|Jake Strickland, 26, in what was to be his son's nursery (Salt Lake Tribune)|
We say: Here we go again. Utah has the most anti-father and pro-adoption laws in the country, designed to whisk children away from biological parents as soon as possible, and specifically, to prevent birth fathers from being able to raise their children.
The lawsuit is brought under a federal act typically used to sue gang members and others involved in organized crime as a way of focusing how the rights of birth fathers in Utah are routinely trampled, despite a feeble effort a few years ago to give at least a veneer of legitimacy to them. Jake Strickland brought the lawsuit Friday in federal court alleging that the woman who bore his son, Whitney Vivian Pettersson, at the end of 2010 kept him in the dark about her real plans and led him on via text even on the day the boy was born.
A STORY OF CHICANERY TO FOOL A FATHER
What happened during the pregnancy is particularly repugnant. Though their relationship had cooled,
In fact, she gave birth that evening after 9 p.m., and a day later--27 minutes passed the mandatory 24 hour wait--she signed the relinquishment papers placing the baby for adoption. Though Pettersson had said she was not married, she was, and in fact, and her husband had been threatened with child support, the suit alleges, by an LDS Family Services social worker if he did not also sign--though everyone knew he was not the biological father of the son. The chicanery just piles up like a cord of wood. But Kyle Rathjen, the estranged husband in question, while agreeing to the adoption, also checked the box denying paternity. Rathjen's conscience bothered him, and he sent Strickland copies of the papers. Pettersson insisted they were false; Strickland believed her. And she continued to pretend, via text that nothing was amiss. On Jan. 3 she wrote that she had not yet given birth. Strickland asked how she was, and she wrote back: "Good, no change." He wrote back that he was looking forward to the birth and asked if everything all right: "Yep," she replied.
On Jan. 5 she called Strickland and came clean--that she had already given birth and placed their son with an adoptive couple. That was also when she admitted she was still legally married, and thus, her husband had the right to sign the relinquishment papers. Strickland was so shocked he sank to the floor. The next day he filed a paternity suit.
Wesley Hutchins, the Salt Lake City attorney bringing the federal lawsuit, filed papers last Friday--three years to the day Pettersson signed the relinquishment papers--accusing her, LDS Family Services, an LDS Family Services employee, the child's adoptive parents and the attorneys from the law firm Kirton McKonkie, who aided in the adoption of "racketeering" and "kidnapping." They also allege that the parties are guilty of wire fraud, human trafficking and selling a child. You gotta love this guy.
"It's really an issue of accountability," Hutchins told the station KSL in Utah. "With these fraudulent adoption schemes you find that they are fraudulent, there are co-conspirators involved—most notably adoption attorneys, adoption agencies and adoptive mothers that are engaged in an enterprise," he said. "We've cited those other cases as a necessary element to RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) to show a pattern of unlawful conduct."
IN UTAH, FRAUD IS NO BASIS TO OVERTURN AN ADOPTION
While the lawsuit hinges on Strickland, Hutchins pointed to numerous other cases of alleged fraud in the lawsuit as well to demonstrate that the birth mother's fraud was part of what he claims is a larger pattern found among adoption agencies and attorneys in the state. We have written about several cases of child-snatching in Utah designed to look like honest adoption in the state of Utah. The lawsuit also alleges that attorneys David Hardy and Larry Jenkins (lawyers with Kirton McKonkie) failed the inform the adoption court about a stipulation in a paternity case recognizing Strickland as the biological father, and left him in the dark about the proceedings as they rushed the adoption.
During a hearing in May, Strickland's attorney in the paternity suit, Cory Wall, laid out Pettersson's numerous deceptions, but Hardy argued Strickland failed to protect his rights under Utah law and, because the child was born to a married mother, lacked standing to bring a paternity action. He also disputed Strickland's assertion that Pettersson assured him they would parent together.
But 3rd District Judge Terry Christiansen called the situation a "very troubling case" and refused to dismiss Strickland's petition. Assuming the text messages are accurate, he said, "there is a deliberate attempt by Ms. Pettersson to deceive Mr. Strickland as it relates to the birth of this child. There were obvious fraud and misrepresentations occurring." But, after noting Utah's draconian laws regarding paternity if the parties are not married, he added, "No matter what I do, I'm either sanctioning a fraud toward Mr. Strickland or I'm depriving adoptive parents of a child I'm sure they've grown to love and appreciate."
Because the adoptive parents had initiated an adoption proceeding in 2nd District Court, Christiansen asked attorneys to consolidate the cases and figure out which judge should hear them. He put the paternity action on hold. In the meantime, the boy turned three on Dec. 29.--lorraine
Tomorrow: LDS, Utah and adoption ethics
Tomorrow: LDS, Utah and adoption ethics
Uwed father alleges racketeering in adoption lawsuit
Utah dad alleges ‘deceit,’ takes fight for son to federal court
Would-be Utah dad says misplaced trust cost him his son
Stopping an adoption: In Utah, unwed fathers rarely win
Adoption in Utah: No place for birth fathers
Utah adoption attorney exposes corruption in Utah adoption agencies
Utah's anti-father policies an offshoot of Mormon agenda
Utah to Birth Fathers: Go Back to the Grave!
Utah Supreme Court delays return of Baby Teleah to her father
'Baby Veronica' adoption will go forward
AND THERE ARE MORE.
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Jon Krakauer’s literary reputation rests on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits. He now shifts his focus from extremes of physical adventure to extremes of religious belief within our own borders, taking readers inside isolated American communities where some 40,000 Mormon Fundamentalists still practice polygamy. Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the renegade leaders of these Taliban-like theocracies are zealots who answer only to God.At the core of Krakauer’s book are brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a commandment from God to kill a blameless woman and her baby girl. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this appalling double murder, Krakauer constructs a multi-layered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, polygamy, savage violence, and unyielding faith. Along the way he uncovers a shadowy offshoot of America’s fastest growing religion, and raises provocative questions about the nature of religious belief.--Amazon
ORDER THIS OR ANY BOOK BY CLICKING ON BOOK JACKET OR TITLE, YOU WILL BE TAKEN TO AMAZON. Thank you for considering FMF when placing orders from Amazon or the ad from Blogher on the left sidebar.