Virginia Woman Fails to Surrender Custody of Child, Defies Court Order

A Virginia woman failed on Friday to surrender custody of her 7 year-old daughter that she shares with a former lesbian partner of over 4 years, defying a Vermont court’s order.

The New York Times reports that Lisa Miller, a so-called ‘ex-gay’ evangelical Christian woman, was ordered by a Vermont judge to surrender custody of her daughter, Isabella, to her former partner Janet Jenkins at 1 P.M. on Jan. 1 at the home of Ms. Jenkins’s parents in Falls Church, VA. Miller failed to show up at that time, however.

The whereabouts of Miller and the girl are unclear at this time and Vermont police will likely issue a warrant for Miller's arrest, according to The Examiner.

(Watch CNN's coverage of the case here)

Miller and Jenkins shared a civil union in Vermont in 2000 and Miller gave birth to Isabella two years later. The couple split in 2003 and Miller became an evangelical Christian and renounced ‘homosexuality’.

According to The New York Times, Miller was first awarded custody of the couple’s daughter and Jenkins was granted liberal visitation rights. After Miller repeatedly denied Jenkins those visitation rights, a Vermont judge found her to be in contempt of the court and awarded full custody to Ms. Jenkins in Nov. 2009.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), as well as Lambda Legal have joined forces to ensure the safe return of young Isabella.

Janet Jenkins today appealed to the public for help in locating her daughter, Isabella:

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.

If you have any information in this case, please contact:

Sarah Star, Attorney at Law, Middlebury Vermont - 802-385-1023
Lisa Hardaway, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund - 973-902-9298
Carisa Cunningham, GLAD -  617-426-1350
Rebecca Glenberg, ACLU of Virginia – 804-644-8080

GLAAD will continue to follow the media’s coverage of Isabella Miller-Jenkins’s whereabouts. Updates can be found on GLAADblog.org

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