Saturday, August 6, 2011

Morals, Ethics and Adoption

Adoption is parenting the child of another. It is seen as a noble thing to do because of the assumption that every child needs care and adoption provides that care in a loving, nurturing, family setting for a child who is orphaned or has no family willing and able to properly care for him or her. So far, so good.

But is it equally noble or altruistic to take a child as yours KNOWING full well that he or she has a parent who is capable, willing, and LONGS to maintain custody?  To take that child and fight to keep him or her from his family of origins, his full siblings because you have "fallen in love" with said child?

Does anything justify such behavior - such as "We have a bigger house, can send the child to better schools" Or how about "We didn't know her mother wanted her" or "We didn't know she's been kidnapped."  Do any of these make it OK?

Take this moral / ethics quiz:

1. As you are leaving the store, you count your change and realize that the cashier gives you change for a ten when you gave her a five. What is the RIGHT thing to do? What do you do?

2. You sit down on the bus and discover a briefcase on the seat next to you. You look inside and there is ten thousand dollars in cash and nothing else. Do you report it to the bus company to see if anyone reported loosing it, or keep it? What is the RIGHT thing to do? What would you want someone to do if it was your money?

3. You find a dog with no collar or tag. You take him home, fall in love with the adorable critter who jumps in your lap and laps your face.  A week later, you see a LOST DOG sign on a pole. Do you would return the dog or keep it?  Which is the RIGHT thing to do? Which would you want someone to do if it was your dog? What if it was a child?  YOUR child?!? 

4.  If you legally adopt a child and then discover the child was kidnapped and her mother is frantic, what do you do? Do you ignore all attempts at mediation and hope that you government will do the same? Is it Ok if those who maintain control of the child because you did not actually steal or kidnap him or her? 

5. You want a child and promise the mother you'll let her visit if you can adopt her baby. Once you have the child, you decide not to allow the visits? Is that ethical? Is it fraud?

Do we live a "finders keepers/losers weepers" world? 
Or, do we believe in, and practice, the Golden Rule??

Does the end justify the means if the end is a more affluent lifestyle with swimming pools and piano lessons at the loss of all familial ties?

Surely it cannot be OK simply because the child has bonded to his her captors like any kidnap victim would - because if that were true we would not have expected - much less demanded - the return of Jaycee Lee Duggrad, Elizabeth Smart or any other kidnapped child, especially if said child has been snatched from the hospital nursery and was loved and cared for by someone who simply couldn't have a child of their own and now had become the "only parent the child ever knew".

I share with you three current cases:

Peri. Carla Moquin was defrauded into surrendering her middle daughter, Peri, into what was purported to be an extensively open adoption.  Carla and the adoptive couple, Susan and Demyn, appeared on a Discovery Channel show about their open arrangement. Shortly after the adoption, Susan reduced visits from monthly to annually, with NO CONTACT in between!  It turned out that Susan and Demyn never filed the contact agreement and told the agency now that they never intended to. She was willing to allow annual visits and Carla was not to introduce her other two girls to Peri as her sisters....Long story short, Carla is now working to overturn the adoption on grounds that her relinquishment was gained fraudulently with unkept promises of openness.

Is is right to expect promises to be kept? Is it OK to say anything to get a child you really want? Did Susan and Demyn have every right, once they were the legal parents to change whatever they agreed to before?  

Abrazo Adoption contributed to Carla's Bring Peri Home legal fund stating: they they encourage other adoption agencies to do so because: "Broken adoption promises hurt everyone." 

Full story and links to donate to help bring this child home to her mother and siblings is here. I have sent $100 and ask you to pay it forward and send what you would want someone to send to help YOU if it was YOUR child!

Anyeli Liseth Hernandez Rodriguez was kidnapped right out of mother's arms in Guatemala when the child was 2.  The child spent the next two years in the clutches of baby traffickers and eventually wound up - after two name changes and forged papers...she wound up adopted by a US couple, the Monahans of Missouri. Her story is here. KJ Dell Antonia, writing for Slate, believes there is a gray area. In an attempt to justify the Monahan's actions, Antonia says:
As for Anyali, the Guatemalan child now known as Karen Abigail (whose story is far from finished), her adoptive parents have been accused of knowing for years that their daughter was at least suspected of being stolen from her mother. If that's true, it sounds unforgivable. But consider that, according to journalist Erin Siegal, whose forthcoming book Finding Fernanda chronicles another case of a stolen Guatemalan child, Anyali's adoptive mother was told that if she pursued the question of why Anyali's DNA did not match that of the woman she'd been told was Anyali's birth mother, the man who had custody of Anyali might simply "dump the girl 'somewhere where nobody could find her.'" At this moment, Anyali's adoptive mother may be kidnapping her. At that moment, she might have saved her. It wouldn't excuse years of ignoring ugly evidence about Anyali's birth family, but it does suggest that things aren't black and white.

However, a comment to that story claims otherwise;
there is correspondence between the Monahans and their adoption agency in Miami (Celebrate Children International) that they knew pre-adoption that there was not a DNA match between the little girl and the woman giving her for adoption, meaning she had been kidnapped.  The Monahans talked with the agency about "burying" the DNA results or having her records falsified to show her as "abandoned" which was done.  See
website "findingfernanda" for details.
Tim and Jennifer Monahan are complicit in keeping a kidnapped child and should be prosecuted if they resist returning the child to her birth family.
- There is no "only family" here. Anyeli was with her mother for two years and with the Monhans for two years.

- The Monhans brought Anyeli to their home in December of 2008.  They knew since at least May 2009 that her mother claimed she had been kidnapped and her DNA has been flasified. There was chatter on many Guiatemala adoption forums and email lists, websites abotu stolen chidlren that featured this child, AND they were contacted by Norma Cruz of the Suriviros foundation in Guatemala bu refused to cooperate.

- The attorney the Monahans used for the adoption, Susana Luarca, went to prison for this case about 6 months ago 

- Kidnappings do not get ignored. Even parental kidnappings after divorce when a child has spent a LIFETIME with a parent who illegally snatched him or her, they are returned.

Vilma Ramirez - an immigrant from El Salvador.  Vilma's friend, Blanca Mirarchi was watching Vilma's fourth child and suggested Vilma consider adoption, a decision she now regrets. Mirachi found Kelley Grant and her husband who promised Vilma an open adoption. Vilma signed papers she didn't understand but thought she would maintain visitation as would her other children. The adoption process was to be finalized with within a 45 day period in which Vilma had an opportunity to change her mind. The Grants, however, came and took Vilam's daughter from Mirachi's residence while Vilma was at work, Vilma has been threatened with being deported if she pursues her attempts at overturning the adoption or even seeking visitation.

Where is the morality?

How do you keep a child from a family who wants him or her and is able and willing to provide for them? How do you justify lies in order to steal a child via adoption?

See Part II here.


Carla Moquin said...

Another notable case is Carlina White, who was stolen from a hospital at only days old and raised as the daughter of the woman who abducted her. She finally discovered her true identity and her abductor was arrested. It's interesting that Ms. White says that she always felt different--like she didn't quite "fit" into the family in which she was raised:

Mirah Riben said...

Thank you Carla! A perfect example!

The kidnapper was ARRESTED!

The same is done for parents who kidnap their own child when they do not have custody. They are kidnapped and children are returned (if they re still minors).

Anonymous said...

So who threatened Vilma Ramirez with deportation? Is Vilma pursuing still pursuing her attempts to overturn the adoption or seek visitation?

Mirah Riben said...

The Grants threatened her if she pursued attempting to overturn the adoption. I cannot tell you what her current plans are.

Anonymous said...

Interesting mix of cases. The Guatemala case clearly appears to be a a kidnapping. I am not sure about the other two cases though.

Peri is now seven and a half years old. How could it be in her best interests to be returned to Carla Moquin who apparently lost both the original trial and the appeal. I note she also had legal training so she presumably understood what she was doing when she consented to the adoption. Is it possible that there is a side to this story we are not being told or do California courts always side with the adoptive parents?

The Vilma Rameriz story looks a bit fishy too. If VIlma signed adoption papers why would the baby be at the house of this other women after the papers had been signed? Doesn't finalization happen after the child has been handed over and doesn't it normally take more than 45 days? What state did this happen in? Also, how do you know the Grants threatened Vilma with deportation?

Mirah Riben said...

The Guatemala case is different. It involves actual kidnapping, the other two involve fraud. they are grouped together because all show a lack of ethics in adoption practice.

All states favor adoptive parents. Not just CA.

And there is nothing "fishy" at all about Vilma's case. Her daughter was being baby-sat while she worked, The papers signed by natural mothers are relinquishment of parental rights, not the finalization of adoption.

The case is in New York City.

Mirah Riben said...

As for threats, read this article: "Family adoption fury as girl, six, faces being sent to America to live with unrelated man"

"Laura’s mum says she was persuaded, under the threat of never being allowed to see her again, to sign a ­document allowing the American to take her abroad."

Expectant mothers are OFTEN threatened that if they change their mind about going through with an adoption, they will be liable to repay all medical expenses. Treats are a very regular form of coercion in adoption and are very hard to prove because they are verbal.

In far too many open adoptions there is a constant unspoken threat of losing visitation. The mother knows she is beholden to the adopters and any perceived infraction could lose favor. She must walk on eggshells.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what relevance that British case has to any of the three cases you cited. The decisions were being mad by British Government Officials. They were presumably acting in the best interests of the child in their judgement. It certainly doesn't support your allegation that Vilma Ramiez was threatened in any way.

As for repaying medical expenses, I suspect most birth mothers know that is an empty threat. There have been many claims that the reverse occurs. Birth mothers pretend to agree to adoption in order to get there expenses paid and then "change their mind"

Mirah Riben said...

Yes, some women scam. Some even pretend to be pregnant when they are not. The solution is to remove all pre-birth payments with the expectation of a baby in return as that is baby selling. Expectant mother can get welfare to pay thi rent and food and medicaid to pay their medical expenses. The other is coercive, and NO, scared, young, powerless woman do not know those threats are "empty" threats! Not only are they young, naive and inc risis, they are up against people who are their opposite: older, more stable and the adopters have ATTORNEYS and the do not have anyone on their side protecting their rights or even explaining their rights. A recipe for coercion and exploitation! Should not be allowed!! It is only allowed because adoption is a BUSINESS, a multi-billion dollar demand and market-driven industry.

Anonymous said...

In the case of Peri, according to the birthmother she signed the papers relinquishing her parental rights in January of 2004 and the adoptive parents took custody three days after the birth. The adoption didn't finalize until September of 2004 which is almost nine months later.

I find it very hard to believe that New York finalizes adoptions in only 45 days or that that the birthmother retains physical custody between relinquishment and finalization. Can you point to any evidence which supports these dubious assertions. I don't understand what fraud the APs are supposed to of committed in this case or even how their behavior was unethical. Perhaps you could explain.

Also, I found it interesting than Peri's birth father is opposed to the litigation the birthmother is pursuing.

Mirah Riben said...

Thank you for pointing out an error in the post which I have corrected. The 45 days was a period in which Vilma had an opportunity to change her mind. The Grants took the baby during that time period.

As for Peri's mother and father, they are divorced and Carla is re-married. Couples divorce because they do not get along. They often turn on one another in odd ways and even use children as pawns in their anger. It is not unusual.

Peri's father wanted her adopted from the start and Carla did not. She finally gave in and immediately regretted the decsion. He is sticking with his original decsion and favors the adoption. Who knows? He may fear if it's overturned he'll get stick with child support. I have no idea why he takes the position he does and either do you.

Anonymous said...

That is an interesting point you made about Peri's biological father supporting the adoption and her biological mother giving in and the immediately regretting the decision. It may be the root cause of the problems with adoption or at least the reason why the birth mother has been trying without success to gain custody. I note media coverage linked from her website cited several experts and lawyers who suggested that she would find it almost impossible to regain custody but at least one felt she would have chance of enforcing visitation. It seems that her ex-husband has had more contact with Peri than she has, I would assume the litigation had something to do with that.

BTW I am still unclear what fraud occurred in the Ramirez case or why she would have been leaving the child with babysitters after she had already relinquished her parental rights in favor of the adoptive parents who would then have legal and presumably physical custody of the child.

Mirah Riben said...

Vilma's daughter was with a babysitter while Vilma WORKED.

The fraud in both Vilma and Carla's caes is that both of the adopters promised OPEN ADOPTION and consent was given based on that promise. Vilma's situation is complicated by her language difficulties and her inability to understand the concept of adoption as we practice it here in the US, as compared to many other countries which practice a much less formal form of adoption. She claims she did not understand what she was signing.

Carla and the aps when on TV discussing their plans for ongoing visitation which did not come to fruition, thus her claim of fraud.

It is such lies, betrayals and lack of overall regulations of adoption that tie these case together. It is, IMO, the DISGUSTINGNESS of holding onto a child when the child's mother is capable, willing and LONGING to maintain custody and care.

It is distortion of adoption being about finding homes for ORPHANS and children who have no family who are willing or able to care for them!!

In that sense I find all of these examples IMMORAL! If you don't agree, that's your option.

Mirah Riben said...

Let us not forget that the prime concern is the best interest of the child.

Both Carla and Vilma's adopted-out children have full siblings they have been separated from. In Vilma's case, the aps have specifically told her that if they allow any visitation, she cannot mention the siblings!

In Carla's case, Peri knows her siblings and has met them, yet Carla has bene told not to call them her sisters!

This behavior on the part of the adopters seems counter to their child's best interest.

Anonymous said...

I think the morality of these situations are more complicated than you are willing accept. Like any parent, the adoptive parents always have a legal and moral obligation to act in the child's best interests. Also, it occurs to me that one of the most effective ways to close an open adoption is to attempt to regain custody by suing the adoptive parents.

I am not sure it is ethical to accuse someone of fraud merely because the other party to an agreement claims not to have understood it due to language difficulties or cultural differences. Didn't Vilma have an attorney? It also seems that according to your last post, the adoptive parents are in fact allowing visitation or at least considering it.

BTW I still don't understand why the child was with Vilma's baby sitter because Vilma had apparently already signed the documents surrendering the child to the adoptive parents. It should not matter that Vilma was at work since she no longer had legal custody of the child (according to New York Adoption law). I am also curious where you are getting your information about this case. Is it on the web somewhere.

It does appear that in Peri's case the adoptive parents were having reservations about the birthmother prior to the actual adoption. I think it would probably have been better for everyone if they had withdrawn.

Mirah Riben said...

1. I totally agree that all parents have an obligation to act in their child's best interest. An I am stating that these parents are WRONg to deny their kids contact with their siblings. That is my opinion. You can disagree.

2. No Vilma had no attorney. Fee relinquishing others ever do. The few who do have an attorney paid for by the adopters.

3. Google: "Vilma Ramirez adoption" for the news stories. I additionally have spoken with some of the parties in both cases.

4. Very interesting comment about the adoptive parents of peri. Do you know them? Where did you come to the opinion that they "were having reservations" prior to the adoption? Indeed, if they were, they should have stopped and looked elsewhere for a child...a child who NEEDED adopting because he or she was an orphan pr had no parenrts able and willign to cera for them! that is my overall pint. Hoe DARE anyone battle natural parents who want their kid? Because they signed a paper they regretted signing? How is that ethical or moral? How is that in the child's best interest to say: I took you away from you loving, capable mother because she signed a paper she regretted signing! In what world does that make sense and how is it defensible??

Anonymous said...

I do not know the adoptive parents of Peri. I reached my conclusion from reading about the evidence case on Carla Moqin's website.

I googled the Vilma Rameriz case and can only find one article from the New York post dated March 20th of this year. All the other information returned by Google seems to be based on this one article.

BTW The article does state that Vilma had her own attorney (Steven Sarishon) found by Blanca Mirarchi, the trusted friend and baby sitter. It also appears that the child was already 10 months old when the consent was signed. It does make the strange claim that the child was "swiped" from the Mirarchis even though the consent had been signed over two weeks before the alleged incident and the lawsuit was not filed until two months after the incident supposedly happened.

What it doesn't mention is the apparent agreement to allow visitation, Vilma's cultural understanding of adoption or any threats of deportation. Given Vilma's lack of ability to communicate in english I assume you got that information from either Vilma's current lawyer or perhaps the Mirarchis?

Mirah Riben said...

Because of pending litigation I am not at liberty to reveal sources, etc. What I can tell you is that the attorney did not come into the picture until AFTER the relinquishment was signed. As I said, the vast majority of relinquishing of mothers have no legal counsel advising them of their rights PRIOR to signing their rights away. This was the one thing that was conveyed accurately in the movie Juno. Adopters and attorney versus adolescent, in that case. Not exactly fair and equitable.

Where did you find the "two week" time period you state? I don't see that in the online articles.

You can dispute who said what, when forever...the bottom line is the bottom line: in all three cases I speak of here, these children who have mothers who love - and siblings.

None of these mothers have been accused of abusing, negelcting or abandoning their chidlren.

It is not right to fight for custody of these mothers' children. Period. Nothing you have said or questions, or corrected, changes that.

There are 120,000 children in U.S. foster care who cannot be reunited with their families. Why didn't any of these people try to adopt one of THOSE children? Why don't they give up and do that now? Why, instead, do they need to fight loving, caring mothers for their children! GIVE ME A BREAK!
Where is the morality in that? In what world does that behavior make sense?

Anonymous said...

The NY Post article states that Steven Sarishohn negotiated on Vilma Rameriz behalf and the Post even interviewed Steve Sarisohn. Who denied wrong doing. Also in New York an independent attorney is a legal requirement.

The significant dates according to the NY Post article are baby was born Feb 15, 2010, papers were signed Dec 23rd, 2010 just over 10 months later, "swiped" Jan 9th over two weeks after papers signed and lawsuit filed March 7th two months later and about a month after the 45 day period expired. I believe the article also describes Vilma as being about 35, not exactly an adolescent.

In both these cases the mothers who had already had children and were not adolescents decided for whatever reason they did not want to raise these children. In the Peri case, the child is now over seven years old. In the Vilma case the child was nearly a year old when she was relinquished. At what point can adoptive parents reasonably expect that the birth parents will stand by their decisions. If these birth mothers longed to maintain custody and care, why didn't they do so?

Mirah Riben said...

Did the NY post say he represented her before or when she signed her rights away?

I suppose you never changed your mind?

Carla was pressured by her husband and Wilma was convinced ny her friend. The they chnaged their mind.

I have you given you my bottom line and my position more than once. I have told you you are free to have your opinion. But this is getting very tiresome repeating the same thing over and over.

I'm done. Finished.

Comments are now closed.

Thank you for visitng my blog.

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