Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
A 3-year-old Oklahoma girl called “Baby Veronica” has been temporarily returned to the custody of her biological father, Dusten Brown, under an emergency ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The move is the latest in a years-long dispute that involves allegations by Brown that Veronica’s mother put the girl up for adoption without his knowledge, and after the couple had separated and Brown had relinquished his parental rights.
Brown is a member of the Cherokee Nation, and custody was awarded by the court under the Indian Child Welfare Act. But the adoptive couple, who raised Veronica for 27 months from the time she was 4 months old, has also won court cases in their home state of South Carolina. The US Supreme Court has, so far, declined to take up the case.
More from Today.com on the latest development:
It was not immediately clear Tuesday why the court made the emergency ruling or for how long Veronica would remain with her biological father, Dusten Brown….
At the heart of Veronica’s case is the Indian Child Welfare Act, established in 1978 in response to high rates of Native American children being adopted by non-Native families. A South Carolina family court awarded custody of the girl to Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation, under the Indian Child Welfare Act. A family court in the same state later ruled that custody be awarded to the Capobiancos and ordered Brown to hand Veronica over. Brown refused.
The U.S. Supreme Court said in June that provisions of the act, which would favor Brown, didn’t apply in the case.
The case has highlighted overlapping parental claims in two states, and the clash between a Native American culture seeking to protect children from being adopted outside their tribes and U.S. legal safeguards for adoptive parents. The situation has become so emotionally wrenching that the governors in Oklahoma and South Carolina have spoken on the phone about it and are pushing for a resolution outside of the court.
Since the South Carolina family ruled against Brown following the Supreme Court decision, he has fought to keep Veronica while the Capobiancos insisted she return to their home.
When Brown failed to appear at a recent court-ordered meeting in South Carolina, authorities charged him with custodial interference; Brown turned himself in and posted a $10,000 bond for his release.
In the meantime, Veronica has stayed with paternal grandparents at an undisclosed location.
Image: Gavel and American flag, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Crowdfunding, the phenomenon whereby people raise money for all manner of business and personal endeavors, is increasingly becoming a resource used by couples who are facing expensive fertility treatments or the costly and complicated adoption process. More from The Huffington Post:
Since May 2010, GoFundMe has helped raise nearly $1.1 million for couples looking to cover the costs of infertility treatments and adoption. Currently, about 100 couples are looking to do the same on GiveForward.
The first “crowdfunded baby,” Landon Haley, was born after his parents conducted a campaign in 2011 that raised $8,050 to help fund infertility treatments.
“Twenty years ago this wouldn’t have happened,” his mother, Jessica Haley, told CNN Money. “Because of the Internet, that’s why we have Landon.”
Fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization, can cost upwards of $8,158 per cycle, according to RESOLVE: The National Fertility Association, and one estimate by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine put the figure at $12,400.
Because it can take several rounds of treatment before a woman conceives, costs skyrocket quickly. But insurance companies will only cover so many attempts, if they provide coverage at all. In fact, only 29% of couples said their insurance covered their infertility or adoption expenses, according to a 2012 poll conducted by RESOLVE.
Adoption expenses can lead to even bigger debt. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates the cost can be anywhere from $2,500 to over $40,000 per child.
While couples can subsidize the cost by applying for grants from nonprofits, with aid from employers or by taking advantage of the nearly $13,000 tax credit for out-of-pocket adoption costs, some still seek other means to help foot the sizable bill.
The first adoption-specific crowdfunding site — AdoptTogether — was founded in 2012, and has helped provide over $1 million to 300 adoptive families so far.
Image: Money, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
The White family of Louisville, Kentucky, now has a full house. Shelly White’s 10-year-old daughter, Ryan Elizabeth, became intrigued about the plight of Haitian orphans after the 2012 earthquake. She begged her parents to adopt an orphan, even requesting donations instead of toys one Christmas. Her parents listened and the White’s welcomed a 1-year-old girl, Mya, in March. She has a cancerous tumor, but that doesn’t stop her new family from loving her. More from TODAY:
“I had a mother’s love for her right away,” says White, whose other children are 3, 6 and 9. “I can’t really explain it. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I couldn’t get her off my heart.”
Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville committed to treating Mya at no cost to the Whites, which allowed the girl to receive a one-year medical visa and come to the United States before an adoption was complete. Mya arrived on May 7, with the Whites serving as her guardians as they go through the adoption process.
“We just had this love for her that was instant, and it wasn’t a hard decision because of our faith,” Shelly White says. “Peace and stage four cancer don’t go hand-in-hand, but we just have it with her.”
The Whites had called on a longtime friend and church elder, Scott Watkins, vice president of operations for Norton Healthcare. Watkins has raised $18,000 in pledges to help with the adoption, and Norton Healthcare owns the hospital providing Mya’s care.
Mya has rhabdomyosarcoma, cancer of the connective tissue, in her pelvis. After several rounds of chemotherapy, the tumor, which is protruding from her vagina, has shrunk significantly, said Dr. Stephen Wright, Kosair’s medical director.
“We think the prognosis at this point is pretty good,” he said. “We’re very pleased with how well the tumor is responding to chemotherapy.”
Mya was not getting the optimal doses of medication in China, and likely would not have survived, said Wright, who has seen Mya’s development improve in the short time she has been in Louisville.
“It’s a life-changing event that they would open their home and their hearts to somebody they did not know at all with a serious medical problem and provide her with the love that she wouldn’t get in an orphanage,” Wright said of the Whites.
Image: holding hands, via Shutterstock
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Friday, May 31st, 2013
More than 40 percent of American women consulted in a Associated Press/WE tv poll say they would consider having a baby even though they are not married or in a romantic relationship. More from The Associated Press:
An Associated Press-WE tv poll of people under 50 found that more than 2 in 5 unmarried women without children—or 42 percent—would consider having a child on their own without a partner, including more than a third, or 37 percent, who would consider adopting solo.
The poll, which addressed a broad range of issues on America’s changing family structures, dovetails with a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau that single motherhood is on the rise: It found that of 4.1 million women who’d given birth in 2011, 36 percent were unmarried at the time of the survey, an increase from 31 percent in 2005. And among mothers 20-24, the percentage was 62 percent, or six in 10 mothers.
The AP-WE tv poll also found that few Americans think the growing variety of family arrangements is bad for society. However, many have some qualms about single mothers, with some two-thirds—or 64 percent—saying single women having children without a partner is a bad thing for society. More men—68 percent—felt that way, compared to 59 percent of women.
The survey found broad gender gaps in opinion on many issues related to how and when to have children. One example: At a time when the can-you-have-it-all debate rages for working mothers, women were more apt than men to say having children has negatively impacted their career.
And this was true especially among mothers who waited until age 30 or older to have children. Fully 47 percent of those mothers said having a child had a negative impact on their careers. Of women overall, 32 percent of mothers reported a negative effect, compared with 10 percent of men.
Image: Mother and child, via Shutterstock
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Friday, May 17th, 2013
Rachael Clark, who was discarded in a trash can by her birth mother–umbilical cord and placenta still attached–shortly after her birth in 1989, is a remarkable young woman by any standard. Now 23 years old and about to graduate with straight As from the University of Maryland, Clark, who was raised by adoptive parents, is seeking her birth parents…to tell them she forgives them. More from NBC News:
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The 23-year-old is so focused and busy that she sometimes forgets about the turmoil that’s dogged her since childhood. “Some days, it’s like it never happened,” Rachael said. “But some days, I really do struggle. I have such strong abandonment issues.”
Her issues stem from the way her life began. On Sept. 27, 1989, the day Rachael was born, she was sealed inside a dark garbage bag with her umbilical cord and placenta still attached. The trash bag was then thrown, hard, into a dumpster.
Minutes before she ran out of oxygen, someone heard her cries and saved her. Her abandonment and rescue in Temple Hills, Md., became one of the most widely publicized stories of its kind — so well-known, in fact, that Rachael overheard people talking about it in front of her when she was about 2.
Now, at this especially happy juncture in their lives, Rachael and her adoptive parents are speaking out about their story. They want to let other adoptive families know how normal it is to need help navigating the delicate process of telling adopted children about their violent or tragic pasts.
They’re also making their story public because, in spite of everything, Rachael has a persistent longing to find her birth parents.
“I just want to be able to tell them that I forgive them,” she said.