A local story made national headlines on Tuesday after a Mobile woman claimed her child was taken by Mobile County sheriff’s deputies and given without her consent to another woman who had previously planned to adopt the child.
According to a story published by the Huffington Post, Kim Rossler had considered putting her child up for adoption through Adoption Rocks, which operates in Mobile and Dothan, Alabama. She was originally matched with a woman identified in the story as Katherine Gilliard Sharp, of Birmingham, but had decided to keep custody of her child after undergoing counseling.All of this was done prior to her son’s birth, but after she had signed a pre-birth consent document related to her child’s adoption before Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis. In the story on Huffington Post, Rossler claims she was only told after her son’s birth that she needed to withdraw her pre-birth consent in writing.
According to the report, Rossler had also been receiving a monthly allowance for the adoption process that was set up through the probate court. Still, Rossler goes on to say she was under the impression the finalizing documents would be signed five days after the birth, and was surprised when deputies came to her home to take the child without any prior warning.
Judge George A. Brown, who doesn’t oversee adoptions, allegedly signed an order for the child’s removal, which was then carried out by the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office. The Department confirmed the incident, but couldn’t provide documentation of the order because those are typically returned to the court.
“A lot of these are emergency situations, and when the petitioner is in court, they actually hand them the document and say, ‘go to the Sheriff’s office and have your child picked up,” MCSO Spokesperson Lori Myles told Lagniappe. “Their grandmother, another gentlemen and two other small children were there, according to deputies. They were clearly upset, but they complied with the law and there were no problems.”
Contrary to the Huffington Post’s claims, Myles said the baby wasn’t removed from Rossler while breastfeeding. In fact, deputies claim they allowed Rossler to nurse the child after she asked them to specifically.
Previous reports have also questioned Davis’ connection to Donna Ames, who was the attorney for Adoption Rocks handling the adoption between Rossler and her client, “Kate.” The The Huffington Post reported that Davis was on the Board of Director for Adoption Rocks and that Ames was a “major donor” to his re-election campaign.
In fact, Davis is only on the non-profit’s advisory board because of his role in adoption cases in Mobile County. According to Probate Court records, Ames has indeed made political contributions to Davis in the past — $100 in 2000 and $400 in 2011.
Ames spoke with Lagniappe, but only to say she couldn’t comment on the story at the present time due to state adoption laws. David Broome, an attorney representing the adopted mother, said adoption cases are all sealed under Alabama law.
However, Broome was able to confirm — with Davis’ permission — that Rossler did indeed give pre-birth consent before the probate court, pursuant the adoption laws of Alabama.
Attempts to reach Rossler and her family members for comment on this report were initially unsuccessful. The full story on Huffington Post can be read here.
Update: Attorney Donna Ames released the following statement to the media Wednesday evening.
“Recent news reports have misrepresented certain facts regarding my former representation of an adoption client. Please allow me to set the record straight. I wish I could go into full detail, but I am limited by my ethical duties to my former client to keep certain matters confidential.
First, my work on this matter was as a private lawyer and Adoption Rocks has no involvement in the matter. Published reports have wrongfully suggested that Adoption Rocks was involved as an adoption agency, which is patently false. Adoption Rocks is a non-profit organization which simply provides a venue (an office) where birth mothers who are experiencing a crisis pregnancy, can gain awareness of the adoption process and review profiles of families wishing to adopt.
Second, my representation in this matter was always limited to the prospective adoptive mother, in this case. I have never represented the birth mother in this case. At the Hearing for Pre-birth Consent, the Probate Judge advised the birth mother, in private, of her rights and her options regarding the Consent to Adoption.
Third, I had no indication that the birth mother had plans to back out of the adoption until May 20, 2015, a few days prior to the birth of the child. As soon as I learned of the possibility of a problem with the birth mother, I tried to determine her intentions. On May 21st, I was informed by the biological mother of the birth mother, that the birth mother intended to keep the child.
Because it was apparent there might be a problem with the adoption, I withdrew from further representation of the adoptive mother in this matter on May 23. Since May 23, I have had no involvement in this case. I suggested to the adoptive mother that she retain new counsel, and I understand she did so. I have had no involvement in the matter since the birth of the child. Any suggestion that I was involved in the custody proceedings is false.
I continue to pray that his matter resolves itself in the best interest of the child. Adoption is a wonderful alternative for a woman in a crisis pregnancy. While the process can be difficult in some cases, it is a very rare occurrence, when an adoption becomes adversarial.
Adoption Rocks is able to provide adoption information to both birth mothers and potential adoptive parents through its efforts to promote adoption. Adoption Rocks helps hundreds of birth mothers and adoptive couples find resources that provide positive solutions to crisis pregnancies. Hopefully, this unfortunate incident will not affect Adoption Rocks good efforts at promoting adoption.”