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January 03, 2005

Parents Ordered To Return Adopted Boy After 3 Years

Parents ordered to return adopted boy after 3 years
The Associated Press
Posted December 25 2004

JACKSONVILLE · A North Florida couple must return the 3-year-old boy they
adopted shortly after birth to his biological mother the day after
Christmas, a judge has ruled.

Evan Parker Scott has known Dawn and Gene Scott of Atlantic Beach as mom and
dad for most of his life. Amanda Hopkins gave him up for adoption to the
Scotts shortly after his birth in Jacksonville on May 5, 2001.

But the adoption petition was dismissed because Hopkins didn't get consent
from Evans' biological father, who wasn't told of his fatherhood until Evan
was about to be given to the Scotts.

Evan has been the center of a custody battle most of his life.

A judge last week ordered the Scotts to take Evan on Sunday to the Navy base
in Illinois where Hopkins lives.

Circuit Judge Waddell Wallace III ordered temporary custody of Evan be given
to Hopkins and that the Scotts be terminated as guardians.

While Hopkins will be the custodial parent, Evan's biological father, Steven
A. White Jr., is to have liberal visitation rights, the court ordered.

In a statement issued by Hear My Voice, a nationwide nonprofit network of
child advocates, the Scotts said they were devastated by Wallace's order.

"We are ... trying to prepare Evan the best way we know how for the horrific
event he faces," the Scotts said. "We are spending our last few days
together as a family preparing for Santa and trying to make a happy holiday
time for Evan."

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 in
the Maine residence they shared, court documents show.

She moved to Jacksonville, met the Scotts and let them adopt Evan.

Debbie Grabarkiewicz, director of case advocacy for Hear My Voice, said
Hopkins supported the Scotts' custody of Evan until about four months ago
when it appeared the court could look favorably on White's petition for
custody.

"When she feared the Scotts would not retain custody, she took an
adversarial position against them because she felt it was not in Evan's best
interest to live with the father," Grabarkiewicz said.

Hopkins and White are to seek professional counseling for Evan to see if any
continued relationship with the Scotts would be in his best interest.

But, Grabarkiewicz said, there is no guarantee that the Scotts will be able
to continue to have any contact with Evan.

Dawn Scott said Thursday she could not say how the transfer of Evan will
take place because it was part of the sealed court order.

Hopkins did not respond to a telephone message requesting comment.

This tragedy should never have happened. Remember the Baby Richard case? That case lead to the creation in some states of putative father registries. They are done to protect the best interests of the child so that children who have been adopted cannot be removed many years down the road from the only parents they know by biological fathers who decide their want to assert their parental rights. I am not familiar with the details of how these registries work, but here is a general description: if a man wants to claim a child he sired by a woman who wishes to give that child up for adoption, he must in advance provide his name and other identifying information to a putative father registry in that state (assuming the state has one). If any women he had impregnated who plan to give up the baby for adoption once it is born, he will be notified. Once the mother sets up the child for adoption, the father is notified of the plan, and he has a limited amount of time to claim the child. The mother revokes all parental rights since she is giving up the child for adoption. If the father does not claim the child in the amount of time designated, the adoption goes through. If anyone reading this has more details about how these registries work (including corrections of anything I may have gotten wrong), please post in comments. I'd appreciate links to information, if possible.

Florida was set to have a putative father registry several years ago. From what I was told, it was nearly a done deal, but fathers' rights activists in Florida protested the registries, claiming that they would violate men's privacy. The registry failed. Florida does not have one. In an especially irritating point, fathers' rights activists did not make a peep when Florida briefly required mothers who could not identify the men who had impregnated them to take out advertisements in local newspapers, citing all of their personal information and information (like physical descriptions) of the men they had impregnated if they planned to give their children up for adoption. Public outcry that this requirement was a gross invasion of women's privacy put an end to it.

The article here is the first time I have ever heard of a biological mother being forced to take custody of a child she had given up for adoption several years earlier for the convenience of a biological father who wanted to assert his rights. She has been rendered to his servitude. If a putative father registry had been in existence in Florida, the man would have been able to claim the child from the beginning - not three years later after the child had already bonded to his adoptive parents. Tragedies like this are what happens when fatherhood is equated with DNA. The boy already had a father - his legal, adopted father. Whose fathers' rights matter the most here? The adopted fathers' or the DNA dad's? Clearly, DNA trumps legal, established fatherhood.

This case ignored the best interests of the child and favored biological fathers' rights. You can thank welfare reform for DNA being considered equal to fatherhood.

Posted on January 3, 2005 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

Comments

I have two thoughts on issues of this sort. First and foremost is the child involved. This child should never have been removed from his home until such time as he had bonded enough with his biological parents to feel safe enough when he is with them. Supervised visitation could have established this. If the father had no desire for any contact other then to visit the child, why not let him stay with the only parents he has ever known and adopt the father into the picture as a friend to the child until he knows his father enough to maybe have an overnight stay.
On the other hand, I strongly feel that when a couple adopts a child they assume all risks of a biological parents returning and if that biological parent does so within a reasonable amount of time, say 1 year or less and the adoptive parent fights to keep the child, they are in essence only helping to create what happened to this boy. Fighting over a child in the courts until that child reaches an age where it is felt no judge would order a transfer of that child is as risky as not holding your childs hand as they crossed a busy intersection. Frankly, Judges do what they want to do and often do not really consider the welfare of the child. I can only imagine the confusion and pain this boy is going through because no one, not the adoptive parents, not the biological parents, nor the judge, tried to solve this in a reasonable way that would have been in the best interest of this child. Plain and simple it is called sharing, love Evan enough to share him in a responsible way. c. Williams

Posted by: c at Jan 23, 2005 8:49:32 AM

I think it's outrageous that a never-married male should EVER had a say in whether or NOT a child is put up for adoption...

EVER...

As for these putative father registries, it just another example of how women have been forced to bend over backwards for irresponsible men once again...this time to force them into acting like fathers, if you want to give that title to a man who had a quickie in the backseat of his car...or a drunken encounter under a barstool somewhere...

You mean they just leave the name (if they remember it) and address (if they remember it) of every girl they've ever boinked (if they remember it) and then what? We send a government employee dressed as a stork up to their front door and hand them a baby?

Well talk about a freebie...

Trying to involve single fathers with the lives of their children was supposed to be an attempt to make men more responsible, not less...Any male who needs to contacted by newspaper advertisement or other public methods to be informed that he is a father, well guess what, he's not...he's a recreational sperm donor and should have no more rights to that child then any other anonymous man living next door...

This whole fixation on the biological link of a father is becoming almost a fetish in our society...The biological link between father and child is practically non-existent...it's everything ELSE that comes afterwards that makes a father...

I personally believe that men are jealous of the mother/child bond and that is what is driving all of this nonsense...

Next men will be taking drugs trying to breastfeed as I've noticed they are very jealous of that as well...There are a number of men, especially male attorneys, who appear to believe that WOMEN only breastfeed to interfere with visitation...Right...mothers breastfeed so fathers can't visit...that's got to be the most self-centered explanation I've ever heard of why a mother would breastfeed...

I think the men in our society could be collectively emotionally disturbed...since men in other societies don't do this...

There is something wrong with our men...we have to accept this, I'm afraid.

Posted by: NYMOM at Jan 23, 2005 12:31:16 PM

I just want to return to that collective emotional disturbance aspect of western man's psyche...as I work in a situation with many young men from other societies and have discussed this on a number of occasions with them...

Guess what, they agree...that we are dealing with some very disturbed males in our society, especially on this issue of breastfeeding...MOST fathers who are normal want their children to be breastfed by their mothers...MOST fathers who are normal to NOT want to intefere with the mother/child bond...as they understand that it is the basis of every other bond that follows thereafter...that a child who is securely bonded with its mother can then go on to securely bond with others...

So I just wanted to throw that out there to let you all know that others have noticed how disturbed our men are as well...Actually they laugh at them...

Posted by: NYMOM at Jan 23, 2005 12:42:12 PM

"This case ignored the best interests of the child and favored biological fathers' rights. You can thank welfare reform for DNA being considered equal to fatherhood."

Was welfare reform really the culprit? I know many say that but I'm wondering if the real villan here isn't really our mens' own insecuries and jealousy at work...

Since welfare reform has NOTHING to do with male jealousy and attempts to limit breastfeeding in public by mothers, for instance? They can feature public billboards and magazine stands featuring womens' t&a all over the place, that's okay, but let a young mother try to feed her baby in a park or on a bus and people go ballistic...

Actually I read an article recently where a woman was actually asked to leave a daycare by security because she was breastfeeding...they thought the other children might get scared...Scared...did you ever hear of anything so stupid.

So I'm thinking there is a link here between this anti-breastfeeding crowd and the whole fixation with DNA...they're fellow travelers if nothing else...

Posted by: NYMOM at Jan 23, 2005 12:55:49 PM

"Hopkins and White are to seek professional counseling for Evan to see if any continued relationship with the Scotts would be in his best interest.

But, Grabarkiewicz said, there is no guarantee that the Scotts will be able to continue to have any contact with Evan."

Probably they won't be allowed to continue contact and I guess that's for the best as I think it would only upset the child to see them again...

PLUS if the mother does it without court permission, I can see the father eventually even using this as a way to get custody and then the child will be in a worse situation having lost it's mother twice...

As someone said, the adoptive parents should have dropped the adoption right from the beginning as the paternal grandfather contacted the court, within the deadline, and stated interest but was turned back as not having standing...then grandfather probably put pressure on his son (child's father) to come forward and the Judge backdated the son's paperwork to make it seem like son was within the deadline..

So in some sense it is true that people bring these problems on themselves...I just think a LOT of people don't understand however how fathers' rights (and this was definitely a case about fathers rights not best interest of the child) but fathers rights advocates and their supporters have infiltrated some of our court systems and Florida, in particular, appears to be infested with them as this is just one of a long number of fathers rights ruling that have emanated from that state...


Posted by: NYMOM at Jan 23, 2005 1:09:38 PM

My husband and I have a child through IVF. We love her vry
much. We are now trying to adopt a child through an agency.
My stomach literally aches and I feel like crying over the
situation with the adopted boy in Florida. I feel absolutely
no difference in a biological child and my adopted child.
The bond is the same, especially if you have been with the child
from birth. I don't see how people can call two people that
have done the hanky panky and as a relsut had a child
"parents". This boy belongs with the adoptive couple. If the udge
was thinking about whats best for the child he would have
let the boy stay with the only parents he has ever known and
told Hopkins and the sperm donator to never contact the boy
and his adoptive parents. They sound like great parents and
the boy is obviously stable and happy with them. How sad that
he has to live with a bunch of freaky people in an environment that he has never known before. I can't belive how traumatizing that would be for a little child. It would be the same as me having to hand over my biological child (who is almost three) to a bunch of weird strangers.
My heart would literally burst with pain and I would rather
die. Just because this child is adopted does not mean that
the adoptive parents are not going through the same emotions
and heartache as any parents with biological children. In their minds it is exactly the same. And I will vow, having a biological and now adopting a child, there is no difference. I am so upset at the judges decision. It disgusts me.

Posted by: Katie at Jan 27, 2005 4:10:30 PM

Hello,
I was wondering if we are related? Cause we have the same last name!
Grabarkiewicz

Posted by: katie grabarkieiwcz at Mar 29, 2005 12:01:23 PM

Denying never-married fathers their rights across the board is, IMHO, a mistake because there are too many variables. I have known not a small number of men who, for whatever reason, did not marry the mother of the child and they are good dads. If they had married, they would have just ended up divorced and that's not good either.

As for adoption, I remember when the Florida thing was in the news, and CNN had Dr. Drew, the president of NOW, and Jerry Falwell (R.I.P. soon?) on AT THE SAME TIME and they all agreed! That was almost surreal. Falwell said that his minist runs a network of maternity homes, and they have NEVER had a father show up, asserting his rights. Good; we don't need men like this around their kids.

I have known a lot of people who used international adoption for this reason: they don't want a stranger showing up on their doorstep years from now wanting their kid back.

There is a big difference between a man abandoning a pregnant woman, and a woman who bears a child without ever telling him of her condition.

Posted by: kohoutekdriver8 at Mar 29, 2005 4:43:42 PM

"There is a big difference between a man abandoning a pregnant woman, and a woman who bears a child without ever telling him of her condition."

I would say the difference is NOT that great between them as you paint it...both are men who chose to irresponsibly procreate outside of wedlock and risk having no rights to any child from the relationship...whether they knew or not about the pregnancy makes no difference.

But it's a moot issue anyway since that was NOT the case here...as the father was informed and chose to ignore the notice...it was HIS father, the child's grandfather, who instigated this whole thing...when the grandfather was denied standing, he went BACK to get his son involved and the Florida Judge backdated the paperwork to make it appear that the father was within the timeframe to contest this...

But even then it was only a month or so into the adoption and the adoptive parents clearly knew it was being contested...if they had surrendered the child at that point, this whole mess would never have dragged on for three years...

So ultimately they must accept responsibility for this, although they have been trying to blame everyone else for it...you take your chances with these situations when you privately adopt...


Posted by: NYMOM at Mar 29, 2005 6:49:02 PM

<

So ultimately they must accept responsibility for this, although they have been trying to blame everyone else for it...you take your chances with these situations when you privately adopt...>>

There was no one available to surrender the child to. The bio father had been convicted of domestic violence and his paternity was not even legally established until Evan was a year old. The bio mother was not able to raise the child and supported the Scotts keeping custody. There was a custody trial AFTER the adoption was dismissed and the court chose the Scotts over all the bios. Evan was already a year old. What were the Scotts to do? Hand the baby over to the state foster care system in Florida? Are you joking? The system that loses little children? They did what any parent would do. They took care of THEIR son and fought for his best interest until he was rippe out of their arms and their family at nearly 4 years of age. The court created their family. The court ultimately tore it apart and only USED the Scotts as unpaid foster parents. The Scotts were not the culprits. They were victims of a court system that puts DNA above child rights, but who allowed the Scotts to raise and support a child not related to them and to create a family anyway.

~Evan's Aunt Kimmie


Posted by: AuntKim at Jun 4, 2005 11:20:30 AM