Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Adoption’ Category

Circe Hamilton (Photo Angel Franco, the New York Times)

Non-custodial fathers know too well how inflexible the justice system is regarding their  rights and their duties. Seeing your children more? Having more input into the life or your children? Yes, if it suits the custodial parent, i.e. Mom. Loosen child support payments so that you can make a living? No way man. For support magistrates, child support payments’ rules – the percentage of your income you pay in child support- are like the second amendment for the N.R.A. Ain’t no exception, no extenuating circumstances. A good father is a father who pays.

But justice is no different than education or health care in the US. There is the bare minimum that commoners get and there is what rich folks have access to. That’s actually quite amazing how the justice system can become imaginative and creative with the law when you fuel lawyers with cash.

Take Circe Hamilton and Kelly Gunn’ story from Ian Parker in the May 22 issue of the New Yorker. In 2016, before Labor Day, Hamilton was about to move back to the UK with her adopted son, Abush. But her project did not happen as expected. She was contacted by the lawyer of her ex-partner, Kelly Gunn, who had asked a New York court to recognize her as one of Ambush’ parents, grant her joint legal and physical custody. In the interim, Gunn was seeking a restraining order and Hamilton could forget about going back to England.

In their wildest dreams, New York State divorcing fathers would think of getting joint custody, let alone preventing their ex to travel so that they could see their kids. But Gunn had deep pockets, and that certainly helped to unleash the creativity of Chemtob, her lawyer, who saw the case of Hamilton versus Gunn as “Kramer vs Kramer 2016.” Yet Gunn’s claims to be recognized as a parent are not far from frivolous. She lost interest in adoption after Hamilton and her separated. However Hamilton and Gunn remain friends and keep in touch and  when the boy appears, Gunn starts growing feelings for him and as Hamilton puts it, “she wants ownership.” She also has the means to assert her influence in her ex-partner life. She provided an apartment and a car, which Hamilton perhaps made the mistake of accepting.

In any case, Gunn’s petition was denied at the beginning of this year. The judge argued that “the preconception plan (of adoption) could create a path to parenthood but that plan had not continued unabated.” Gunn is appealing this decision because she says this is a case of discrimination against gays. I think she would not be receptive to the fact that there has been an ongoing discrimination in family courts against fathers whose parenting plans were “abated against their will.”

Hamilton and Abush still cannot travel to England.

Read Full Post »

IxcanulSaturday February 27,  I saw one of the most beautiful and poignant movies ever, Ixcanul, from Jayro Bustamante. It was not be mentioned in the ceremony of the Oscars on Sunday, but it received a well-deserved best first film award at Cinema Tropical award.

But I want to talk about immigration and the tragedies that often go with it, not cinema. The movie tells the story of Maria, a young girl who lives with her family in the vicinity of the volcano Pacaya, in the south of Guatemala. They are landless peasant workers working in a coffee plantation. Maria’s future is all set: She is to marry the overseer of the plantation and this alliance allows her family to keep their house and to remain on the land where they live. However Maria happened to be enamoured with a young fellow who wants to go to the US, and does not know much it besides it lies behind Ixcanul (which means volcano in one of the Mayan languages of Guatemala, Kaqchikel). Maria sleeps with him to get him to bring her with him on his trip, but the lad leaves the country without her. She becomes pregnant. The condition for her family not to be kicked out is to start sowing corn their land infested with snakes. One of them bites her, and she is rushed to Guatemala City hospital. There, doctors spare her life, but not her baby’s, who is dead, Maria is told by a Kaqchikel-Spanish  hospital translator. In fact, the paternalistic greedy administration of the hospital, with the help of Maria’s cuckold fiancé, have given her baby for adoption; That’s good money, and indigenous babies are better off given for adoption to white rich folks anyway than taken care off by their illiterate kins.

Now, let us imagine for one second a totally different story for Maria. Instead of being stuck in Guatemala, she makes it to the promised land, which a real estate mogul, who epitomizes bad taste in each of his numerous architectural endeavors, wants to protect from immigrants with a wall. Let us be generous with Maria. She finds a half-decent coyote, crosses Mexico and makes it safe to the US. Then, she starts working for a chicken factory at less than the minimum wage, with unbearable working conditions. Maria is lucky tough.  The “Migra” never raids the factory where she works. Hence, unlike her compatriot Encarnación Bail Romero for instance, she does not go to jail, and does not have her kid given for adoption by a rogue judge to well-to do American parents. Instead, she keeps on working, contributes to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare and never gets a cent from any of these programs. Maria’s daughter may or may not graduate from High School; she will however go to College if State policy allows it, and remains in any case, a second -class citizen. As far as Maria is concerned, she, as an illegal immigrant, will never see her parents again. Even if she were to go  back to Guatemala to be near a dying parent, she would indeed bound to start at square one, crossing borders illegally at her risk and perils.

The point is that there is no need of a wall to make the situation of immigrants more miserable than it already is.  Distrust those who want to make America great again, and those who say that America has always been great. Both messages are old bull, and their messengers always have it wrong about immigrants: Immigrants are always loosing big. Their offspring and politicians make a point to embellish it.

Read Full Post »

Cirilia Balthazar Cruz and Ruby (Photo Sharon Steinmann)

Cirilia Balthazar Cruz and Ruby (Photo Sharon Steinmann)

Over the last years, I have been blogging about Cirilia Balthazar Cruz’s case, perhaps one of the most outrageous examples of violation of parental rights by the US family justice in recent times. When we, non-custodial fathers, deal with family courts, we are often the defendants, there is a usually a trial and a vague appearance of due process; in Cirilia Balthazar Cruz’ case, hardly.

With Cirilia, there is no husband, no boyfriend, and no custody battle. Problems start with social services’ predators of the State of Mississippi. Her baby is taken from her almost upon delivery in Singing River Hospital in November 2008. Why? Mrs Cruz does not speak English or Spanish, but an indigenous language, Chatino, spoken in the region of Oaxaca, Mexico. The hospital employees and the social worker assigned to the case understand zip.  That must have made them angry. They tell the Mississippi Department of Human Services, that Cirilia is a prostitute and about to give up her child for adoption. Such deeds go a long way when supported by a high officer of justice-  in the present case, Judge Sharon Sigalas.  According to her, Cirilia’s child will suffer developmental problems for lack of English (I guess there are a bunch of folks in this country that may have had developmental problems throughout US history, and historians better investigate the problem quickly). As a result, the child is put to adoption.

Fortunately, thanks to the Southern Poverty Law Center that filed a federal law suit (in passing, why isn’t there any Wealth Law Center anywhere in the US?), Cirilia regained Ruby’s custody in 2009 and her maternal rights in 2010.  And last friday, a federal justice court decided that Mississippi state officials may have to answer of their actions violating Cirilia’s constitutional rights to raise her child. Cirilia might get justice for the miscarriage of justice by the justice system, a precedent that hopefully will inspire others beyond the great State of Mississippi.

Read Full Post »

Veronica and Father Dustin Brown

Veronica and Father Dusten Brown

I am currently trying to make sense of the recent developments in the Baby Veronica’s case. Since I blogged about Veronica’s case a while ago, the US Supreme court ruled in favor of the Capobiancos, the couple that adopted Veronica and took care of her until 2011, when she was returned to Dusten Brown, her biological father;  then the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered that Veronica’s adoption should be finalized by family court.

Two things: first,  I have no empathy for the Capobiancos and their reckless claim of their parental rights on Veronica. They had Veronica’s custody for 27 months, all right. Why does this let them feel entitled to deny Brown- Veronica’s biological father- the right to raise his child? That they can do it better?

Second thing: there is a real need in this country to protect children and their biological parents – undocumented immigrants, and minorities- from predatory adoptions and the adoption business. I have been blogging about instances of children of undocumented immigrants given for adoption by the family court system, because their parents had been put in jail. Native American at least have the Children and Welfare Act of 1978 the goals of which is to protect their communities from would-be parents, who feel their desire justified by the social origins of the child they put a claim on. Unfortunately, that’s a view that was shared by only four Justices, led by Sonia Sotomayor. 

Read Full Post »

There is one thing I understand in Adoptive Couple vs Baby Girl, which is currently being heard by the Supreme

Veronica (Indian Country Network.com)

Veronica (Indian Country Network.com)

Court:  If Veronica was the daughter of rich white folks, we would not even be talking about her in the first place. Ain’t no rich kids embroiled in messy adoption.

But Veronica is the daughter of Dusten Brown, a member of the Cherokee nation, and  Christy Maldonado, an Oklahoma resident. At some point, their relation turns sour. According to Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indian (NCAI), when Brown learnt about the pregnancy, he asked Maldonado to marry him, move with him in a military housing – Brown is a military- and quit her job. He pledged to financially support her and their unborn child.

That’s not the Nina Totenberg’s version of the story, tough. According to Totenberg, Brown texted Maldonado he was giving up his parental rights and would not support the girl. Maldonado then decided to put up the child for adoption. Through an agency, Maldonado found a couple she liked, Matt and Melanie Capobianco. Through her lawyer, she notified  the Cherokee nation, but not  Dusten. Why? There is a law, the Indian Child Welfare Act from 1978, that prevents Indians, who have been stolen everything, to have their children taken away by adoptive parents with the blessing of family courts always eager to work in “the best interest of the child,” understood as a childhood outside Indian nations.  This law establishes that in case neither parent can claim custody, preference should be given to other Indian family members.

What bugs me with Totenberg’s story (and also, to some extent, Adam Liptak’s from the New York Times) is that Brown would have renounced his father’s rights to Maldonado and then changed his mind, when Maldonado renounced hers to the adoptive parents. That’s an interesting piece of news: we fathers have parental rights we can just forfeit through text message. Second nugget: the adoption lawyers working on the case knew Brown was a Cherokee and knew about the Indian Child Welfare Act; they were also lawyers seeking  to win.  Hence when they inquired if Veronica was an Indian Child, the paper they submitted to the tribe had Brown’s first name misspelled, and the wrong date of birth. At this point, the adoption case moves to South Carolina, where the Capobiancos live. Last but not the least telling information about the way US family laws value parental rights, especially fathers’ rights: just before he ‘s about to be deployed in Irak, Brown is served with the paper about the adoption of his daughter, Veronica. Minor detail.  The striking thing of the story is that without the Indian Child Welfare Act, Brown would be fried. The case would not be before the Supreme Court.

Is it too much to ask – for children’s sake- that regardless of race, income, religion, sexual orientation etc… adoption require the formal consent of both living birth parents before any procedure be undertaken?

Read Full Post »

A few months ago, I blogged about Karen Atala -a Chilean judge- being restored in her

King Solomon’s justice

parental rights by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Atala had been  deprived of her rights to see her three daughters because she was involved in a lesbian relationship. Fortunately so for justice, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights overruled the decisions of several Chilean Court as discriminatory.

Now check out what is on the plate of the European Court of human Rights in the case of X and others vs Austria. Once upon a time in Austria, there was an unmarried heterosexual couple who had a child, a boy. The couple separated, the mother got custody of the kid and the father would have visitation and pay child support. One day however, the mother started a new relationship with a woman.

That’s when problems started. The new couple gets greedy. The “new mother in law” wants to adopt the boy. Obviously, the child is not adoptable, since he has a father.  For this to happen, the father has to renounce his parental rights and accept to never see him again.  He does not want to.  The couple asks the Austrian courts to strip the father from his parental rights, which would clear the way for the adoption of the boy. Austrian courts reject this claim. The couple then brings the case to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that Austrian Courts had denied their rights to private life and have discriminated against them as a lesbian couple. Hearings are to start on October 3rd 2012.

It is not the right of a lesbian couple to adopt a child which is at stake here, it is its right to adopt this child.  This couple seems to suffer from a very common disease nowadays: considering a child as a property, or a good rival in consumption, as economists would say: if I enjoy it, I prevent you from doing the same. Folks like these forget something crucial: what is inalienable is the link with each parent and the child and that of the child with each parent, not the property of the child, which does not exist.

May the spirit of Solomon be with the European Court of Human Rights!

Read Full Post »

Sweet (Idaho)

Things are so bad with family justice that one has to underscore when the worst is avoided. In Jesus Ramirez’case and his three-year old daughter, Maria, one was heading towards a fiasco à la Bail Romero in Missouri: an immigrant parent being deprived for ever of his parental rights.

Close call. Without the Idaho Supreme Court overturning the ruling of the Idaho Department of Human and Health Services, Jesus Ramirez would never have seen his daughter. Ramirez is a Mexican undocumented worker, who married an American citizen in Idaho in 2007.  A year after, he is expelled and returned to Mexico, soon joined by his wife.  Maria is conceived in Mexico but born in Idaho, where Ramirez’ wife returns in 2008. As she is accused of child’s neglect, Maria is put in a foster home. Ramirez, who has tried to come back to the country to reunite with Maria, is accused of having abandoned her, not to have the financial needs to support her, and is given the thorny “best interest of the child stuff”: Maria will live in the beautiful country of ours.

In Ramirez’ case, the Idaho Supreme Court has asserted that undocumented parents also have parental rights. That may help parental rights in general.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Let's Get Honest! Blog: Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?...' (posted 3/23 & 3/5/2014). Over 680 posts, Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.