Vanessa Doss plays with the only person she knows as mom. The 2-year-old is at the center of the custody battle stretching from Orange County to Ohio.
"When I got her it had been about 10 years that I had been trying to be a mom," said adoptive mother Stacey Doss.
Vanessa's birth mother in Ohio chose Doss to adopt her baby working through a California agency.
"The birth mother had told me that she had had a one-night stand and that she did not know who the birth father was and she had signed a document under penalty of perjury," said Doss.
It turns out that Vanessa's birth mother was not telling the truth. Doss learned the adoption was never finalized. Vanessa's birth father, Benjamin Mills, in Ohio, is fighting for custody of Vanessa.
Doss says Mills has other children who are not living full time with him.
"He has four other children that by all intents and purposes, there's no indication that he's ever really parented," said Doss.
According to court documents Mills has served time for domestic violence. One incident involved Vanessa's birth mother, who was dragged by the hair around the house and strangled. She ended up not testifying against him.
Doss fears Vanessa will end up in foster care in Ohio. Friday, judges and attorneys will meet behind closed doors in family court to decide what will happen to Vanessa. Doss has set up a website as part of her fight to keep the little girl she's waited so long for.
"She's my family and she's my whole life," said Doss. "She's just a baby, and she's got an opportunity to have a great life, and I don't know why anybody would want to take that away from her."
Eyewitness News did talk with the attorney representing Vanessa's birth father. She said it's not appropriate to comment on the details of the case outside of court. But she does say that they have faith in the court process, that it will result in what's best for Vanessa. The court hearing is scheduled for Friday morning in the city of Orange.