Court Gives O.C. Adoptive Mom Full Custody of "Baby Vanessa"
Stacey Doss is fighting to keep custody of 2 year old Vanessa.
Stacey Doss and Vanessa (Courtesy O.C. Register / July 2, 2010)
The settlement could end legal proceedings in the case. Some legal scholars had expected it to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Stacey Doss, 46, of Rancho Santa Margarita, has raised 2 1/2-year-old Vanessa since birth.
She has been locked in a legal battle fore more than two years with the child's birth father, Benjamin Mills, Jr., 39.
Doss began the adoption process months before her daughter was born, but Mills filed for custody in Ohio when Vanessa was less than a month old, before the adoption was finalized.
Vanessa's mother, Andrea Cooley, claimed her pregnancy was the result of a one-night stand and said Mills was not the father. Genetic tests later proved he was, indeed, Vanessa's father.
Doss said she adopted Vanessa under the belief that Mills was not expected to be part of the baby's life. But, Mills said he was never told the child was to be given up for adoption.
A custody trial was scheduled in Ohio after the two sides failed to reach an agreement. In July, Doss was ordered to return Vanessa to Ohio, but a California appeals court then granted a stay of that decision.
Doss has now been granted full custody of Vanessa.
Under the settlement, the girl's grandmother, Rena Jordan, will be granted visitation rights.
Court records show Mills has a history of domestic abuse.
He served time for domestic battery in 2005 in an incident involving Vanessa's birth mother.