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Appeals court to consider Orange County woman's battle to adopt 2-year-old

November 16, 2010 | 12:29 pm

A California appeals court will hear arguments Tuesday over attempts by a Rancho Santa Margarita woman to adopt a 2-year-old despite objections from the biological father, who lives in Ohio.

The father, Benjamin Mills Jr., of Dayton, filed for custody in Ohio in 2008 before the adoption was finalized. A separate custody battle is continuing in that state.

Stacey Doss, 46, is trying to keep the child, named Vanessa, in California after a July ruling delegated the jurisdiction of the custody battle to Ohio. Vanessa has remained with Doss because of an earlier ruling blocking her return to her father.

The appellate court justices will hear arguments starting at 1:30 p.m. on why Vanessa should stay in California until a full panel of the appellate court can make a ruling on which state has jurisdiction.

In Ohio, a trial over custody is scheduled to begin after Doss failed to reach an agreement with the father in mediation. The legal proceedings in Ohio have continued because that state does not recognize the California court rulings.

When Vanessa was about a month old, Mills said he was the father of the baby, halting the adoption process. Vanessa's birth mother, Andrea Conley, claimed her pregnancy was the result of a one-night stand and that Mills was not the father. Genetic tests proved he was, a family spokesperson said.

On a website to support Doss' attempts to keep Vanessa, Doss writes, "I've been fighting to keep Vanessa ever since I've brought her home. I've depleted my savings and endured a lifetime's worth of stress and suffering."

The California Court of Appeal has up to 90 days to rule on the case.

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-- Nicole Santa Cruz in Santa Ana

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