Baby Love Child banner

OH Supreme Court rules re: the putative Fathers registry & Wyrembek seeking custody of “Grayson”

Adoptionland as of late has been all abuzz with noise about Benjamin Wyrembek’s struggle through the courts in his effort to gain his son. Today’s Ohio Supreme Court ruling is but the latest step in Mr. Wyrembek’s long road.

The married woman he was having an affair with, Drucilla Bocvarov, (thus resulting in the pregnancy in the first place) sought to place the boy with another couple, Christy and Jason Vaughn.

Mr. Wyrembek registered with the Ohio putative Fathers registry (also see The Ohio Putative Father Registry–the WHAT? and Slowpoke Comic’s take on PF registries in general) within the Ohio allotted time frame, established paternity, and has sought to block the adoption of his son and gain custody instead.

The case has been dragged out over almost three years now, as the Vaughns used every stalling tactic in the book, and had previously engaged in a major media push in their attempt to garner sympathy.

By way of backgrounder on the case, it’s practically impossible to find articles not biased towards the would-be-adopters perspective, bearing that in mind, here are a couple of paragraphs from a piece from the Courier-Journal about today’s big news:

The Ohio Supreme Court said Thursday that it won’t reconsider a ruling that favored the biological father in a custody and adoption case that involves a boy a Sellersburg couple has raised since birth.The court also lifted the hold it had put on all Ohio lower court action in the matter. The ruling could clear the way for Benjamin Wyrembek, the biological father, to take custody of 2-year-old Grayson Vaughn, whom Christy and Jason Vaughn of Sellersburg have been trying to adopt for nearly three years.

But the full impact wasn’t immediately clear because the Vaughns and Wyrembek agreed at a hearing last month not to talk to the media about the case. Their attorneys did not return messages left Thursday, either.

The sides have been in mediation since a court hearing last month, according to friends and family of the Vaughns.

The Vaughns were in the process of trying to adopt Grayson when Wyrembek stepped forward to say he believed he was the boy’s father.

They’ve been embroiled in court battles since then. Then last month, an Ohio juvenile court judge ordered the Vaughns to return Grayson to Ohio.

When they refused, they faced enforcement of that order at a Floyd Circuit Court hearing. But the Ohio Supreme Court ordered a delay in all of that state’s action on the case until it could decide whether to reconsider an earlier ruling in the case.

In the original 4-3 decision, the Ohio high court had upheld the Lucas County Probate Court’s dismissal of the Vaughns’ adoption petition because the county’s juvenile court had declared Wyrembek the boy’s legal father.

The Supreme Court again ruled 4-3 Thursday to uphold that decision, while acknowledging that “the separation of children from family members is a matter of grave consequence with lasting implication.”

So much of the “reporting” on this case is utter crap.

Pieces like this out of Faux “News” can’t even be bothered to mention the father’s name, though the piece does note:

“The court also lifted a stay it put on all adoption and custody matters for the case.”

As lousy reporting goes, yesterday’s HuffPo turd, from the turdlish HuffPo itself*)  makes a fine example “A.”  In it, Robin Sax bemoans:

The decision by the Ohio court is just plain wrong.  A leading national group, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, is against the Ohio decision and filed a brief to the Court asking it to reconsider the ruling.

Gee, let me see if I can get this straight, the lawyers who make their livings doing adoptions are upset that a Father might regain his son and circumvent the much hoped for adoption the Vaughns want. Now the lawyers are filing a brief to the court to say the adoption should instead go through. It’s not like Adoption Attourneys have any personal financial interest in seeing adoptions go through… right? Give me a fucking break. This is merely adoption lawyers protecting their own business interests, nothing more.

Other remarkably unimpressive “reporting”, follows along the lines of  this Toledo Blade piece, Ohio Supreme Court affirms Swanton man’s right to biological son, first it runs a correct headline, and quotes the Father’s lawyer:

Mr. Wyrembek’s attorney, Alan Lehenbauer, contended that his client had followed all the appropriate legal procedures to obtain custody of his son after learning a former girlfriend was pregnant with his child. Mr. Wyrembek registered with Ohio’s Putative Father Registry and filed a petition in juvenile court to establish paternity and obtain custody of the child.

But then it falsely characterizes the Vaughns as the boy’s “adoptive parents.” This is the kind of lie that slips into such sloppy reporting. The Vaughns have never finalized their ATTEMPTED adoption.

The boy has been in legal limbo for years while the Vaughns dragged this out and worked hard to create the media impression that they boy was already “theirs.”

This is not a legal battle between a Father and an adoptive family. This is a legal battle between a Father who has used every avenue open to him to protect his parental rights while being stalled and thwarted time and again by those who WANT to adopt his son without his consent.

But that matters little, when the papers assume it’s already a done deal, falsely mislabeling the Vaughns as ALREADY the boy’s “adoptive parents:”

Still, nearly three years have elapsed while he battled in court with his son’s adoptive parents, Jason and Christy Vaughn of Sellersburg, Ind.

Then, almost as if to counteract their own headline, the paper runs the ever present photograph of the Vaughns, pulling out the the old dressed alike routine as if to visually assert and reinforce the impression of the Vaughns’ ownership of the boy. No other Father centric narrative is visually presented.

Finally, as always, the facebook page in support of the would-be-adopters is presented without any mention of the other facebook page, Give Grayson Back supporting the Father’s custody claim.

Adoption by Gentle Care did the placement.

(See this PDF of a filing by the Vaughns and the Mother here, where they disingenuously attempt to utilize Roe. w Wade  and other precedents relating to women’s reproductive privacy to maintain that adoption placement decisions are merely some kind of extension of the Mother’s reproductive privacy rights. Clearly, such do not apply to a now born child who also has a Father and  their constitutional rights, as reproductive privacy ends at birth. Other fascinating arguments are utilized in the filing as well, such as the notion that the man the Mother was married to when she had sex with Benjamin Wyrembek who is listed on the boy’s birth certificate as the father, despite having no biological relationship to the boy, should somehow have his “right of privacy as a marital unit”  govern the placement of the boy thereby overriding any right the boy’s biologically related Father should enjoy. Let’s just say it makes for an interesting read and provides some insight into both the thought process and the strategies being utilized by the Vaughns. )

To date, the Vaughns have dragged the case out across almost 3 years and  involved at least eight courts in two states and the federal system.

Birth Mother, First Mother Forum has done a useful breakdown, Transition Time in Contested Adoptions: Just Another Excuse for Delay, of how arguments in favour of “transition time” in these cases are really nothing more than yet another stalling tactic utilized by would-be-adopters to aid their “…but he’s been with us so long!” arguments in favour of keeping any given child.

The Toledo Blade piece with the Vaughn visual also points out a likely next course of action, the likely involvement of the Ohio General Assembly:

“The father of a child who registers with the Putative Father Registry in a timely fashion and who pursues a juvenile court determination of parentage cannot control either the timing of the juvenile court’s decision or the timing of the filing of a petition to adopt by prospective adoptive parents,” Justice Terrence O’Donnell wrote in Thursday’s decision.

“I would urge juvenile courts to give priority to parentage cases and decide them with dispatch. I would also encourage the General Assembly to carefully scrutinize our case law and revisit these statutes to clarify its intent if contrary to our result,” the justice wrote.

Nothing like the courts saying to Ohio legistlators, ‘hey, if you don’t like the outcome, feel free to rewrite the law to devise the kinds of outcomes you want.’

Considering the number of adoptive parents and otherwise adoption related individuals in the General Assembly, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see just that.

* It should also be noted that when the HuffPo runs Discovery Institute propagandists and adoption industry apologists, these two categories are sometimes not two categories at all. Take for example William Pierce, the founder and initial head of the National Council for Adoption (an adoption industry trade lobby, ) who was also a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute in addition to being the Vice President of Democrats for Life. Pierce was but one of many individuals in adoptionland where these intersections or wearing of multiple hats is important to bear in mind.

4 Responses to “OH Supreme Court rules re: the putative Fathers registry & Wyrembek seeking custody of “Grayson””

  1. Erik L. Smith Says:

    Great article! Readers may also wish to consult my article on the federal case the Vaugh’s attorney filed against the father and Ohio judge. See (Bocvarov v. Puffenberger) I explain why the claim of familial privacy cannot apply to adoption placement decisions.

  2. Baby Love Child Says:

    Thanks Erik.

    I believe this is the link readers will want to explore, right?

  3. Lorraine Dusky Says:

    BLC: thanks for all this and the mention of First Mother Forum. This case makes me nuts, as does the way the would-be adopters are always portrayed in the press–as saints–while the real parents are dissed. But it looks like justice finally prevailed. Here’s a quote we keep up as a sidebar at FMF:

    More best interests
    “Short of preventing harm to the child, the standard of ‘best interest of the child’ is insufficient to serve as a compelling state interest overruling a parent’s fundamental rights…. To suggest otherwise would be the logical equivalent to asserting that the state has the authority to break up stable families and redistribute its infant population to provide each child with the “best family.” It is not within the province of the state to make significant decisions concerning the custody of children merely because it could make a ‘better’ decision.”
    — Justice Barbara Madsen, Washington State Supreme Court, In Re Smith (grandparents “rights” case)

    lorraine from

  4. Baby Love Child Says:

    Thanks for adding that Lorraine.

    As for whether justice has “finally prevailed” or not, I think it remains to be seen.

    As you’ve documented so thoroughly, and written to so eloquently, stalling tactics are still most certainly in play here.

Leave a Reply