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Praying for a miracle

Family | After a long custody battle, Lisa Miller faces the possibility Monday of losing her daughter to the girl's claimed "other mother"

Only One Mommy is not just the name of her Facebook page, but are three words that sum up what the last five years have been all about for Lisa Miller and her daughter Isabella.

This mother and daughter have been facing a custody battle that would have never arisen before the brave new world of same-sex unions. When Miller and her lesbian partner Janet Jenkins left their native state of Virginia in 2000 to head north to take advantage of same-sex civil unions being offered in Vermont, they didn't think their commitment might not last. And when Miller was artificially inseminated a year later, she never dreamed her biological motherhood would not trump any other claim to Isabella.

But then she never would have dreamed that in just a couple years her life would turn completely around-as she gave her life to Jesus Christ, renounced her lesbian lifestyle, and returned to Virginia.

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The trouble began in November 2003 when Miller applied for a dissolution of her civil union with Jenkins and Jenkins countersued, demanding custody of Isabella, whom she had never formally adopted.

When WORLD reported on the situation in May 2007, Isabella was still with her mother in Virginia, Jenkins was in Vermont, and the two women were embroiled in litigation in Virginia, in Vermont, and before the U.S. Supreme Court.

At issue was whether a state that recognizes marriage only between one man and one woman should be required to recognize another state's unorthodox new rules. With their state sovereignty thus challenged, Virginia's courts, unfortunately, did not rise to the occasion. The U.S. Supreme Court decided to pass on the case.

One year later, with every legal remedy exhausted, Miller faces the final loss of her daughter as well as possible jail time.

Miller must appear in Vermont Family Court on Monday, where it is expected that Judge William D. Cohen will award custody of Isabella to a woman who was never her mother through birth or adoption. Isabella has rarely seen Jenkins since 2002, but that's part of the issue. Jenkins has demanded full custody on the basis that Miller has not been cooperative concerning visitation privileges. Jenkins also contends that Miller's Christian faith places Isabella at risk since it could negatively impact her relationship with her "other mother." Jenkins claims she can provide a healthier, less prejudicial home.

Miller, who now teaches special education at a Christian Academy, is poised for the worst: After Judge Cohen grants Jenkins custody of Isabella, Jenkins will travel to Virginia to seek enforcement of the court order. At the same time, Miller is praying for a miracle and asking support from the Body of Christ.


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