Split the baby: Two sides of an adoption battle

The fight over two baby girls could change how Minnesota considers relatives and race in adoption cases

Split the baby: Two sides of an adoption battle

UPDATE: In late March of 2013, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Grossers. The next week, Dorothy Dunning rallied national advocates to protest the verdict at the Hennepin County Government Center. She remains determined to adopt her granddaughters. "We're going to get a national investigation happening here," Dunning says.

Just before 9 a.m. on January 8, courtroom 300 at the Minnesota Judicial Center fell silent.

On the left side of the courtroom, Dorothy Dunning sat next to her husband, Lawrence. The couple had flown up from Mississippi on Sunday in anticipation of the trial. Dorothy was flanked by supporters, all African-American like her, some of whom she'd just met. They'd flocked to tell her their stories: One had fought the system for five years to get her grandson back from protective services; another's son was beaten by his foster parents.

Minnesota's Supreme Court Justices hear arguments from the Dunnings' lawyer
Jayme Halbritter
Minnesota's Supreme Court Justices hear arguments from the Dunnings' lawyer
Dorothy Dunning tells her story to a group of supporters at the Minneapolis Urban League
Jayme Halbritter
Dorothy Dunning tells her story to a group of supporters at the Minneapolis Urban League
Justice Wilhelmina Wright asked several of the sensitive questions about race
Jayme Halbritter
Justice Wilhelmina Wright asked several of the sensitive questions about race

On the right side of the courtroom, Liv Grosser, a slim white woman with cropped red hair, sat close to her husband, Steven. They had driven to downtown St. Paul from their six-bedroom home in Plymouth. Close friends sat on either side, and members of their church, New Hope, filed into the other rows.

Their two foster children, three-year-old Princess and two-year-old Dorothy, had stayed home. Dorothy Dunning would get to see them later in the day, for visitation. They were her biological grandchildren, the younger girl named after her. But they had moved in with the Grossers within days of birth, and the house in Plymouth was the only home they'd ever known. Now the two families were fighting for custody.

"It was like a wedding," says Wright Walling, the Grossers' lawyer, with the two families and all of their supporters split into pews.

At 9 a.m. sharp, "All rise" echoed through the courtroom, and the seven black-robed justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court filed in. Newly appointed Justice Wilhelmina Wright, the court's first African-American woman, sat on the far right. From that perch, she would ask some of the case's most delicate questions: about whether race can ever really be removed from the equation, even though federal and state laws banish it from consideration.

"These are African-American children," she said. "In America, taking race out may be counter to their best interest."

Contested adoptions are rare. Hennepin County handles only two to three per year. Most cases never get to that point: Statewide, of 11,400 children in out-of-home placements in 2011, 80 percent were reunited with family.

Those involving trans-racial adoptions, where a family like the Grossers is a different ethnicity than the child it's fighting to adopt, are even more unusual.

Back in 1983, Minnesota became the first state in the country to pass laws, known as the Minority Child Protection Act, specifying that minority children should be placed with relatives or, failing that, with a family that shares the child's race.

A decade later, the "Baby D" case changed all that. In 1992, the state Supreme Court affirmed a lower court's decision to remove a three-year-old black girl from a white foster family she had lived with since birth, and gave custody to her grandparents.

Public outcry over Baby D's fate helped prompt state legislators to loosen the heritage preference. Not long after, the federal government stepped in to rule that heritage cannot be considered at all.

But in practice, family ties — and heritage — continue to hold considerable sway.

"Having been in the field for 20-plus years, there is much more emphasis on maintaining a kin tie with kids now than ever before," says Traci LaLiberte, executive director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota.

Though the Minnesota Supreme Court's hands are tied on how to consider race, there's still room to weigh in on how to rank relatives, and on the x-factor know as "culture": the idea that, as Dorothy Dunning says, "in the black community, we do things differently."

Walling, the lawyer for the Grossers, puts it even more bluntly: "The real social issue in this case is that Ms. Dunning is African-American and my clients are not."

When Princess was born in October 2009, the only people who knew she was alive were her mother, Javille "Angel" Sutton, and the Abbott Northwestern hospital team that delivered her.

She came into the world with cocaine in her system. Even though she was full-term, she was "significantly underweight" according to court records, and had tremors in her hands and legs from the drugs.

Sutton already had two sons, ages 4 and 12. In 2008, she had abandoned them with a relative and returned to "actively using drugs," court records show. Eventually, Hennepin County found homes for the boys with maternal aunts, one in Minnesota and one in California. These women, however, didn't have the resources to take care of the newborn Princess.

The baby's dad was Princeton Knox, the man Sutton had been living with, and the man who is Dorothy Dunning's son, the middle of her three boys. Knox first moved to Minneapolis as a teen to live with an uncle and play football for Roosevelt High School. He didn't graduate.

By the late 2000s, he started smoking crack, then selling it. He also became violent: In 2005, 2006, and 2008, three domestic assault charges were filed against him by two different women.

In 2009, his older brother, Aubrey Knox, got a call at his job in Mississippi: His brother's situation had gotten worse. Worried, Aubrey traveled to Minnesota.

Aubrey remembers seeing the Minneapolis "crack house" where his brother lived with Sutton, along with several "prostitutes" and another man.

Aubrey stayed with them for a week, trying to talk his brother into coming home and getting clean. Then, one morning, he walked into the house's garage to find an awful surprise.

"I saw a body there in the corner of this place filled with garbage, and I thought it was dead," Aubrey says. "Then I walked over and saw it was my brother."

"I went out front and I called my mom," Aubrey continues. "That's when I really just broke down."

Today, Princeton is sober and married with kids, but he has never laid eyes on the children he conceived with Sutton.

"It's too much for him," Aubrey says. "He don't talk about it."

Once doctors detected drugs, they couldn't legally give the mother her baby. Sutton left her newborn at the hospital and the Hennepin County Department of Human Services was called in to find a foster family.

When Princess was just four days old, Liv Grosser came to the hospital to pick her up.

"She was very small — about five pounds even though she was full-term, very skinny, very dry-skinned, tense, shaky," Liv remembers. "She had that high-pitched cry you hear from babies who have been exposed to cocaine, and didn't make eye contact. She seemed fragile."

"She looked like a little bird," Steven recalls.

That night, the baby went to sleep in a bassinet in the Grossers' bedroom.

A week later, when a child protective services worker visited the Grossers in Plymouth, Liv answered the door with the baby asleep in her arms.

Grosser told the case worker about their first week together, and how they were starting to settle into a routine. The baby would sleep for five hours each night, but would wake up for two-hour periods, so Liv would sit with her. She loved to be held, Liv said, and mentioned that she had noticed Princess jittering as she went through withdrawal from the cocaine.

Liv and the social worker talked about which of the baby's relatives might be able to take her, and the case notes show that Grosser wanted the baby to be reunited with her parents. She knew she was a foster parent, and that the situation was only temporary.

The Grossers first became foster parents in August 2008. They did it because the religious and family-oriented couple felt a sense of duty, a desire to give back.

"We didn't do this because we wanted more kids," Liv explains. "We wanted to help the moms — we wanted to help the kids. We wanted to help."

The Grossers' first foster child was reunited with his parents after four months, and they later adopted their second foster child after the boy's birth parents requested it. Princess joined that boy, an African-American child not much older than her. There were also the four biological Grosser children, ages 8 to 18, as well as a son adopted from China and a teenage friend who lived with the family.

Steven Grosser went off to work as the CFO of a media company every day, and Liv Grosser — who has a master's degree in Christian counseling — stayed home with the kids and volunteered at church.

"The family has a more-than-satisfactory income," a case worker wrote in their home study. "Their finances will in no way be impacted by the foster care payments."

The weekend after Thanksgiving, the Grossers brought Princess with them to their cabin north of Brainerd. In early December, Liv reported that the baby was "very sweet and easy going," according to case notes, and by early January 2010, Grosser told her case worker that if the baby's relatives didn't work out, the Grossers would like to adopt her.

The county continued to look into relative options, but when there was still no progress by the end of April, Grosser began to worry that the baby was growing attached.

By May, Princess had four teeth. In June, she could stand, clap, giggle, and "scoot around on her tummy," case notes describe. In both months, Grosser talked with the case worker about preparing herself for the foster child to leave.

In July, Grosser was nursing Princess through teething pains, and the baby was trying solid foods. Grosser again voiced concerns — at this point shared by Princess's pediatrician — that after eight months, moving Princess out of the Grosser home "will cause permanent attachment problems."

"She was bonding all the time, like babies do, but I started getting more concerned as she started to be more aware," Liv remembers. "At nine months, she was coming to be a person and wondering, 'Who's my family?' To her, I was mom."

Nine months stretched into 11. Princess had started walking and chattering, calling Liv and Steven "mama" and "dada." She regularly sat and looked at books with the Grossers' young adopted son as the two grew close, like any siblings.

By the end of September, Princess had a new biological sister. Knox had gotten Sutton pregnant again, and she gave birth at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. The new baby was born with cocaine in her system, as well as marijuana. Though she later indicated she wanted her to be named Dorothy, after her grandmother, Sutton left the hospital without naming her fourth child. The girl's birth certificate reads "Baby Girl Sutton."

Within days of the new baby's arrival, Liv Grosser drove to the hospital to bring her home. Asked by the county to choose a name, the Grossers decided on Hannah. Today, it is the only name the two-year-old knows.

Meanwhile, the county was still trying to place the two sisters with relatives. State law required that the county decide on a permanent option for children within six months of entering the system. For Princess, it had now been a year.

In December 2010, Hennepin County asked the Grossers to adopt both sisters, and the family agreed. The Grossers began building an addition on their house to provide bedrooms for the girls, and looked into opening accounts to save for their college educations.

Not long after, Liv Grosser asked the case worker if the family could include the girls in their family Christmas card photo. The county told her it wasn't a good idea before the girls were officially adopted, according to the case notes. Grosser said she understood, even though "we feel like they are part of our family."

On a recent afternoon, Dorothy Dunning sat down near a fountain at the Ridgedale Center mall in Minnetonka, where she had just finished visitation with her granddaughters. She smiled as she talked about seeing them.

The girls seemed good, Dunning said: They were happy and running around.

"But they hair was matted," she says, pointing at pictures she had taken of the girls' heads. "In the black community, if I let my children go around with hair like that, I would be considered an unfit grandmother."

When Princess was born, Dunning had never been on a plane. She has lived in Gautier, Mississippi, for 25 years, and grew up in a neighboring town. But when she traveled to Minnesota in April 2011 to meet her granddaughters for the first time, she flew.

Since then, she says she has made the trip "I would guess about 20 times." She takes time off from her job cleaning homes and offices and mostly flies, although occasionally she has made the 22-hour drive.

On many of those trips, she has been able to get unsupervised visitation with her granddaughters. At one point, she was even allowed to spend the day with them at a nearby relative's house.

Her last few visits, however, have been limited to a few hours at Ridgedale Center.

"This mall is the only place they'll let me see them," Dunning says.

Aside from an indoor playground, "there's nothing to do here," Dunning complains. "It's not like having them at home where they're laughing with the other grandkids and laying up in my arms, and where I'm hugging and nurturing and loving."

The Dunnings live in a three-bedroom home, and Dorothy's gardening has won the "Yard of the Month" award from the local garden club. She has 11 other grandkids, and she herself is one of 18 brothers and sisters, most of whom still live close by in Mississippi. The entire clan — plus all of their spouses and kids and cousins and grandkids — regularly gathers at Dunning's mother's house.

"Most every day," she says. "That's what these grandbabies are missing out on."

When Princess was born, Dunning didn't know. She didn't know about her new granddaughter until after her son Aubrey went to check on Princeton, and saw him in the garage.

"I heard Princeton on crack," she remembers, "and my world ended."

Dunning sent her son a bus ticket. When he showed up in Mississippi, his girlfriend, Sutton, was accompanying him.

"They told me they had had a baby," Dunning remembers, "but that the baby was with [Sutton's] sister, so I figured I would get them in rehab first and then go up and get the baby."

Dunning enrolled her son and Sutton in an outpatient program. But after about a week, Knox and Sutton got into a fight.

"That's when she told him that the baby wasn't with her sister, but was in the system," Dunning says.

When the couple later told Dunning, she says, "My heart about sunk."

First thing Monday morning — December 2, 2009, per the records — Dunning called Hennepin County. Princess was two months old.

If her son was the father, Dunning told the case worker on the other end of the line, "I want to do everything to get her in my care," according to the worker's notes.

First, though, the county had to determine that her son was the dad. Minnesota law requires the county to search for relatives on both sides of the family. But often in these cases, it's hard to figure out who the father is: Children are usually in the care of the mother or her relatives when the county first steps in, and either she won't say who the father is or doesn't know his whereabouts.

Even if Dunning hadn't called, at some point the county should have contacted her. By calling them first, she bypassed that step. But Princeton would still have to take a paternity test.

This didn't happen for three months. Results came back 99.99 percent positive that Princeton was the father, and Minnesota moved to ask Mississippi to investigate the Dunnings' as a possible home for the girls.

But when cases such as this cross state lines, they often get messy.

"The child welfare system is very, very complicated already," says LaLiberte, from the U of M. "You throw in interstate issues, and it is compounded."

Minnesota's only choice was to send Mississippi what's known as the "interstate compact in the placement of children," or ICPC. Mississippi was then supposed to run a preliminary check for things like criminal history within 30 days. If that cleared, the state would assign a case worker of its own and tell Minnesota that it had begun the process of licensing the Dunnings: doing a home study, fingerprinting them, and signing them up for training classes.

By April, Minnesota sent out the request, and started talking to the Grossers about the Dunnings as a possible placement for the girls.

But then, nothing happened. Two months later, Minnesota still hadn't heard anything from Mississippi, not even on the preliminary check.

The case worker kept telling Liv Grosser, "We expect to hear soon."

Dunning, too, was growing restless: She called Minnesota three times in the first half of 2010, records show.

By the end of June, Minnesota checked with Mississippi, and inquired twice more in July. Still nothing.

Throughout August, Mississippi told Minnesota that the girls' grandfather, Lawrence Dunning, wasn't cooperating — he didn't want to confirm his social security number or take the two mandatory parenting classes.

Dorothy Dunning would later say that this was a misunderstanding. She married Lawrence when her first husband died. Since he wasn't the girls' biological relative, he thought he didn't have to take the classes. By the time he realized the mistake, they weren't offered again for months.

Hearing about the delays from their case workers, the Grossers began to worry that Dunning wasn't really interested.

"Nothing was happening," Steven says. "We were in a hold pattern and getting increasingly concerned."

Everyone was growing frustrated. Dunning called Minnesota two more times that month, then again in September, and three times in October — not including the calls she was making to Mississippi.

At the end of October — five months after Minnesota had sent Mississippi the compact — a Hennepin County case worker finally got through to Mississippi and learned that, though Lawrence Dunning had now completed classes and been fingerprinted, the state had yet to even assign a case worker to start on the home study.

Not long after, one of Minnesota's administrators emailed Mississippi a threatening message: "We're at the point with this request that we may be requesting a review at the federal level regarding the delays and lack of response."

By now, Dunning was angry. She didn't understand the delay. It seemed, she says, like they were deliberately keeping her away from her own family.

"These are my grands," she says. "Once I tell Minnesota that, and I can provide for them and love them, why wouldn't they give them back to me?"

Aubrey Knox says that the system was confusing to his mother.

"You seen that movie The Help?" he asks. "That's my mom. She's been working since she was 14. She didn't really go to school, she didn't understand all this. But she wasn't just going to walk away."

At the end of November 2010, Minnesota withdrew its compact request to Mississippi. In December, Hennepin County asked the Grossers to adopt both girls.

In January 2011, Dunning again called Hennepin County to ask what was happening. The county case worker explained that, because of the delays and the need to decide on a permanent home for the girls, Minnesota had withdrawn its request.

"Ms. Dunning asked if this means she cannot adopt her grandchildren," the case worker wrote in her notes. "I said that was correct. She got upset again and raised her voice saying she has done everything she was asked."

Dunning began to yell, according to the case worker, and "told me to listen good and that her son may be a crack head, but he does not come from crack heads."

Dunning remembers the exchange.

"I told her, 'Even if I have to sell everything I own, I will fight tooth and nail and I will get my grandkids,'" Dunning recounts.

Then, the case worker's notes conclude, Dunning hung up.

Not long after the phone call, Mississippi finally sent Minnesota a home study for the Dunnings. Hennepin County, though, reassured the Grossers that they were still on track to adopt, and was actively working with the family to make it happen.

In March — a full three months after the county asked the Grossers to raise the girls — Liv Grosser got a call from one of the adoption workers on the eve of a routine state ward review hearing.

"She said, 'I just want you to know before you go to court tomorrow that the county is going to support Grandma,'" Liv remembers.

The Grossers were devastated.

"As foster parents, you know you'll treat the child like your own, but it's not your own," Liv says. "But since December, they had been our kids."

The couple discussed whether to contest the adoption. But for Steven, there was never any real choice.

"From my perspective, our decision was made back in December," he says. "We had committed to the girls."

"We're doing this for Princess," Liv explains. "I was the person in the world who knew her better than anyone else. By the time she was a year old, I knew that if she had to leave me, that would cause her a lot of stress, and I knew from being trained as a foster parent how that has long-term effects."

The Grossers had also become increasingly worried about the Dunnings. The girls were experiencing developmental delays as a result of their prenatal exposure to drugs, and the Grossers were actively seeking therapies for them.

Dunning, though, was expressing doubts that her granddaughters' special needs were even real. She wondered if it was just a tactic employed by the Grossers to complicate the custody transfer.

For her part, Dunning says she didn't ask about the girls' needs because whatever their delays are, it won't impact how she feels about the kids.

"They're my blood," Dunning says. "I'll care for them no matter what."

If it hadn't been for these doubts, the Grossers say things might have gone differently.

"It wasn't about me," Liv says. "I'm an adult; I'll get over it. But these girls have needs that require more than marginally okay parenting."

On top of this, the Grossers were skeptical of the county's reasoning. Seven county workers had been involved in the decision to switch sides, but only two of them knew the girls or the families. These workers had to fall in line with their supervisors, but privately, the Grossers say, they continued to express support.

"Our case workers told us they had to change their mind because [Dunning] was African-American and the grandmother, and whenever they had the same race and a relative, they had to go with her," Liv explains. "It was all about skin and kin."

To the Grossers, those reasons didn't seem right. So they hired the best lawyer they could find: Walling, the past president of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, who has been arguing before the Minnesota Supreme Court for 40 years.

At this point, Princess had been with the Grossers for 17 months, and Dorothy for six.

"Children don't sit in the corner like a potted plant waiting for the adults to get their act together," Walling says. "A year to a two-year-old child is a lifetime."

To Walling, a broken bureaucracy had made the bonding — and now, the impending legal battle — inevitable.

"There are a lot of good people in the system," Walling says, "but the system itself is broken. It just doesn't work."

Two months later, the Grossers and the Dunnings met in court for the first time. Four county workers and one state worker all testified, and when Walling got them on the stand, he grilled them on the decision to reverse.

"I was doing cross-examination of a supervisor," Walling remembers. "Nobody testified to why it would be in these kids' best interest to be with Ms. Dunning."

So Walling asked the supervisor why the county had changed its mind. She replied that the county always goes with relatives.

"Well, that's not true," Walling says. "That's not the law. I can think of all kinds of reasons you wouldn't go with relatives."

Then, Walling says, he led this supervisor and two other county employees into a discussion of race.

"I said something like, 'Isn't it true that the primary concern here was race?'" he recalls. "Two people said yes."

Records show that, over the course of proceedings, three of the county employees admitted that race had been a consideration.

But according to both Minnesota and U.S. law, race isn't supposed to be part of the decision at all: Considering race as a placement factor is strictly illegal.

"It's my opinion that many of the people [in the county] believe this is what the law should be," says Walling. "And since very few people challenge it, that's what they do, but their whole standard was wrong."

Emotions ran high throughout the trial, starting with the first witness to take the stand: Liv Grosser. She testified that she had once been open to the girls knowing their grandparents. But now that things had gotten ugly, "I think I've changed my mind about that."

In a recent conversation, the Grossers explained that they would still be receptive to an open adoption, but that the Dunnings have seemed uninterested.

"All along, I was saying, 'You can be their grandmother, and I'll be their mom,'" Grosser says. "But by the time I got to court, I felt like she had expressed no interest in that. She just wants them."

In addition to Liv and the county employees, Steven and the Dunnings also testified. So did the children's court-appointed volunteer guardian, who had known the girls since birth. Like the county employees who were familiar with the family, she said she strongly supported the girls staying with the Grossers.

The Dunnings' lawyer — a man who had helped Dorothy's brother with a mortgage — didn't call any expert witnesses. Walling, however, called two: the girls' pediatrician and an unrelated doctor.

The pediatrician testified that the girls have some special needs as a result of their exposure to cocaine, and that moving them now could result in long-term attachment problems. The second doctor, too, said she believed babies the age of the girls should never be moved, and that their drug exposure put them at high risk.

The trial lasted four days. Afterward, Judge Kathryn Quaintance was left to determine what she called "an especially difficult question" in her 29-page review of the case: "Should the secure attachments of these children be disrupted, risking long-term impact, in order to provide them with a lifetime of familial connections that they might not otherwise have?"

Before Quaintance got around to answering that question, she took time to scold Hennepin County. Its decision to switch allegiance, she wrote, "glossed over" anything that reflected negatively on the Dunnings. Plus, the people involved in making the decision to back the grandparents "appear" to have "misunderstood Minnesota law."

"Race," Quaintance wrote, "should not have been considered."

Then Quaintance got around to addressing the Grossers.

"The way the Grossers were treated by [the county] is unconscionable," she wrote. "The Court cannot imagine the stress placed on the Grosser family as a result of [the county's] complete reversal.... Being a foster parent is emotionally difficult enough without being lied to."

Quaintance noted that the Dunnings, too, were "treated poorly," and that both parties received "disrespect and unfairness" from Hennepin County.

Quaintance then wrote a thorough analysis of the girls' best interest, and what each family could provide. In a perfect world, she wrote, the girls could know both families. Ideally, Princess and Dorothy would live with the Grossers and have "extended summer and holiday visits with their large loving family in Mississippi."

But ordering that was beyond the judge's power. So she ruled that the Grossers should keep the girls.

"Given their particular vulnerabilities, the Court does not believe it is in their best interests to be removed from the Grosser home," Quaintance concluded. "The Court understands what this means for the Dunnings, and it makes this decision with a heavy heart."

Dorothy Dunning was at work cleaning a family's house in Mississippi when her lawyer called with the news. It was baby Dorothy's first birthday.

"I just couldn't believe it," she says. "I decided I wasn't going to sit down anymore. I had to stop doing what they told me to do, and start doing whatever it takes."

The Dunnings switched lawyers and appealed. In August 2012, the Court of Appeals upheld Judge Quaintance's ruling. The Dunnings started rallying, sending out letters and enlisting the support of nationally visible advocates like the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

They also hired another new lawyer, Michael Perlman, to ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to review the decision.

In October, the Supreme Court agreed to take the case.

On the morning of January 8, neither Perlman nor Walling could get a word in edgewise. The justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court had a lot of questions.

They asked the lawyers what they thought the law should be. They posed hypotheticals, such as if two families were evenly tied, which should keep the child, or whether "capable" is the same as "best." They wanted to know if the court "should put a finger on the scale for relatives." They repeated the words "troubling" and "troubled."

Perlman argued first, his voice low and steady. He said that if the law intends to give relatives first consideration, then courts should look at relatives before anyone else. If it finds the family to be "in the best interests" of the child, it should stop there and give the relatives custody.

The justices countered that "best" is comparative, and "there's not a game, set, match just because a relative is involved."

Walling walked up to the podium and fueled the debate. After a few rounds of back-and-forth, one of the justices asked, "Has the issue of race been taken out of this case?"

Yes, Walling replied.

At that point, Justice Wilhelmina Wright stepped in.

"These are African-American children," she argued. "Help me understand what you mean by 'taking race out of it,' when that might be against these children's best interest?"

The justices started talking about race, and culture, and culture as a euphemism for race.

"A case about culture is going to come up," Walling offered, but this was not that case.

Perlman stepped back up to rebut: "If we aren't giving meaning to relative preference," foster families — who know the children and their needs — "are always going to win at attachment. Relatives have one, if not both hands tied behind their backs, and the foster families will prevail."

After an hour, the arguments ended, and the two halves of the courtroom filed out into the hallway. Under a stained glass skylight, they started rehashing how it went. Both lawyers agreed that the court had asked the questions they expected, but differed on what the case could mean.

On one hand, the court could stick with the Grossers. In that case, "if they come out with a recommendation of, procedurally, how to handle these," says Walling, "that would be an excellent tool, because these cases get handled very differently all over the state."

The more major move would be if the court overturned the lower court's decision, and sided with the Dunnings. If that happened, though the justices can't touch federal rules surrounding race, there's room for them to say that "culture" should weigh more heavily.

"Race per se is not supposed to influence where children go, but how can we truly separate race and culture?" Perlman asks. "We're not saying that these are African-American children and so they should be in an African-American home, but part of culture is heritage."

Perlman concluded that he would expect the court's opinion to include some discussion of the culture question. But to him, the case is more about how to weigh the biological bond — whether "we're really truly going to give meaning" to the idea that kids should grow up with their kin.

Walling thinks that the court is unlikely to come down in favor of a strong relative preference.

"If they say relatives should be considered before anybody else, that would be directly contrary to two of their other cases," he says. "But that would change the outcome dramatically."

To two families, the case's implications aren't theoretical. The court's decision will determine whether or not they raise — or even know — two baby girls. It will mean, after nearly three years of suspense and fighting, that they finally have a resolution.

Both lawyers say they think the decision could go either way. In sensitive cases involving minors the court often moves more quickly, and in this case is expected to issue a decision within 90 days. At that point, Princess will be three and a half.

If the court overturns Quaintance's opinion and gives the girls to the Dunnings, the Grossers feel as though two of their daughters would be taken away.

"I just hope the Supreme Court will see that it's about two little girls, and not who they belong to," Steven says. "To think about them going away to a place where they're not going to be cared for, and mature to what they can be, that's the scariest part."

Liv agrees. "It's about the best interest of the girls, not the best interest of the relatives," she says. "There's just this undercurrent of stress that at any time they can take our kids away."

"We can't change the color of our skin," she continues. "We can go and do every single thing that we possibly could do for our kids, but we can't be black."

The Dunnings, for their part, are appealing the decision to a higher power.

"I believe in God, and there's been too much praying for us not to get these babies," Aubrey Knox says. "It's going to take a turn — it has to, because of the race issue. You can't ignore it."

His stepfather, Lawrence Dunning, agrees. "I think they finally coming home," he says.

Nearly an hour after court let out, Dorothy stepped into the elevator to leave the Minnesota Judicial Center.

"They made the fight come out in me," she said on the ride down. "Even when I get my grandkids, I will not stop coming up here. I want to fight and mobilize to put another law on the books to give relatives, and relatives out of state, a chance."

As she walked out into the bright January morning, she shivered in the cold.

"Minnesota," she said, "will not forget me." 

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This is ridiculous. Race should never be brought up. We all bleed the same color, we all need to be loved and nurtured. Us white people can certainly learn how to care for a black childs hair and skin. It wouldnt be that hard to walk into a salon and ask some questions if need be. Why does everything have to be about race all the dang time?


This shouldn't be dragged out any longer.  I think the process of giving these babies to their grandmother should start now.  Maybe start out with regular weekly visits, then daily, then weekends, then weeks at a time until they work the adoptive parents out (unless both sides agree to allow the adoptive parents visitations, which would be nice).  No offense to the adoptive parents, they have done a wonderful job and I applaud them, but I do believe that family members should get children who have been removed from their biological parents.  It's not their skin...it's the fact that they are family.  With that being said, I also believe that the children should not be "snatched" out of the only home and family they have ever known, which is why I stated above that it should be a process.  I do believe that just taking children away would be absolutely horrifying to the babies emotionally, but if it is done slowly, I believe the children will be just fine; they would need just a little more love and attention at first as they fully acclimated to their new home and surroundings. 

If these children are not given to their family, I think there could be problems in the long run, especially when these baby girls find out that their grandmother fought so hard for them, and that the reason they were not placed with their family was because of the Grosser's selfishness.  There could be a lot of resentment later, so if you are reading this, Mr. and Mrs. Grosser, you should definitely consider that.  These babies belong with their grandmother and family (and again I stress...placing the babies with Grandma should be done slowly as to not emotionally harm them). 

I am the mother of five boys.  My husband and I recently had my niece (my brother's daughter) placed with us for 10 months.  She was taken from her parents because of the same thing; her parents are crack cocaine users and Rx drug abusers.  For various reasons, we allowed my niece to go to foster care with the belief that she would be going home to her parents in just a few short months.  That was the biggest mistake of my life.  Turns out her parents will not change their ways, so we are now going to adopt my niece.  Right now, she is with an African-American foster family and I have no problem with that at all.  I know she is being properly cared for at the moment.  And if I were not here to adopt my niece, I would not have a problem if the foster family loved my niece enough to want to adopt her...because I do not believe that skin color makes you who you are.  That's just my opinion, I thought I would give it because it was mentioned in the article above. 

At any rate, I hope to have my niece adopted and back in my home as soon as possible...because she will be having a new baby brother or sister soon who I will also be adopting (and unfortunately, it will be a cocaine-addicted baby).  It will be hard on our family financially, physically, and emotionally to take on two additional children, as we have one who is 21 and in college, a 16-year-old, a 10-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 7-month-old, but we will make it work...because we are family and belong together. 

Good luck to you, Mrs. Dunning - I hope your grandbabies are with you soon.  Much love. 


Ms.Dorthy & family my heart goes out to you. I am just now hearing about your case.  I am disappointed that I haven't heard about it before now. I have a youtube channel but there are 3  other black youtubers with fan bases much larger than my own, theskorpionshow, lovelyti2002, and muchlovefromkentucky. The quickest way to reach them is to direct message them on twitter. I have spoke with  muchlovefromkentucky (ms.nina) online before and she is passionate about issues like this. Lovelyti2002 is also very passionate, the skorpionshow has the largest base with over 100k subscribers and they report on issues that affect the black community also. 

This story touched my heart because I am a former foster child. Today I am a married mother of 3 but I grew up in the alameda county foster care system. My friends think I some what of a nut because I think that the foster care system and the prison system is connected and is basically 21st century slavery.  Foster care and prison is big business here in america, and no one talks about it. My mother was a drug addict. In the early 80s her drug of choice was herione and she later graduated to crack cocaine. Like you my grandmother and cousins and aunts fought for the five of us (4girls 1 boy). However my mother had told the judge she didn't want us placed with family. Of course the judge listened. We were placed with a black family. It was a nightmare, I won't torture you with the details but lets just say at 40 i still have nightmares. The courts are full of bs to think that race doesn't affect you. When you grow up in a family that is not your blood there is an emptiness that grows and grows. It is going to be especially hard for them being black females growing up in a white family. Here in California many agencies require that the parents keep the children in touch with their cultural roots. In our case my grandmother was allowed visitation. I didn't appreciate it back then. I wanted to just fit .in my foster family so bad, and they looked down on my granny. In the end my grandmothers love won. No matter how ugly I acted she would be at every one of my events. Years later I asked my mother why she did't place us with family. She told me she did it to hurt my grandmother. In the end it hurt us. My brother has been in and out of prison. I just found my 3 sisters 5 years ago after being split for over 30 years. My sisters were adopted while my brother and I stayed with the first foster family. America's foster care system is broken and in desperate need of repair.

Don't stop fighting, these people are wrong! You should have been contacted first, another thing you need to make a youtube channel and do a video so we can pass it around. I know i'm blabbering and all over the place so I will end it here. I want to leave you my info please email me and if you can you need to do another change.org petition I went to sign it and it was closed. Your story should have been viral every grandmother needs to have signed your petition. I do hair for a living and my youtube channel is queenofweaves.com you can inbox me there or on Facebook. Please let me know how I can help. I'm praying with you and for you. ~DeDe

DeDe Hunt (Sacramento CA on Facebook)



I 100 percent support the Dunning family.black people are unique. black hair and skin must be cared for differently, and the majority of white people DO NOT know the proper way to care for our hair. I personally know several people african-american people adopted by white families, and they are extremely confused and not in touch with who they are as people because they were not raised with black families. I think that the Gossers are an awesome family but the Children's place is with their biological family so they can know who they are as black women, and unfortunately, thats not something that a white family can teach them. short-term it is going to be difficult with growing up in 1 family in changing to another but in the long run it will help these young girls grow into strong black women. Just imagine how difficult it would be for these children to learn that black people used to be slaves to white people and go home to a white family after learning that information? or what about the first time they get called the N Word? how can a white family deal with that in an acceptable way? they don't know what it's like to go through racism because they've never had to deal with it. culture always needs to be taken into consideration in adoption cases because it so much of who we are as people is our culture. Keep fighting for your babies Mrs. Dunning!


Keep fighting! It is clear you care deeply about your family. It is unfortunate that the foster family became so attached while knowing you were interested in custody.


Nobody knows the heartache and pain of what I have experienced. I experienced the most difficult thing when I was never contacted. No one in my family was contacted by the county and that's court records. I am their biological grandmother. Nothing can take the place of that no matter what. I love my grandchildren unconditionally. This fight will never end until i get my grandchildren even if I have to take it to the highest court in the land. I have been laying awake at night wondering about my grandchildren. Any real Christian , and any real loving grandparent would definitely understand my heartache and what I am going thru. I was never told that my husband had to go to school and be certified in order for us to receive the girls until the last minute. I would like for someone to please answer this question : Why did Judge Quintons and Ms. L J Johnson  send a child to California with an aunt and this aunt never went to school or had to be certified ? They walked into this womans home and stayed less than 20 minutes yet they approved her to have her nephew. All Of these children share the same mother. All of these children were born with the same drugs in their system. Why is it that I was denied visitation with the girls for a little over a year ? Why is it that the other children who aren't my grandchildren weren't classified as special needs ? Why is it that my girls were singled out and declared special needs ? I see it as a way for the state and other family to keep a hold onto my grandchildren. I'm not saying that my granddaughters may not have problems , but what i'm asking is why is it that the special needs weren't mentioned until later on. None of the documents sent to The Mississippi Welfare System from Minnesota EVER stated that my granddaughters had special needs. I love my grandchildren unconditionally. Do you think that I would be fighting this hard if I didn't love my grandchildren ? Do you think that I am so ignorant that I wouldn't be able to provide proper care to my granddaughters ? People need to research the facts about declaring the foster children specials needs. It is stated that the doctors never declared my granddaughters special needs until Mrs.Grosser kept pushing the issue.If the Wayzata School District tested my grandchildren and never declared them as special needs would you say that the school district was lying ? If my granddaughters are in fact declared special needs this family will receive almost 3,000 per child. Its proven fact in Minnesota.  Why is it that the courts would choose to leave my grandchildren in this home where they are making this family rich when they can be home with their family and I don't want not one red cent of any money. I Just want my grandchildren. I worked for a Pediatrician ( Dr. Grant) for over 30 years. He is very prominent on the coast. He told me that he would help me in every way possible and help me with any medical care that the girls will need. When i receive negative feedback it only makes me fight harder. I will make a difference.As of today I have sent over 30 envelopes to newspapers , attorney generals , and the white house about this.I will make a difference. I am becoming a Fannie Lou Hamer , Rosa Parks , And Dr.Martin Luther King. I will fight for justice and bring light to this. There are thousands of people who have reached out to me from Minnesota about this same problem stating that they are taking their children as well and placing them in home with foster families as well when they too have family members with clear backgrounds to take their children. We as a community will make a difference. My Family means more to me than life itself. My grandchildren hold a very special place in my heart. I want them to know who I am . 


I am going to be very blunt here. You sound STUPID. I have detailed records to prove no one from our family was contacted. My mother or Gramma as you call it contacted the county when the first baby was 2 mo. I also have very detailed document's of correspondence's from The foster mom and county workers over years worth and they tell a very different story. The girl's were fine no special needs. The Grosser's never wanted the second child that is documented. They were fine with the girl's leaving until the first visit my mom asked questions about their religion. Views were different and everything took a turn. Then the lies began the girl's have special needs Gramma don't want them if they do ect ect ect. If the Grosser's are your friends it's cool I get that support your friends but don't speak for God especially if you don't have the facts Liv Grosser is a lier I can prove that she knows im telling the truth and so does God. I haven't heard Mr Grosser lie so I can't speak to that. Ask your friends to share the paper work with you read it for yourself. Then see if you feel the same. Ill let you read the lies I welcome anyone to come read it for yourself.


These girls have their own experience. Yes, those girls do not just sit up on the shelf waiting for whoever wants to call them kin. The girls have been formed into a family. The best situation would had been if 'Gramma' would let those people-God chose, to love and care for the girls, to raise them. In the meantime Gramma can visit, and after trust has been established, the girls can go for extended periods of visitation.

Race should have never been considered into the process of adoption. I didn't see anyone stopping Gramma from raising those girls, expect Gramma. There were many attempts from what the records show to get the girls with kin. Months of no contact? Step daddie not wanting any part then after months he finally steps up? Those two facts make me very concerned with the kin.

The family that has been formed has NO use of drugs. They are firmly rooted into their community. There is no-one that hasn't said NO to the process to adopt the girls. The girls were allowed visitation with their kin. This shows good intentions from the start.

I believe that splitting the baby was never an option. The God-created family is the only place the girls should be raised. I hope that Gramma and family can be productive for the good of the girls.


    I am the daughter of Walter K. Grant who commented below. I have known Mrs. Dorothy my whole life (16 years) and I know what kind of person she is. And that is an amazing one. I have never seen someone fight this hard to get what they want and deserve. I know I would never be able to do what she is doing. Doesn't this alone show how much of a fit grandmother she is and will continue to be for her grandchildren? Not only is she determined, but she is the hardest worker I've ever seen. She will do whatever it takes, work as long as it takes, to provide for her family and friends. She would give you the shirt off her back. I have witnessed her friendship with my mother for years and how they continuously help each other when they are in need and I'm sure my mother would agree with me when I say she is dear to our family, and in fact, we would consider her a part of our family. And while I do see the Grosser's point of view in this situation, you can't deny family. At the end of the day that's all we have. And Mrs. Dorothy's and those babies' family is huge in number and in heart. Why should they be denied them? 

I am aware that I am no expert as I am only a child, but I can tell you something an adult may not be able to tell you....I see this as a case of love, not a case of the law or a case of race or anything of that sorts..I see this from the point of view of a kid and I can truly tell you Mrs. Dorothy is one hundred percent the most fit grandmother, mother, wife, and friend. She feels family is what matters most, and that might be the most true thing I've ever heard. 



    I am a pediatrician in Gulfport, Mississippi. I have known Mrs Dunning for 33 years and have taken care of several members of her family. I can certainly attest that Mrs. Dunning and her husband are wonderful people and they would go to the ends of the earth to care for and do what is right for their grandchildren. She has several other grandchildren for whom she has done just that for years now. She has a large extended family and a group of friends from all walks of life . She is not just trying to gain possession of these children, but trying to do what is best for them. Every resource these children may need medically is available to them in this area.

     I am sure the Grosser's are wonderful people or they would not be doing what they are doing. However, there is a certain wealth in extended family (irrespective of race) that cannot be matched in any other set of circumstances. Certainly early attachment is important to children as the other pediatricians have attested to, but children are very resilient. The Grossers are to be commended for what they have given to these girls that will last a lifetime, but true family bonds and their connection to their biologic family was begun at conception and will also last a lifetime.

-Walter K. Grant M.D.


@forthesakeofthechildren The doors will always be open no matter what. Somethings are worth paying the ultimate price for first is God second is family. This country applaud young men and women who give their life for this Godless country. But e you expect people to lay down when it comes to our children good luck with that. What world do you people live in. The sad part is this family claims to be followers of Jesus Christ. Would Jesus say leave the kids they are attached its too late. No he would not. I was taught by my mother and father that you can do All things through Christ Jesus including get over and crossing jordan. My mother tries to be such a good Christian she will not mention Mrs Grosser battle with cancer but how can you over look it. From a judicial stand point or a Biblical stand point. It reminds me of the Pharo had he just let the people go he could have spared himself and his family from great pain and affliction God does not lie his word shall not return void. So keep thinking you are doing Gods will. You are a lie and the truth is not in you. I was in the first visit I remember the conversation I know why this whole thing went sour so do you Mrs Grosser and so do you LJ Johnson. God will reward each according to your deeds.


I Am The Grandmother Of These Two Grandchildren. I Want The People To Know That I Have Been Fighting For My Granddaughter Since She Was 2 Months Old. Minnesota Did Everything in Their Power To Stop Me For Visiting. I Asked To Fly Up And I Was Told No. I Was Told That I Couldn't Ask Any Questions Concerning The Case Until I Had A Valid Foster Care Licencing And A Background Check. I Want People To Know That The State Of Minnesota Never Did A Kinship Search Or Contacted Anyone In My Family. I Had A Sister Who Was Licensed To Foster Parent. I Asked If My Sister Could Care For The Girls Until I Had My Foster Care License . They Denied Me. Everything I Have Said From Day One Is In court Documentation. I Have Never Switched My Story. I Want People To Know That I Cannot Help What My Son Has Done But I Still Love Him Unconditionally. The Day My Granddaughter Was Born Her Mother Called To Mississippi , Got My Full Name And Named Her After ME Dorothy Faye Knox. Yes She Walked Out Of The Hospital Without Signing The Birth Certificate. The Name Is Not The Issue , However I Would Just Like To Let People Know What The Hennipen County Has Done To Me And Mrs.Grosser Hennipen County And Mississippi And The Ones I Blame For This Mess. I Was Never Told About Any Special Needs , Even When The Paper Work Was Sent to Ms. The Special Needs Came When They Needed A Reason To Hold On To My Grandchildren. Tell Me How Can I Know About Special Needs When I Haven't Been Told About Anything And I Only Get 2 Hour Mall Visits. The Guardian Of Litem Stated That I Didn't Want My Grandchildren Because Of Special Needs.This Is Incorrect. I Have A 40 Year Old Special Needs Brother Whom I Love Dearly. In The Best Interest Of The Children Is Just Something That The System Uses To Keep From Returning Children Home To Their Rightful Families. There Isn't A Day Or Night That Passes That I Don't Think About My Grandchildren. This Has Taken A Tremendous Toll On Me. I Don't Understand How The Foster Parents Can Have More Rights That The Grandparents. There Was Another Child That Didn't Belong To My Son And He Was Immediately Placed With His Family After One Visit. The Same Judge And Guardian Of Litem. They Made 4 Visits To MY Home And Every time Something Was Wrong. I Don't Want To Make This A Black Or White Issue , But I Do Have A Question For The Public. Would You Take Mrs. Grosser Grandchildren And Send Them To Mississippi With Me ?


How sad for these two girls that the adults involved can't do what is truly in the best interest of the children. That would be to split custody and learn to work together...as adults...as a family...as a group of people putting aside their differences to ensure the well-being of two children that were put through hell before they were even born.


It's a tough call, no doubt about it. But the kids are 3 years old now. These are the only parents that they know. How about they get to remain the parents, and the grandmother gets to be a grandmother? I would think it best that the families work together to raise the children. It's obvious that both families love them, why can't they come together, for the girls and work on a solution that includes all parts of their family in their lives? Have the court assign a mediator/councellor to work with the two families to smooth over all the hard feelings that 3 years of court have caused and get them working together. To relocate them to the grandparents permanently now, after primary bonding is going to damage those girls for life. That's real. I've seen the damage it can cause. Don't think they'll forget it.


I am a foster parent of more than 25 years and we were taught to take great care of the children but don't get attached because they may go home or to other family members and or family friends. We were also taught to prepare the children to go home and not make it hard on the Bio families.

I have seen in more recent years when these cute little black children grow up to be not so cute teenagers if they last that long in these adoptive homes. They give them back, drop them off at St Joseph Home for Children or never return to pick them up from respite care.

Guess what when those behaviors come out and that those Adoptive parents start to wonder what did I get myself into and quickly figure away out “umm” I will give them back there not my Bio children I can always get more foster kids.

The children asking why did you adopt me you know my real family wanted me and you kept me from being with them you and the courts decided what was in the best interest of the children. “No one ever ask the children

That’s why I cry myself to slept at night because I know inside my little soul something is missing to young to figure it out but as I get older I want to know more and more who I am and where I came from and why is my skin different from your kids?

 Does Anyone Care Anymore!!!


@ Jason that couldn't be more far from the truth. The truth is as soon as we learned of the first child we stepped forward and as soon as we learned she was pregnant again we stepped forward. You have a capable and willing family fighting for the second child before she was born. Where is the justice in that Sir you tell me. I have been at every visit and trust me these children won't have a problem adapting if moved. If the foster parents just truly genuine good people who want to help. What about the children in the system that don't have anyone coming for them. I don't know about adoption but I know right and wrong. And I know about the Bible just look to the hills brother cause we surely are


@ Jason. It is more a bout FAMILY to us than it is about race. However race does play a part when it comes to the arrogance of this Caucasian family to think they are better and can do better by the girls. The affect on moving the girls now are minimal compared to long term problems of being adopted. No matter how good they have it they are going to feel that they were unwanted by their family and that is not true. When they grow up they are going to hate the Grosser's for ripping them from family make no mistake that is the case here. My mother has been fighting to get these children since the first child was 2 mo old and for the youngest before she was born. What does FAMILY mean. It angers me to think that basically for some people it has no meaning when it comes to children and adoption and that is an outrage. I mean how can you be so arrogant to say that it bares no meaning for us. This is the thinking that has gotten us to where we are today in America and its ridiculous.

jason.dorweiler topcommenter

I dont know if A1 even read the story but it seems pretty clear to me that if the parents couldn't do anything morally right to bring 2 kids in, then the adopted parents obviously should be keeping these children, especially after a year of taking them in.

Their biological grandmother; I have no doubt, probably could raise them right, but look at what has happened now. The state fucked this case up a long time ago and now everyone has to pay on both sides. Unfortunate for both, but the kids emotional pain would be very heavy if they had to be moved yet again, after a scary 9 months and being brought into the world, to be placed in such a confusing situation would be unbearable. They are finally stable, healthy, and have what seems like fantastic parents who are open to adoption and do not see skin color as an issue. 

What does race have to do with this? We play that card every time and it's really annoying that were still a nation that heavily relies on that to get by. Heritage is understandable, but it can be taught all the same. I really hope the supreme court does whats right here, and keeps this case the way it is, especially if the girl is 3 now. 


(waiting for the race card and of course since this is CP, ignorant posters)


It's good that adoption is being critically examined. For too long babies have been treated as commodities by adoption agencies, their rights as eventual adults abridged without the consent of impartial, uncoerced advocates, their best interests trumped by entitlement ([wealthy/white] couples "deserve" babies) and cultural bigotry (a child is "always" better off growing up in a [heterosexual/wealthy/married/religion/America/white] home." Adoption agencies have leagued with churches and desperate childless parents to suppress the rights of adults who were adopted as children, making it easier for agencies to engage in questionable practices, while adoptees and their children face greater risk of inherited disease due to lack of medical background.

The welfare of children should be the SOLE determinant of their circumstances, and if that means being raised by a willing relative then the needs of childless couples ought not be a factor. To protect children, governmental oversight and transparency in the process must be insisted upon. And adults who were adopted as children ought to have ALL rights to their backgrounds, because they did not agree to any of the circumstances of their adoption and can't be bound by a third party contract at the cost of a greater risk of inherited disease.

[Full disclosure, I am one of the founders of Bastard Nation (http://www.bastards.org ) one of the nation's largest and oldest adoption-rights organizations.]

Sammy L Cater
Sammy L Cater

i hope they win...... in my personal experience with Minnesota they DO NOT care about children.... a child with no drs note that misses almost all of grades 1st - 5th 1. no protection called 2. still passed pfffffft.......then now im married 3 children husband a police officer, neither of us have criminal history credit rating last checked was 660... my sister lost her children to drugs etc etc etc ,,,, being the biological aunt i am not even considered a plausible environment for the childrens father is part indian ..... :( so they sit year 3 in foster care



@markeishamay I agree there is so much to be said about being with
family especially when they are as LOVING as Mrs &Mr Dunning they
surround there self with Grand-children everyday I can hear in the
background playing when on the phone. I also attended visit with Mrs
Dunning & her grand girls at Ridgedale and they have a bound with her.
Those little girls would not let Mrs Dunning out of there sight. I am
also a Guardian at Litem and if I would of been on this case my
recommendation would of been send these girls to Mississippi with ther
FAMILY! All Mrs Dunning talks about is her FAMILY, her Church! Again I
see the LOVE and the BOND these GIRLS have with GRANNY!!! I am a
GRANNY....I had a family in my care for five years it HURTS but I had
do what was best for them. FOSTER FAMILIES are AWESOME!


@victorialeejenkins  Removing these children from the only parents they know can and will cause attachment problems.  The state left the children in the foster too long, and now it is no longer in the children's best interest to take them away from the only parents they have known. 

As an adoptive mother with a biracial son who is now an adult, not everyone gives up.  Not everyone considers children as 'replaceable'.  And not every adult black man raised in a white household regrets his placement.  



I mean no disrespect, sir; however, how did your family step forward for the second baby as soon as you learned of the pregnancy?  In your mother's own words, she had no idea there was a second pregnancy, much less a second baby that was born (please see below that was copy and pasted from the article above). 

When Princess was born, Dunning didn't know. She didn't know about her new granddaughter until after her son Aubrey went to check on Princeton, and saw him in the garage.

"I heard Princeton on crack," she remembers, "and my world ended."

Dunning sent her son a bus ticket. When he showed up in Mississippi, his girlfriend, Sutton, was accompanying him.

"They told me they had had a baby," Dunning remembers, "but that the baby was with [Sutton's] sister, so I figured I would get them in rehab first and then go up and get the baby."


@knoxboy_knoxboy  The communication between the state foster/adoption agencies really sucks. It's a sad situation. That said, what would be sadder is to have the children removed from the only parents they know. They can and will have problems adapting if you take them away from their mom and dad. Attachment issues are horribly scaring for children. I know right from wrong, and it's wrong to tear children away from their parents... the only parents they've known.  


@knoxboy_knoxboy Family means the people who have been raising the girls.  That would be the white couple. You can't minimize the trauma it would cause the girls to have their parents torn from them. But rest assured, if you keep the doors open, the girls may want to connect with extended biological family when they are ready. They won't appreciate you ripping them from the arms of their parents... the only parents they know.

jason.dorweiler topcommenter

@knoxboy_knoxboy Are the Grossers not a family that can raise children just like any other household? I thought it was the states decision to put them in foster care because there was no parent available. I know something about adoption and how messy it can be when these kids are just put in care with someone who could care less, but that isn't the case here. If the Grossers are respectable people then the kids will grow into adulthood knowing how they came to be and the situation behind it all. Hard decisions are made and that is life. I didn't say family has no significance, just that these kids didn't have family when they needed it the most. That's the truth.


@Angel L Bernard Cater Angel when this is over go back and get your family members nobody can ever LOVE yours like you can!!! Fluffy


@Forthesakeofchildren @victorialeejenkins If they would of gave the girls back when the child left the hospital the foster parents would not be attached to these children. I am speaking from experience! If they were your girls would you want another family to raise them? Or maybe you would but Mrs Dunning wants her grand-daughters. I speaking as a Great-Grand Mother, Grand-Mother, a Mother, I would of never wanted anyone raisng my children I have FAMILY! We must quit playing GOD with other people's children...What goes Around comes Around! What for you and your family Bless you!


That is not accurate my mother sent the mother back to mn because she was still using and she got pregnant. I will be the first to admit that was a great mistake had the baby been born in Mississippi she would have been in my mothers care from birth. It is on record that my mother called the DHS worker and told them the mother was on her way back and that she was pregnant and if it belonged to her son she wanted to adopt that child also. So the fight for the second child started before she was born. I have court documents that will prove that the Grossers are Liers my mother constantly contacted the workers about the girls. For one my mother was never contacted about the first child my mother called them.


@jason.dorweiler @knoxboy_knoxboy Jason : "ALL" families struggle with something and not exempt from these disease or addition weather it be:

Alcohol (addition), Cocaine (addition), Meth (addition), Gambling (addition) and if not your blessed no one is extempt. Some times the BIO parents may not able to care for there children for whatever reason! That's why GOD made families.. Foster Parents are wonderful I am a foster parent but I know when GOOD FAMILY member step up to the plate it's time for us to back off!