Join 3,558 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Now this is really evil.
January 18, 2001 3:58 PM   Subscribe

Now this is really evil. A woman put her twin babies up for adoption through a "private agency" in California and the agency was paid by an American couple here who adopted them. Then after two months the biological mother asked for a chance for one last good-bye with the babies alone, was granted it, and delivered the babies to a British couple who had also paid the "agency", who then took them to Arkansas and adopted them there, and then returned to Wales. Now the biological mother says she wants them back. The American couple wants them back. The Welsh couple wants them, too. British authorities have taken them away and they're being cared for in foster care. Some judge is going to have a real problem. Probably the "agency", actually a woman working out of her home via a web site, is going to have legal problems -- quite possibly including criminal charges. Here's another account.
posted by Steven Den Beste (20 comments total)

 
So here's the question: who should get them?

But before that question can be asked, the first question is "which court will hear the proceedings"? My opinion is that it should be US district court in Southern California, which is where the "agency" and the American couple are both located and where all the handoffs took place. California State court doesn't have jurisdiction because of the interstate and international aspects. But I don't know enough about the law to know what the British would think of that, and it might actually have to be tried in the Hague.

That said, I think the American couple should get the children. I think the biological mother has demonstrated that she is irresponsible by her actions, and probably wouldn't make a good mother for them. Despite her crocodile tears, I think there's a good chance she'd just do this a third time. The American couple adopted them in good faith and apparently were caring for them well. The second adoption, no matter where it took place, was illegal because it was based on false information. I don't think the Welsh couple knew all the facts, but it remains the case that the babies were given to them under false pretenses. The babies were not eligible for adoption at that time. So I think the Welsh couple are last in line.

That's what I think should happen. What I think will happen is that they'll go back to the biological mother, and heaven help them. It depends on whether the Federal judge considers California state law governing adoption, and if so the law permits the biological mother to change her mind within 90 days.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:08 PM on January 18, 2001


One of the most significant British perspectives on this awful situation is that many couples who desperately want to adopt children find it increasingly difficult to fit the criteria set by local social services. Older couples, in particular, feel discriminated against: this when fertility treatment allows women to give birth long past the time nature intended.
posted by holgate at 4:10 PM on January 18, 2001


If they get the same judge from that earlier post the could ALL share internet visitation time.
posted by th3ph17 at 4:21 PM on January 18, 2001


Holgate, do you think the British will admit to American legal jurisdiction in the case? I ask that openly of all the UK participants here.

I've thought of this more, and it just becomes more prickly legally. The mother has 90 days to change her mind under California law, but she has to go through legal channels to do so; she can't just take them. I think a good case can be made here for charging her with kidnapping. It's possible the Welsh couple could be charged as well, in which case the US could press for extradition. That, at least, would make jurisdiction unambiguous. The biological mother would be charged under California State law since she performed all her actions here. The Welsh couple would be charged in US Federal court because they crossed state lines. They have already admitted that they knew about the California couple before leaving California, which in my mind puts them on the wrong side of the law.

That also makes me think that maybe the American couple would win legally, since they're the only ones in this case who don't appear to have done anything even remotely shady. I hope I'm right.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:23 PM on January 18, 2001


From what I've heard, Steven, if the adoption wasn't legally carried out in the US, then it's not legal here: there's no ambiguity of jurisdiction, thankfully. Which means that the twins may not even have the right of entry to the UK, let alone the right of residence. (That's why they've been made wards of court.) It's a legal minefield: I wouldn't want to have to judge intent here.

An addendum to my earlier comment: there should have been no reason for the Welsh couple to have had to do this, and that's something for local social services (and the DSS) to ponder pretty deeply.
posted by holgate at 4:57 PM on January 18, 2001


I just read that second account (the first link wouldn't come up for me) and it sounds to me like the husband of the couple from Wales is saying, "Give us the kids and tell the Allens to blame the birth mother, she duped them, not us."

Is that supposed to endear anyone?

I'm not saying this isn't necessarily hard for them, but that second article says they found out about the Allens after they got to California and paid their money. So, they knew that what they were taking part in was illegal and they did it anyway? How does that make sense? I mean, I get it, they wanted children (and obviously desperately), but it seems intensely foolish to essentially steal two children and then slink back to Wales quietly...
posted by sarajflemming at 5:55 PM on January 18, 2001


The most interesting part about this is the price structure. From the Daily Mail:

The thousands of babies for sale on the Internet are valued according to their age, colour and health.

Offered for adoption by American businesses, a white baby can command in excess of GBP 20,000; older, coloured children can be bought for less than GBP 5,000.

There are discounts on children born with disabilities.

"How much is that Mongoloid in the window?"

many [British] couples who desperately want to adopt children find it increasingly difficult to fit the criteria set by local social services...

:::ahem::: Socialism ::cough::
posted by aaron at 7:51 PM on January 18, 2001



Sara, actually who he said to blame was the "adoption agency" woman, not the mother.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:26 PM on January 18, 2001


Aaron: Babies are essentially being sold on the open market-- yay free enterprise!-- but _socialism_ is to blame for this situation? I don't follow.
posted by wiremommy at 8:46 PM on January 18, 2001


Wiremommy: I believe Aaron means socialized medicine telling people what proceedure they are entitled to utilize.
posted by thirteen at 8:55 PM on January 18, 2001


That's right, thirteen. I think it's deplorable that the British Government is deciding for families whether or not they're "worthy" of raising another human being. That's for the families to decide, unless they have one of a few obvious reasons why they couldn't do it (too poor to raise an extra child, etc).

And I never said selling babies on the open market is a great example of free enterprise. I merely found the pricing system amusing.
posted by aaron at 10:03 PM on January 18, 2001



The most disturbing part of the whole affair is how little attention is being paid to the needs of the only innocents in the whole affair - the children.
I'm not usually one for histrionics but all I see in the reports of this is the *wants* of the various couples involved. No mention is made of the needs of the children and the undoubted damage this is doing to them at a time of life when they should be making associations with parent figures. A quote from Kindall, the Welsh 'father' - "It certainly can't be in the children's interests for them to be placed in foster care. "
It wasn't in the childrens interest to be traded like commodities, yet the Kindalls participated and furthered this trade. They also took a risk by bringing the babies into the UK on a 6 month tourist visa, hoping to naturalise them at a later date - what would they do if their application for citizenship were refused?

Holgate: there should have been no reason for the Welsh couple to have had to do this
These people don't sound like responsible parents to me, it's little wonder that they couldn't or wouldn't go through official channels. I heard on the Today programme yesterday they are already touting the film rights to this.
The adoption system in this country is by no means perfect, but speaking as an adoptee, all I think when I see couples like this is there but for the grace of god (or at least a probably-too-severe screening programme) go I.
posted by Markb at 2:27 AM on January 19, 2001


I think it's deplorable that the British Government is deciding for families whether or not they're "worthy" of raising another human being. That's for the families to decide, unless they have one of a few obvious reasons why they couldn't do it (too poor to raise an extra child, etc).

aaron's rod, meet aaron's back.

1. The tightening of adoption regulations has been going on for the past 20 years. So I assume that Thatcher was too socialist for you. Pah.

2. From your statement, I'm guessing that in the US you can just go and adopt a kid if you've got the money, even if you want to fricasée it for lunch?

Guess what? Social services has to look after the adoptions that go wrong. With public funds. That's why they've tightened the rules.

And to be honest, I'm starting to agree with Markb: having heard this Welsh couple on their publicity tour of the networks over recent days, I get the feeling that the social workers made exactly the right decision here.
posted by holgate at 5:10 AM on January 19, 2001


I think the name you are groping about for, Markb, is Kilshaw, not Kindall.

But you made me look. Whew, for a moment I thought these yahoos might be distantly related to me.
posted by kindall at 7:31 AM on January 19, 2001


Holgate: I misunderstood the intent of your post that Aaron was commenting on too.

The line aaron quoted when coupled with this:

Older couples, in particular, feel discriminated against: this when fertility treatment allows women to give birth long past the time nature intended

gave me the impression older couples were turning to adoption because fertility treatment was being refused. And that they were frustrated because that avenue was becoming more difficult too.
posted by thirteen at 7:49 AM on January 19, 2001


thirteen: if anything, the opposite applies. You can get fertility treatment at later and later ages these days, especially if you go private, but try to adopt a child in your 40s, and you run into all sorts of bureaucratic nightmares. I can understand the concerns, after several notorious incidents of mis-placed trust in adoptive parents, but I wonder whether it's really possible for social workers in their 20s to judge the "parental needs" of people approaching middle age.
posted by holgate at 9:39 AM on January 19, 2001


Maybe she didn't want the first couple to have the babies because they named them Kiara and Keyara.

(it's not clear whether they did or the birth mom did, actually).
posted by beth at 1:22 PM on January 19, 2001


Sorry Kindall, that'll teach me to refer to my sources while I post as well as beforehand.

posted by Markb at 4:27 PM on January 19, 2001


The BBC reports that there's hell to pay in Arkansas. First, the biological mother appears to have perjured herself by stating under oath that she had been a resident in Arkansas for 30 days, whereas she told a British tabloid she had not. Apparently they're considering an indictment.

Second, if she had not actually lived in Arkansas for 30 days, then the adoption by the Welsh couple would be invalid.

Both of these would seem to significantly strengthen the hand of the American couple in the case.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:15 PM on January 19, 2001


Let this be a lesson to all the 'internet adoption agencies' that want to survive the dotcom slump - implement inventory tracking!
posted by varmint at 3:11 PM on January 22, 2001


« Older Use your Palm...  |  Tom Alciere Resigns... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments