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Response to DDN Editorial (July 27)


JULY 27, 2010

Response to DDN Editorial (July 27)

In response to Sunday, July 25, 2010 Dayton Daily News editorial "Baby Vanessa Needs a Parent."

The legal case you referred to in "Baby Vanessa Needs a Parent" is both difficult and heart-breaking. Mr. Mills from the start has sought a remedy for this case through the judicial system that would recognize his relationship as his child’s father and place her in a good home in Dayton.  As you note in your editorial, "Mr. Mills has done all the right things to protect his rights" and it is "not Mr. Mills' fault that this case has dragged on for so long..." 

JULY 27, 2010

Response to DDN Editorial (July 27)

In response to Sunday, July 25, 2010 Dayton Daily News editorial "Baby Vanessa Needs a Parent."

The legal case you referred to in "Baby Vanessa Needs a Parent" is both difficult and heart-breaking. Mr. Mills from the start has sought a remedy for this case through the judicial system that would recognize his relationship as his child’s father and place her in a good home in Dayton.  As you note in your editorial, "Mr. Mills has done all the right things to protect his rights" and it is "not Mr. Mills' fault that this case has dragged on for so long..." 

Mr. Mills wishes to have a relationship with his daughter and continues to believe this matter should be tried in the courts, not the media.  The essence of our system of justice is that a court decides such issues based on all the evidence presented to it.  As the late Chief Justice Thomas Moyer has stated, "We sometimes lose sight of the fact that Legal Aid representation is important to us as a society, not just to those who receive the representation.  Because we live by the rule of law, it means that everyone is bound by the same rules and that means that everyone must have access to those who implement or enforce the rules."  

The case raises serious issues regarding the rule of law for involuntary adoptions, in which one of the parents has not consented to the adoption. An involuntary adoption can lead to the loss of parental rights – something that usually happens only when the government decides a parent is not fit to be a parent. LAWO has had many cases in which clients have presented concerns about the lack of due process protections for the non-consenting parent in adoption proceedings. This case raises such concerns, including how the child was taken from Dayton to California without Mr. Mills’ knowledge, let alone consent, and whether appropriate legal process has been followed since to resolve the child’s future. The due process issues are serious issues that need to be addressed, not just for Mr. Mills' benefit, but for the benefit of all involved in adoption proceedings.

In addition, aside from Mr. Mills there is a good home for this child with her grandmother and two siblings (all of whom have the same parents) in the Dayton area, or with other family. The removal of the child to California not only removed her from Mr. Mills, but also from her extended family. The adoption proceedings being pursued in California, despite Mills' desire to have his child be with her family in this area, have led to the current situation.

Kevin C. Mulder
Executive Director
Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc.