Thursday, March 25, 1999

Why drag out adoption fight sure to be lost?




BY KAREN SAMPLES
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Not every reader is squarely on the side of the couple who wants to adopt 2-year-old Justin Moore.

        In response to my March 7 column, Jan Kreutzer of Newport sent e-mail offering a different perspective on the custody battle, which has most folks damning the judge who ordered Justin returned to his birth mother.

        Sometimes, Ms. Kreutzer says, would-be adoptive parents compound a child's trauma by dragging out appeals when their case is already a loser. Couples seeking adop tion must prepare themselves for the possibility of heartbreak, she says. The reality is that birth mothers can and do change their minds, and adoptions can and do get fouled up in court.

        Ms. Kreutzer, a lawyer with expertise in custody issues, is annoyed by the media's typical portrayal of adoptive parents as victims in such cases.

        If she were advising a couple with a flawed adoption, “I would tell them that it was an inexcusable disservice to the child they claim to love to keep him until he is 2 or 3 or 4 years old, only to have him face the horror and terror of separation from those he or she thinks are his or her parents.”

        Since my column appeared, Kenton County Circuit Judge Patricia Summe has confirmed her earlier ruling that Justin must be returned to his birth mother, Regina Moore.

        Ms. Moore gave the child to Cheryl and Rich Asente of Girard, Ohio, in February of last year and started seeking his return a month later. The Asentes, already the adoptive parents of Justin's full brother, decided to fight in court.

        They have appealed Judge Summe's order, and Justin will remain with them until the case concludes.

        The situation brought back memories for Bill Lawrence of Villa Hills, whose adopted son is 9 years old.

        “Until all of the paperwork is completed, anything can happen,” he writes.

        Fortunately, his son's birth mother never wavered, he says.

        “Even though we have never met her, we have a world of respect for her decision to bring him into the world, and for the love she had for him to give him up for adoption.”

        Other responses to recent columns:

        • The Dayton-Bellevue Ministerial Association will meet next month to talk about what to do when racial incidents occur. Experts will be present to guide the group, says the Rev. Tom Knight of First Baptist Church in Dayton.

        The ministers are concerned about the harassment of an African-American woman living in Dayton. Last week I wrote about Lavern Wright's decision to move after finding racist graffiti outside her apartment.

        “We felt the community of faith here in Dayton needed to make some kind of statement,” the Rev. Mr. Knight says. “We've been painfully and wrongfully silent up to this point.”

        The meeting will be at 10 a.m. April 20 at St. Bernard Church in Dayton. All are invited to attend.

        Along the same lines, the fledgling Northern Kentucky group called Building Hospitable Communities will meet again at 10 a.m. Saturday at Howard Hall in Covington. Participants will be working on a structure for the organization. All are invited.

        • A Feb. 25 column about Ten Commandments confusion drew e-mail from Ellen Zahorec, a Northern Kentucky artist whose work is influenced by Catholicism.

        “Did you ever wonder what a young child in Catholic school thinks when having to learn about adultery and coveting wives?” she asks. “And since when can a child distinguish between a false god and a real one, and what is a graven image to them?”

        Good questions.

        Robert Martinez of Hebron believes religious values are best taught at home or in churches.

        “Teach your children well and send them out in the world prepared, but don't expect society, government and schools to do the job for you. Christians are too quick to expect everyone to agree with them instead of agreeing that tolerance is the real Christian way.”

        • Finally, Bill Oliver of Erlanger laments the crisis in care for developmentally disabled adults.

        Kentucky has few places for such people to live or work, so they become highly dependent on family caregivers. Aging parents worry about dying before their disabled children, who would have no place to go. The problem was underscored by a recent tragedy in Fort Wright: An elderly man, despondent over his wife's death, killed his disabled son and then himself.

        “In Northern Kentucky, if these poor folks were embryos they'd get a lot more attention from the politicians,” Mr. Oliver writes.

        Thanks for the calls, letters and story ideas, folks. Keep 'em coming.

        Karen Samples is The Cincinnati Enquirer's Kentucky columnist. Her column appears on Sundays and Thursdays in The Kentucky Enquirer. She can be reached at 578-5584 or by e-mail at ksamples@enquirer.com

        Karen Samples is The Enquirer's Kentucky columnist. Her column appears on Sundays and Thursdays in The Kentucky Enquirer. She can be reached at 578-5584 or email her at ksamples@enquirer.com

SAMPLES ARCHIVE