A South Carolina man whose wife put their baby up for adoption without his knowledge or consent will be reunited with his daughter after a nearly two-year legal battle, a Utah court ruled.
A Provo judge said Monday he was “astonished and deeply troubled" by an adoption agency’s deliberate efforts to circumvent the legal rights of father Terry Achane, who was serving as an Army drill instructor when his child was adopted without his knowledge.
Judge Darold McDade gave the adoption agency and the adoptive parents, Jared and Kristi Frei, 60 days to return Achane’s daughter, Teleah, now 21 months old.
The Frei family and their attorneys have declined to comment publicly, but on a blog where the family has sought help paying legal bills, they vowed to appeal the ruling.
They called the adoption "a righteous desire blessed to fruition by God....”there has never been any question to us that she is OURS!!!”
But Achane, who is trying to put the ordeal behind him and ready for a future with his daughter, implored the family to drop new legal action.
“If they prolong it, that is more time away from my daughter,” Achane told The Salt Lake City Tribune.
“There are precious moments I can’t get back. ... There is no court order saying they have the right to my child. I just won the case. I want to get my daughter and raise my daughter,” he said.
Achane was legally married to his Teleah’s mother, Tira Bland, when she became pregnant. Bland and her biological daughter from a previous relationship were covered by Achane’s insurance and the family resided together in Texas.
Achane maintained he was happy about the pregnancy and he took a job as a drill instructor in South Carolina, believing the family would relocate together. Just before he was to report for duty in February of 2011, the couple started having marital problems.
Bland suggested the possibility of abortion or adoption, but Achane objected to both options, according to court documents.
Bland decided to stay behind in Texas for the final four months of her pregnancy, and Achane described a series of communication gaps with his estranged wife. Even still, he expected to be there for the birth.
"I had already gotten clearance to come back when the baby was on the way," he told the Tribune.
By the late spring of 2011, unable to get an answer on the fate of his child from either Bland or her friends, he reached out to his wife’s doctors in Texas, the Tribune reported. He was told doctor-patient confidentiality prevented the disclosure of any information.
Finally, In June 2011, Bland admitted to Achane she had given their newborn to Adoption Center of Choice in Utah.
"I was like, ‘Utah? Where is Utah?’ I’d never been to Utah, she’s never been to Utah," he told the Tribune.
"Adoption? Who does that? ... I believe she felt guilty at that point because she just made a call out of the blue," said Achane.
The Daily News could not immediately locate Bland for comment.