Adoptive Parent Stacey Doss Becomes a Crusader: Operation Vanessa
LCoastMom | July 9, 2010 at 12:25 amby
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The open adoption was facilitated by a private agency and the paperwork was done, including a legal documents, signed by the birth mother, Andrea Conley, stating the baby's biological father was not in the picture, the pregnancy was the result of a one night stand. Unknown to Doss - the biological father, Benjamin Mills, Jr of Dayton, Ohio and Conley, in fact, had a long tumultuous history - that included to two daughters, who are in the custody of their paternal grandmother and Mills' year long prison sentence resulting from his conviction on domestic violence charges. A repeat offender, the charges became a third degree felony in Ohio, due to two previous convictions for domestic violence and a child endangerment charge on his record.
In January 2005, Mills was arrested when Conley placed a call to law enforcement after Mills showed up at her apartment and beat her, strangled her and dragged her around the apartment by the hair, while holding their young daughter in his arms. In the police report it was noted that there were bloody clumps of Conley's hair - pulled out from her scalp - scattered around the apartment, she had bruises on her face and throat.
Domestic violence is often nothing more than an issue of control - and men or women behind the abuse, will say outright, their partner deserves whatever they hand out because the abuser is in charge - the boss so to speak and GOD help whoever steps on the shadow of the boss. Is little Vanessa caught in a battle of wills, because her birth mother wanted a better life for her baby and the only way to achieve that life, is to keep Benjamin Mills, Jr. out of it? What better way to continue the violence against the birth mom, than to make sure she doesn't get away with making this decision without Mills' permission. The child is nothing more than a pawn - collateral damage, in his battle to control Conley.
When Mills discovered his former girlfriend had given birth, he showed up at the hospital, claimed the baby as his own and said that the adoption was done without his consent. DNA tests results arrived four months later and confirmed him to be Vanessa's biological father.
Since that time he has been waging a battle with Doss, through the courts of Montgomery County, Ohio and Orange County, CA to return baby Vanessa to him. Something that is not likely to happen, no matter where Vanessa is being raised. According to Montgomery County Social Services - Mills has four other children who are in the system - he does not have custody of any of them. Two with his ex- girlfriend, the birth mother of baby Vanessa and two with his former wife.
Because of the claims by Mills, Vanessa's adoption was never finalized, she has technically been a ward of the Montgomery County, Ohio Social Services since birth. Since 2008, they have allowed Vanessa to remain in the care of Stacey Doss, the only mother she has ever known, in the only home Vanessa has ever lived in. Until last month, when a judge in Ohio ordered Vanessa's immediate return to Montgomery County - where she will be placed in foster care until the custody case is settled. Ohio social workers tell her that neither Mills' home nor the paternal grandmother's home is a place for Vanessa. Leaving the family devastated over the prospect of foster care being the only option for a little girl who has a good home, with a mother and family who loves her.
Doss has filed an emergency appeal to block the order, and her attorneys successfully argued that an emergency custody order still in place, is valid. On Friday July 2nd, Orange County Superior Court Judge Michael Naughton granted jurisdiction of the case to Montgomery County. Giving Doss until July 16 to return Vanessa to Ohio or appeal the decision. If denied on appeal, two year old Vanessa will be picked up by social workers from CPS and taken back to Ohio, to live with strangers, in Foster Care. Two psychologists who are experts in reactive attachment disorder, spent time with Stacey and Vanessa, then wrote reports on the devastating effects this kind of a separation would have on Vanessa, breaking her heart and spirit.
Regardless whose side anyone takes in this battle, a biological parent or an adoptive parent - the bottom line is and always should be what is the best interest of two year old, Vanessa Doss. It should not take a rocket scientist to figure out the damage that will be done to a two year old baby, when she is taken from her home, where she has been been raised in a family of loving, stable people who have this little one's best interest at heart and fear not only for her physical safety, but for her emotional health and the lifetime of problems that will be this baby's future - if she is placed in foster care or with an abusive parent.
While Benjamin Mills, Jr. has stuck to his claims that Vanessa is his daughter, therefore he has the legal right to raise her - we must wonder, why? Why is he fighting to take Vanessa out of a loving environment, when he has four other children, right there in Ohio, four children who he does not have custody of. His battle, by the way that is paid for by the state - with his appointed lawyers in CA and Legal Aid of Western Ohio.
Last year, Stacey Doss paid for Mills trip to CA, for him to visit Vanessa. A trip that was at least educational on her part, when she discovered Mills doesn't even want to be a parent to Vanessa, but he sees the baby as his "property". And she said, Mills was more interested in sight seeing - than he was in seeing "his daughter", choosing to sit shot gun in the car, rather than sitting with Vanessa. What a disappointment he must have been. Is anyone in the judicial system listening? Even a little?
There is a hearing, in Ohio on July 29 to determine whether Mills behaved as the "presumed father" while Conley was pregnant. Doss may have a stronger case if it is determined Wells was not an active participant during that time.
Stacey Doss has been waging this tug of war - for two long years, she is drained; physically, emotionally and financially. And yet as any mother would, she is still pushing on and has vowed not to give up until this is settled and Vanessa is her legal daughter - for life.
Mills' FREE legal advice is now criticizing Doss for going public with her battle, "Mr. Mills trusts the court will continue to issue appropriate orders to protect his daughter,'' Gorman said. "Mr. Mills and Legal Aid of Western Ohio Inc. remain focused on the law and not on the publicity generated by Stacey Doss.''
Gorman said "Mills is doing everything he can within the legal system to regain custody."
Had Doss not put this out into the court of public opinion, Vanessa would have very likely ended up lost in foster care - never to be seen or heard of again.
Any judge should have to think about this for all of a split second, to know the right thing to do for Vanessa. Doss and her supporters can only hope and pray he realizes this too.
You can help, please send letters to the following courts, stating your support and asking for the courts to do the right thing for baby Vanessa ~ leave her with her mother, who has been there every day of this little one's life and who will continue to be there caring for her and loving her, for life.
Superior Court of California, County of Orange Lamoreaux Justice Center Dept. L66
341 The City Drive South
Orange, CA 92868-3205
(657) 622-6069 — Family Law General Information
Montgomery County Juvenile Court
380 W. Second St.
Dayton, OH 45422
(937) 225-4267 — Court Administration
Operation Vanessa: http://ink-la.com/helpvanessa/blog/
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