Raymond W. Godwin

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Raymond W. Godwin is an adoption attorney based in South Carolina.

Biography

Godwin earned a BA from Bob Jones University[1] and a JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law.[1] Godwin practiced corporate law in New Jersey, from 1982 until he started his private practice in Greenville, South Carolina in 1993.[1] Godwin has two adopted daughters, Erika and Elizabeth.[2] He is described as a "devout" Christian and is a member of the Christian Adoption Services.[citation needed]

Publications

Godwin co-authored two books with Laura Beauvais, who earned a master's degree in public health from The University of South Carolina. The Independent Adoption Manual provides extensive information on the process of "independent adoptions," also called "private adoptions," which are facilitated by an attorney or physician. This book was published by The AdvocatePress in New Jersey in 1993. The nearly 400-page manual covers a wide range of adoption issues, including the amount a private adoption will normally cost, how to avoid a "bidding war," and that "adoptive parents should not pay birth mothers a fee for the baby itself...."[3]

The Complete Adoption Book: Everything You Need to Know to Adopt a Child, also co-authored by Godwin and Beauvais, is now available in its third edition. Nearly 700 pages, it has been described as "the most comprehensive and authoritative adoption book you can use to guide you through the [adoption] process."[4] A Family Law website describes the book as a "must-have resource" and "perhaps the most complete [book]of its kind." [5] It gives comprehensive information about the adoption process, both domestically and internationally.[citation needed]

Awards

"Angels in Adoption Award." In 2010 Godwin and Beauvais were honored by Senator Jim Demint at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute's 12th annual Angels in Adoption three-day gala in Washington, D.C. This award "celebrate[s] individuals across the country working to improve the lives of children in need of families." [6][7] The Godwins were honored for "their extensive work with the adoption process throughout the state."[8]

Godwin handled the adoption of identical triplets from a California mother to a South Carolina couple, Jeff and Rebecca Bates, in 2008.[2] The Bates were later awarded the Angels in Adoption award,[2] as they were believed to have been the first couple to adopt triplets in South Carolina.[2]

Raymond Godwin is accredited by the Better Business Bureau [9]

Adoption controversies

Native American adoptions

Baby Veronica

Godwin has been involved in two controversial adoptions of Native American children to white families. In the "Baby Veronica" case, he facilitated the private adoption of a Cherokee child to a white family over the objections of the child's biological father and the tribe.[10] During the hearing in the Charleston, South Carolina court, the birth mother testified that if the documents[which?] had been properly filled out with the biological father's name spelled correctly and the child properly identified as an Indian child, the Cherokee tribe might have intervened.[11] Godwin was the attorney for the adoptive couple, not for the birth mother.

Godwin said the US Supreme Court decision, which ruled in his favor, "provides a roadmap for Indian birth fathers to follow if they want to protect their rights under ICWA, such as paying for pre-birth expenses, taking the mother to the doctor and assisting at the hospital." [12]

Baby Deseray

In the "Baby Deseray" case, Godwin is representing a white family in the attempted adoption of a Shawnee child over the objections of the child's biological father and the tribe.[10][13][14] In this case, the prospective adoptive parents, Bobby and Diane Bixler, removed the child from Oklahoma without the Interstate Custody for the Placement of Children (ICPC) paperwork or complying with Oklahoma state law on removing the child.[10][13] Godwin has been quoted as stating, "Just because the birth father is a sperm donor and has that biological link does not under the law establish his parental rights."[15] Godwin did acknowledge that the Bixlers did take Deseray from Oklahoma without complying with the ICPC or Oklahoma state law.[16] There has been no allegation that Godwin had prior knowledge of the illegal removal or acted unethically.

The Attorney General for the Shawnee tribe in Oklahoma noted that the Bixlers "literally paid their money and split with the kid..."[10] Godwin disputed this, claiming that the Bixlers only left to protect the job of the putative adoptive father.[17] Oklahoma Judge Allen Welch has ordered the return of the child to Oklahoma.[10][13][18][19] The tribe's attorney in South Carolina has noted that since South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley insisted that Oklahoma comply with the South Carolina court order in the Baby Veronica case, it was now time for South Carolina to comply with an Oklahoma court order for Baby Deseray.[20] In addition, the attorney contracted by Godwin in Oklahoma has written to Godwin, demanding the immediate return of the child to Oklahoma, saying, "Since your clients chose to secretly ignore the law it is my position they have all liability for the child's safe keeping until they surrender physical custody of the child and have no right to physical custody of the child."[10][not in citation given]

On October 16, 2013, two adult sons of the Bixlers came forward and alleged that they were abusive parents who should not be allowed to raise another child.[21] In October 2013, Michael A. Nomura, the Oklahoma Administrator of the ICPC, approved Deseray's ICPC retroactively, raising ethical concerns and conflict of interest issues.[fn 1][22] Nomura approved the ICPC even though he was aware of a court order directing that the child be returned to Oklahoma and the tribe.[22] On October 28, 2013, Deseray was removed from the Bixler's custody by South Carolina and placed in temporary emergency foster care.[23]

Connection with adoption agency

In both cases, the attorney for the white families was Raymond W. Godwin.[13][24] Godwin's wife Laura Beauvais-Godwin is the director of the Greenville, South Carolina office of Nightlight Christian Adoptions, the agency that provided the birth mother background report for the "Veronica" case.[17] The American Bar Association has noted that "an attorney independent of the agency is a 'key component to an ethical adoption.'"[15] The South Carolina Bar does not have that requirement.[15]

Call for federal investigation

The Shawnee tribe's Attorney General, Charles Tripp, has called for the Department of Justice to investigate the series of adoptions. Tripp stated that the investigation was needed to end the "'human trafficking of our tribal children in South Carolina'."[18] This call for an investigation has been joined by the president of the Charleston branch of the NAACP, Dot Scott, " to ensure that the civil rights of these children and their biological fathers have not been violated."[25]

Reeves adoption

In 2008, the minor girlfriend of Craig Reeves discovered she was pregnant.[26] She placed the child for adoption and the adoption agency attorney (Godwin) reportedly advised the mother not to accept money from Reeves.[22][27] Nearly a year later Reeves filed an action with the South Carolina Family Court to contest the adoption.[26] The court's task was to determine whether or not his consent was necessary for the adoption. Its decision was based on whether or not Reeves took parental responsibility for the child during the pregnancy, specifically by providing financial support. The birth mother testified that Godwin as the adoption agency attorney advised her not to accept money from Reeves.[22][27] However, in court the birth mother "admitted she was untruthful to Father, Appellants, the adoption agency, and the guardian ad litem...."[28] In addition, "The South Carolina Supreme Court found that the adoption agency did not actually instruct the mother to reject support from the Petitioner [birth father].[29] Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that whether or not the birth mother's refusal of money from the birth father was based on actual advice was "irrelevant, as they both [reasons] have the same effect as far as the Petitioner [birth father] is concerned."[29] Although the South Carolina Family Court found that Reeves had made sufficient efforts to provide support, the decision was overturned by the South Carolina Supreme Court and the child returned to the adoptive parents.[26]

Out of state adoptions

In April 2006, a 20-year-old woman in Illinois contacted an adoption agency about placing her child for adoption. Godwin, as attorney for the agency, matched her to adoptive parents in South Carolina.[30] The adoptive parents hired an Illinois attorney, Denise Patton, to arrange the transfer of custody.[30] The child was born on June 16, 2006 and on June 19 an Illinois court appointed Patton guardian to complete transfer of the child to South Carolina.[31] After the adoptive parents filed for adoption in South Carolina, the biological father learned of the prospective adoption and filed a motion in Illinois courts to assert his rights, noting that he had never been informed of the birth due to the deceit of the biological mother.[31] The child was temporarily returned to the biological father, but custody was ultimately awarded to the South Carolina couple after South Carolina courts held the birth mother in contempt of court.[32]

Footnotes

  1. ^ The attorney hired by Godwin to handle the matter in Oklahoma, Paul E.Swain, is chairman of the board of Heritage Family Services Adoption Agency whose co-directors are Michael Nomura and his wife Deborah E. Nomura.[22]

References

  1. ^ a b c Hardesty, Abe (1 October 2012). "There's joy on the job for Greenville adoption attorney". GreenvilleOnline.Com. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d "Greenville lawyer facilitates adoption of identical triplets -- likely S.C.'s first". S.C. Lawyer's Weekly. 15 December 2008. p. 7.
  3. ^ "Author: Baby Jessica ordeal underlines the heartache of adoption". The Argus-Press (Owosso, Michigan). 9 August 1993. p. 3.
  4. ^ http://www.tapestrybooks.com/product.asp?pID=395
  5. ^ http://myfamilylaw.com/library/book-review-the-complete-adoption-book/?more=yes
  6. ^ http://ccainstituteblog.org/2010/10/11/ccai-celebrates-angels-in-adoption/
  7. ^ http://www.ccainstitute.org/images/stories/complete_list_of_2010_angels.pdf
  8. ^ http://www.scadopt.net/WinterNewsletter2010.pdf
  9. ^ https://www.bbb.org/upstatesc/business-reviews/attorneys-and-lawyers/raymond-w-godwin-pc-in-greenville-sc-9001552/
  10. ^ a b c d e f Brewer, Suzette (17 September 2013). "Oklahoma Judge Gives Custody of Deseray to Absentee Shawnee Tribe". Indian Country Today. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  11. ^ Trial Tr., 388-90, September 12, 2011.
  12. ^ http://nclawyersweekly.com/2013/06/25/decision-clarifies-parental-rights-under-indian-child-welfare-act/
  13. ^ a b c d Eaton, Kristi (13 September 2013). "Okla. custody dispute compared to SC couple's case". Ft. Mill Times (South Carolina). Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  14. ^ Bewley, Dan (29 August 2013). "Another Oklahoma Adoption Case Mirrors 'Baby Veronica' Case". NewsOn6.com. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  15. ^ a b c Knapp, Andrew (22 September 2013). "Skeptics of Veronica, Desaray cases call for closer look at private adoptions, laws". Charleston Post and Courier. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  16. ^ Eaton, Kristi (13 September 2013). "Okla. custody dispute compared to SC couple's case". York Daily Record (Pennsylvania). Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  17. ^ a b Knapp, Andrew (13 September 2013). "South Carolina Attorney says Oklahoma tribe never expressed interest before Deseray's birth". Charleston Post and Courier. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  18. ^ a b Jerreat, Jessica (13 September 2013). "Baby Veronica II: Oklahoma gives custody of baby to tribe instead of the South Carolina couple trying to adopt her". Daily Mail. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  19. ^ King, Ashlei (11 September 2013). "Court Rules Baby Desirai Must Be Returned To Oklahoma". News On 6. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  20. ^ Knapp, Anderw (12 September 2013). "Oklahoma, South Carolina families at odds in adoption dispute mirroring Veronica case". Charleston Post and Courier. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  21. ^ Brewer, Suzette (16 October 2013). "Adult Son of Couple Adopting Deseray Says They Were Abusive Parents". Indian Country Today. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  22. ^ a b c d e Brewer, Suzette (25 October 2013). "Oklahoma Adoption Attorney Approves Baby Deseray Removal for Friend". Indian Country Today. Retrieved 30 October 2013. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ICT 102513" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  23. ^ Brewer, Suzette (28 October 2013). "Baby Deseray Removed From Bixler's Custody in South Carolina". Indian Country Today. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  24. ^ Brewer, Suzette (13 August 2013). "Second Indian Infant Whisked to South Carolina for Quickie Adoption". Indian Country Today. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  25. ^ Scott, Dot (13 October 2013). "Baby Veronica & Baby Deseray: Don't Let Them Sell Our Babies!". Indian Country Today. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  26. ^ a b c Roe v. Reeves, 708 S.E.2d 778 (S.C. 2011).
  27. ^ a b Pet. for Writ Of Certiorari, Reeves v. Roe, 2011 WL 3664450 (U.S.), 3-4.
  28. ^ Reeves v. Roe, 2011 WL 3664450 (U.S.), App. 7
  29. ^ a b Reeves v. Roe, 2011 WL 3664450 (U.S.), pg. 4
  30. ^ a b In re Baby Girl F., 932 N.E.2d 428, 430 (Ill. App. Ct. 2008).
  31. ^ a b Baby Girl F., 932 N.E.2d at 431.
  32. ^ Baby Girl F., 932 N.E.2d at 431-33.
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