Lesbian in custody dispute issues appeal for missing daughter
The non-biological mother of a seven-year-old girl has issued an appeal to the US public to find her after the child’s biological mother defied a court order to hand over custody.
Lisa Miller, who is now an evangelical Christian, was ordered to hand over Isabella to the girl’s other parent, Janet Jenkins, on January 1st but did not turn up.
She had previously failed to comply with a court order demanding that she grant Jenkins access to the girl and has now gone missing from her home in Virginia.
A missing person report has been filed and the Bedford Juvenile and Domestic Relations court filed an order for her to return the child to Jenkins this week.
In a statement, Jenkins said Isabella was her daughter and pleaded with the public to help find the pair.
She said: “I am so worried about Isabella. I do not know where she is or whether she is okay.
“Isabella is my daughter. Lisa and I decided together to have a child, and that we would use alternative reproductive technology to do so. We picked out a donor together.
“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.
“Eventually, the courts ruled that I was Isabella’s parent, but in my heart I’ve always known that. It was devastating to me, as I’m sure it was to Isabella, when Lisa withheld contact between me and my daughter.
“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.”
Jenkins’ attorney, Greg Nevins from Lambda Legal Legal’s Atlanta office, said: “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.”
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Miller could be charged with parental abduction for failing to comply with a court order.
The couple had a civil union ceremony in Vermont in 2000 and their daughter Isabella was born to Miller two years later through artificial insemination.
But the couple split up in 2003 when Miller became an evangelical Christian and renounced homosexuality. She then moved to Virginia.
Their civil union was dissolved in 2007 and Miller was granted custody of Isabella with Jenkins allowed liberal visiting rights.
Miller is being represented by the anti-gay Liberty Counsel. A Facebook group called ‘Only One Mommy – The Story of Lisa and Isabella Miller’ has more than 3,000 members.
Police are not actively searching for the pair at this time and have said it is currently a civil matter.