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Birth Mother Matters in Adoption Episode #59 – Adoption & Abortion in the News – Part 2 of 2

Ron Reigns:
Welcome and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into adoption issues from every angle of the adoption agency triad.

Speaker 3:
Do what’s best for your kids and yourself because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid, and that’s not fair.

Speaker 4:
And I know that my daughter will be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 5:
Don’t have an abortion; give this child a chance.

Speaker 6:
All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m the Executive Director, President, and Co-Founder of Building Arizona Families adoption agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and the You Before Me campaign creator. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Studies and Human Development and a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis on School Counseling. I was adopted at three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption, and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:
And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the co-host of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife, an adoption attorney, and I can combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Adoption and abortion in the media and the news. So, the Ohio Supreme Court.

Ron Reigns:
Oh, wait, sorry, go ahead.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Still, a buckeye, and I dropped it again. States that minimal child support payment does not retain the right to stop the adoption. A parent may lose the right to object to the adoption of a child by failing without justifiable cause to make child support payments as required by law or judicial decree. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled on February 26th.

Ron Reigns:
And I found this story interesting. So, in essence, what it was, was a married couple got divorced. They had had a child. He went out of state, and she had the child in Ohio. Now, he was in Kansas, I believe. And for the year proceeding this court decision, he had literally only paid $200 in child support.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
He was assessed to pay $85 a week in child support.

Ron Reigns:
Right. And he essentially paid-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So, they were married in Indiana.

Ron Reigns:
… $200 for the entire previous year.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Okay.

Ron Reigns:
Now he even said that he was actually making more money and was ultimately able to; he just didn’t like the idea of where he thought the mother was going to be spending the money. And I don’t think you get to make that choice when it comes to child support. You may not like it. And maybe you can bring up a court case against what she’s doing with the money. But you can’t refuse to pay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Well, an order is an order. A court order is a court order.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, you need to follow it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So, at the hearing, the father owed more than $17,000 in unpaid child support. When you’re looking at $75 a week, that’s a lot of weeks.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I think that this is really going to stir up a lot of emotions because, again, one state takes a stance, and then other states-

Ron Reigns:
Follow suit or [crosstalk 00:03:24] against it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right, right. But it’s a pendulum. So, the pendulum has swung really far.

Ron Reigns:
So, in essence, though, what ended up happening was the mother had met and married somebody else who wanted to adopt the child. And this guy was saying, “No, I don’t consent to this.” And the court said, “It doesn’t matter if you consent because you haven’t been paying child support like you had been ordered.” So, that’s essentially the gist of it. Am I correct?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes. I am mixed on this is, I do believe, and I have, as you know, a blended family, so obviously, I have divorced in my past. And I do think that child support, when it’s ordered, should be paid to the letter of the law. I believe that is, I also can say having been a single mom, I do agree that a woman who is parenting a child should not have her spending-

Ron Reigns:
Scrutinized.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… under a microscope, exactly.

Ron Reigns:
I mean, and that’s a tough line because what if, as the mother, you’re out there spending that money on crack. I think that should be scrutinized.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Well, then that’s where the state, honestly, if you were to go down that road, then that’s where the-

Ron Reigns:
The state comes in with CPS.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… Child Protective Services comes in. And then the child would probably ultimately be placed with the father.

Ron Reigns:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Bye; Bye Love is a great movie.

Ron Reigns:
I do remember that.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Remember the exchange at McDonald’s in the parking lots? There are so many instances in that movie I’m like, “Oh, that’s more real life than people realize.”

Ron Reigns:
Absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And I remember Randy Quaid was telling his ex-wife, “Oh, I see where my child support’s going, you got brand new tires.” And she said, “Yeah, what every woman wants.” So, child support is going to the safety of a vehicle that your child was being transported in.

Ron Reigns:
That’s legitimate.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. But Randy Quaid was saying like, “Wow, new tires, huh?”

Ron Reigns:
Nice tires.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right? That’s a Michelin’s. And so, it wasn’t-

Ron Reigns:
[crosstalk 00:05:37] high on the hog with you and your new tires.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. And I think they were Michelin’s, right? I mean, she went to Sears, and she got her some new tires. And I can tell you, as a mom and as a woman, new tires are nowhere in our top hundred of what we want.

Ron Reigns:
Right. You’re not going, “Diamond ring, new tires.” Yeah, I got you.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Not too flashy. We don’t care what brand of tire [crosstalk 00:05:58].

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, just as long as they work and we’re safe with the tires.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct. And so, I think that I am divided in this-

Ron Reigns:
You come at it from two perspectives.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I do. And I come at it even more because you and I have talked on and off the microphone about being candid. Again, we want to educate people, and we want to be accurate. My oldest daughter’s dad is a different dad than my other three. And he was behind in his child support, pretty similar. My ex-husband did wind up adopting her. It wasn’t due to the child support. It was due to the lack of interaction-

Ron Reigns:
Being there.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… the lack of parenting, the presence. I think that I don’t know that I would agree that it’s solely based upon a monetary figure. I think that that is something that should be taken into consideration. And I do think that I firmly believe, and as an agency, we do stepparent adoptions, and I believe in them a thousand percent, I think there need to be reasons substantiating-

Ron Reigns:
Not just, like you said, fiduciary, but also-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. I think that solely-

Ron Reigns:
… other factors.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
If you have a father who is 100% involved in the child’s life and school events. Is taking the child on the weekends and is participating in their childhood and just not paying support? I don’t think that’s a reason. And I don’t know all.

Ron Reigns:
You look at the whole picture.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… of the ins and outs. Right. Obviously, the child wasn’t living in the same state as his father. And I don’t know if that was part of the reason maybe he wasn’t as involved. I don’t know, like I said, all of the other ins and outs of it.

Ron Reigns:
Right. Was he making phone calls? Was he sending letters or anything?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And in today’s day and age, was he doing Skypes? Was he doing FaceTimes? Now, in my own personal experience, that wasn’t occurring with my daughter. He had been out of her life for, I think, it was almost 10 years and without any contact. And so, there wasn’t just unpaid child support and-

Ron Reigns:
It was a more significant picture thing.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… it was a complete disconnect. And we were in the same state. And so yes, there were significant differences.

Ron Reigns:
How did she deal with that?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I think it’s very hard on a child when they have a sense of abandonment of one parent. And at the time, my daughter very much wanted to be adopted by her stepfather. And that was beautiful and amazing. When we do these, as an agency, as a mom, when you start the process of a stepparent adoption, and I can say this from personal experience, there is some part of you that wants to see, is he going to fight for her? Is he going to stand up? Is he going to try?

Ron Reigns:
You kind of want to see that just for her sake or the child’s sake.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And just because… For her sake, yeah. And so, that’s really, really hard when some don’t even show up for the hearing. In my case, mine did show up for the hearing, and he openly agreed to the adoption.

Ron Reigns:
He consented to it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). He consented to it. And he still had asked to be a part of her life. And, of course, I would never say no to that. I would never try to keep him from her. But I think that when there’s a divorce. You have a parent who chooses not to be a part of that child’s life; I believe it is moral and ethical. In every area, the right thing to do is let the parent who is raising that child step up and be pronounced that child’s father. Because again, adoption makes a family.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And when you are a child, and you have a parent that is not involved in your life, and you have one that is, you want to be, you want to carry his last name. You want him to be listed on your birth certificate. You want that connection. And that’s why I think also that foster children want so badly to be adopted because they want that permanency.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And that is what stepparent adoption also creates, its permanency. If you, as a child, have already experienced one divorce, and that’s your mom and your dad divorcing, it would be foolish to believe that they don’t always have that fear in their head when their mom remarries or their dad remarries. That’s going to happen again; it’s forever going to be in their charge because it’s already happened once.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And giving that child permanency with that parent, because that is an… It’s a relationship exclusive of a stepfather’s relationship with her mother or his mother. And I think that’s important. Again, I think this law is very bold and brave, and I think that it’s coming… I believe there are good things behind it. I’m not sure I 100% agree with it based solely on-

Ron Reigns:
With the implementation of it. Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… I think that there are probably more circumstances that we’re not reading and understanding for a decision to be made. In the state of Arizona, I know you really have to substantiate abandonment. And that is-

Ron Reigns:
Not just financial abandonment, but just abandonment.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No, it has to be global abandonment. And there’s a lot to be said for that. I really stand for the children that want to be adopted by a stepparent. And when they have a parent who is not involved in their lives, I think it’s the right thing to do. My daughter used to sleep with an adoption book underneath her pillow, and she really wanted it. And so, when that happened, I was grateful that her father did show up, at least-

Ron Reigns:
And signed the consent.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… and signed the consent. And so, he did the right thing in the end. In this case, the court found the father did not even come close to doing what was required by the judicial decree. He paid less than 5% of what the court order necessary for the year proceeding with the adoption petition and owed more than 17,000 in total unpaid support.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
The father did not challenge the probate courts, finding that he lacked a justifiable cause to not make the payments. The court affirmed that the probate’s court decision that the father’s consent was not required. In his concurring opinion, Justice Fischer maintained that contrary to the lead belief, he found R.C. 3107.07(A) is ambiguous. He noted that not only are the Supreme Court justices divided in their interpretation of the law but so are lower courts with some ruling that even in the meager contribution of support satisfies the requirement. In contrast, others have ruled that more than a minimum payment is required.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I think what was interesting is the law’s trigger to strip parents of their right to consent to an adoption is measured by time, not by the amount of support paid, Justice Kennedy stated in her dissent. She also wrote that the majority failed to understand the practical realities of domestic relations law. And this is her quote, “Although many people use a stepparent adoption to bring a blended family together. It may also be misused as a tool for moving a natural parent from a remarried parent’s life.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I agree that there are cases because we do these within our agency that we won’t assist a family in termination for that reason. We help it based on abandonment. I think the majority of them are on abandonment. And I believe that Justice Kennedy when she stated that the general assembly established this duration requirement for a reason, which was one year, the failure to contact or support a child for one year raises a presumption that the parent has abandoned their parental rights and responsibilities.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It has long been recognized that although parents have a paramount right to the care and custody of their children, the request can be voluntarily relinquished, or it can be lost by the abandonment of the child or becoming totally unable to provide for the child support or care.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
In the cases that we’ve done, I think it’s two years. And I think Arizona, don’t quote me on this, but I think it’s closer to two years. Whereas this court is saying one year. I believe that a lot can happen in one year. I’m not sure one year is really-

Ron Reigns:
Sufficient.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… in my own professional and personal experience, I don’t think one year is sufficient. I believe that two years is more appropriate. The other thing that should be considered is the child’s age. And when you look at it, childhood is 18 years. And if you wait too long, how much childhood do they have left? Now, the love of a stepparent should support the adoption, then becomes a parent, go through, it doesn’t stop at 18, but in that childhood time-

Ron Reigns:
Right. Those formative years.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… you don’t want it to go on too long because you want them to experience that. But this is so powerful because I think this will open up Pandora’s box.

Ron Reigns:
I was worried in some excellent and wrong ways [crosstalk 00:15:36].

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Agreed.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. Because I think the most important thing is the child. But like you said, it is the bigger global picture of the totality of what this is about, not just finances or not just time spent with the kid, but everything. Is there abandonment? And it needs to be looked at thoroughly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. And I think that’s really what it should be based on, rather than just segmenting child support, the financial aspect.

Ron Reigns:
Right. And we don’t know the other circumstances; maybe he hasn’t talked to his kid in two years and just sends a $200 check every year to go, “Okay. At least I did something.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But he wasn’t even doing that, really. Yeah. At minimal, sure. R.C. 3107.07 was not enacted to punish a parent for not fully complying with support orders. Other state laws provide criminal penalties for parents who fail to pay support that is not stated. Now, I have to say, and I will go on the record to say this, when you see the billboards of the parents that have not paid child support and how much they owe. I do find that hilarious. I do. I do find that hilarious because-

Ron Reigns:
Because, honestly, you are responsible for that as a parent. My father never paid child support as I was a kid when I was growing up.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Was he ordered to do so?

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. He went to jail a couple of times. Yeah. And he would, from time to time, but it wasn’t a regular thing. It wasn’t anything my mom could count on to raise us. She had to fend for herself. And I do remember, at least on two occasions, he went to jail.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And how did you feel about that?

Ron Reigns:
I don’t know. Maybe because my father wasn’t around for us, it didn’t affect me too much. Maybe partly because I’m a guy and it’s just like, okay, toughen up, just deal with it. And it doesn’t matter, he probably deserved it, and he never tried to have a relationship with-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But did you, as a child, think about, “Okay, my dad is sitting in jail right now.” Did that go through your head? Did that bother you? Because that never occurred in my daughter’s situation.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But if it had, I wouldn’t have told her.

Ron Reigns:
No. I honestly don’t remember how I processed it at the time. It was just something that I knew. I don’t know.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Maybe you overheard somebody saying something or-

Ron Reigns:
Right. Probably my brother or my sisters saying something. Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. So, again, I think this is Pandora’s box. I think this is really interesting. It’ll be interesting to see what happens following this case. Not only in that state, but how other states look at it and federally if they’re going to jump in and enact some laws because the appellate process is always a potential game-changer. And I think that it’s important to really watch these kinds, especially for me, because we have this program in our agency. And I think when it’s used correctly, it’s beautiful and I think it’s beneficial. But there are circumstances where it may not be.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. It could be wielded as a weapon.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No, I think in a year, I think people can have-

Ron Reigns:
We’ve all had-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It was a bad year.

Ron Reigns:
… a lousy year. Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. And that may have just been a bad year for him. But it sounds like, I mean, if he owed 17,000, there was more than one-

Ron Reigns:
There was more than one bad year.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… bad year.

Ron Reigns:
Certainly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So, that being said, yes. And then I want to go-

Ron Reigns:
And maybe they should have taken that total amount into consideration more so than the 200 he spent for the one previous year to the law.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Agreed. Agreed.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Though, I have to bring this up again, just because I love this story so much, and, again, I’m giving a shout-out to Southwest Airlines, which I do happen to fly a lot. So, if anyone’s listening from Southwest, you might see me.

Ron Reigns:
You can send that check right over to Building Arizona Families anytime you want.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Or credit, free fly, wherever you want to do [inaudible 00:19:38]. I think that kudos to the flight attendants, and it’s so funny to me. And again, it really dates me, as I say, flight attendants because we didn’t call them flight attendants back in.

Ron Reigns:
Stewardesses.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And the fact that that just rolled right off your tongue also dates you.

Ron Reigns:
I mean, I’ve seen T.V. where they talk… No, I’m just kidding.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. Yeah. Those old movies.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So, the story goes, it had been nine long years of fertility treatments, miscarriages, and adoption stress. But Dustin and Caren Moore finally won a flight home with her adopted baby girl in their arms. They nervously cradled their daughter, who was just eight days old. Mid-flight from Colorado to California on November 9th, Dustin Moore realized that the baby needed a diaper change. A Southwest Airlines flight attendant named Jenny led the couple to space to change their slightly fussy newborn. Jenny and another passenger complimented my beautiful daughter and asked what prompted a flight with such a young infant. I guess he tweeted this. So, we’re still cool, though, Ron, because we can say tweeted.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
He said I gave them the shortened adoption story. They hastily offered congratulations and shared a few more kind remarks. Back in the seats, a flight attendant named Bobby approached the Moores inquired about their little girl. And when he left, Dustin Moore and Caren Moore looked at each other, confused about the attendant’s interest.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Five minutes later, Bobby came on the intercom and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a very special guest on the flight today. She’s only eight days old and she’s traveling home-“

Ron Reigns:
I’m getting chills.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… “with her mom and dad.”

Ron Reigns:
No, this is sweet.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
In an interview with the Washington Post, Moore said the flight attendant announced he’d be passing out napkins and pens for anyone who wanted to jot down a message for the new parents. The cabin erupted in cheers and applause, which is just beautiful. A steady stream of people came by to congratulate the couple. Dustin Moore had said, “We had no expectation that they would have done something like that.” He gets choked up just thinking about it. I’m getting choked up just reading about it.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, and me hearing it. Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
One of the napkins said, “I was adopted 64 years ago. Thank you for giving this child a loving family to be a part of. Us adopted kids need a little extra love. Congratulations.” And so, the crew collected all the napkins and read them out loud. Beautiful story. Kudos to-

Ron Reigns:
Yep. Definitely bears repeating. So, thank you.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes. I love that story. That’s probably so far my favorite story of the year, granted it’s only March.

Ron Reigns:
But somebody out there, come on, stop it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. I was going to say, what does this year have left to hold? So, that’s it for news and the media and a lot of tangents and insight and personal opinions on our behalf.

Ron Reigns:
Yep.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But thanks for sticking with us.

Ron Reigns:
We have a pregnancy crisis hotline available 24/7 by phone or text at 623-695-4112. Or you can call our toll-free number 1-800-340-9665. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get you to a safe place, provide food and clothing and start on creating an Arizona adoption plan or give you more information. You can check out our blogs on our website at AZpregnancyhelp.com. Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by Ron Reigns. Rate and review us wherever you listen to podcasts if you enjoy this podcast. And as always, thanks to Grapes for letting us use their song, I Don’t Know, like our theme song. Join us next time for Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns, and we’ll see you then.

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