the custody orders of
natural parents when there is a divorce. In this case, it's not even a close call. The best interest of this child is with Stacey Doss.

So, if we can all see it, how come Benjamin Mills, Jr. doesn’t? Why wouldn’t he want to do what was in the best interest of the child? While I can only speculate, it seems to me that the cycle of violence is continuing. This a person who has been convicted for domestic abuse. An integral part of the domestic-violence cycle is power and control. And what better way for Benjamin Mills to jack bio-mom around than keeping her from doing what she wanted? So, while the tug-of-war appears to be between Stacey Doss (adoptive mom) and bio-dad, in my opinion it's really bio-dad's desire to gain power and control over his favorite victim, bio-mom.

For more information, read "The Battle For Vanessa" and the most recent update. Check back tomorrow for my second post, this one on a self-confessed mafia hit-man who got a get out of jail free card.


Anonymous said...

Stories like this truly break my heart. You would think a judge would be smart enough to see through this man's antics. This story brings to mind the case of Shanaya Davis and Ethan Stacy, while not exactly the same, they both died at the hands of their "biological" parent, along with countless others. Makes me sick. When will we learn that sperm/egg donors do not a parent make! Loni D.

Gram said...

How can we support the adoptive parent? How can we let the "system" know how we feel? Who do we write?
If you can write about this you can assist us in contacting the right people.

Anonymous said...

This is disappointing. Why would the courts allow the baby to go back into disfunction? The birth mother wanted the baby to have a better life. I doubt the birth father supports any of his children. You are right all he wants to do is control his baby mama.

Anonymous said...

This is so slanted, and thin on real facts that it's more propaganda than news.

Disclaimer: The guy is a scumbag and I hope that when everything is said and done the kids is not with him but....

1) Even poor scumbags have rights and they are not nullified because some middle class white woman wants a baby to love.

2) Mr Mills was in the middle of executing his rights with a DNA test two years ago when Ms Doss broke the law and left Ohio against Court order, since then she has tried to use the CA court system as a shield.

3) She is not the adoptive mother, she is legally a foster parent because the adoption was being contested per ohio law within two months of the birth by a man claiming to be the father.