Monday, April 16, 2007

Return Baby Evelyn to Stephanie Bennett!

This blog is part of a united effort by bloggers concerned with adoption issues to focus attention on the unethical (and quite possibly criminal) conspiracy of the "A Child is Waiting Adoption Agency" to deprive Stephanie Bennett of her daughter Evelyn. But as important as the rightful return of this child to her family may be, this is more than an issue of one woman's struggle against the "bad apple" practices of a non-compliant renegade adoption agency (although it is that), because the disconnection between simple justice and fairness that sits like a bloated toad at the bottom of this case underlies the institution of adoption as it is practiced in the US today.

The adoption system in the US promotes dual legal representation of first parents and adoption parents. One attorney represents the interests of both parties to the adoption, with adoptive parents covering the fees. This fundamentally taints any advice proffered to first parents as their interests may by definition conflict with the adoptive parents. The adoption system in the US promotes minor teen relinquishment without parental consent or knowledge. The adoption system in the US promotes extreme measures to ensure that fathers are left out of the loop. Most fundamentally, adoption in the US is a market driven institution, with little regulation over its practitioners. As long as adoption is a fee-based, "pay-to-play" market, practitioners have little incentive and much to gain from treating mothers like Stephanie, their families, and their children, as disposable dupes, a means to an end, as inconveniences to be lied to.

A year ago (April 17, 2006) Stephanie Bennett, of Canton , Ohio, delivered Evelyn Joann Bennett. Stephaine was 17, confused and vulnerable, and her parents agreed to help her raise the baby. Even so, Stephanie was put under a great deal of emotional stress from Evelyn's father, who threatened not only her, but her parents as well. The threats escalated, and on September 8, 2006, Stephanie confided to her high school guidance counselor, who referred her to the "A Child is Waiting Adoption Agency", and who arranged for her to meet with an agency rep the very next day. The next day, in the counselor's office, Stephanie met with the agency representative and signed initial paperwork. An attorney was present, provided for by the agency, to oversee the process.

It has been alleged that "A Child is Waiting" provided inadequate counseling to Stephanie, but it is clear that they and their attorney provided legal advice to her; after the meeting Stephanie ran away from her parents house in order to avoid DNA testing to discovery Evelyn's paternity and presumably to keep her parents from interdicting. If the identity of Evelyn's father could not be positively affirmed, by DNA, then his consent wouldn't be required to place Evelyn for adoption. If her parents didn't know what was going on, they couldn't protest. On September 12, 2006, an agency representative went to Stephanie's hidey hole and collected Evelyn.

Stephanie's parents found out anyway, and gained temporary custody of Evelyn and went to "A Child is Waiting" accompanied by the police. Agency staff denied involvement or knowledge of either Stephanie or Evelyn's whereabouts.

In the ensuing months Stephanie and her parents have reconciled and are united in their desire to raise Evelyn. They've been vetted by social workers. They've pursued legal actions. They've done what any parent and family would do if someone hoodwinked them into giving up a child, they've fought back. But it's not easy, the Bennetts don't have a lot of money, and in the zero sum game of American adoption, possession is 9/10ths of the law. In a waiting game, "A Child is Waiting" wins; every day that Evelyn is in the custody of someone else, they can claim that she will be irreperably harmed if she is removed from "the only home she knows".

The Bennetts need our help and support. Whether it's donating to their legal fees or reproducing this blog or writing your own version, please step up.

An account has been opened for Stephanie Bennett to help defray the cost of attorney fees.

They have set up an account at :

US Bank, 123 N. Reed St.,Malvern, OH 44644

You can make checks payable to "Send Evelyn Home" and they will be deposited into the correct account.

*A podcast of a segment of the Adoption Show with an interview with Stephanie's parents, broadcast on April 15, 2007, is available here.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Excellent! Thank you so very much for getting this message out to the community. The more who comment on this, the better for the Bennetts, and the community at large. This injustice must not be allowed to go unstated.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

You managed to sum up - quite neatly and eloquently - exactly what is so disturbing about this case. I'm going to link your post. Thank you!

1:12 PM  
Blogger Marley Greiner said...

You've put it all down succinctly. This is the face of the US adoption industry. The issue is much larger than the Bennetts. While we want Evelyn home, we also need to focus on the big picture.

8:28 PM  
Blogger BB Church said...

thanks everyone!

3:03 PM  

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