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Pregnant and Single? "Coercion in Adoption is Alive and Well in the USA: Tarin's Story" by Tarin's mother, Melinda

Coercion in adoption is alive and well in the USA. The latest and greatest tactic for coercing young mothers into signing a binding consent to adoption is through the use of a pre-birth consent and dual representation.
What young person who is inexperienced in legal matters would ever question her own lawyer's dedication and honesty towards her? This misguided trust is a powerful tool used to convince a young mother that she is legally bound to an adoption agreement before she actually is, ensuring her consent will be obtained for the binding relinquishment.

Lawyers are not the only ones using this tactic. Trusting your counsellor is just as automatic as trusting your lawyer. You may spend weeks or months talking with your adoption councilor before giving birth. She seems so sympathetic towards your fears and concerns and is dedicated to reassuring you, and you firmly believe it is your interest only that she cares about. But don't be fooled! If an adoptive family is already chosen she will be sharing with them vital information concerning the things you want to hear so that they will know exactly what to say to you to ensure you do give them your baby.

For my daughter, Tarin, trusting an attorney in dual representation turned out to be the most heartbreaking mistake of her life. It was just two weeks before her due date when she went to see a new doctor, unaware that the receptionist in that doctor's office was on a mission to find a baby for her friend as soon as possible. Prior to that day, Tarin had never even considered the adoption of her child, but agreed to meet with the receptionist's friend for supper after her appointment. Pressure was applied to meet again the next evening with the potential adoptive couple's lawyer.

The lawyer was friendly, and seemed caring, always smiling, laughing and comforting. In no way did she appear threatening or dangerous or corruptly evil. She offered to represent Tarin, free of charge. How much nicer could a lawyer be? The first step was to get a pre-birth consent from both her and the baby's father. "This pre-birth consent does not commit you do the adoption plan," she said. It was only to be a non-binding form to show your intent to continue looking into the option of adoption with them. The potential adoptive father did not want to risk getting his heart broken, and so until you are willing to sign something, to show an intent, he would not agree to meet. Seemed harmless enough, though a day was hardly long enough to give serious consideration to the idea.

Arrangements were made for the signing the following Monday. The meeting began with friendly small-talk and an explanation of the importance of continuing contact between mother and child in what was to be an open adoption with lots of visitation. Once the papers were signed, suddenly the casual non-threatening talk turned to one of legal issues. "We got the judge I wanted. He is an adoptive father," said the lawyer to the potential adoption mother. Seemed innocent enough, but there was more to come.

Tarin's lawyer started explaining that a pre-birth consent's validity was up to the discretion of the judge in the event that either parent chose not to sign again 12 hours after birth. This was said for reassurance of course. It came across as, "don't worry, if Eric doesn't show up at the hospital to sign again, it doesn't matter because a pre-birth consent is binding at the judge's discretion and this judge does consider them binding. Although her words were true to some degree, she failed to specify that this was only in regards to a father's pre-birth consent to adoption. The purpose was to ensure that Tarin and I believed that she was already legally bound to the adoption plan.

"You'll have to sign again after birth, but if you try to change your mind it's going to cost you a huge amount of money," she said. From there the conversation led into what the results would be if either party changed their mind. "What if they change their mind," Tarin asked. The lawyer responded, "then it will cost them a huge amount of money." It was explained to Tarin that it would have to be settled in court and the party who changed her, or their minds would be responsible for the payment of everybody's legal fees. "I will have to withdraw and testify, so you will both have to find new attorneys."

After the friendly, but none-the-less threatening and deceitful discussion about the legal issues, the clincher was in returning to the discussion of visitation. We were again reassured that they were looking forward to frequent visitation from Tarin. But the lawyer made sure she knew that if a conflict occurred and they had to go to court to adopt in a contested adoption, they could decide to close the adoption. Without this concern, the other threats would have had little result. After all, what was there to lose aside from money if she wanted to keep her baby. Contact! Knowing her baby and being a part of her life! That was what she had to lose if she protested.

A week later 8 lb. 5 oz, Katelynn was born, healthy and perfect. Tarin knew the moment she laid eyes on her sweet baby girl she could never stand to no longer be a part of her life. She wanted to take her home. She loved her with all her heart, like no love she had ever dreamed possible. But she also knew that if she did not go through with the adoption, they would take her to court based on her pre-birth consent and that the judge was an adoptive father who considered pre-birth consents to be binding. They would make her pay for everyone's legal fees preventing her from being able to go to college in the fall, and also would never allow her to see her child again. She was devastated.

At 12 hours after birth, the second relinquishment was to be signed. By ten hours after birth, she was so distraught over the thought of the loss of her baby girl she could barely speak. Out of fear of never seeing her daughter again, and with regular reassurances throughout the day from the adoptress that Tarin was welcome at their home any time, at 12 hours after Katelynn's birth, she signed the paper and was shortly released from the hospital, falling apart in hysterical tears immediately upon stepping outside the hospital.

The next morning, she begged me to call a lawyer and see if there was anything she could do to get her baby back. I did, but the news was bad. The lawyer said that once a consent is signed, 12 hours after birth, there was nothing you can do. We went back to the hospital and told the adoptress that it was just too hard and that Tarin wanted her baby back. But she made it clear that was not going to happen. Oh she was nice enough about it. She reassured us that Tarin should stop by every time she was in town and again encouraged her to come by each day during those first three weeks that she would be taking off of work, so they could get better acquainted. Tarin's feeling were attributed to hormones.

Knowing there was nothing to do, and so much to lose if she made any effort to contest, Tarin accepted the visitation and tried to deal with the lose of her daughter. Three weeks later, the adoptress told her that her husband had decided he was not comfortable with the visitation. "If it were up to me, you could come by any time. But he just isn't comfortable with the idea." Tarin would still be able to see her daughter on her birthday, and perhaps another time or two, and she would not cancel the visitation that was already scheduled for next week for her grandmother to meet little Katelynn, but other than that, visits would be few and far between if at all. How could she trust that they would even allow her to see her on her birthday, after they had already lied to her about wanting frequent contact? She knew she could not live with that, and the adoption would be final in two weeks. She hired a lawyer to contest the adoption.

Court was an experience that I still find impossible to believe. We actually thought it was going well. I was the first to testify. While on the witness stand, I was shown a letter that was supposedly given to Tarin at the first meeting. It was suppose to have been written by the adopters' adopted son's natural grandparents. I was asked to identify it. I was familiar with the letter, but by the grace of God, in that one slight moment, my eyes went straight to one word 2/3 down the page. The word, "Jarvis" had been inserted, where on the original letter no last name had been provided.

The adoptress had told me their last name was "Johns" and had encouraged me to call them. But she didn't know their number and "they are very poor" she told me. I wrote down their name and did try to call them later, but there was no "Tom and Barb Johns" listed and so I assumed that because of poverty, they either did not have a phone or were unlisted due to irritating calls from creditors.

The judge then held in his hands, the altered version of that letter and the real letter that did not provide a name. I had testified that this was not the real letter. That the name we had been told was"Johns." The judge even pointed out that even the font was different. This evidence had been altered for court.

Depositions had been done earlier, and the lawyer had admitted that she had made a comment to Tarin about the judge in the case being an adoptive father. However, Tarin's lawyer did not view her statement as coercion, because it was a simple statement of fact, so he did not ask her that question again on the witness stand. When Tarin testified to this statement made by the attorney, the judge instantly doubted her credibility, pointing out how unlikely it was that such a statement had been made on December 20, when he had not been assigned to the case until the day after the baby was born on December 29th. Again, we thought we had them. Though the judge was unaware of this, and the attorney had been dismissed, if the adoptress did not admit the statement had been made, Tarin's attorney would be able to recall the attorney on rebuttal and ask the question again. She would have no choice but to admit that she told Tarin this about the judge, 9 days before there was a judge on the case. To avoid additional related questions on the subject in rebuttal, the adoptress admitted the statement had in fact been made.

Katelynn's father did not want Tarin to win, and he testified for the adopters. His testimony was well rehearsed but when he was subjected to cross-examination, and the same questions were posed in different ways he completely changed his answers. After numerous contradictions, it was obvious that his answers had been rehearsed, so Tarin's lawyer asked him how many times he had met with the adopter's attorney to rehearse his testimony. He answered, "a few." Wanting a specific number, her lawyer asked him how many that was. He said, "once or twice." Well which was it, once or twice, asked Tarin's lawyer. "Once, I think," he answered.

Even Eric's mother joined in on the battle to assist the adopters. While I was under cross examination, I was handed an affidavit, signed by Katelynn 's other grandmother, claiming I had been harassing her and had tried to get her to get Eric to lie for Tarin. Despite the disclosure rules, Tarin's lawyer had never before been given a copy of this. Fortunately, when Malissa took the stand, she completely fell apart and admitted that it was untrue. The deceitful means that these people were willing to go to, many of which involved illegal court activity, was so obvious that it looked like the court process was going well.

The attorney had even admitted to making comments about a pre-birth consent being considered binding but pointed out that in her opinion, though never challenged in a court of law, a father's pre-birth consent is binding, so the statement was true, thus not coercion. It was not her fault Tarin never asked if she was referring to all pre-birth consents or just a father's pre-birth consent. As Tarin's lawyer, it certainly seemed to us that she would have had the obligation to make that difference clear.

The testimony got long and tedious, and difficult questions were asked that could have shown fraudulent and coercive behavior towards her client. Disbarment was an obvious concern. More than 60 times, she would not give a direct answer to questions asked of her. She preceded every difficult answer with words that literally meant that the statement to follow, may or may not be accurate. Again and again, she preceded her answers with, "I would have," "I might have," "I may have," "I probably," and other phrases that protected her from perjury charges if it were later shown that the words that followed these phrases were inaccurate. Her evasion of answers that specified what actually occurred was brought to the attention of the judge, who seems unconcerned by it.

At the time of the pre-birth consent signing, another form was also signed. This form was for the purpose of approving the lawyer's dual representation of both parties. Tarin was asked to sign page 3. At the bottom of page three, the lawyer signed, just below a statement which stated that the adopters had already agreed to the same terms of this contract. Page four was for their signature and consent to the terms, which included the fact that if a conflict developed, the attorney would withdraw and be called to testify against them. Page four was not signed, but we assumed they had already signed another copy and did not question this at the time.

Though every witness for the adopters proved non-credible, though they were clearly caught at having altered evidence, though there was strong indication of manufactured evidence and though many coercive remarks were admitted to, Tarin lost in district court. On appeal, the fact that the lawyer had evaded answering so many questions was brought to the attention of the appellate court, who ruled that in dual representation, once a conflict occurs, the attorney must withdraw from "ONE" but not both of her dual clients. This left the adopters protected under attorney-client rules.

We filed a complaint with the disciplinary administrator, because the lawyer had signed the statement stating that the adopters had agreed that she could testify against them, and yet no such signed agreement was turned over under sopoena order. This is fraud, if she claimed to have their signed consent in order to get Tarin to agree to the terms, but in reality did not have their consent. The lawyer admitted that she did not have their signed consent, but claimed that at the time she signed that paper, saying that they had agreed she could testify against them in the event of conflict, she did have it, but later lost it. The disciplinary administrator saw this as a reasonable explanation for what occurred. Tarin went on to the Kansas State Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court, both of which denied her petition for their review. A rehearing request was also denied by the United States Supreme Court in January, 2002.

Immediately following the US Supreme Court denial for review, the United Nations, Human rights Commission was contacted and were interested in hearing more. They had established the office of Special Rapporteur of the sale of children in 1990 to address international adoption fraud problems. In those past 11 years, they had been able to establish that the primary source of the problems in the international adoption industry was the high demand for children by USA citizens. For this reason, they were interested in USA domestic adoption fraud and coercion.

We were able to send the United Nations, a full copy of the court transcripts of everyone's testimony and piles of other evidence. From this they could see that fraud and coercion were not even in dispute. Much had been admitted to, crimes had been clearly proven and not denied, and yet, still, four separate courts declined to return Katelynn to her mother, including the highest federal court in the country. With this much evidence, Dr. Juan Miguel Petit, special Rapporteur on the sale of Children for the United Nations, Human Rights Commission, decided that if evidence could be gathered to show this was not an isolated incident, action could be sought.

It was time to get busy and to persuade other USA victims of adoption fraud and coercion to turn in their stories as well. With the help of internet friends who had themselves lost children to coercive adoption practices, the word spread fast. Articles were sent to the UN showing federal involvement in promoting adoption. Financial motivations were shown, proving that the state governments had financial motivation for permitting fraudulent adoption practices in private, agency and Child Protective Services adoptions. Numerous cases had complaints against the United States Government submitted for action. Court case decisions were sent in, showing that in some states, father's rights to their children had been completely done away with and others showing that when a parent could not parent, priority was given to strangers to adopt, rather than allowing relatives to raise the child.

Fraudulent and coercion tactics in private and agency adoptions were described to the UN and evidence provided. Most importantly, it was shown beyond any shadow of doubt that all three branches of the government were participating together in promoting these coercive and fraudulent practices, defying the basis human rights of parents to raise their own children, and permitting the sale of children who were obtained through fraud and coercion to infertile American couples who could pay tens of thousands of dollars for a baby.

The evidence was so overwhelming that the UN Human Rights commission decided to take the most influential means available in handling the problem. They established a special committee known as a 1503 committee to take over the case, exam the evidence and confront the United States Government with demands of action in both general adoption practices and on some specific cases. This committee takes over on May 24th, 2002, and decisions will be made as to what action will be demanded of the USA government in August 2002. If President Bush refuses to cooperate, the full UN Human Rights commission will vote on what action to take against the United States government in April of 2003. To avoid this, we are hoping that President Bush, realizing the immensity of the evidence will agree to voluntarily take action to stop these coercive adoption practices and to prosecute those responsible in recent cases and to return the youngest of the children involved, to their mothers. Time will tell.

Submitted by Melinda Walmsley
PO Box 136, Minneapolis Kansas 67467

(birth-) Mothers Exploited By Adoption
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