Sunday, April 15, 2007

For the Love of Green

As Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer so acutely observed last week: "The color is GREEN."

A Child's Waiting Adoption Agency of Akron, Ohio and the *****, the people who wish to adopt Evelyn Bennett, continue to game the adoption system which is supposed to both protect children and their natural families from exploitation, and provide children with "a better life." The ***** continue to hold Baby Evelyn hostage on the advice of A Child's Waiting. They simply refuse to do the right thing -- return her to her mother and family.

Evelyn's mother, Stephanie Bennett, signed surrender documents for her five month old daughter Evelyn after a visit with her high school counselor Thomas Saltsman. Stephanie was a student at Glen Oak High School in Canton, Ohio at the time. She was interested in making a schedule change when she went to see him in his office in a public school building. She made the mistake of mentioning the word "adoption" to Mr. Saltsman, who immediately pulled A Child's Waiting information out of his desk drawer. He arranged a meeting for the next day between Stephanie and A Child's Waiting, in his office - in a tax payer supported, public school building.

AdoptaPundit's first question is this; Why in the world are we as citizens and parents allowing adoption agency shills access to the public school systems?

As Stephanie's story unfolds, these salient details become apparent: Stephanie was on the receiving end of threats against her and her family, designed to force her to give the baby up. These threats were coming from the child's putative father. This fact evidently was not unearthed by Mr. Saltsman. Stephanie met with A Child's Waiting and signed paperwork the day after meeting with Mr. Saltsman. Obviously, she was not given viable counseling nor any time to consider her decision. She was advised by A Child's Waiting to run away from home so she could sign away the child without her parents interferring ( Baby Evelyn was being raised in their home and with their help.) These details add up to one plain fact; this was a hurried, coerced, perhaps even forced decision made without counseling or time to consider the ramifications. The papers were signed under duress.

Stephanie changed her mind almost immedately after signing the papers.

But by then, the game of Hide-The-Baby had begun. The sadistic nature of this game is crystal clear. As with Babies Jessica and Richard, the game of running out the clock has been deployed in the Baby Evelyn Case. The *****, the potential adoptors, have been advised by A Child's Waiting to sequester the baby and not allow her any contact with her family as they run out the clock.

In ethical adoption, the baby would be returned to the mother as soon as possible after the mother changes her mind. But when potential adoptors and adoption agencies decide to game the system, scenarios like the ones associated with Babies Richard and Jessica are the result.

AdoptaPundit has a second question: Why are people still allowed to get away with this sort of behavior without penalty? If a mom changes her mind and rescinds the surrender, that child is by definition not available for adoption. To hide a child away from her mother and refuse to return her in this situation should be considered kidnapping by law, in my opinion. That's just common decency and common sense. But as cases like this show, decency and shame are dead in adoption; cruelty, envy, greed, and entitlement are king.

And that, dear readers, is the moral of this story.

When potential adoptors write or say that they are "desperate" to adopt, they should be taken at their word. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Holding onto a child of a mother who was coerced and threatened into signing surrender documents is desperate. Holding onto the child of a mother who never received viable counseling about adoption is desperate. Holding onto a child whose mother entered her high school counselor's office to talk about a schedule change and instead left with surrender documents in her hand, is desperate.

Desperate indeed.

As everyone knows or should know domestic healthy white newborns are worth a lot of green to the agency who handles the transaction. And just in case you don't know who A Child's Waiting Adoption Agency is, you can refresh your memory here (A Child's Waiting was the agency involved with the Walters special.) Or, if you are feeling particularly stout-hearted, you can learn more about the way they do business here. (Warning; Not for the faint of heart.)

The Bennett's heartbreak is a cautionary tale for all of us about the way young women are being used as breeders for the domestic adoption market. The Bennetts' story could be almost any American family's story. Adoption preys upon the vulnerable and uninformed; and adoption is unforgiving for those who lose their children.

It seems that most people simply do not realize the magnitude of the loss until it is too late, that is, until the baby is actually gone. For some reason, the permanent loss of a family member is treated as an abstraction instead of what it is, which is to say, a major, life long loss.

There are few if any protections in the law for natural families who lose their babies to adoption in the way Stephanie Bennett did....because the laws have been written not to protect the vulnerable, but to accomodate the business of adoption.

AdoptaPundit's messge to American families should be clear: RUN AWAY FROM ADOPTION.

And AdoptaPundit's message to A Child's Waiting and the ***** :


America. Is. Watching.

Evelyn Bennett Timeline
/06 – Stephanie found that she is pregnant and hid it from her parents until 3 weeks prior to delivery. She is tall, this is a first pregnancy and the popular baggy clothes worn by young people made that possible.

/06 – Stephanie delivered Baby Evelyn Bennett and named her for her Great Grandmother. The plan is that, with her family’s support, Stephanie will raise the baby.

Stephanie’s parents are not wealthy people, so Stephanie and Evelyn go on Medicaid.

/06 - Stephanie told her parents that the father was a school friend. She lied to her parents because she was afraid of the real father who had been making serious and repeated threats against her family. Stephanie attempted to protect them from him and what he would do to her family, to her and to Baby Evelyn.

9/07/06 – After 5 months of repeated and serious threats to her family’s health and safety and emotional abuse from the putative father of her child, Stephanie approached Thomas Saltsman, Counselor, at Glen Oak High School in Canton, Ohio. Stephanie originally went to discuss a schedule change, but mentioned adoption. As soon as Stephanie mentioned adoption, Mr. Saltsman turned, got a brochure from his desk for A Child’s Waiting Adoption Agency and arranged a meeting for the next day in his office.

9/8/06 – ONE DAY LATER. Stephanie signed the initial paperwork that began the process. Mr. Saltsman signed as witness, in his office, at the high school. This was the ONLY meeting between Stephanie and the agency people, until the agency worker came to take Baby Evelyn on 9/12/06. There was no counseling nor protection offered to Stephanie. An attorney was present, as Stephanie’s “independent counsel”, but she also handled adoptions for A Child’s Waiting Adoption Agency on a regular basis.
9/12/06 - As a policy, Medicaid demands the name of a father, or they require DNA testing on any possible ones. The young man that Stephanie claimed was the father in order to protect her family’s safety from the real father went to have his DNA tested. Stephanie was to bring Evelyn in for her test to see if they matched, but Stephanie never came. She had already run away, as directed by the agency rep in the school guidance counselor’s office, to avoid the DNA testing. The involvement of a father in the proceedings would complicate things for the agency. Proven fathers have rights that require protection. DNA evidence is proof of paternity. No proof and there are only putative fathers, who legally need not be consulted. Evelyn was not tested, as she had already been taken from her mother by the agency.

9/12/06 – Stephanie and Evelyn ran away (at the agency’s suggestion, in the Guidance Counselor’s office,) to Carrol County where Stephanie’s parents could not interfere. This was the last time Stephanie saw Baby Evelyn. The agency rep came to this place and picked up Baby Evelyn.

10/2/06 – Judy and Ranza Bennett got temporary custody of Baby Evelyn; went to the agency in Copley Township in Summit County accompanied by Copley Police. Agency told the police that they had spoken to the 17-year-old but told her that they could not do business with her while she was a minor and that neither child was at the agency.

10/16/06 - Judy and Ranza notified by Canton police that they were to appear in court on 10/17/06. They were not informed as to why.

10/17/06 – Judy and Ranza went to court, even though there was still no information as to why they were called there in the first place. Stephanie appeared accompanied by A Child’s Waiting. Court placed Stephanie into a Respite Home due to allegations of abuse made against Judy and Ranza Bennett by the putative father - the same man who been making the threats against Stephanie and her family which led to Stephanie signing surrender papers for Baby Evelyn. He stated that there was neglect and abuse against both Evelyn and Stephanie. A case worker came to Judy and Ranza's home to investigate the charges of abuse.

10/18/06 – Stephanie ran away from the Respite Home and called a friend, who called the caseworker, who advised him to take Stephanie to Family Court. While in court, Stephanie told the judge that she wanted to return home to her parents and her sister. The Lawyer for Child Protection told the Judge that there was no sign of neglect or abuse in the home. Evelyn’s pediatrician stated that he had no concern about Evelyn being in the home.

/06 - Stephanie then told her parents who the father actually was (there is no more information about the father available beyond this as yet, as charges are pending and any information leaked could jeopardize the case).

Attempted to find an attorney who could handle the case and would work for payments that could come later, for Stephanie and the baby.

Dec. 31, 2006 – Rick Armon’s article appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal.

Early January, 2007 - Sandy Young called the Bennett family to offer help. They said that they could use it.

January 07 - Hired Paul Reiners to defend Stephanie. He agreed to work on a pro bono basis, unless they won the case. In that event, they would owe him standard fees.

1-19-07 - The first time Stephanie went to court in Summit Co. with Mr.Reiners. She was not allowed in the court room. Paul Reiners came out of the court room and told Stephanie that the Magistrate, Diana Stevenson, had put a gag order on all parties involved in the case.

2/2/07 – Judge in Stark Co. ruled that the custody order of Ranza and Judy Bennett was no longer in effect; That another court had precedence.

2-21-07 - Stephanie went back to court in Summit Co, where she is still fighting for the return of her daughter Evelyn. This date was to determine if the Surrender could be overturned. The judge was to rule on this matter on March 27, 2007. The briefs were to have been turned in on the 23rd, with the judge ruling several days later.

March 07 - The Bennetts replaced Reiners with Jennifer Lowry, who obtained a continuance on the ruling by the judge and obtained the court transcripts. She could find no evidence of any gag order on any party to the case. She still prefers to have Stephanie remain silent, as a matter of choice, and to protect her, but her parents and the attorney are not so bound.

April 07 – Obtained copies of the complaint filed against the agency in the matter of Stephanie Bennett by her mother. The agency was found to be not in compliance in numerous areas. So far, no actions have been taken against the agency by the state, despite being out of compliance.

April 9, 2007 – Meeting with Jennifer Lowry. She was excited about the Bennetts having a copy of the complaint. Also has started to plan a reunification.


Ungrateful Little Bastard said...

For the Love of Green is so correct.

BronzeByGold said...

ULB, your post was wonderful.

Third Mom said...

Omigosh, you are absolutely right - they're running out the clock.

I wonder if the blog blitz has brought any changes in the case. I haven't seen any new info recently. I hope the wheels are moving behind the scenes.

Robin said...

They are doing the same thing that has been done before. Let's hope that justice overcomes the timeline and these people can be compelled to return this child to her family.