Child goes missing as former partner fails to transfer custody per court order.
Janet Jenkins, a mother represented by Lambda Legal, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the ACLU of Virginia and cooperating attorneys in a custody dispute, issued a statement on January 4, 2010, beseeching the public’s help in locating her missing daughter, Isabella Miller-Jenkins, who has been in the care of her former partner (and Isabella’s other mother), Lisa Miller.
In November 2009, a Vermont court ordered that Miller, who had relocated to Virginia, transfer custody of Isabella to Jenkins on January 1. The order was based on Miller’s failing to honor visitation orders, as well as the court’s belief that Jenkins would do a better job facilitating Isabella’s relationships with both parents. The transfer did not occur. Miller and Isabella’s whereabouts are currently unknown.
“Isabella is my daughter,” reads Jenkins’ statement. “I was there with Lisa when she gave birth to Isabella. We gave her both our last names, since we were both her parents. After Isabella was born, Lisa and I cared for her together. We both fed her, played with her, changed her diapers, and loved her.
“My goal has never been to separate Isabella from Lisa. I just want Isabella to know and love both of her parents. I just want to be with her, like any parent. Please help me find my child.”
Isabella was born in 2002, after Jenkins and Miller, then a couple, decided to have a child together. Miller was artificially inseminated to conceive the child.
In 2003, Miller filed papers in Vermont asking the court to dissolve her and Jenkins’ civil union and decide the custody of their child. The court granted temporary custody to Miller and visitation to Jenkins. The court later determined that Jenkins is Isabella’s legal parent.
When Miller took her case to Virginia’s Supreme Court, she invoked Virginia’s antigay marriage law to have herself declared the child’s sole legal parent. Lambda Legal represented Jenkins, defended her relationship with her daughter and won a decision upholding the Vermont court’s decision. Lambda Legal has represented Janet for over five years, including multiple appeals, and every level of Virginia’s court system has ordered that Virginia respect the orders of the Vermont courts.
“Our main concern remains for the safety and well-being of Isabella. Our client, Janet Jenkins, has done everything she can as a loving parent to work within the system to protect her child. Lisa Miller has repeatedly defied court orders and her behavior has been outrageous and harmful. Today our thoughts are with Janet who does not know where her daughter has been taken. This terrible situation cannot continue. Miller and Isabella must be found and the transfer of custody must take place as the court has ordered,” said Greg Nevins, Senior Supervising Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta.
The case is Miller-Jenkins v. Miller-Jenkins.