Saturday, December 1, 2012

Adoption in Utah: No place for birth fathers

Lorraine
Sometimes justice for natural fathers in Utah is through the eye of a camel, or so it seems in the narrow ruling the other day that will allow a father to attempt to get his daughter back from the people who have been raising her since she was five days old. In a 3-2 decision, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that Utah's adoption law was "constitutionally defective" in depriving a Florida man, Ramsey Shaud, 26, a "meaningful chance" of developing a relationship with his child.

He's only been trying to have that meaningful relationship since before she was born in January, 2010. Yes, you read that right. She will be three in January.



Such is justice for unmarried fathers in Utah. Nearly non-existent. But the new ruling may indicate that the "eye" of justice in Utah is opening a bit wider, as it is the second favorable one in a year for natural fathers there, after several in which the courts ruled against them. The state has a way to go, however, and the first step would be to rid the state of the dopey trial judges such as the one who first ruled in this case (name, tk).

KAFKA ON THE CASE 
Now all Shaud has to do is prove that he is fit to parent his own daughter, possibly even better than the genetic strangers who have been caring for his daughter. How do these people sleep at night? will be the subject of a further discussion. Shaud's getting his daughter actually back will now mean a lower court hearing (months go by) to show that his rights indeed were usurped, and then other multiple hearings (many many months) to prove that his daughter belongs with her biological father, all the while the clock is ticking and the adopters are claiming that the child is better off with them, the only family she has ever known. It happens all the time. Time moves on, and adoptive parents cavil that they are entitled to keep the child because since they have been fighting the natural parents so long, it's too late...and the courts let this happen. Especially in Utah, that go-to state for fast-track adoptions.

The agency involved is A (sic) Act of Love, one who ought to be shut down for the cruel and inhuman ways it treats natural mothers and fathers. Ramsey Shaud is a good example of that.

With the help of an attorney, Shaud was able in a timely fashion to circumvent the convoluted system for putative fathers in Utah and register his desire to raise his child. The mother of the child, Shasta Tew, someone with whom he had had a casual relationship in Florida (where he had signed with the putative-father's registry), said she was going on a vacation to Arizona (where he then also registered), but then, possibly getting wind of Utah's reputation as a fast-rack adoption state, she wound up there. Shaud tried to file there also, but was not able to find the putative-fathers form anywhere online, for it did not exist on line. Instead of giving up and stopping there, Shaud hired attorney Daniel Drage, who filed the papers in court on January 12, and the same day faxed a copy to the Office of Vital Records and Statistics. Three days later, on January 15, Tew gave birth prematurely.

Though Shaud and his attorney had done all legally required, even though the state made this unnecessarily expensive and difficult, the Utah system then became a Kafkaesque bureau of confusion. Due to Utah's four-day work week and a federal holiday the following Monday, Shaud's paperwork was not on the official registry until January 20, 45 minutes after the Office of Vital Records informed A (sic) Act of Love that no paternity filing had been made. One imagines the same person at Vital Records answering the phone both times--better to say yes to an adoption, rather than see if that paperwork over there has anything on this case, right? Adoption first, humanity second, unmarried father's rights, what's that?

Thus A (sic) Act of Love must have handed over the daughter to the couple waiting in the wings immediately. In any event, when the screw-up was discovered did Act of Love say, Oh, we'd better correct this foul up? Here is a biological father who actually wants to raise his daughter!  We're A (sic) Act of Love, right?

The people who run the non-profit A (sic) Act of Love would have to have some compassion and common sense running in their veins to do that. Instead, these impresarios of adoption over there (who incidentally could use a grammar lesson) proceeded apace to circumvent what any reasonable person would have done: Get the baby back. Instead, they hired lawyers and have kept the case in the courts and the baby with genetic strangers.

FOR PUTATIVE FATHERS IN UTAH, BEFORE BIRTH IS TOO LATE
A lower court could have stepped in and corrected matters, but that would have been so unlike Utah. Instead, the trial judge (readers help me out here, we need to name this bastard) went along with the screw up at Vital Records, and instead stated Shaud--through no fault of his own--acted too late to stop the adoption of his daughter. The website was, er, corrected, in January of this year and now has a link to the putative-father's form, god bless 'em. Cynic that I am, I can't help think that a certain amount of CYA chicanery is involved both at A (sic) Act of Love and the Bureau of Vital Statistics. 

This decision by the state's highest court means only that the lower court must now reconsider whether Utah Vital Records received his paternity notice before the child placed her for adoption. Actually, since the facts are that he did, why the hold up?

Because it's Utah. It's about adoption. Babies born to unmarried couples are adopted. By married couples. It is in the water there. Utah is largely governed by Mormons, and I normally wouldn't give a fig leaf about them and their magic underwear, but when it comes to adoption, their policy is pretty much against all the laws of nature, and for the premise of creating More Mormons. A (sic) Act of Love, incidentally, has been involved in other grab-and-go adoptions. At Adoption Agency Ratings, I found this from a prospective adoptive parent with more soul than the baby-business types at the agency: "They are careless when taking in babies. No paternity tests to prove who the father is," read one comment. Why bother, when you can count on the state to back you up, if a father cries foul?

Another: "We had a successful adoption through A [sic] Act of Love but we were not all that impressed. We felt that they could have been more careful. We also didn't like that they work with birth mom's [sic] all over the place. [Meaning, many states] We didn't feel like our birth mom had enough opportunity for counseling and support." At least these people had a sense the mother of the child they were adopting was being rushed into relinquishing.

IF FILTHY LUCRE CHANGES HANDS, IS A BABY FAR BEHIND? 
Over at Adoption.com, I found this from a prospective adopter: "I looked into them a bit and if I wanted to adopt, didn't have a budget, and wanted a very short wait I'd use them." [Emphasis added] Call me crazy, but that sounds like, If you got the cash, have they got a baby for you! We note, A (sic) Act of Love is a non-profit, but from the website, it appears that business in booming, with a long list of due dates, babies born, babies adopted, their races all duly noted for the fastidious baby shopper. (When writing about A (sic) Act of Love, it is impossible to get the snark out of me; their policies make me do it. )

Now I know that we are likely to hear from adoption social workers in Utah who claim their agency is not like this noxious A (sic) Act of Love. That is all well and good. But until no agency in Utah, or anywhere, for that matter, operates in such a shifty and devious manner to deprive natural parents--"birth parents" to agencies--who wish to raise their children of those children, you are going to hear about it at First Mother Forum.

In a side note, we could not help notice that the two women in Utah highest court, Justices Christine Dunham and Jill Parrish voted in Shaud's favor, joined by Justice Ronald Nehring. We pay attention to such things because we feel having women in our legal and legislative system does make a difference, and in this case, the difference shows. Chief Justice Matthew Durrant and Justice Thomas Lee dissented on highly legalistic issues, such as whether or not Shaud's attorney had persevered the right of a constitutional challenge or merely "questioned the fairness of the statutory scheme on policy grounds. Well, he used the word "scheme" correctly. I'll give Justice Lee credit for that. Now maybe he could tell A (sic) Act of Love what the heck is wrong with their name. We've got a few ideas of our own. --lorraine
-------------------------------------
This is the second time the Utah Supreme Court ruled in favor of a natural father this year. In January, it ruled that a Colorado father was improperly denied a say in his daughter's 2008 adoption. This is how slowly grind the wheels of justice in such matters. Jurisdiction was an issue here because the mother also got herself to Utah to get one of those fast-track adoptions. That case is now proceeding in Colorado, and the little girl at the center of it was slowly introduced to her father under the guidance of a child psychologist. In October, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, she--now four--was told that Robert Manzanares is her father. He has been trying to claim his daughter since he learned she was born in Utah. The girl was about a week old at the time.

FROM FMF: 
 Unwed Fathers Can't Win Against the Mormons in Utah 
When your adopted child wants to visit her birth mother.... 
Utah rules against natural father. Again. And again. Adoption is big business there. 
Utah to Birth Fathers: Go Back to the Grave! 
Fathers Day 2010: Unmarried Fathers Who Fight for their Rights to be a Dad

Utah adoption laws becoming more hostile to birth fathers?

Suggested Reading for the so inclined: 

 The Single Father: A Dad's Guide to Parenting Without a Partner (New Father Series) (above)..."informative, interesting, easy to read and easy to understand. Contrary to so many books on this subject, I didn't get any sense of anti-anything or anti-anyone posturing. Instead, I got the sense that Mr Brott values children and believes that they need fathers in their lives." --Amazon reader, Tom Duval, a single father himself.
From FMF:

Birth Fathers and Their Adoption Experiences (left)"In this pioneering study, Gary Clapton gives us a fresh perspective: he recounts the experiences of thirty birth fathers separated from their children at birth, and suggests ways of applying this knowledge to work with adopted children, their adoptive families and birth parents. Discussing different notions of fatherhood, such as biological paternity, social fatherhood, sperm donorship and the 'father figure,' this informative book gives new light on issues such as the decision to give up a child for adoption, the child's desire to find his or her birth parents, and the facilitation of contact later in life." --Amazon official description.
Sources: Utah Supreme Court: Florida man gets a shot at being a dad
Florida Dad Ramsey Shaud Stops Utah Adoption of His Child – For Now


 

15 comments :

  1. Great Post - completely agree and you know what...nothing stains adoption more - than cases like this. People like to say adoption is soooo different than my / your era...sadly - it isn't. There will always be those who have no shame in adoption.

    People should be ashamed of themselves and not be able to sleep...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is anybody besides me having trouble when they first go to this post> I see a lot of white space and a few lines and part of the photo until I hit the "read more."
    It's okay if I come from FB.

    please let me know.

    ReplyDelete
  3. No problems the first time but just now a box of white.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Is it fixed, anyone? I had to take the "read more" bar and reinsert it. Now as far as I can tell, we are okay> I also took out the picture of Ramsey Shaud, it may also have been causing a problem.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That white box is gone now Lorraine.

    There is a laundry list of things that bother me about these Utah cases and cases in other states of course, so much so that I will not even list them all!

    But you definitely said it when you said "How do they sleep at night?" That was at the top of my list.

    Also, in this age of the internet and access to just about any information a person could ask for, just HOW do the adoptive parents think these kids they have unlawfully held onto are going to react when they are adults and find out their father wanted them so badly? And then find out that due to their a-parents finagling and stall tactics that the courts denied their father custody of them?

    It's positively Shakespearean...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Reading stories like this makes me sick to my stomach and makes my heart beat faster. We are dealing here with babies, helpless infants who can't protect or defend themselves. Given the lack of ethics "A Act of Love" has shown with its clients, I have no confidence that they are carefully screening PAPs. I fear for the safety of these children.

    Their m.o. is get baby, give to new family, get paid. Get baby, give to new family, get paid... wash..rinse...repeat. The whole operation has a very Georgia Tann-esque feel to it.

    And what is it with all these young women who flock to Utah so eager to give up their babies? Most of them have probably never set foot in Utah in their lives. Are they being brainwashed, kidnapped? Are they going of their own free will? The whole kit and caboodle sounds highly suspicious.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Robin: You know what I think part of the rush to go to Utah is? The culture has made it so very acceptable to give a "gift of love" via adoption, that women can be brain washed into thinking "making an adoption plan" for themselves is a "act of love." And where best to do that, simply, easily? Utah. If the fathers raise the babies, the women will owe child support. And have to be involved in the child's life one way or another.

    ReplyDelete
  8. These women are going to Utah to give up their babies because

    a) They hate the birth father and want to ensure he can't get custody

    or perhaps

    b) Someone made it an attractive option for them (maybe cash was involved).

    FYI The term "statutory scheme" has a very specific legal meaning. Something like adoption which has no basis in English common law exists as a "statutory scheme".

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think what is surprising me about these Utah adoptions is that there are seemingly so many young women who just can't wait to give up their babies, while the fathers want to raise them. Usually, it's the other way around, no? That's why I'm wondering if something else is going on and if these girls are really making a free choice. The information that I know about adoption is that overwhelmingly, now and in the past, natural mothers want to keep their babies.

    ReplyDelete
  10. People like Tyler and Catelynn and all the rest--and the culture, the ethos of make someone happy, give her your baby, TV shows like "I'm Having Their Baby"--all glamorize and sanitize giving up a child for "a better life" and "I just can't handle a child right now" and the reality of "if I don't give the baby up and the father keeps her, I'll have to be responsible anyway...."

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's not all bad news coming out of Utah as far as father's rights.

    http://m.sltrib.com/sltrib/mobile2/55373764-218/achane-adoption-bland-child.html.csp

    A judge in the 4th district over-turned an illegal adoption and is giving the adoptive family 60 days to return the child to her biological father. The 4th District is notoriously conservative (think BYU and Jason Chaffetz). Adoption Center of Choice broke Utah's own laws of requiring the consent and relinquishment of the legal father (since he and the birth mother were legally married at the time) and it broke the law in that the father is military and you need the consent and relinquishment of a father if he is military.

    As far as this case goes, A Act of Love is not grammatically challenged...they named their agency that so they will be the first agency listed in every phone book in the country. And they're notorious for their unethical practices. They treat white birth mothers like gold and African American birth mothers like crap since the won't be getting as much money for their babies. It's sickening.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I was zapping though the TV channels looking for something to watch and stopped momentarily on 16 and pregnant. Two young pregnant girls were sitting in the back of a car talking about their adoption plans .... the words they spouted .... I am giving a gift to someone that cannot have a baby. This BS sentiment is as alive and well now as it was in the 1970's when I relinquished. The mothers sitting in the front of the car were absolutely agreeing with their teenage daughters. It totally turned my stomach and I flipped to another channel only minutes into the show.

    Other young girls in the same situation will no doubt be influenced by the decisions made by these young actresses and fall into the same trap, a lifetime of grief for the children that they lost.

    I say get this adoption Koolaid of the box immediately and arm these young girls with the correct information so that they can make an informed decision about their unplanned pregnancies.
    Susan

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you Lisa for the heartening news about this decision in Utah. Maybe the negative press stories in the Salt Lake Tribune are finally having an impact.

    I'll look into that case.

    and thanks for the affirmation of what we have found about AAct of Love. You are undoubtedly right about their choice of name to be first in a search engine or phone book. Why don't they advertise--Most money for your white babies?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I was pleased to notice that a birth father in Utah has filed a $130 million lawsuit against the agency, adoptive parents and birthmother for
    "racleteering" and collusion to deprive him of his child. This is the link: https://www.ksl.com/?sid=28191411&nid=148 This is what I think it will take - a big money settlement - to change things there. What really baffles me about these birthfather cases, however, is how the mother could do it. For me it was such a painful, awful thing done under duress and filled with regret. Even if the mother hates the birthfather, it is still her child. I don't understand it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I was pleased to notice that a birth father in Utah has filed a $130 million lawsuit against the agency, adoptive parents and birthmother for "racketeering" and collusion to deprive him of his child. This is the link: https://www.ksl.com/?sid=28191411&nid=148 This is what I think it will take - a big money settlement - to change things.

    What really baffles me about these birthfather cases, is how the mother could do it. For me it was such a painful, awful thing done under duress and filled with regret. Even if the mother hates the birthfather, it is still her child. I don't understand it.

    ReplyDelete

We welcome comments from all, and appreciate letting us know how you relate to adoption when you leave your first comment.

COMMENTS ARE MODERATED. Our blog, our decision whether to publish or not. We are trying to find a way to end the endless anonymous comments, which drive many of us crazy. Pick a name! Any name. Choose the NAME/URL selection. You do not need a URL. Your name does not have to be your name IRL though we appreciate those who do, and we understand due to the sensitive nature of our subject, many will prefer to use a nom de plume. Okay with us, but the endless Anons are tiresome for everyone. If you post as "anonymous" you run the risk of not being posted.

We try to be timely but we do have other lives.

For those coming here from Networked Blogs on Facebook, if it does not allow you to make a comment, click the "x" on the gray "Networked Blogs" tool bar to exit out of that frame and it should then let you comment.

THOSE WHO WISH TO LEAVE LINKS PLEASE WRITE MORE ABOUT IT THAN SIMPLY LEAVE THE LINK--TELL US WHY WE SHOULD GO THERE--AND ALSO KNOW THAT YOU CANNOT COPY AND PASTE FROM LINKS. We are unlikely to post comments that consist of nothing more than a link and the admonition to go there.