A 2-year-old baby girl will stay with her adoptive parents at least until late December while the child's biological father fights for custody, a judge has ruled.
Two years ago, in June 2008, Andrea Conley gave up her daughter, Vanessa, for adoption shortly after giving birth in Dayton, Ohio. She chose Stacey Doss, of Orange County, California to be her adoptive mother, through a California-based adoption lawfirm.
A judge has requested more legal briefs from both sides and has ruled Vanessa is to remain with her adoptive parents until December 24.
After Vanessa was born, Andrea Conley signed a document under penalty of perjury stating she didn't know whom the birth father was. And Doss said Conley told her Vanessa was conceived during a one–night- stand.
“She could not raise the girl,” said Darrel Conley, Andrea’s father. “It was the best thing she could do for the baby."
But the birth mother wasn't telling the truth. Several days after taking custody of Vanessa, Doss learned that Benjamin Mills had shown up at the hospital looking for his baby girl. Four months later, DNA tests proved that Vanessa was indeed his daughter.
"For most people, it is difficult to imagine anything more painful to a father than having their child offered up for adoption in a distant state without his knowledge or consent. This is exactly what happened in this case," Mills attorney, Elizabeth Gorman, said in a statement to NBCLA.
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Doss used an adoption attorney to help to help facilitate Vanessa’s open adoption. It's unclear if his adoption law firm will pursue criminal prosecution of Conley.
“It is still plausible that she had sex with Mills and a one-night stand, and truly did not know who the father was,” said Doss. “But I do think she did what she did because she is a victim of domestic violence.”
Mills and Conley have had a tumultuous on again, off again relationship that spans several years and two other children, both daughters.
Mills has been convicted of multiple domestic violence charges, the most recent in 2005, when he served prison time for beating Andrea Conley.
"He's a terrible man with a long history of violence," said Conley’s mother Pam from her home in Dayton. "He about beat my daughter to death a few years ago."
Andrea Conley has been arrested several times, including convictions for drug possession and violating a protection order in 2008.
If Doss loses her appeal, she said it's likely Vanessa will be placed with Mills' mother. And she believes Mills will have supervised visits with Vanessa.
Doss also said the support for her is even very strong in the birth father's hometown.
“People are outraged and saddened that anyone would even think of taking Vanessa from her home.”