Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse…they did. In an earlier post called Whose Child is Veronica Brown, Anyway?, I outlined what I consider to be the evolution of adoption practices throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, and where I believe those practices and beliefs have led us. But, apparently, my understanding was incomplete. It turns out the situation is even worse than I suspected. A recent story out of Mobile, Alabama about a young new mother named Kimberly Rossler and her son, James Elliott, has made this unfortunate fact crystal clear.
I won’t to go into all of the particulars of this story, as they can be found elsewhere, but what is germane to this story is the fact that Ms. Rossler decided against going forward with the adoption BEFORE her son was even born. And yet, some weeks after his birth, while Kim was at home breastfeeding her new baby, the sheriff came to the door with a court order and forcibly removed her son and placed him with the woman, Kate Sharp, who had at one time had hoped to adopt him. Since no adoption was slated to happen, prior to the baby’s birth, I don’t see how Kate Sharp had any standing as the child’s adoptive parent, prospective or otherwise.
It seems there was some glitch with paperwork not being submitted where Kim affirmed that she was revoking her intention to place her child for adoption. But the client is not expected to be the expert in the law, the lawyer is. It is the lawyer’s responsibility to complete all necessary paperwork correctly and in a timely fashion. It is a travesty of justice when legal machinations in adoption cases result in children being taken from perfectly fit parents against their will. “Oops, we forgot some paperwork” is an appalling reason for a child to lose his entire family, his heritage, his biology, his ancestry, etc., and a devastating reflection on our legal system. I mean, who can ever forget the misspelling of Dusten Brown’s name and his birthday being listed incorrectly, along with Veronica’s part Cherokee heritage not being included, which enabled her to be removed from Oklahoma in violation of the ICWA?
If prospective adoptive parents agree to provide financial support during a pregnancy, there is always the chance that they will forfeit that money and not get a baby in return. But that is a risk they take. An expectant mother can always suffer a miscarriage or give birth to a stillborn and they would be out their money in those scenarios, too. If prospective adoptive parents provide financial support and then insist on getting the child, they are for all intents and purposes buying a child. And, as far I know, baby selling is illegal. Every adoption agency and attorney must inform their client that an adoption cannot be finalized until after a child is born. But most importantly, no one owes anyone else their child, no matter how much financial, emotional, or other support those interested in adopting the baby may have provided.
In my opinion, what this case really boils down to is another individual with power and influence being able to take a child from a perfectly fit parent. It is important to note that Ms. Sharp is also a single woman and the main difference between her and Kimberly seems to be that Ms. Sharp is quite well-to-do. We must never allow people, simply because of power and influence, to be able to hire attorneys who make enough mistakes, whether intentional or not, so that an adoption goes through without oversight. And if it is paperwork snafus and other legal mishaps that allow a forced adoption to proceed, anyone involved in such proceedings needs to look inside their hearts and admit what they are really doing. But more important than that, we must have legal safeguards to ensure that such adoptions are not allowed to happen in the first place.
The forced separation of Kimberly and Elliott also smacks of that old double standard and misogynistic view of women where; if you deliver the child as a single mother, you’re a slut, but if you adopt as a single mother, you’re a saint. Isn’t that how it goes? And this attitude is supposed to represent progress!? I mean, puhleeze! This is the 21st century! Or as fellow blogger, Sister Wish, says, “I disagree with the statement that a single woman who is pregnant is in crisis. It’s the judgment of others and the man-made rules and morals that turn a pregnancy into a crisis.”
So once again, I must reiterate the importance of prospective adoptive parents never being considered on equal footing with perfectly fit natural parents when it comes to who can be the legal parent and raise the child. We cannot allow children to be taken away from fine parents, by hook or by crook, or we will quickly find ourselves back in the days of Georgia Tann and Judge Camille Kelley (if we aren’t there already). Adoption has the potential to cause way too much damage to both mother and child to ever be taken lightly. It should always be a last resort, and only for those children who truly need another home. Unnecessary forced adoption is a form of child abuse, in my opinion. I cannot speak as a first mother but they don’t usually seem to fare much better than the child. And children do not want to be given away by perfectly fine natural parents who want to raise them.
I have to admit, though, I am hopeful for a positive outcome in this situation. Because if this isn’t an unnecessary forced adoption, and what some might even consider child stealing, I don’t know what is. And if an adoption is allowed to proceed in this case, I can’t even imagine what horror is next for our country when it comes to natural parents trying to prevent their children from being placed against their will. Will any pregnant woman who so much as walks by an adoption agency now be at risk of losing her child?
In my previous post, I wrote that when it comes to adoption the United States seems to have lost its moral compass. Now I seriously wonder whether the United States ever had such a moral compass to lose in the first place.