Dublin Mom Claims She Was 'Bullied Into Adoption'
DUBLIN, Ohio - A mother in Dublin is fighting to get her newborn baby back after giving him up for adoption.
Carri Stearns said she was emotionally distraught, and in a drug-induced state when she signed over her son to a Columbus adoption agency, but the agency couldn't disagree more.
Stearns' 7-week-old son, Camden, is in limbo, living with another family as the battle continues between his biological mother and the adoption agency.
After an affair, Stearns, a mother of five, gave birth to Camden on March 31 at Riverside Methodist Hospital.
"I was ashamed. I was hiding it from people," she said.
Four days later, Stearns signed documents turning over her son to Adoption By Gentle Care in Columbus.
But in a petition that was filed on May 9 to get her son back, Stearns said her decision was made in emotional turmoil, triggered by the death of her father, the affair, and the threat when her live-in boyfriend refused to raise another man's child.
"I was in complete crisis when it was going on. So, even though I'm an intelligent person, I didn't look at any paper I signed. My mind was somewhere else. I was in such grief and panic," Stearns said.
She also claims she was in a daze when she signed, stating she was prescribed both anti-anxiety medication and Vicodin, which made her dizzy, nauseated, and "out of it."
During the drug-dazed fog, Stearns claims, a caseworker from Gentle Care "misled, manipulated and bullied her." The petition argues that "the caseworker told Stearns that if she did not sign, [Camden] would go into a foster home."
"I would tell her this is not something I wanted to do. This is not something I want to do. She would remind me about that foster home. And I mean, it was a constant that was there. And I was like, of course, I don't want him to go to a foster home," she said.
But the agency firmly disagrees.
"That is not in the least bit viable. The agency would not have the authority to turn a child over to Children Services for the purposes of foster care. They just simply don't have that ability," said Patrick Hamilton, an attorney representing Adoption By Gentle Care.
Hamilton disputes all Stearns' claims, saying the adoption agency has trained representatives who stop an adoption if there are signs of duress.
"I will put the voracity and the credibility and the professionalism of the social worker at Gentle Care up against anyone," Hamilton said.
Adding to the dispute is Stearns' criminal record, which includes multiple theft convictions.
Stearns admits that she has made mistakes, but said that doesn't mean she's a bad mother.
"It's in the best interest of the child to be in the home of the biological family," Stearns said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people are rallying to a Facebook page "Give Back Carri's Baby" as Camden remains in the care of another family.
There is no word on how soon the probate court will hear the case. But based on other cases, Camden's fate won't likely be decided for at least another month.
Because the case is in probate court, it will be determined in private.