A newborn baby allegedly sold through a church organization

photo by Catholic Charities staff in Buffalo Aug 2018

Catholic Charities adopted a baby out to someone without getting the father’s permission. The mother gave the infant boy up for adoption without her husband’s consent, but the church has known that the father wants his child. The baby is now three years old. Now, John Moritz and Michael Villar, attorneys’ for the biological father say that the biological father’s rights were wrongfully terminated, and are now asking the state Supreme Court for a review after the appeals court ruled that the natural biological father’s rights were wrongly terminated.

The adoptive parents of the now 3-year-old boy say that they are “all the child has ever known”. Their attorney says that the Court of Appeals ruling poses a threat to children who are given up at birth under Michigan’s Safe Delivery of Newborns Law and asks that the biological father’s rights be terminated for that reason. The attorneys are not claiming that the father is a danger to his son or that his rights ever should have been terminated, but that since the child has already been sold and lived in the adoptive placement for three years, that the father’s rights should be terminated, “The clients have cared for, and eventually adopted the 3-year-old boy after his birth mother surrendered him at the hospital at birth”.

The father may get custody of his son though because the Court of Appeals reversed the termination of the birth father’s parental rights, Attorney Lisa Speaker said that the appeals court ruling “will create a chilling effect on distressed mothers who seek the safe haven offered by the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law from even surrendering their children. The law has the overriding goal of saving the lives of newborns, who are ostensibly born to mothers in such a state of distress that they are willing to abandon their baby in a public restroom or dumpster”. She does not state any reason that the mother would have left the baby in a dumpster though.

Still, the little boy has a right to know who his father and family are. Perhaps lawmakers should do more to protect the rights of children that are left at safe havens, especially when there are family members looking for them. At this point, it is unclear why the mother gave the baby up for adoption at the hospital, and why she did not reach out to the baby’s father for help, but it is clear that she most likely felt unsupported and not capable of raising the child. Were any services offered? Who counseled the mother in the hospital?

Michael Villar, the attorney for the natural birth father, Peter Kruithoff, doubts that the Supreme Court would review the case, but who knows. There is a lot of money involved. Still he argues that the case is a tragedy but that it does not affect the Safe Delivery law”. Instead he says that this case will force adoption agencies to comply with the law and he says that “Kruithoff sought custody of the child in a divorce proceeding filed in Ottawa County Circuit Court the day before his wife gave birth. The Ottawa County judge granted Kruithoff temporary custody. Kruithoff did not know that his parental rights to ‘Baby Boy Doe’ were being terminated by a Kalamazoo County Circuit Court judge”.

There is an obvious failure by the state of Michigan and Catholic Charities to find out anything about the baby’s history, and once they did become aware that the baby does have a family that wants him they completely ignored them. Kruithoff was purposely not notified about the proceedings in Kalamazoo County until the termination and adoption were completed. “I think both Mr. Kruithoff and the adoptive parents have been the victims of Catholic Charities cutting corners,” Villar said, “The only effort to find Kruithoff was a generic public notice in The Grand Rapids Press”.

Kruithoff searched for his son and subpoenaed Catholic Charities’ records on “Baby Boy Doe” after he found out that his wife had given the baby up for adoption in the hospital. Catholic Charities refused to give him any information about his son claiming that the records are “confidential”, but an Ottawa County judge ruled that “Kruithoff was entitled to know where the Safe Delivery action occurred”.

The appeals panel this year voted 2 to 1 to reverse the termination of his parental rights because they say that “Catholic Charities did not make reasonable efforts to notify Kruithoff, the non-surrendering parent”. What makes this even worse is that Kruithoff did subpoena records from Catholic Charities but was ignored, so the church representatives are lying.

The adoptive parents of course, are devastated. They probably had no idea about how the adoption industry works and just wanted a baby to complete their family. However, they may also be part of the adoption industry and very aware of how states use children for profit. They are keeping their identity secret so no one knows. They may have been adopting children and living off of the adoption incentive payments for years, possibly even decades. Eventually, the truth of this case will come to light.

Timothy Monsma, Catholic Charities attorney says the ruling “creates substantial uncertainty into safe delivery proceedings across Michigan”, and urges the Supreme Court to hear the case because it has “significant public interest and will have a substantial effect on state agencies, and their affiliates, and contractors involved in placing newborns under the SDNL.

Still, Catholic Charities intentionally refused to give the father any information claiming confidentiality laws prevented the records from being revealed. Catholic Charities also claims that they were not aware that the birth mother was married. The case is definitely a mess and it is not certain that the adoptive parents actually want what is best for the baby because they do not seem concerned about the child’s familial rights. What other basic rights might the child be denied? Will the adoptive parents be willing to allow the child his rights to see his own family? Know his own heritage? Or will the child go through life not knowing who he is?

If the adoptive parents appeal the child and his father could lose five years together. “It’s a disaster for everyone involved”, the father’s attorneys claim, “If the child is taken from the adopted parents then they’ve had three years of thinking that they were the parents, and all of a sudden being told that they may not be the parents and the adoption may be undone. That’s a tragedy for them too, and I think it all could have been avoided by Catholic Charities just doing the righteous thing and informing the probate court and the circuit court of this before anything got final.  And they had a chance to do it they chose not to. What was particularly disturbing to me I think was that prior to the adoption being completed, we put, by way of a subpoena to Catholic  Charities through their council on notice that there was a custodial parent out there that became the custodial parent by order of the Ottawa  County Circuit Court. And that seemed to have been completely ignored, completely ignored. And to me that’s just atrocious. We got involved in this case quite a bit ago. And we sent them a demand letter, we sent Catholic Charities a demand letter saying, you know, what has happened here is just atrocious. And they basically, you know, told us to go pound sand, that they followed the rules, they followed everything right and then they threatened us with defamation if we told anybody what they did. So that’s where it got to the Court of Appeals”.

Minding Hearts is building advocacy and peer support groups in each state. The groups are created to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for those that might not otherwise be heard. We are here for encouragement, education, and support. We are here to support families and develop resources that maintain family integrity. We look forward to your support. If you would rather become active by donating, then visit the donation page

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