Adoption battle ends badly for Southern Indiana family


by Adrianna Hopkins

Posted on September 29, 2010 at 10:43 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 29 at 10:43 AM

   (WHAS11) -- A couple from Southern Indiana who adopted a young boy 3-years-ago, was supposed to spend their final few hours with him Tuesday night.  The Indiana Supreme Court says they must return the child to his biological father.  They met him at birth, and Christy Vaughn was the first to hold him, and the moment she did she says he belonged to her.

They brought their adopted son home and over the past three years, the Vaughn family has celebrated birthdays and Christmases. For three years, this has been the only family Grayson has ever known.  "We had Jackson and we had a couple miscarriages in between. Jason felt like it was in his heart to adopt,” explained Christy. 

Grayson's legal guardians, his biological mother and her ex-husband, who is not the biological father, surrendered the baby to an adoption agency.  Jason and Christy were a match and when the baby was 8-days-old, they brought Grayson home to Sellersburg, Ind.  "I wondered how it would feel. There was no difference. He was mine, he was absolutely mine,” said Christy. 

However, 17 days after his birth, another man registered with the Ohio Court system saying he was the father, and while the Vaughns waited for adoption paperwork, that man filed a paternity action.   "That's what caused the snag was that he filed the paternity action before we filed our petition for adoption,” said Jason.  Another 17 months later, the courts confirmed the other man is Grayson's biological father and their adoption petition was dismissed.  This means they no longer have rights to Grayson.  "Our family was together the whole 17 months. We never received a phone call from this guy, a birthday card or anything like that in the mail,” said Jason. 

They say since then they've been silenced and no one's vetted the biological father. WHAS11 checked and found he has a criminal history in Ohio that includes arrests for assault and drug paraphernalia, but despite that, the Ohio appellate court upheld their adoption dismissal, and so did the Ohio Supreme Court.

During a trip to Ohio, their oldest son, Jackson, tried to comprehend what's happening.  "He says ‘daddy, can we see the judges while we're here about keeping Grayson?’" said Jason.

The Vaughns appealed to the Floyd County Indiana court and the Indiana Supreme Court to no avail. Grayson's biological father now has custody of Grayson.  They say all they want is a transition plan for Grayson before he is uprooted from his life, and a hearing to see which parent has supported Grayson for the past three years. However, it's something they may not get.  "There's no words. There's no words how our world is not going to be the same,” said Christy.

On Tuesday night, Jason Vaughn sent WHAS 11 News an email saying they will not take Grayson to Ohio Wednesday. Their attorney will file a motion asking the court to follow statutes and abide by a transition plan, but until a judge rules on that, the court order to give up Grayson remains. WHAS 11 News called the one number listed for the biological father and was not able to reach him.

Wednesday morning, the biological father’s attorney Alan J. Lehenbauer called WHAS 11 News. He says, he has no comment other than the Vaughn’s are responsible for delaying this proceeding. He said this matter could have been resolved shortly after the birth. The biological father is trying to get his son back since day one.

Alan Lehenbauer sent this statement to Good Morning America:

“My client, the biological father, was awarded legal custody by an Ohio court after consideration of all evidence.  A biological parent has a constitutional right to the care and custody of his or her children.  My client believes that any publication or newscast involving his child will only serve to further disrupt his child's well being.  My client has sought the return of his child since shortly after birth and will not relitigate this matter in the media.”

This case is now in the Indiana and Ohio supreme courts.