May 15th, 2007
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Baby & ChildAdoption has a lot of problems which is why reformists are constantly pushing for change. We hear, too often, of Mothers who were coerced into placement by unethical agencies. We hear, too often, that there rights were neither defined or protected. However, the stories in which Fathers’ rights were trampled upon are not heard as often but they’re equally common and equally saddening.

I just learned of such a Father, stuck in a nightmare within the Utah legal system. You see, he Fathered a child with a woman named Ashley. He wanted to be, not only a Father, but a Dad. In the end, Ashley told him that she had a miscarriage and he left. When she was eight months pregnant, he found out that she was still pregnant.

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And placing their child for adoption.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. You can view the letter to Cody from one agency, sent after he started contacting people involved with the process. The agency stated that they were pulling out of the adoption due to his intent to parent. What the agency didn’t know, and Cody couldn’t guess, was that Ashley was about to leave the state to birth the baby in Utah, an infamously unfriendly state for Fathers. While Cody registered with a Putative Father Registry in the state of Wyoming, their original state of issue, he had no clue she was going to Utah and so he was not registered in that state. Utah law states:

“An unmarried biological father, by virtue of the fact that he has engaged in a sexual relationship with a woman, is deemed to be on notice that a pregnancy and an adoption proceeding regarding that child may occur, and has the duty to protect his own rights and interests. ” This requires that a man file a voluntary declaration of paternity with Vital Statistics within the Department of Health if he has not provided assistance and support to the birthmother throughout her pregnancy. If he has not filed with the Vital Statistics before the birth mother signs her relinquishment, he, in effect, waives his parental rights to the child. From that point forward he has no claim on that child.

-Utah Code Title 78, R501 and R512

Cody is in the process of fighting this in court. He lost once and is continuing his case in appeals. In June of this year, his child will turn one. He has not seen a photo, heard her voice or been able to be in contact with anyone who would share such information.

This story is why adoption reform is needed. Biological fathers are walked upon, treated like nothing more than a piece of genetic material and tossed aside when necessary. Many view fathers of adoption to be somehow deficient in the first place: why would a man get a woman pregnant if he couldn’t support her? We forget that not only do some of these fathers try to parent their child but some are blatantly lied to and deceived. (Of course, this happens outside of the adoption world as well.)

I can imagine the outcome, considering the state where things are hung up but I can hope. No mention is made, anywhere that I can find, whether the adoptive parents are aware of the lies, deceit and blatant disregard for the father’s rights under which their child came into their home. No mention is made regarding whether or not the adoption has been finalized.

Anyone with further information is welcome to contact us.

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For more information regarding birth fathers and their stories, read:

1. What About Birth Dads by Jan Baker.

2. Father Vows to Keep Fighting by Jan Baker.

3. Involving the Father: A Benefit to All by Jenna Hatfield.

Visit the website for more information. Photo credit.

3 Responses to “When the System Fails Biological Fathers”

  1. John says:

    Great post. Some states are scary in their orientation, Utah is different in many ways. Hope that some kind of fairness prevails.

  2. Jan Baker says:

    Thanks for a good post, Jenna. Stories about birth fathers getting their rights trampled on are becoming more common, and it is a shame.

  3. Faith Allen says:

    These are the kinds of concerns I have for my son when he is older and starts dating. A man’s rights are limited when he gets a woman pregnant if he is not married to her, and that is a shame because it is his child, too. No, the child is not growing in his body, but the child is still HIS child.

    Society has a bias toward mothers and against fathers. While the stereotypes might be true in some cases, there are many men who make GREAT dads, even when the child was a surprise. Those fathers deserve the opportunity to have a say in who raises their children, especially in cases when the mother has lied about the pregnancy.

    - Faith

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