This case has dragged on for nearly 3 years and it’s still not over. It’s taken so long because of the number of courts involved, hearings held, appeals filed, rulings that had to be made, and the slowness of the courts. A quick and very interesting timeline:
**This is NOT an official or complete timeline. It’s just what I’ve been able to put together by reading the court documents, articles, and interviews – basically the same public information everyone has access to. I tried to lay it out as accurately as I could, but I could be wrong. It’s my understanding of the public information, which by definition is imperfect. Some of it is obviously commentary and my opinion. If anyone is interested, they can do their own reading of the articles and court documents online and check the information. If there’s something I’ve missed or mistaken in the timeline, please post a comment.**
October 2007 – the mother gives birth in OHIO.
November 2007 - the legal father, her ex-husband signs a permanent surrender document saying he is “NOT the biological father.”
- the baby is surrendered to the adoption agency who place the child with the Vaughns, who take the child to Indiana
– the biological father, registers with the Ohio Putative Father Registry to protect his possible parental rights
December 2007 – the father files a parentage complaint to determine if he is the father
January 2008 – the Vaughns file a petition for adoption
– they file a motion requesting the father’s parentage complaint be dismissed (ok, this really bothers me, because the legal father says he’s not the biological father, WHY would you try to have the other man’s request to determine if he’s the father dismissed? It had been 2 months and he could have been the child’s father wanting his son!)
March 2008 – court orders the father be served with notice of the adoption petition
April 2008 – the father files his objection to the adoption petition
May 2008 - the court stays the adoption, pending the decision of another court determining if he was the biological father
August 2008 – August 19, 2008 – the father files a “Motion for Companionship and/or Visitation and, in the alternative, a Motion for Parenting Time” The motion is not ruled on until March 2009 and the father won’t get his first visit until one year later on August 8, 2009.
September 2008 – they file claiming the court has no jurisdiction over the parentage complaint, and file for an emergency stay
- a claim is made that the father tried to arrange for genetic testing to happen on September 16, 2008, without a ruling on jurisdiction
- the court grants an emergency stay
February 2009 – the Vaughns conditionally agree to genetic testing (he filed a parentage action in December 2007 – an agreement for a DNA test is not reached until February 2009 – around 14 months later! It took over a year to get to an agreement for a DNA test?)
March 2009 – the court declares he is the father (it took about a month for the results to come back)
April 2009 – the father amends his objection to the adoption
June 2009 – a hearing is held and the Adoption Petition is DISMISSED (that’s only 3 months after the dna results came back and the court confirmed he was the father! But it took 14 months from the time he registered/filed for there to be a conditional agreement for dna testing – makes you think)
July 2009 – court issues interim order giving father temporary visitation rights
– the couple files a motion to have the order set aside and the case dismissed or stayed
August 2009 – the court denied the motion to dismiss or stay the case, but granted the motion to set aside the visitation order because the couple had not been properly notified
– the court hears the father’s SECOND request for visitation
– August 6, 2009 – the Ohio court GRANTS the FATHER’S MOTION. The court ORDERS that the Vaughns bring the child to Ohio “for a FOUR HOUR VISIT EVERY SATURDAY IN THE HOME” OF THE FATHER. (There will be only ONE visit before an Indiana court grants an emergency ex parte order – the father does not get to participate, giving the Vaughns temporary custody in Sept, 2009. Indiana court says the Ohio court is in violation of 2 laws and even the prospective adoptive couple’s constitutional rights by issuing visitation to the father. The ruling also cites Jason’s Vaughn’s testimony about a psychological report. The ruling says that a “psychologist…who performed a psychological evaluation of the Vaughn family unit, has determined that Grayson’s emotional and social development would be harmed by visitation with the putative father at this time.”
Major issues here 1) the court refused to allow the Vaughn’s psychologist’s 7-page report to be entered, but instead allowed Jason Vaughn to testify about the psychologist’s conclusions. (really!) Why not have the psychologist testify? This is not a court appointed psychologist, she’s working for one side. 2) THE VAUGHN’S PSYCHOLOGIST’S REPORT DOES NOT MENTION VISITATION. The report is about removing the child from his home, not about disallowing visitation with the father. There is a major difference between a permanent transfer of custody and 4 hour weekly visitation. Somehow that distinction was lost between the testimony and/or ruling. Reread the quote above. — The report does not say VISITATION would have been harmful to the child, visitation is not even discussed in the report. 3) The report was based on only a two and a half hour observation of with the Vaughns and interviews with them. She did not interview the Ohio family, she did not watch them with the child, she didn’t visit their home. There are two families in this case, but only one side had input in the report. 4) The court ruling inaccurately refers to the father as the putative father in August 2009, months after he was declared the legal father in March. (His son was a year and months old at the time, but somehow 4 hour visits once a week with his father would be damaging? Kids spend more time in daycare or pasted to the front of a tv screen during the week!)
– the couple appeals the ruling granting weekly visitation
– August 8, 2009 – The father is granted his first weekly visit with his son. It lasts for 4 hours. His mother, the child’s Grandmother also attends the visit. (It will be the only visit for over a year until after both Indiana and Ohio courts order the child’s return to Ohio in September 2010.) At the visit the father refers to himself as “Dada” when speaking with his son.
– August 27, 2009 – The Vaughns file an Emergency Petition for Order of Temporary Custody in INDIANA
September 2009 – September 3, 2009 – A hearing is held in Indiana on the EX PARTE (meaning the other party does not get the opportunity to be present or participate) emergency petition. Indiana court enters an order granting emergency petition for temporary custody to the Vaughns.
- September 24, 2009 – Indiana judge speaks with the Ohio judge. The Indiana court will not vacate their emergency order at that time. But Indiana judge decides if the Ohio Court of Appeals rules against the Vaughns, then the Indiana court will vacate their temporary custody order.
November 2009 - the OHIO Court of Appeals UPHOLDS the Dismissal of the Adoption
December 2009 – Separate Petition for Adoption Filed in Indiana. (This is the SECOND adoption petition. The first was dismissed by the Ohio courts.)
Here’s an interesting point to note. The Vaughns have stated in September 2010 interviews that the father has never supported his son, articles quote Jason Vaughn, “He has never sent a birthday card.” “Litigation isn’t the same as support.” BUT in their December 2009 Indiana Adoption Petition, they Admit that he contributed money “on or around Grayson’s first birthday” and that he made two other contributions between September 2009, when an emergency ex parte order was issued in Indiana, and when filing the Indiana adoption petition in December 2009. (He wasn’t ordered to pay support to them by a court – there is NO court order for him to pay child support, but he chose to send anyway. This isn’t ‘child support’, this is him voluntarily sending money to his son. The Ohio court said he put his son on his insurance from the time he was proven the father which was March 2009. So in 2009 he’d been financially supporting his son. I didn’t read anywhere what happened in 2010. But considering that lack of support is an essential claim in the Vaughn’s adoption legal proceedings, that’s what I would expect them to say in public interviews.)
- father files motion for custody in Ohio
– notice of appeal filed at the Ohio Supreme Court
January 2010 – The FATHER is GRANTED CUSTODY of his son. Ohio juvenile court declares the father “the residential parent and legal custodian” pending a home study by a guardian ad litem (to be completed no later than Feb 4, 2010). Further states if the home study is favorable, the adoption agency would place the child with his father by February 8, 2010.
**Contrary to allegations posted online,** Under “FINDINGS OF FACT” SIGNED BY THE MAGISTRATE IN OHIO JUVENILE COURT (that means the court found it to be proven and factual, not just a claim being made by either side) it says:
“Plaintiff has made efforts to obtain possession and custody of his child since December, 2007. He was granted visitation and there was an interim agreement for visitation resulting from a mediation held at this Court. The Vaughns were present, participated in the mediation and agreed to an interim order for visitation. A subsequent mediation was scheduled to which the Vaughns failed to appear.“
“Plaintiff is employed and lives independently”
“Plaintiff has the ability to financially and emotionally care for the child.”
“Plaintiff has had the child covered on his insurance since he found out that he is the biological father.”
“Plaintiff is the legal, biological father of the child. His rights were never terminated.”
“There is NO Adoption.”
“It is in the best interests of this child that custody be awarded to the Plaintiff and that he be designated as the residential parent and legal custodian of this child. Any further delays in these proceedings do not serve the best interest of the child.” This was in JANUARY!
– January 14, 2010 – The Vaughns file suit in UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT against the Ohio Probate Court Judge who dismissed the Ohio adoption petition and against the father. This means in addition to being heard in the Ohio state system and in the Indiana state system, they are also being heard in the Federal Court system. The biological mother is also a plaintiff in the case. Part of the claim is that the judge violated the biological mother’s ‘constitutional right’ to make an adoptive placement according to her wishes. (Who knew there was a constitutional right to put a child up for adoption? Who knew that if such a right actually exists, the biological father being allowed to object to an adoption would violate that right?) It also claims that they violated her ‘right of privacy as a marital unit’. (They were divorced when they signed the permanent surrender document.)
February 2010 – Guardian ad litem report filed and is favorable
– Magistrate orders the Adoption Agency be at court on February 8, 2010 to present the child to his father.
– Adoption agency FAILS TO COMPLY with the Magistrate’s decision.
- The Ohio Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal
March 2010 – the father files a motion “to show cause” and asks that the adoption agency be held in contempt.
- briefs filed in the Supreme Court appeals
- two motions to dismiss are filed in the Federal suit, one by the Ohio Probate Court judge, and one by the father.
April 2010 – a hearing is scheduled for April 14, 2010. The hearing is rescheduled at the request of the adoption agency to April 26, 2010
- the hearing is again rescheduled until June 16, 2010
May 2010 – Oral Arguments held in the Ohio Supreme Court appeal
June 2010 - the show cause hearing is held
July 2010 - At a hearing on July 2, 2010 the court announced its decision to hold Adoption by Gentle Care, through its Executive Director, Mr. John Cameron, in CONTEMPT for failing to comply with the February 2010 order. The court wrote “Defendant, John Cameron, is sentenced to thirty (30) days in CCNO, which sentence is suspended on the condition that Defendant complies with the purge provision herein. Defendant, John Cameron, may purge himself of contempt by delivering the minor child, Grayson Bocarov (Vaughn), to Plaintiff Benjamin Wyrembek, the child’s residential parent and legal custodian.” Mr. Cameron failed to appear for the scheduled hearing, the matter was rescheduled for July 6, 2010 to announce the decision with him present.
It gets better! There has been a lot of talk about the court ordering the child turned over in 24 hours, and how awful that would be for the child, but that wasn’t the court’s first choice!
The juvenile court decision says “Adoption by Gentle Care and John Cameron are hereby ordered to work with Heather Fournier, the Guardian ad litem in this case, and the Vaughn family to plan and facilitate the transfer of the minor child to Mr. Wyrembek in a manner that is in the child’s best interest. This Judgement Entry applies to the Vaughn family to the extent necessary to facilitate the return of the child, who is placed with the Vaughns, to the placement agency, Adoption by Gentle Care.”
- Motion to Execute Sentence Hearing Scheduled for September 2, 2010
– The Ohio Supreme Court UPHOLDS the lower court rulings dismissing the adoption.
- motion for reconsideration of their decision filed with the supreme court
- motions filed in Indiana court regarding the temporary custody order, hearing scheduled for August 2010.
August 2010 – the father files a brief with the Ohio Supreme Court asking that the motion for reconsideration be denied
- hearing held in Indiana regarding the temporary custody order.
September 2010 - September 2, 2010 – Indiana court rules Indiana does not have jurisdiction. Court Vacates the temporary custody order it had issued a year earlier in September 2009. The court orders the Vaughns to turn over the child to the adoption agency within 48 hours. It also says this “Dismissing the Pending Adoption Proceeding and Custody Proceeding” (the adoption proceeding they’d filed in Indiana in December 2009)
- Part of the ruling reads “The court strongly urges that the Vaughn’s comply with the suggestions of Heather J. Fournier in her letter of August 16, 2010 to Mr. Vorhees and others in facilitating such transfer of custody.” Heather Fournier was the Guardian ad litem appointed by the Ohio court to represent the child. The point of a GAL is to objectively look out for the interests of the child. What suggestions did she make that the court was urging the Vaughns to comply with for the transfer of custody? (I think it’s clear that the courts, while very slow and hampered with filings, did consider the best way to make a transfer easier for the child, and tried to have that done with mediation, having a GAL facilitate, and flat out stating further delays were not in the child’s best interests. But the Vaughns and the adoption agency would have had to comply with the court’s orders and suggestions.)
- Notice of the judge’s order is served by the sheriff
– September 3, 2010 – Ohio Supreme Court Denies an emergency petition for a stay
– September 3, 2010 – Indiana Supreme court issues an emergency stay on the lower court ruling
– September 13, 2010 – The Vaughns file a NEW petition for adoption in Franklin County Probate Court. (This is the THIRD adoption petition, the first two were dismissed by Ohio and Indiana courts.)
– September 21, 2010 – Indiana Supreme court upholds the lower court decision and lifts the stay – all 5 judges agree
– September 21, 2010 – The Vaughns file a SECOND Emergency petition for a stay with the Ohio Supreme Court.
– September 21, 2010 – Vaughns served with order to surrender the child to Lucas County Child Protective Services by noon Wednesday September 22, 2010.
– Vaughns do not comply with the noon deadline.
– Vaughns agree to several interviews
– The father refuses interviews
- The Vaughns file motions to stay the ruling and/or to force a ‘transition’ plan to be made. (but wasn’t that what the court was asking the adoption agency to arrange earlier?)
- September 28, 2010 – A hearing is held in a Floyd County, Indiana court. The Vaughns bring the child they’d been ordered to surrender to the hearing. The father attends the hearing.
– September 28, 2010 – Supreme Court of Ohio issues a stay while considering whether to grant or deny the motion to reconsider. The stay is issued during the hearing in Indiana, and effectively suspends all Ohio lower court decisions in the case.
– The Vaughns and the father agree to mediation (see above for how the first mediation went). The Vaughns agree to no media as a condition of mediation. The Vaughns leave the hearing with the child
– It’s posted on a facebook page of Vaughn family supporters, that the father would begin to visit with his son in Indiana that week
October 2010 - October 7, 2010 the Ohio Supreme Court denies the motion to reconsider and lifts the stay on the lower court rulings.
– October 8, 2010 an article says Ed Vaughn, the prospective adoptive grandfather, said during an interview that mediation had broken down because the courts wanted to condition mediation on the Vaughns dropping their appeals. They refused. Per Ed Vaughn in the article, the judge ‘threatened’ to change the custody arrangement that day if they didn’t agree to terms. The boy is currently on an extended visit with his father. He mentioned they would be leaving Ohio at the end of the weekend with the boy. (After not complying with court orders, and three years of motions and appeals, it’s surprising to them that a judge would say enough is enough? The father has legal custody of his son! They have no right to set terms.)
- October 8, 2010 a hearing is held, no information is released.
- October 27, 2010 – The US District Court grants both motions (the judge’s and the father’s) to DISMISS the case filed in federal court. The Judge rules that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. (The court did not decide on the other reasons for dismissal.)
- OCTOBER 30, 2010 – GRAYSON IS HOME!
GRAYSON IS PERMANENTLY REUNITED WITH HIS FATHER IN OHIO! Present at the happy reunion are Grayson’s grandparents.
Is this the end of the 3 year ordeal for a family that never consented to adoption and fought it within days of their child’s birth? Almost! The Vaughn’s have one more adoption petition pending in Ohio – that’s the third adoption petition they filed in September 2010 after Indiana dismissed their case. In that petition, they make several of the same claims that the courts (Indiana, Ohio, and Federal) have previously dismissed. This is where their “litigation is not the same as support” claim comes into play. See the post explaining that. As transparent and weak a claim it is to us in the public, it’s even weaker in a court of law. After their petition is dealt with at the probate court, there will probably be further appeals – as they did with the previous petitions. Those appeals could take them to the Ohio court of appeals and the Ohio supreme court. They may even try again at the federal level. It’s also possible that they will appeal the federal case that was dismissed in October 2010. But does any of that mean Grayson leaves his home with his Dada? NO. Grayson remains with his father while all their petitions, cases, appeals etc. are heard by however many courts they choose to go to this time around. If history is an example that would take years, the courts will side with Grayson’s Dada, and Grayson will remain with his father as the courts determine the law and his best interests require.
November 2010 – November 10, 2010 – A post from Phyllis Vaughn on the Vaughn’s facebook support page, says the juvenile court judge denied their request for an emergency hearing.
November 27, 2010 – Another post from Phyllis Vaughn on the Vaughn’s facebook page, says the hearing on their 3rd adoption petition has been postponed from December 1, 2010 to January 12, 2011.
December 2010 – December 1, 2010 – The previously scheduled hearing on the 3rd adoption petition is not held.
Interesting quotes from articles published September – October 2010:
Mr. Vaughn: “Everything going on with this battle is separate from protecting Grayson.”
“We haven’t had our day in court yet.”
“The adoption “felt uncertain just because we knew it was contested,” Mr. Vaughn said last month. “We always thought we would win. The system has just failed.””
**Information on finding the supporting court documents is posted in the 4th comment below.**
Thank you to the readers for the information on corrections and updates. Grayson IS Home, the petitions and court options have been nearly exhausted, and Grayson’s family is not providing interviews, so updates will be limited.
Updated to add November and December 2010 information.