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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Fathers Sue Utah Over State's Adoption Laws

Posted by on Mar. 14, 2014 at 9:12 AM
  • 55 Replies

The article is a few months old and while I am trying to find a more recent article, I have heard that there are now 30 fathers tied into this lawsuit.


(Reuters) - A dozen men whose biological children were placed for adoption in Utah without their consent have sued the state in federal court, claiming its tangled network of rules unconstitutionally strip them of their parental rights.

The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in U.S. district court in Salt Lake City, said Utah's adoption law creates a "confusing labyrinth of virtually incomprehensible legal mandates and impossible deadlines."

Those rules have resulted in the "unconstitutional removal of children from their biological families, essentially resulting in their kidnapping and highly unethical and disruptive placement into adoptive homes without the knowledge or consent of their biological fathers," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit follows a high profile legal battle last year in which a Native American father from Oklahoma lost custody of his daughter, known as Baby Veronica, to a South Carolina adoptive couple selected by the girl's biological mother.

The men in the Utah case are seeking unspecified monetary damages, saying Utah's rules violate a biological father's right to due process and equal protection.

Their biological children - six boys and six girls - were born in Utah between June 2006 and November 2012, court documents show. None of the men married the mothers of their children.

Each tried to stop his child from being adopted, with mixed results, the men's attorney, Wesley Hutchins, said in an interview. Two were able to prove paternity in time to block an adoption, and a third had his child's adoption overturned by the Utah Supreme Court, he said.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the state, the Attorney General's office and former attorneys general John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff. A telephone call to the Attorney General's Office was not immediately returned on Thursday.

NO LEGAL CONSENT

Under Utah's law, a child aged six months or less can be adopted without the legal consent of an unmarried biological father unless the man has already initiated a petition to establish paternity.

To do so, a father must prove he is financially able to support the mother during pregnancy, able and willing to assume custody of the child and prove that he can support the child financially.

Biological mothers and adoption agencies have essentially exploited that aspect of the law and ignored provisions that say the "rights and interests of all parties" affected by an adoption must be considered, the lawsuit contends.

"The majority, if not all, of the illegal adoptions accomplished in Utah are ostensibly given a stamp of judicial approval through an adoption process that has effectively legalized fraud and kidnapping," the lawsuit states.

Hutchins said Utah's adoption statute also includes so-called "fraud immunity laws," which he said have turned the state into a "stop and drop" place for unwed mothers who want to put their newborns up for adoption without the consent of the fathers, Hutchins said.

Of the men who sued, just two are from Utah, while the remainder hail from other states.

Hutchins said he believes 300 or more men may have been affected by Utah's law and said he was considering seeking a class action certification of the lawsuit.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Steve Orlofsky)


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by on Mar. 14, 2014 at 9:12 AM
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Replies (1-10):
4evrinbluejeans
by KK on Mar. 14, 2014 at 9:16 AM
11 moms liked this

Based on the stories I've read it sounds like Utah has been in the business of stealing children from their fathers for quite some time.  I hope these men win and Utah changes their practice of denying fathers their parental rights to their children.  

randi1978
by Bronze Member on Mar. 14, 2014 at 9:25 AM
2 moms liked this

Sadly, this won't allow them to have their children back.  The laws only allow to sue for monetary damages.  And of course, the leading child selling lawyer in the state is claiming these men are merely out for a paycheck. 

There are some laws that Utah was working on to get out of the spotlight and some lawmakers are contesting it because they feel that unmarried fathers are reckless sperm donors who are not fit to have their children all because the child wasn't born within a marriage.

If these men were so horrible, why fight for years and years, bankrupting themselves in order to have the right to raise their children?

Quoting 4evrinbluejeans:

Based on the stories I've read it sounds like Utah has been in the business of stealing children from their fathers for quite some time.  I hope these men win and Utah changes their practice of denying fathers their parental rights to their children.  


mehamil1
by Platinum Member on Mar. 14, 2014 at 9:26 AM
3 moms liked this

One part of me sees how there would be a good chunk of women who have very valid reasons to not get permission from the bio fathers. Abuse and rape come to mind. Or not knowing who the father is. But there's that legal aspect. 

When I was considering putting my son up for adoption (I was 17 at the time) I spoke with a lady who made it very clear that the consent of the biological father is needed. The state of IL needs permission from both parents to make an adoption final. Liam's dad refused to consent even though he had no intention of actually helping me raise my son. 

Fast forward 10 years and we've come to some more or less basic agreement without ever having to involve the court. 

randi1978
by Bronze Member on Mar. 14, 2014 at 9:36 AM
1 mom liked this

There are some laws in the work in Utah to take some of the heat off of them.  One of the laws they're tossing around is requiring adoption agencies/lawyers to check out of state registries (men who filed with their state's putative father registries) before TPR'ing the father.  Many make the same claims (what about abuse/rape?).  It's a smoke screen to maintain their current practice of violating father's rights to their children.  If a woman is raped or abused, she needs to file the proper reports.  It cannot be simply a claim of rape or abuse so she can circumvent the father's rights.  

The laws vary state to state.  A lot of the men involved did assert their rights in the states they and the mothers lived in, but agencies ship the mothers to Utah and often hide her from the father so he can't assert his rights in the state (for no reason other than to get the adoption finalized before he finds out).  Some lawyers have recorded proof of agencies in Utah coaching women on what to do and say to keep the father from contesting the adoption (refusing monetary support and contact to claim abandonment, claim abuse, claim still birth, claim father unknown, etc). 

Quoting mehamil1:

One part of me sees how there would be a good chunk of women who have very valid reasons to not get permission from the bio fathers. Abuse and rape come to mind. Or not knowing who the father is. But there's that legal aspect. 

When I was considering putting my son up for adoption (I was 17 at the time) I spoke with a lady who made it very clear that the consent of the biological father is needed. The state of IL needs permission from both parents to make an adoption final. Liam's dad refused to consent even though he had no intention of actually helping me raise my son. 

Fast forward 10 years and we've come to some more or less basic agreement without ever having to involve the court. 


mehamil1
by Platinum Member on Mar. 14, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Oh I believe you. And I know not all claims are legit. However, in my personal experience and going by statistical evidence, it would not surprise me at all if most of those claims were legit. Still doesn't make it right though. I'm between a rock and a hard place here. Knowing what I know about domestic violence I can see how these women would want their babies as far away from some of these men as possible. Some, not all. I can also see how there could be some truly vindictive manipulating women obsessed with revenge who would do something like this for whatever reason. 

Quoting randi1978:

There are some laws in the work in Utah to take some of the heat off of them.  One of the laws they're tossing around is requiring adoption agencies/lawyers to check out of state registries (men who filed with their state's putative father registries) before TPR'ing the father.  Many make the same claims (what about abuse/rape?).  It's a smoke screen to maintain their current practice of violating father's rights to their children.  If a woman is raped or abused, she needs to file the proper reports.  It cannot be simply a claim of rape or abuse so she can circumvent the father's rights.  

The laws vary state to state.  A lot of the men involved did assert their rights in the states they and the mothers lived in, but agencies ship the mothers to Utah and often hide her from the father so he can't assert his rights in the state (for no reason other than to get the adoption finalized before he finds out).  Some lawyers have recorded proof of agencies in Utah coaching women on what to do and say to keep the father from contesting the adoption (refusing monetary support and contact to claim abandonment, claim abuse, claim still birth, claim father unknown, etc). 

Quoting mehamil1:

One part of me sees how there would be a good chunk of women who have very valid reasons to not get permission from the bio fathers. Abuse and rape come to mind. Or not knowing who the father is. But there's that legal aspect. 

When I was considering putting my son up for adoption (I was 17 at the time) I spoke with a lady who made it very clear that the consent of the biological father is needed. The state of IL needs permission from both parents to make an adoption final. Liam's dad refused to consent even though he had no intention of actually helping me raise my son. 

Fast forward 10 years and we've come to some more or less basic agreement without ever having to involve the court. 

joyfree
by Silver Member on Mar. 14, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Wow. More info is needed, but this sounds very sad...

jllcali
by Jane on Mar. 14, 2014 at 10:01 AM
3 moms liked this
Utah's adoption laws need to change.
meriana
by Platinum Member on Mar. 14, 2014 at 10:06 AM

I hope they manage to force a change in the laws in Utah. The cases that have been in the news in recent months have been so incredibly sad and in those, the father's, from everything we all heard, were very capable of giving their child a good and loving home. Adoption laws should protect the mother's AND the father's rights, not just the mother's. Protecting only the mother's rights simply allows her to turn her child into a commodity of sorts and while adoption can be and is a wonderful thing, it's not always in the best interests of the child.

As for possible abuse/rape, etc., they do background checks on adoptive families, they can do them on the fathers who want custody of their children as well. They may not always be proof positive that the father is not a rapist or abusive but on the other hand, they're not always proof positive that an adoptive family is not abusive either.

JAIRATRACI
by on Mar. 14, 2014 at 10:07 AM
I agree with this.

Quoting 4evrinbluejeans:

Based on the stories I've read it sounds like Utah has been in the business of stealing children from their fathers for quite some time.  I hope these men win and Utah changes their practice of denying fathers their parental rights to their children.  

randi1978
by Bronze Member on Mar. 14, 2014 at 10:09 AM

I understand and I also understand that not all will file the proper reports.  But in order to relinquish their child, I think such a thing should be a requirement if they plan on cutting the father out for safety reasons.  It cannot be their word against the father's.  It opens the door for women to lie (like they already do) without any fear of legal repercussions.  As it stands now, the fathers can sue for fraud and kidnapping, but it will not bring them their children back.  Some of the fathers have been fighting for YEARS.  Hell, some got custody of their children in their home states, but Utah basically told them they didn't have to honor out of state custody orders. 

Quoting mehamil1:

Oh I believe you. And I know not all claims are legit. However, in my personal experience and going by statistical evidence, it would not surprise me at all if most of those claims were legit. Still doesn't make it right though. I'm between a rock and a hard place here. Knowing what I know about domestic violence I can see how these women would want their babies as far away from some of these men as possible. Some, not all. I can also see how there could be some truly vindictive manipulating women obsessed with revenge who would do something like this for whatever reason. 

Quoting randi1978:


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