Ohio Adoption Agency with Unethical Past Involved in Another Relinquishment Battle

Adoption by Gentle Care, the Columbus, Ohio-based agency that was the placement agency in the Grayson Vaughn case, is refusing to honor a relinquishment revocation. Attorney, James Albers, is heading the battle against agency he helped found.
By: Jim Albers
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Columbus - Ohio - US

COLUMBUS, Ohio - May 2, 2014 - PRLog -- Allegations of obtaining an illegal consent to relinquish to adoption are being made against Columbus-based Adoption by Gentle Care (AGC). Three days after consent, the mother of the child born on March 31st, 2014 during a scheduled C-section, Carri Stearns, requested that AGC return her child to her custody. To date, the agency has refused. Stearns has since retained James Albers  of Albers Law Firm (http://www.alberslawfirm.com/) as her counsel; a move that has raised many eyebrows as Albers had previously not only worked with, but was a founder of the Ohio-based agency.

A Pattern of Questionable Behavior and Poor Placements?

This is not the first time Adoption by Gentle Care, also known as Gentle Care Adoption Services Inc., has been in the limelight.  Adoption by Gentle Care was the adoption agency that placed the infant son of HYPERLINK "http://www.firstmotherforum.com/2010/10/adoption-by-gentle-care-being-sued-by.html"Benjamin's Wyrembek, called Grayson Vaughn with an adoptive couple. Like Stearns, Wyrembek requested his child returned to his custody when he was 17 days old, but the legal battle continued for years. Eventually the three year old child was returned to his biological father by the Ohio Supreme court.

The Adoption by Gentle Care agency was found to be in contempt of court for not complying with a court order relating to this case earlier in 2010 as well. Another case and lawsuit can be found going back to 2001 (http://www.sptimes.com/News/012301/TampaBay/Dad__adoption...) by  Adoption by Choice in Florida, started in 1990 as a branch of the Ohio agency, Gentle Care.  The Board of Directors  are named in another case here. (http://statecasefiles.justia.com/documents/ohio/eighth-di...)  Even more horrible, there is the tragic story of multiple adoptees dying under suspicious circumstances in an adoptive home where Adoption by Gentle Care (http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/20033) was, again, the agency that made the placements.

Obtaining an Illegal Adoption Consent?

While Ohio adoption law does take adoption consents as irrevocable upon signature, the consent is under fire as accusations that birthmother social worker, Kelli  Shoemaker, employed by AGC and acting on their behalf, instructed Stearns ahead of time to omit the fact that she was on doctor-prescribed painkillers. The consent, taken just 72 hours after the surgery, took place in Stearns residence with only Shoemaker and another witness not known to Stearns. The admission and alleged deception that consent was given on Vicodin, with a possibility of both Versed and Dilaudid also in her system having been administered by IV, is only one of a series of ethical concerns.  The relinquishment consent was taped, but the tape was paused -- also bringing up questions.

Citing multiple infractions of Ohio revised legal code chapters 51 and 31, accusations against Adoption by Gentle Care include:

·         Instructed  Stearns to deny knowledge of the father's identity. And, did not follow up to make sure that his parental rights were acknowledged nor that his consent to relinquish was taken voluntarily, as is his right.

·         Ignored that she felt pressured to relinquish and would not be considering adoption at all except to defer to the wishes of her significant other.

·         Advised  this potential birthmother to be deceitful regarding her Native American blood to avoid ICWA complications and keep the adoption on a time track of ease.

Trina Saunders, director of Adoption by Gentle Care, has not commented at this time, but documents show that "It is the adoption policy of Gentle Care to assure all parties that all recruitment activities and materials shall be in compliance with the “Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978” (rules 5101:2-42-48 to 5101:2-42-58 of the Administrative Code)." Compliance with the ICWA would mean that due to Stearn's Pottawani heritage, the child's placement must be approved by the tribe even if she was not yet enrolled as a tribal member.  Inclusion of the ICWA might mean that this contested adoption could become the next Veronica Brown story.

Hoping for a Quick and Happy Ending

The baby is just a  month old, and if returned, all parties would be able to put this unfortunate event behind them.

"I just want him back with us," states his mother. "I'm a good mom. We have a nice house and family; he has five other brothers and sisters. I don't understand why they just won't give him back. It's so simple. I wasn't myself and I panicked. I just did what they said. It was a mistake."

Current  Ohio adoption law, however, does not allow for any mistakes or regret in the case of voluntary relinquishment. Other states allow a "revocation period" (anywhere from a few days to 45 in some cases) where mothers planning on relinquishment can change their minds and reclaim their babies. In Stearn's case, a mere legality of 7 days, even 72 hours, would have saved her from the heartbreak of the now legal battle.

Meanwhile, baby Camden is at an unknown location and it is not known whether he is even with the adoptive family chosen by Stearns originally.  With results pending from a paternal DNA test and the ethical allegations, this adoption is playing out to be anything but "another way to grow one's family."  Now knowing that the child's original family would like him back and nullifying any real reason for relinquishment, any family who takes this child in will have to ask themselves if they  wish to take on the long and expensive process of fighting to be the home for a child who doesn't really need a home. The majority of child welfare advocates say separating a child from biological family should be a last resort.

Through the attorney, it has been stated that Adoption by Gentle Care claimed they would place Camden with another family from their agency who was waiting to adopt, instead of returning him to his mother and waiting family. Critics wonder if this action would really be serving the best interests of "everyone involved, especially those of the child" as the agency website claims. It would be much more in the true best interests of all involved, if AGC simply admitted a mistake and returned the baby.

Contact Info:

Adoption by Gentle Care is located at 370 S 5th St Ste 2 Columbus, OH 43215   614-469-0007.  https://adoptionbygentlecare.org/

A. Patrick Hamilton of Hamilton Law Office at 400 S. 5th Street, Suite 103
Columbus, OH 43215 (614) 464-4532 is acting on behalf of AG

James Albers, Attorney at Law at Albers Law Firm 88 North 5th Street Columbus, Ohio 43215(614) 464-4414, Ext. 2 (tel:%28614%29%20464-4414%2C%20Ext.%C2%A02) www.alberslawfirm.com

Claudia C D'Arcy
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Tags:Adoption, Fraud, Relinquishment, Custody
Industry:Family, Legal
Location:Columbus - Ohio - United States
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