Former-Lesbian Mom Disappears with Child January 1, 2010

Former-Lesbian Mom Disappears with Child

A couple days ago, I mentioned the story of Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins.

In short, they were a lesbian couple joined under a civil union. Miller gave birth via artificial insemination. Later, they separated and Miller became an evangelical Christian.

Miller soon denounced homosexuality and didn’t want to allow Jenkins access to their child… which was illegal since Jenkins did have “liberal visitation rights.”

A judge ruled that Jenkins should be awarded custody of the child (with visitation rights for Miller) and that switch would be made today.

Guess what?

Miller never showed up with the child. They have effectively disappeared.

How sad that some Christian churches brainwash people into thinking so badly of gay people, this follower is willing to break the law so that a child can’t see her gay parent. It’s disgusting that any Christian would condone this.

Miller’s lawyer, Mat Staver, the law school dean at Liberty University, wouldn’t comment on the case. I’m not surprised. There’s no justification for Miller’s actions.

(Thanks to Amy for the link)

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  • Tim Carroll

    So where are the pictures of this fugitive woman and her missing child?

  • maddogdelta

    Wouldn’t this become a kidnapping case now?

  • Atheism has nothing to do with homo-sexuality!!
    Though I’m an atheist I won’t accept concept of same sex parents..
    Someone being an gay/lesbian is their rights but without artificial means they can never have an child!

  • What’s your point, Linus? Neither can sterile heterosexuals, or the elderly. Do you accept their parenthood?

    Please provide a rational nonreligious argument against same-sex parenting.

  • muggle

    As I said before, I’d trade places any time. A gay other parent would have been paradise to my daughter and me. Beats the hell out of the Christian father she had.

  • Jamie

    Maybe it was stated somewhere, but if Miller gave birth to the child, why did Jenkins get custody?

    Very sad all around.

    EDIT: “Cohen awarded custody of the girl to Jenkins on Nov. 20 after finding Miller in contempt of court for denying Jenkins access to the girl.

    The judge said the only way to ensure equal access to the child was to switch custody. He also said the benefits to the child of having access to both parents would be worth the difficulties of the change.”

  • Anna

    Atheism has nothing to do with homo-sexuality!! Though I’m an atheist I won’t accept concept of same sex parents.. Someone being an gay/lesbian is their rights but without artificial means they can never have an child!

    Well, there’s one in every crowd.

    Linus, I was raised by two lesbian mothers. Perhaps you could clarify why you find my family so troubling? My brother and I were conceived the very same way that millions of children of straight married parents are. I don’t see anyone taking infertile heterosexual couples to task for utilizing donor insemination to get pregnant.

    By the way, the Miller-Jenkins case has everything to do with religion, and since we talk about religion on this blog, I fail to see why it wouldn’t be perfectly applicable. Here’s a tidbit about Lisa Miller’s point of view from a recent Newsweek article:

    “I do not feel safe leaving my daughter with her, and I believe I have a God-given and constitutional right to raise my child as I see fit,” says Miller, who is currently single but hopes to meet the right man someday. “There is a homosexual agenda at work here, and Isabella is a pawn in their game. It has nothing to do with the law. Isabella was saved at age 4, loves God, and knows what’s right and what’s wrong. We don’t hate Janet, we pray for her soul and salvation.”

    Poor Isabella. Imagine being torn between two parents and having a Christian parent who insists that your other parent is going to hell. With such demonization, refusal to comply with visitation rights, and now this apparent kidnapping, I’m sure the child will be quite traumatized by the entire ordeal.

  • From my understanding of these things it is now a kidnapping by a non-custodial parent. The police and courts don’t look kindly on doing that, she’s bought herself some jail time and quite probably loss of visitation rights.

    linus: Okay, so my cousin and her husband aren’t real parents either because due to a medical condition she has they adopted a child. Let’s bar all infertile heterosexuals from marrying and dissolve the marriages of all couples that the woman has passed menopause. Toss out all adoption as well since those can’t be real parents. That’s where your “logic” leads.

  • Jamie: Because there was a legal adoption of the child by Jenkins. No different from if Miller had married a man and he had adopted her child. Adoptions have the same legal weight as birth in custody disputes.

  • Matthew

    Sounds like a kidnapping case now. Are there pictures of kidnapper and the kid?

    linus: While gay rights does not directly have anything to do with atheism, atheism is based on rationality.

    Homophobia is based on irrationality(almost always religion). Thus, atheists consider it a responsibility to promote gay rights to combat the bigotry of religion. You are actually the first homophobic atheist I have met.

  • Philbert

    Christian groups have promoted the advantages of having two parents for decades, but I guess that is secondary to keeping the dreaded gay agenda out of the home.

  • There are so many things wrong with your article I wouldn’t have enough time to refute them. What is so sad is that those in VT are not taking the child’s best interest in mind, and taking a 7yr old out of a birth mother’s home is NOT in the best interest of the child, doesn’t matter what the VT courts say about it, they are flat out wrong.

    It would be nice if people would get away from focusing on the “gay” issue and focus on the wellbeing of the child.

  • TooManyJens

    “It would be nice if people would get away from focusing on the “gay” issue and focus on the wellbeing of the child.”

    OK, let’s do that. The child has one parent who is turning her against her other (legal, adoptive) parent. The birth parent refuses to allow the child to see the adoptive parent, and now has kidnapped her. Does that sound to you like it’s optimal for her wellbeing?

  • Anna

    Scott, the well-being of the child is at risk only because of what her biological mother has done. If this was a heterosexual couple, no one would be defending this woman. She lost custody because of her illegal actions, and it’s no one’s fault but her own. She demonized her daughter’s other legal parent, restricted and refused access to her child’s other legal parent, is in contempt of court, and has now absconded with the child. That is kidnapping. She lost her legal right to custody when she refused to follow the law. I find appalling that anyone would defend her. If Janet Jenkins were a man, would the Religious Right be defending Lisa Miller?

  • Carlie

    Also, Scott, the child had lived with both parents since birth. She looked upon each of them equally as her parents, so there is no case here of her being more emotionally connected to one than the other. Her two parents separated, and one tried to deny the other the right to see her.

  • J B Tait

    If the child was legally adopted, then make a gender blind evaluation of the issues.
    My husband disappeared my kids (based on what he said and what we can support with evidence) because his new (16 year old) girlfriend didn’t like me and felt threatened by my continued contact with my toddlers and also because he wanted to show me who had the power.
    The gay thing is a red herring and the kidnapper is using her born-againness to hide the fact (or justify) that she is angry and using the child to hurt the other parent.
    Alas, considering the age of the child, we know who the real victim will be.

  • Jamie

    Thanks for adding info Noadi.

    Jamie: Because there was a legal adoption of the child by Jenkins. No different from if Miller had married a man and he had adopted her child. Adoptions have the same legal weight as birth in custody disputes.

    As a parent who went through a nasty divorce with a fundamentalist Christian, the courts were VERY angry at any disparaging remarks by either parent about the other. That was some years ago, and I am just now able to talk about their father without it being a sore subject. I stick to validating their perceptions and correcting the misperceptions about me.

    I cannot imagine the pain this child must be hiding just to keep hold of the good graces of a crazyass parent. It is not healthy for the child period. I have no doubt that giving the custody to the more reasonable parent is best. Just because one mother in this case is the birth mother just doesn’t cut it as a reason to have primary custody.

  • I think it also needs to be emphasized that the birth mother WOULD NOT have lost custody if she’d just followed the court order to allow the adoptive mother to see the child. She did this to herself and, eventually, she will end up paying the price.

  • BlueRidgeLady

    Hey Linus-

    Did you know that some people choose NOT to have children even when they can? Mind boggling, huh?

    Another thing that you may want to know is that homosexual couples don’t need your approval of their parenthood. They are getting on just fine w/o you.

  • maddogdelta


    My sister and her partner have legally adopted two daughters, and had previously taken in a homeless 16 year old who had been thrown out of his house by his family when they found out he was gay. He’s 30 now, and calls both my sister and her partner “mom”.

    Why do you think what they did was evil?

  • Because Linus doesn’t realize you can’t get an “ought” from an “is”. Something is neither moral nor immoral solely on the basis of it being natural.

  • This story has been posted on some religious right websites. Check out some of the comments from that site:

    This ruling is insane. Taking a child away from her birth mother to a person who is not even biologically related? Like the courts would grant full custody to a father in the same circumstance. What a joke! I totally think the mother is right for taking her daughter and fleeing in this situation.

    If Ms. Miller showed up at my doorstep, she would be granted full and complete asylum and protection from ANYONE seeking to remove HER child from HER custody.

    This judge is nuts. Must be on Obama logic pills. Taking custody from the birth mother and giving custody to the “other mother?” What a ruling. I do not blame Ms. Miller for running! You go girl and keep going!

    If I were the birth mother, I’d take the child and disappear too. She is not going to get a reasonable ruling in one of the most liberal parts of the country. So many of our laws and court systems are screwed up anyway. The mother must do what is ultimately best for the daughter even if it means not abiding by the court order.

    Disturbing, isn’t it?

  • Staceyjw

    Just because Miller is a fundie now, doesn’t mean that she gets to erase her past! WAKE UP- If you have a baby with someone- ANYONE- you are stuck with them for the entire life off that child, whether they are biologically related, adoptive parents, a good person or a bastard. Anyone in a custody dispute realizes that you don’t get to keep the kid away from the other parent unless they are seriously abusive- and even then the abusive parent often gets state supervised visits.

    Miller dug her own hole here by disobeying the law and being selfish. That poor kids heart has to be broken by this, and Miller doesn’t even care. The judge did the right thing by granting Jenkins custody, and I think it had little to do with liberal vs conservative. (though a real fundie judge might have given her to foster care)

    I was adopted and to me this is super disturbing. The people that left those comments on the religious page should be ashamed of themselves; they don’t even take into account that Miller only lost custody because she was doing things that HURT THE CHILD. I thought fundies believed in following the rules, and caring for children?

    @Scott Filmer
    It has nothing to do with “gay”, it has everything to do with breaking the law. As I said above, Miller only lost custody because she chose to ignore the rules. Just because you pushed the baby out doesn’t mean you get to keep the baby from the other LEGAL parent. Fathers (biological or not) win custody for similar reasons.

    What does atheism have to do with homosexuality? Being an atheist means you don’t believe in gods, and not adhering to any of the rules that are proposed in their names follows. The ONLY reason homosexuality is “wrong” is because of biblical quotations calling it a “sinful abomination”. There is not a single secular reason. So, even though an atheist (like yourself) can disagree with gay relationships, its unusual to have an avowed atheist take up a position that is wholly religious. You can think what you want, but I think you’re ignorant in this matter.

  • muggle

    Look, I did disappear with my daughter after her father molested her and even I’m not on this woman’s side and I’m admittedly biased.

    Her only complaint seems to be seems to be that her former partner is gay. You kidding me? It shouldn’t be a factor and even if it was doesn’t her own become a factor? I too have to wonder why is her past erased. She doesn’t even seem to think she’s as gay as the partner she lived with and had this child with.

    The woman’s screwy and the judge made the right choice.

    Sadly, some fundy nuts will protect her and keep this poor kid from the stable parent.

    And ask me sometime how much this perception that the Christian parent is the better parent pisses me off. I might have mentioned it before.

    As I’ve probably also said before, the hell with me, ask my daughter. She’ll give you an earful. And she’s a lot meeker than me. Won’t usually speak out.

  • Liudvikas

    Those religious comments are surely disturbing. I cannot understand how can they be so ignorant, failing to understand that she lost the case only because she broke the law. Apparently you can break whatever laws you wish as long as it’s done for jesus, oh how freeing it must be.

  • elleoop

    In my mind, if there is a birth mother (and there is) and the former partner never legally adopted the child, there should have never been an award of “custody” to the former partner who has no legal claim over a child she never bothered to legally adopt.

  • Anna

    In my mind, if there is a birth mother (and there is) and the former partner never legally adopted the child, there should have never been an award of “custody” to the former partner who has no legal claim over a child she never bothered to legally adopt.

    That’s not what happened. Jenkins and Miller planned for and conceived this child together, and both were present at her birth. Like many same-sex couples, they were seemingly not aware that their civil union did not offer the same legal security that marriage would have given a heterosexual couple.

    Men whose wives conceive via donor insemination are automatically considered the fathers of any resulting children. Although the court in Vermont has held this to be the case for same-sex couples as well, Lisa Miller tried to “shop around” in an anti-gay state, Virginia, to try to get the ruling she wanted. However, the Vermont Family Court has ruled that Janet Jenkins is also Isabella’s legal parent.

    According to Jenkins, the reason that she did not file second-parent adoption papers is because she thought their civil union would protect her parental rights. It was not a case of not “bothering” to adopt her daughter.

    From a recent Newsweek article:

    Regardless, the two amicably split in 2003 after their failed attempt at a second child. Until that point, Miller says, she begged Jenkins to file adoption papers, because she didn’t want Isabella to end up as a ward of the state if something happened to her. “I was told we didn’t need to because we had the civil union,” says Jenkins. “God, if I had only known.”

    The law is perfectly clear when it comes to heterosexual married couples. Husbands of women who conceive through donor insemination do not have to adopt their children. No one would expect that to be challenged in court, and no judge would rule against a father in that situation. Yet the Religious Right has decided to twist this case for their own bigoted reasons and treat Jenkins differently simply because she is a lesbian.

    In addition, Lisa Miller was originally granted custody of the child. She has only lost custody because she has been in repeated contempt of court for refusing to comply with Jenkins’ legal right to visitation with their daughter. She’s on a crusade from God, apparently, as this bit of chilling foreshadowing explains:

    Her biological mother has racked up thousands of dollars in fines for all the visitation dates she’s failed to comply with, but the placid schoolteacher is not worried about her contempt of court, or the mounting fines. She believes God will protect her.

  • Sivi

    This is old news: see here (

    Ed’s been covering it for a while, but I haven’t heard much new.

  • John

    How unbelievable are the comments here!! Human beings are not objects to play with. Children belong to their parents. PERIOD. Terms like “biological mother”? What rubbish! There has never been, and will never be any mother other than the one who gave birth to the child. Just unbelievable. What barbaric thinking!

  • Anna

    You’re the one whose thinking is barbaric, John. Do adoptive mothers count for nothing? I have two lesbian mothers. One of them gave birth to me, and the other one adopted me. They are both my mothers and they are both equal parents. I call them both “Mom.”

    How dare you denigrate my relationship with my mother? She has been there for me my entire life. She hugged me, kissed me, sang me songs, cooked me dinner, read me bedtime stories, put band-aids on my skinned knees, talked to me about my hopes and dreams, and did everything that a mother is supposed to do. She was an excellent mother. Without her love and support, I would not be the person I am today. My childhood and my life would have been far less without her. I was incredibly lucky to have both my mothers in my life.

    If someone had taken either of them away from me, I would have been traumatized, as no doubt poor Isabella has been. She has been taken away from one of her parents. I only hope she is able to recover from this abuse (kidnapping is terrible form of abuse) when she is an adult. Shame on the people would condone such a horrific act.

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