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O.C. adoptive mother loses custody of girl

July 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
An Orange County mother lost custody of her adopted daughter on Friday after the child's biological father in Ohio said he wanted custody.Stacey Doss came to court Friday hopeful, surrounded by friends and family.

Behind closed doors, the 45-year-old heard the court's decision on whether Vanessa, Stacey's adopted 2-year-old girl she's cared for since she was born, will stay with her in Orange County, or be forced to move to Ohio, where her birth father lives.

"We're just so concerned for her well-being and that is the crux of the matter," said Teri Sawyer, a friend of Stacey's.

Doss says Vanessa's birth mother chose her, working through a California adoption agency. Doss would later learn the birth mother lied when she said she didn't know who fathered Vanessa. The adoption was never finalized.

Vanessa's birth father is fighting for custody. Court documents show Benjamin Mills has a history of domestic violence, including an incident with Vanessa's mother where she was dragged by the hair and strangled. She did not testify against him.

Friday's court hearing lasted just about an hour and a half.

"I only have until the 16th to save my daughter," said Doss.

Ohio will get jurisdiction over Vanessa while officials work out who she should be placed with permanently.

"Ohio has decided that they will put Vanessa into foster care. The birth father will have night visits," said Doss. "And Vanessa will likely be placed with the birth father's mother."

Doss plans to file an emergency appeal. She has Vanessa for just two more weeks, then the little girl must return to Ohio.

"It's very sad and upsetting," said Carolyn Doss, Stacey's mother. "However, I think it's given us determination to even fight harder."

In a statement, the attorney representing Vanessa's birth father says the father trusts that the court will continue to issue appropriate orders to protect Vanessa's best interests. He also said he looks forward to having more parenting time with his daughter.


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