Army veteran closer to winning custody of child his ex-girlfriend secretly gave up for adoption
While Chris Carlton was serving his country in Afghanistan, a former girlfriend gave his baby up for adoption without his permission.
Four years later, Utah’s Supreme Court has given Carlton another chance to win custody of the four-year-old child his girlfriend initially claimed was dead.
“I’m very ecstatic,” Carlton, who lives in Williamsport, Penn., told Fox 43. “This is the happiest I’ve been in four years. It feels like it is justice slowly being served.”
Carlton was working as a military contractor in 2010 when his girlfriend Shalanda Brown disappeared during her seventh month of pregnancy. Although the two had broken up, Carlton had been trying to keep in touch so that he could be involved with his child’s life.
Several weeks after her due date, the woman resurfaced and sent photos of the baby to Carlton’s phone, saying it was a boy.
When he returned home to Pennsylvania, Brown claimed the baby had died.
“I`ve never felt that kind of pain,” Carlton told WNEP. “And I believe no parent should feel that pain. And for the people that have already felt the pain, God!”
Chris Carlton, of Pennsylvania, has won a small victory in his legal fight to win full custody of his daughter.
The devastated soldier tried to find out where his son was buried, but the woman refused to share the information.
But during a courtroom testimony, Brown finally broke down and told Carlton the truth: his baby was alive.
His ex had flown to Utah, delivered a baby girl, and given her up for adoption through the Adoption Center of Choice in American Fork, Utah. She refused to name Carlton during the adoption procedures, telling the ACC that the man was abusive — a claim that Carlton roundly denied. When the child was placed with a family, the dad was never given notice.
The Adoption Center of Choice had its license revoked on Feb. 21.
Carlton is now involved in two separate lawsuits challenging Utah’s Adoption Act. The state’s laws gives a birth mother fraud immunity, even if she lies about why she’s giving up the child without the birth father’s knowledge.
The dad is seeking damages against the adoption agency and the birth mother, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Carlton is now challenging Utah's adoption law to try and get back his daughter.
A lower court found that Carlton didn’t have a claim to the child, since the deadline for challenging the adoption had already passed. But Tuesday’s state Supreme Court ruling decided that the lower court should have taken Carlton’s constitutional rights into account.
“Of particular potential merit is Mr. Carlton’s contention, which he clarified at oral argument, that the (Utah Adoption) Act’s imposition of a deadline on out-of-state fathers whose home states impose no such deadline is a violation of due process," the high court said in a 24-page decision.
The case will now be sent back to the district court, where Carlton’s lawyer will be challenging the constitutionality of Utah’s adoption laws.
Carlton is also one of 12 fathers who have joined a federal lawsuit against Utah, claiming that the state’s adoption laws violated their civil rights.
The man knows he may never get his daughter. But he says he will continue the fight.
“This is one of the first hurdles that we have to overcome,” said Carlton. “Albeit, if I never do get my child I am not going to stop the fight until people who are not affected by this law are outraged just as much as people who are.”