The Orange County child custody battle over the girl known as Baby Vanessa took two new turns this week, according to Ohio’s media. Earlier this month I outlined the basics of the case: Stacey Doss, a single, 45-year old, Orange County woman, took custody of Vanessa shortly after her birth and, until recently, had been raising the two-year-old here in Orange County. Doss says she was told that the birth mother did not know the identity of the father.
In the months following Vanessa’s birth, however, that claim proved to be untrue. The girl’s father, Benjamin Mills, who lives in Ohio, sued to regain custody of his daughter claiming his father’s rights on the grounds that he never consented to Vanessa’s adoption. As I reported on July 5, the father recently won a preliminary round in what is shaping up to be an especially contentious Orange County custody dispute.
And as of this week, as Dayton, Ohio radio station WHIO put it, “and then there were three.” The girl’s grandmother has now volunteered to raise the child. This may be an attempt by the father’s family to counter accusations of domestic violence directed at the biological father by Vanessa’s biological mother. According to the Dayton radio report, the grandmother, Rena Jordan, already has custody of two of the father’s other children – Vanessa’s biological half-siblings. Doss, of Orange County, vows to fight the case “to the U.S. Supreme Court if she has to,” according to WHIO.
In a related development, the Dayton Daily News reports that Vanessa’s birth mother – who has continued to support Doss’ adoption bid – is seeking a domestic violence protection order against Mills, claiming that he recently “came up behind her and grabbed her” in Dayton’s main bus station.
It seems fair to say that Baby Vanessa’s case will be with us – in both Orange County and in Ohio – for some time to come. It highlights the ways in which adoptions, however well-intentioned, can raise both Orange County father’s rights issues and questions about how courts should go about defining the ‘best interests of the child’. In any situation like this, consulting with a Costa Mesa or other Orange County custody and visitation attorney at the earliest possible stage is essential, particularly for those fearing that a child’s other parent has moved to deprive them of legitimate California parental rights.
Dayton Daily News: Baby Vanessa: Birth mom files for protection order against Mills