Thursday, December 14, 2000

Parents opt for jail over visitation




The Associated Press

        GREENUP, Ky. — The adoptive parents of a 9-year-old girl say they will go to jail rather than submit to a judge's order granting visitation rights to her biological grandmother.

        David and Melanie Brown of Worthington, who have 10 adopted and foster children, have steadfastly refused to allow the visits.

        Greenup County Circuit Judge Lewis Nicholls ruled last week that the Browns, already in contempt for not obeying his order, will have to go to jail each time Odessa doesn't visit her grandmother, Shirley Kitts of Franklin Furnace, Ohio.

        Ms. Kitts couldn't be reached for comment.

        Social workers removed the girl from her home near ly seven years ago and placed her in foster care with the Browns, who adopted her. The Browns don't want Odessa to have contact with anyone in her biological family. They also say Odessa doesn't want to visit.

        Judge Nicholls said if the Browns don't allow Odessa to go to the grandmother's home this weekend, they must report to the Greenup County Detention Center at 5 p.m. Saturday to be locked up over the visitation period, which is until 7 p.m. Sunday.

        “Both of us will be going to jail,” Mr. Brown said Monday.

        “I'm not a grandparent hater,” Mr. Brown said. “But when you try to disrupt an adoption for a little girl who has a new family who loves her very much, I don't think that's a wise thing.”

        The Browns tried to use a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued in June to get the visitation order rescinded. The court, ruling on a Washington case, did not give parents absolute veto power over who visits their children. But the justices said normally there should be no reason for the state to inject itself into the private realm of the family.

       



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- Parents opt for jail over visitation