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BOCVAROV V. PUFFENBERGER: The Frivolous Claim that a Mother Has a Constitutional Right to Make an Adoption Plan

Erik L. Smith



July 1, 2010


In Bocvarov v. Puffenburger,1Case No. 2:10-CV-039 (filed January 14, 2010) (S.D. Ohio--Eastern Div., Columbus). a divorced mother is suing the unwed biological father in federal court for objecting to her adoption plan. The mother claims her right to marital privacy prevents the unwed father from challenging the adoption. The claim is frivolous because existing law, which the mother cites, shows that the marital privacy right applies only where the married couple wishes to raise the child jointly. Even then, the right to avoid rebuttal of a husband's paternity is one of legislative policy, not constitutional grant. Because the mother surrendered the child for adoption, and because state law lets an unwed father rebut a legal father's paternity, the mother's claim is frivolous.


The Complaint

The Complaint states that the mother and legal father, the Bocvarovs, surrendered the three-day-old child for adoption in Ohio.2Id., Compl. at ¶ 9-11. The agency placed the child with an Indiana couple who petitioned an Ohio probate court to adopt.3Id., Compl. at 12-13. The unwed biological father objected.4Id., Compl. at 14.


The Claim

The mother claims the unwed father's objection violates her constitutional right by trying to disrupt the adoption plan.5Id., Compl. at 23. Allegedly, she and Mr. Bocvarov have the right to privacy as a marital unit relating to decisions about the adoptive placement, as recognized by the U. S. Supreme Court in Michael H. v. Gerald D.6Id., Compl. at 18 citing Michael H. v. Gerald. D. (1989), 491 U.S. 110. The complaint cites seven other Supreme Court cases allegedly supporting the mother's "right of privacy" and "right to make decisions about the adoptive placement of her child."7Id., Compl. at 17 citing Roe v. Wade (1973), 410 U.S. 113; Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992), 505 U.S. 833.; Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth (1976), 428 U.S. 52; Stanley v. Illinois (1972), 405 U.S. 645; Quilloin v. Walcott (1978), 434 U.S. 246; Caban v. Mohammed (1979), 441 U.S. 380; Lehr v. Robertson (1983), 463 U.S. 248.


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Copyright © Erik L. Smith.