Frustration and Sadness: An Adoption in Utah Goes Horribly Wrong

While glancing through the online Utah newspapers recently, I ran across a story about a contested adoption that has blown-up into a nightmare scenario for all involved. Adoption can be a wonderful blessing for those who want to add to their family and for those who do not believe that they are ready to be parents. Adoption is supposed to be something filled with positivity and love for all involved.

The biological parents may be sad to pass on the opportunity to raise a child, but at least at some level they have to know that it is what is best for the child and I hope that this gives them a little sense of happiness and relief. For the adoptive parents, it has to bring tremendous relief that their family is finally growing. Often times those parents struggle for years to find a way to add to their family.

I’ve watched as adoptive parents step into the courtroom to finalize an adoption. It’s probably the only time everyone in a courtroom is satisfied and overwhelmed with happiness. The judges usually snap pictures with the new family and sign multiple copies of adoptive paperwork making the adoption final. Those have to be occasions that judges look forward to the most.

A family in Utah has been pursuing an adoption that has turned beyond ugly. The biological mother of the child felt like her husband and the father of their soon-to be-daughter abandoned her, so she pursued an adoption. A family in Utah took steps to adopt the little girl once she was born. The child was born and given to her new parents in Utah.

The father was off in South Carolina working as a drill sergeant and unaware that his daughter had been given up for adoption. He called family members of the biological mother. He visited Texas where he had once lived with the biological mother, but mother and baby were nowhere to be found. The biological mother had ensured that the father would not get any adoption notices by misreporting his whereabouts to the adoption agency, but eventually the biological mother informed the father that the child had been adopted by a family in Utah.

The child was born in 2011 and has been staying with that family this whole time. The biological father intervened in the adoption case and is pursuing the return of his daughter. The judge in Utah eventually ordered the return of the girl to the biological father. A man she had only met on two prior occasions. The exchange was supposed to take place in 60 days, but the Utah Supreme Court put a temporary stay on the order as the adoption continues to be battled in court.

I don’t know all the details in this case. I don’t know how diligently the biological father searched for his new daughter. I don’t know if he really abandoned the mother and the child before she was born. I don’t know if the adoptive family should have contacted the biological father once they learned of his whereabouts. All I know is that there is a family in Utah that has been raising this little girl for almost two years now. This little girl is almost two months older than Vivi and I can’t imagine being told I have to give Vivi to a stranger, even if that stranger was the biological father.

The emotions this family must be going through have to be absolutely devastating. It’s difficult to describe the love that a parent gains for his/her child. It doesn’t matter if that child is a biological child or an adoptive child. The love that develops is the same and it is intense. To have that child ripped from your home through a court proceeding seems indescribably painful.

On the other hand, this biological father loves his daughter too and I can’t imagine the emotions he is going through. Looking through some of the pictures of the couple times he was able to meet his little girl, tugs on the heart strings. You can see the love he already has for the child.

In the end, nobody is going to win in this case. The biological father has lost at least 2 years with his daughter that he will never get back. The child is going to watch as the only parents she’s ever known disappear from her life forever. The adoptive parents are going to watch as a girl they called daughter is taken from them and completely removed from their life.

This is one of those cases where I wish the law had some ability to make everyone happy. Judges like to say, “If both parties are unhappy it means I did my job.” In this case all the parties aren’t just unhappy, they’re devastated, and there’s nothing a judge or a lawyer can do to heal any of it—it’s just, well, sad.

Photo Credit: Flickr

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