Update on Adoption By Gentle Care And The Baby Camden Case
My Friends in AdoptionLand, I have a long awaited update for you on the status of Carri Sterns’ adoption case in Ohio.
I am very saddened to have to say that this afternoon, the judge granted Adoption by Gentle Care’s motion to dismiss the Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Ohio Juvenile Court.
In other words, we lost in court.
Ohio Juvenile Court Judge Grants AGC’s Motion
Of course, it is needless to say that this comes as a huge blow. Carri, her legal team, myself and I know you, too, will all be extremely upset. Anyone who cares about ethics and justice and following the law, should also be upset. This outcome, really, was NOT something that any of us could have imagined. We did not expect this to happen today at all and the news is still settling in. It’s actually beyond shocking because the fact remains that Carri’s case is just so good, that this outcome is just, without any other word; WRONG. I’ll get into more specifics in a bit.
I will say that while we might have lost the battle today; this is not over. Despite the merits of this case and how truly well it was going by all counts in court, Carri’s legal team has already been preparing for this possibility and we WILL APPEAL. The fight to bring Camden home and back to his family is not, by any means, over.
However, today we hurt. The message that this Ohio court has sent to the adoption industry is very clear. Adoption Agencies can do whatever they want in order to procure babies for adoption. Adoption Agencies do not need to follow laws. Adoption Agencies are not held accountable. It’s really a complete no man’s land when it comes to the regulation and accountability of adoption. There is no justice.
The Failure of the Court System to Handle Adoption Revocation Cases
I can say 100% that the ruling on this part of the fight to bring Baby Camden home is just wrong… but, I guess I have to first back into how we got to today as real updates have been scant as the case has gone through the Ohio court system. I will be brief because there is much to cover. As time goes by, I will write more in detail, but I am about to leave the country and this needs to get out NOW- the truth cannot be bound any longer. And I need you to be there for Carri in the upcoming weeks while I am away.
The actual filing began in the probate court of Ohio back in May? There was a question of jurisdiction and it was determined, even if incorrectly, that probate court was not the place to hear this argument.
At that point Carri’s legal team filed the Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Ohio Court of Appeals which is the 2nd highest court below the Ohio Supreme Court. A Writ of Habeas Corpus basically is a request for the court to demand the return of Camden to Carri as he was being illegally detained by Adoption by Gentle Care. The Court of Appeals took the Writ very seriously, expedited it, and heard, again, arguments on the jurisdiction, AKA should this be heard in the Court of Appeals? It was decided ‘no’ and at that point the case was bumped down to the Ohio Juvenile Court.
I have to say that it was like watching the courts play a game of hot potato with this case. It seemed that no one wanted to touch it and it be THE ONE to make a final ruling because this case was just so hot and any ruling made would have massive ramifications. You could almost see their fear. I did not, could not, say it at the time, but it was becoming VERY clear to me that our court system is just NOT equipped to be the deciding factor when it comes to adoption cases such as this. Even with the courts expatiating the case as it went through the system and, really, acting as fast as they could have managed to, it wasn’t fast enough, and, after today, it just isn’t good enough.
Need I remind you that Camden is almost 5 months old. He has been in foster care since early May and his mother has been trying to get him returned and home to his family since the first week of April.
If There is No Justice for Carri We Are ALL Screwed
Some of you have heard me say that I could not have scripted this case better and it is true. If I could imagine a situation where a mother had the perfect case to fight for the return of her baby post relinquishment, this was it. It was perfect form the beginning and it kept on getting even better. Everything was falling into place. Her legal team was, and is, seriously amazing and did everything right. Carri, God bless her, never gave up and kept on going and also, did everything right. Over and over again, AGC tried to trip her up and catch her in a lie, but over and over again, she came out on top because she was not lying. The truth is easy to tell and easy to remember while THEY, on the other hand were caught over and over again. There is simply NO REASON AT ALL WHY this was not granted in her favor except to say that the judge was wrong. He was afraid. He didn’t do the right thing and he kept up the status quo. It is a true injustice.
Her OB GYN testified how she was under medication and still had meds in her system; which should automatically make the relinquishment consent null and void. He spoke on how she was not making sound decisions, would not be able in her condition and he had concerns about her from that time frame when she was in crisis.
AGC testified that they knew she was under pressure to make a choice as it stated so in their notes that were admitted. According to them, they knew she felt she had no choice. Then they tried to argue that she wasn’t forced, but the definition of force is when you have no choice, ergo, of she had no choice she was forced.
But all birthmothers are in crisis. Yet, we ALL know exactly what we are doing simply because it’s such a grave decision and because we know that it is the biggest decision of our lives, so we know what we are doing. That example of brilliant flawed logic comes from the director of the agency. The same director who was loud, arrogant, crass and laughed while wearing flip flops to court.
They were caught openly lying under oath more than once about their knowledge of the putative father. Their claims that they believed there was no contact since Nov/Dec based on Carri’s “lies” were proven to be false as they had to admit that they knew about text messages on the day Camden was born. Yes, they committed perjury, but this judge just let them get away with it.
They admitted that it was the agency POLICY to either 1) willfully ignore the federal ICWA laws or 2) the social workers at AGC have the wrong knowledge about the laws and therefore break the law ROUTINELY. In their notes, there is mention along the lines of “ignoring” ICWA and saying “she never told us” which they did try to say in court as well.
In their notes, they had even discussed returning Camden back when the original adoptive family retuned him and disrupted the placement, but they were angry that Carri had gone to the media and decided to “make her pay.” The judge had read all of the notes and decided that Carri’s team should have them as evidence as they were relevant, so all the nasty internal dealings and complete disregard for the laws were known.
AGC also had used Carri’s medical release from illegally to try to get information about her to use against her in court. You know, medial release forms to be used ONLY for the purpose of the adoption that is no longer in question.
They also failed to provide for his medical care; Camden is still on Carri ‘s medical insurance. So, she has no legal right to her child, but he is her dependant enough to have her pay for him. This is also, by the way, illegal. They broke Ohio’s state statue on this.
There is more, so much more, on how they seriously got their asses handed to them over and over in court. Caught lying, Caught perjuring themselves. Caught openly disregarding the laws and breaking them on a whim. And the judge ignored it all.
This case was perfect. There was proof, evidence, testimony and witness that did not just back up Carri on one count, but that backed up Carri and PROVED duress and coercion and the Illegally obtained relinquishment consent on MULTIPLE levels. The last few weeks I have been saying to her;
“There is just no way. It’s a slam dunk. We just have to go through the motions, but it’s inevitable. There’s too much and our side and they have nothing. AT this point everything is icing on the cake. This is a cake with 30 layers of icing and a cupcake on top. “
I was wrong. This judge did not follow the laws. He allowed Adoption by Gentle Care to break them and he is wrong.
In essence, the Judge did NOT make a decision. He fell back on Ohio relinquishment law that says that a mother has to wait 72 hours after birth before signing and THAT 72 HOURS IS ENOUGH FOR A MOTHER TO KNOW WHAT SHE IS DOING. Even if she is being pressured. Even if she is on medication. Even if she is in crisis. The Ohio law is good enough. He passed the hot potato. Chicken shit.
Hey Screen Shot This: The opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent any one else thoughts on the matter. I am allowed to express my disgust, my anger and my point of view on this unnamed judge and call him a CHICKEN SHIT if I want to because I think he made a bad call. I can do this thanks to another LAW that perhaps some people might also want to ignore that is called the First Amendment which states, in relevant part, that:“Congress shall make no law…abridging freedom of speech.”
This Hurts Us All; Every Mother, Every Birthmother, Every Father!
I can tell you, friends, that IF Carri cannot win on this case, then NO ONE can win the return of their child in the court system against an adoption agency.
I see now why so many mothers do not fight. I see now, firsthand how very hard this is. I see now, so clear, that the courts are just not able to make the hard decisions, the right decisions, the just decisions. I see now how truly stacked the cards are against mothers. I see now what decades of lack of oversight has done to the adoption system. Oh friends, it is so much more broken that we could have ever possibly imaged. Everything that we have said that the industry is doing, they are, but it is so much worse. They can do whatever they want and NO ONE is watching them. They have NO ONE to ANSWER to.
Any adoption agency can do whatever they want, take advantage, exploit, lie, break laws, in order to get our children.
And this judge just rolled out the red carpet and gave them carte blanche. He just stabbed EVERY SINGLE PERSON who CARES ABOUT Doing the RIGHT thing for a child in Adoption right in the back; every hopeful adoptive parent who wants to believe that a mother makes a choice to relinquish, every child who thinks their mother did this out of love, every mother who trust and agency to know the laws and abide by them and do right by her. Might as well just throw out all the laws because the adoption industry doesn’t have to follow them and if they break the law, NO ONE HAS THE BALLS TO CALL THEM OUT ON IT.
This ruling WILL be appealed. We have lost more time and Camden will keep getting older, but the case will go back to the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court is necessary. It is NOT over. Hopefully, THEY will get it right.
Camden WILL COME HOME.
But for now, be mad. Be very mad and let your voice be heard. For Carri. For Camden. For all our children. For Justice.
It didn’t happen today, but it will. It has to. AS I tell Carri, it has to . There is no other option. The other alternative is simply not acceptable.
Please, if you have questions, please leave them here and I will answer them all as best I can when I return. Allow Carri to reach out to those that she has found comfort in on her terms and try not to over whelm her in the days ahead as she settles in and prepares again for battle. I thank you.
This post was originally written and published on August 19th, 2014.
The date has been changed so that the updates and stories can be read more easily in chronology order.