' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Unwed Fathers Can't Win Against the Mormons in Utah

Monday, December 26, 2011

Unwed Fathers Can't Win Against the Mormons in Utah

What is Utah doing in the United States? The Constitution protects us from  religious states, no? Not in Utah, apparently.

Its laws in one area seem to be outside those of human decency, and certainly unconstitutional. And it has to do with the Mormon Church, which really controls the electorate, which controls the legislature, the courts, the everything. This is Utah today. Separation of church and state is pro forma, but does not really exist. It is a state like no other where separation of church and state exists on paper only, because the Church of the Latter-Day Saints of Jesus Christ really runs just about everything, and should not be tax exempt.

In yet another case, a single father from another state (Florida) is fighting to gain custody of his nearly year-old daughter whose former girl friend left her newborn with strangers in that unholy state, reports the Salt Lake Tribune, in the first of a four-part series by Brooke Adams. Of course, in Utah, that was perfectly legal, even though the father of the child was doing everything possible to protect his paternal rights. In Utah, that matters not.

IN UTAH, IT'S GRAB (the child) and GO (to the adopters)
According to the Tribune story, the daughter of Ramsey Shaud, 22, and Shasta Tew has been with her adoptive caretakers since she was a few days old. Even even though Shuad did everything by the book, the state is still conspiring to steal this child from her father. Shaud's case was heard by the Utah Supreme Court in September and it is likely to be several more months before a decision comes down. Then the argument is likely to be that it is in the "best interests" of the child to not remove her from "the only family she has ever known."

If the past is any guide, it is unlikely that Shaud will ever gain custody of his daughter. Because this is Utah.

When 22 -year-old Shaud learned that a girl friend was pregnant, he let Shasta Tew, 19, know that he wanted to raise the child with the help of his family. But since she balked at the idea, and said she wanted to have the child adopted by strangers, he soon filed with the Father's Registry in Florida, their home state, and sent in the $20 filing fee. Five months letter, he got a terse note from Tew's mother that she was taking a three-day holiday trip to Arizona and Utah.

He immediately went on line and found the form for the father's registry in Arizona, printed it out, filled it in and sent it in. But Utah was more troubling. Despite spending hours on line trying to find the form, it was nowhere to be found. The clear intent is to make it nearly impossible for fathers to comply with the convoluted law within the time frame, as lawyers who helped draft the legislation have stated. After Shaud failed to turn up helpful information on the Utah website, Shaud searched the Internet for "how to prevent adoption in Utah" and discovered a website created by Cody O’Dea of Wyoming, detailing his own and numerous other fathers’ unsuccessful fights to stop or undo adoptions in Utah. Shaud then hired an attorney, hoping to undue the adoption of his daughter who was born on January 15, 2010.

Mothers from any state may sign their children away irrevocably 24 hours after birth. A single father who hopes to raise his child--before the mother signs the surrender paper in Utah--must:
  • File a paternity action in a Utah court stating he is “willing and able” to have full custody and will pay child support, pregnancy-related and childbirth expenses. It also must detail a plan for the child’s care, including specifically how he will Nomake his money to pay for the child's expenses, and who will care for the the child while he is at work. One father was denied his petition to gain custody of his own child because he left this detail off the filing. 
  • File a “notice of commencement of paternity proceeding” with the Office of Vital Statistics.
  • Prove he paid for a reasonable share of the mother’s pregnancy-related and childbirth expenses, unless he is able to show he did not know about the pregnancy or was not allowed to pay expenses.
Not only must he does, he'd better to damn quick: An unmarried father residing in Utah who wants to protect his parental rights must comply with all this before the mother relinquishes (which is likely to happen at the hospital) or if the birth occurs on a weekend or holiday, within one business day. In other words, if the mother sneaks in from another state, the father is at a great legal disadvantage.

Searching for Emma: Father Fights for Daughter Given Up for Adoption
Wyatt and Baby Emma--ABC News
We have written about other cases here before. John Wyatt, whose daughter Emma will be three in February is still hoping to get custody of his his daughter. "The birth of the child and the whole plan for adoption was hidden from John — in fact, he was misdirected as to what was going on," said Stan Phillips, an adoption attorney in Tyson’s Corner, Va., and co-counsel on the writ filed by the Washington, D.C.-based firm Crowell and Moring. "In Utah, birth fathers must come up with every possible argument before you even know what is going on in the case, and that is just unconstitutional."

Wyatt also has filed a federal lawsuit against Act of Love, the adoption agency; Larry Jenkins, the agency’s attorney; and the adoptive parents, alleging a vast conspiracy exists in Utah to take children from unwed biological fathers.
Justice for unmarried fathers in Utah today is reminiscent of segregation laws in the South before the Civil Rights Act of the Sixties. In Utah, single fathers from any state can and do lose the right to raise their own children because the Draconian attitude of the Mormon church, all legally implemented by the state laws, makes it nearly impossible for them to gain custody. What shouldn't even be an issue once paternity is proven is Utah's very dirty little secret. Fathers are routinely stripped of their rights as fathers and the children given to good Mormon couples to raise without any concern for the father, or the child. Fathers typically lose because they don’t meet Utah's absurd deadlines, as happened in Shaud’s case. A lower court judge ruled his consent to his daughter’s adoption was not required because he didn’t meet a filing deadline — a delay Shaud argues was caused by Utah’s four-day workweek and a federal holiday.

In 1986, the Utah Supreme Court did find for a father, Rudy Aguilar of California, and ordered the child returned. Judge Daniel Stewart, in a sharply worded dissent, wrote that if "fairness were a guideline, it would destroy the system and hold children and adoptive parents hostage of their fathers."  That pretty much sums of the LDS opinion toward fairness. Raising a child in a two-parent Mormon household trumps fairness anytime. In March 1986, the Utah Supreme Court reversed their decision (after obviously being told by LDS elders what the"right" decision was, finding the mother had deliberately withheld information from Aguilar, violating his due process rights.

But Aguilar was financially unable to continue the legal fight when it was sent back to a lower court. He gave up and has since died. That child is now 25; it would be interesting to know how how he felt when he found out how the state and the LDS agency, acting in obvious consort, thwarted his being raised by his own people. Me, I'd be hopping mad.

In 2008, Nikolas Thurnwald lost his case because he didn’t get an amended court document notarized or explain who would tend the child while he was at work. That same year, a father identified in court documents only as "C.C.D" declared he would assume full financial responsibility for the child but lost because he did not get a court order of child support or detail what would happen to the child if he were deported.

These are only a sampling of the injustice done to fathers because the Church of Jesus-Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, is so rapidly against any child being raised in a single-parent home, unless death has intervened. This is not in keeping with the laws of the rest of the country. In terms of fathers rights, the Mormon and the state of Utah are so far afield they defy laws the rest of the country--and the world--abide by.

Yet talk to David McConkie, the manager of children’s services at LDS Family Services, and he will tell you that Utah’s law is aimed at balancing the interests of all parties — the state, the mother, the biological father, the infant, the adoptive parents. LDS arranges adoptions through its 62 offices in the U.S. and abroad and is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "There’s going to be cases where it doesn’t work very well, but you can’t craft a law around a specific case," said McConkie [in an interview with the Tribune]. "You’ve got to craft a law that meets society’s interests and the parties’ interests more generally."

As long as the child ends up in an LDS household. Last summer when we wrote about LDS and adoption, we received an anonymous comment that stated:
"In 2009 the LDS Family Services office in Dallas, TX were informed of approx. 280 pregnant unwed mothers in the neighboring Mormon congregations. Only 11 placed their babies for adoption."
You know what's funny about that? Even assuming that all these women remained single when their babies were born, those numbers which the LDS office was trumpeting is approximately four times the national average of women in the U.S. who relinquish their children to adoption, which is fewer than one percent.

Most of you must know that one of the presidential candidates with rich friends is Mormon Mitt Romney, who did his two-year missionary work in France during the Vietnam war and once drove to Canada with the family dog strapped to the top of the car.--lorraine

Sources: Stopping an adoption: In Utah, unwed fathers rarely win 
Utah adoption law: model for nation or unjust burden?

See also
Utah rules against natural father. Again. And again.
Adoption Reform and the LDS ...
Utah to Birth Fathers: Go Back to the Grave!


  1. Sadly, we mothers often forget those fathers that want their children. I know that my daughter's father would have raised her, had he been able. The fact was that until she was 5 yrs old, he didn't even know his own people - he was an adoptee. Something I did not know until long after his death. I was told that he was being raised by his grandmother until she had a massive stroke and he ended up in foster care.

  2. Another recent case making its way through the courts: http://www.getbabyjackback.com/

    Of course, all tied up with the LDS church and Utah adoption law, too.

    One thing I DO NOT understand is how these "adoptive" couples can think that God is pleased with them, that God approves and condones what they have done to a man and his child. What happened to the Christian code of "Even as you have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me"?

  3. I think that if this was happening in all 50 states there would be an uproar the likes of which we have never seen. I think Utah is able to get away with this because it is only one state and one controlled by religion as well.

    I do think another angle has to be looked at here. Why are so many single girls/women choosing to give their children up and how/where are they being advised to leave their home states to go to Utah to relinquish? Are they being pressured/coerced? And by whom? I think there is a lot going on under the surface here. I'm assuming these girls from Florida, Virginia, etc. are not Mormons. Is there some kind of Utah underground railroad for expectant single mothers?

  4. Another one I found is http://briningbradyhome.com/bobby-s-story/

    There are four different articles being published in this series. Something needs to be done.

  5. Yes, if this kind of legal chicanery were occurring in 50 states, there would be a national outcry. There is some talk about a national fathers registry, which should be the norm--just as there ought to be a federal mechanism for all adoptees to have access to their original birth records, no questions asked, and I would add that even a "no contact" preference ought not to be on the government's to-do list. Let's have safe bridges and tunnels and roads than spend one dollar on a government office kowtowing to a system of secrecy that was wrong from the moment it was presumed, based on laws that did not actually promise anonymity to unwed mothers who gave up their children.

  6. "I think there is a lot going on under the surface here. I'm assuming these girls from Florida, Virginia, etc. are not Mormons. Is there some kind of Utah underground railroad for expectant single mothers?"

    Robin makes a very good point. Utah is known for its loose adoption laws. It is very easy to start an adoption agency in Utah. My sister's friend started an agency. She has absolutely no experience in social work or child welfare, she doesn't have a college degree, and she has uncontrolled bipolar disorder. She also had 5 young children at the time she ran the agency. The adoption agency was her "work at home" business.

    LDSFS discourages women from placing if the father doesn't sign. That is current practice. Past practice might have been different though. I know two Mormon families in Illinois who had pregnant teen daughters, and didn't place because the fathers wouldn't sign, and LDSFS told them to abandon the adoption plan. In one of the cases the girl's parents wanted to send her to Utah without telling the father's family, and LDSFS told them absolutely don't do it.

    The Mormon Church itself is not the one trafficking these unwed mothers, though it seems to display passitivity when others do it.

    Has anyone attempted to change the Utah laws in recent years? My adoptive sister is a professional lobbyist in Utah. Perhaps I will ask her what it would take to get a new bill passed. She is very good at what she does.

    Several states have laws that make them meccas for something.

    If you want to hire a prostitute legally, go to Nevada.

    If you want to purchase dangerous fireworks, go to Wyoming or Indiana.

    If you want to start a credit card company, incorporate in Delaware.

    If you're single and pregnant, move to Michigan where the welfare benefits are generous.

    If you're a millionaire that needs to declare bankruptcy, go to Florida or Texas where the laws let you keep most of your assets.

    If you want to place an infant for adoption without father's interference, go to Utah.

  7. Lori: Wow what a story you tell. You didn't know that your daughter's father was an adoptee...is a tale in itself.

  8. for those interested, from the link above:

    Madison [L. Smith] and her mother intentionally deceived me (Bobby Nevares). They lead me to believe that they were working with a Colorado adoption agency, but were actually working with the Utah agency. The miscommunication, failed notifications, and strict Utah regulations made it impossible for me to succeed in getting my child back. The
    Utah courts have had an increasing number of cases arise due to the fraudulent practices of the adoption agencies in Utah. Mr. [Joshua]Peterman [his attorney] stated that the courts have rarely ruled in favor of a single father. Several cases have been appealed and have reached the Utah supreme court, without success.

    What is happening in Utah to fathers who wish to raise their children is a disgrace, a tragedy, and makes a farce out of the human aspect of the LDS Church and all of its adoption-agency affiliates.

  9. Given the numerous cases that are coming to the surface, it is impossible to accept at face value the statement of Megan that LDSFS (Latter-Day Saints Family Services) discourages a mother from placing against the father's will. That may be the official policy, but it is also true that the official policy of the United States does not support the interference of religion into state affairs, and that is simply not true in Utah. If there was any real sentiment toward that policy--of discouraging adoptions if the father is opposed--the law would not make it nearly impossible for a father to retain his rights as a legal parent to his own child.

    I know why these women do it--they want to walk away with strings--but that is impossible. You have a child; strings exist.

  10. These stories in the Tribune really have hit close to home for me.

    My wife and I were going through the adoption process in Utah a year or so ago and I was so uncomfortable with the way that the fathers were treated by the agencies. With every agency that we interviewed (we didn't consider LDSFS, so I don't know the story with them), I would ask about the baby's father and would get the same answer - "it's best not to bring it up with the mother - if she wants to tell us, she'll tell us. Otherwise, we don't ask." The agencies we spoke with made NO effort to find out about the father's desires and openly told us that if the father was against the adoption they had an easy solution - fly the mom to Utah and have her give birth here. They kept saying "he is on notice about an adoption as soon as they have sex" and "you're lucky to live in a state with such great adoption laws."

    I didn't feel so lucky. I was so frustrated by the situation, but every time I asked the agency about it I was told that it was the mother's decision to make as to what's best for the baby (adoption or the father) and we should respect that. I know there are extreme cases, such as rape, where the father isn't fit and the laws may protect the mother, but in the end I believe that the agencies are unethically using the laws to the advantage of their wallets.

    Sadly, the other thing I discovered when going through the adoption process in Utah was that MANY of the mothers had made a career out of putting their babies up for adoption (five or six times!). Some of the mother's we discussed with the agency had a new baby for them every year. That's another story though...

    The adoption process in Utah is a complete mess for both sides - after our adoption failed I was left really wondering who the adoption was supposed to benefit. In the end, my conclusion was that it benefits the agencies who made some pretty good money off of parents who are manipulated during the adoption process and well-meaning couples who want to help a baby and get in over their heads before they realize what they're getting into.

  11. we need to make Father's rights a bigger issue especially in the light of abortion rights for women!


  12. Megan,

    From the story below I would guess that it is next to impossible to change the laws in Utah. This Utah legislator (also an adoptive mother) could not even get a "good clause" inserted into the code. Adopted from Utah and get sick like I did - not going to unseal the records - end of story.


    Where the change ended up and you can read the clause there too I think.


    If they won't even allow change for medical necessity to unseal the records, then it is hard to imagine they would be willing to change the way their treat fathers. Adoptees in Utah are simply a commodity that makes some agencies very rich.

  13. Anon 3:21 wrote: "Sadly, the other thing I discovered when going through the adoption process in Utah was that MANY of the mothers had made a career out of putting their babies up for adoption (five or six times!)."

    One part of what bothers me about these Utah adoptions is that it seems the mothers WANT to give the child up for adoption. I feel so sorry for children whose mothers don't want them. They have a really tough row to hoe. At least being raised by their n-fathers would help to mitigate this. I hope it helps some of these poor souls caught in these circumstances to know that at least their father is fighting as hard as he can to get them back.

  14. Does anyone know what percentage of Utah adoption agencies are owned and operated by people that belong to the LDS faith, and what percentage are operated by non-LDS people setting up shop in Utah simply because the laws are favorable to their business? I have no idea, but I'm curious.

  15. Lorraine, in terms of the LDS Church controlling the Utah legislature and courts, I don't think so. It is probably more fair to say that the Church has some influence. I personally cannot define that scope of influence. I have sent an e-mail to my lobbyist sister for her take on this. She is an expert on Utah politics. To my knowledge, you are not.

    I have no idea what she'll say. I do know that her firm has never been hired by the Mormon Church.

    btw, this blog recently reported that my sister was a Utah Republican, which is inaccurate. She does not classify herself as a Republican.

  16. I want to thank you very much for this very informative article. This all fits in with many other issues we are facing at this time. I am sick to my stomach with those I Am A Morman commercials on tv. Knowing Romney was in France, while Bill Clinton was in England, at the time I was serving my country, is really disgusting. Romney's tying his dog to the top of his car on his way to Canada is appalling. In Utah, I see little respect for mankind, government, or even animals. That is some low life!
    Linda Burns

  17. Lori's story reminds me of my ex-husband. When we met he told me that his mother was sixteen when he was born, and that his maternal grandmother had used the pregnancy to bully his dad into marriage. It wasn't enough to keep him around, though; he abandoned the family when Mike was three. Then, when my ex was seven or so, his mother left the state and his grandmother took him in. She and his stepgrandfather adopted him and that's who he called Mom and Dad from then on.

    Close to 7 years ago, I had an interesting conversation with my ex's mother. She was tired and running her mouth without thinking and she let it slip that Mike's original dad... wasn't his original dad. Apparently, I guess, she had lied to him and everyone else about it, and she wouldn't say who the actual father was. Based on how she said it and her general attitude at the time I'm very afraid that a family member was involved and that the situation was not consensual.

    Mike had said that the one time he got in touch with his "father," it was a strangely distant conversation. Now I know why. Babies so often look like their fathers that when they don't it is pretty attention-getting. I wouldn't be surprised if his "father" suspected something amiss.

    It would seem that not only is Mike's original birth certificate sealed by the state of Virginia, but the wrong man's name was on it in the first place. So it's essentially useless to him even if he wanted to see it.

    This is the same woman who bullied me into letting her and my ex's stepdad adopt my son. Who will have no idea where he comes from on his dad's side of the family thanks to all the secrets and lies.

    On top of that, thanks to all the legal maneuvering with my MIL re-adopting her son (allowed in their home state) and then adopting my son, on paper my son's father is his brother.

    DAMN, I love adoption.

  18. It has been document elsewhere how LDS policy makes its way to the legislature and the courts in Utah.

    If LDS policy was not so pro-adoption, and so tilted against adoptee rights, the National Council for Adoption, the lobby organization for anti-adoptee rights with a nice-sounding name--would not spend so much energy and money and time fighting unsealing birth certificates. I believe more than half of the agencies who are members of NCFA are LDSFS agencies. Others are agencies with an evangelical connection, such as Bethany Christian Services.

    And Utah would not be the state to go to for adoptions where fathers have pretty much zero chance of keeping their children if the mother objects. And the rate of adoption from single white women would not be out of whack with the rest of the country. I would not have anything against LDS if their policy on adoption was not what it is, and LDS is the reason that Utah has become the safe-haven for birth mothers who want to relinquish their children without the biological father having a say. See today's blog:

    Utah's laws designed to thwart birth fathers

  19. All these Utah stories sound like they have a mentality straight out of the BSE. You should be punished for having sex outside of marriage. Your child deserves better, more moral, upstanding citizens that you to raise him. It's this attitude that lets adoption grow like weeds.

    Yeah, my mother was told this same $h*t back in the day.

  20. Robin - It *is* the same crap that mothers were told back in the BSE. I know every likes to claim it isn't that way, BUT I personally know - first hand - that the tactics are alive and well within the LDS culture and LDSFS, regardless of what Megan or Marisa say. Case and point: take a look at the questions LDSFS has single expectant parents answer and tell me (honestly) if you think they are fair or unbiased.


    The BSE is alive in well in Zion. They just use slicker advertising and more subtle lies.

  21. Would counseling help you better understand the realities of being a single parent?

    Now how does anything think that counseling would go?

    Mrs. Feverfew, I checked out that list of questions designed to make anyone feel inadequate about raising a child alone, with or without parental help. The one above is the last question. It's rather sickening and is straight out of the Fifties, Sixties, etc.

    Thank you for enlightening us.

    On another note, what happened to the girl whose boyfriend at BYU was kicked off the basketball team after it was discovered that she was pregnant? Did they get married, did she keep the child?

  22. letterstomsfeverfew,

    I can't speak for any other worker, I can only speak for me. Nor can I speak for any other office but my own, but I have been accused of doing too much to protect father's rights and including them too much in the process. Just yesterday a birth mother's mother accused me of being too concerned with the birth father and "let's just ignore him" type of thing. But I'm not going to do that.

  23. Thank you for referencing this website, Ms. Feverfew. I liked this quote " They know they have provided a bright future for their child, one that includes a mom and a dad who cherish that child."

    My APs did not stay together nor did they cherish me. I had one of the most unstable families of anyone I know. I have even heard horror stories of APs who divorced and then turned the adopted child over to the state because they no longer wanted the responsibility of raising a child who wasn't "really" theirs.

    This crap is just marketing hype. No one knows what the future will bring and no adoption agency or adoption attorney can promise an expectant mother a bright future for their child just because s/he is given up for adoption. And unless I missed it, I did not see one word about how said child will feel about being adopted whether or not s/he get the "guaranteed" bright future.

  24. *M: Are you at an LDSFS agency? Are you in Utah?

  25. Thank you so much for making this blog. I got pregnet in 1993. My high school sweet heart and I made plans to keep our son and raise him. The problem was I was only 17 and pregnant with a black mans child. I told my parents and they sent me away to a maternity home about an hour away from my home. everyday I was told that it would be best to give up my child and that I would be a product of welfare. Christmas was coming near and my parents told me that they were going to go to Las Vegas to vistit our Family and that they were going to make me stay at the maternity home unless, I gave my son up for adoption. I have been against this the whole time. But I told them that I would just so I could get out of the maternity home. Once we were in Las Vegas my mother made a few phone calls and within a few days I recieved a packet in the mail of adoptive parents. I looked them all over and I picked a couple from Utah. My mom told the lawyers that I was raped and I did not know who the father was. Never did they ask me this though. I did not want to give my son up but was very scared of my father because he beat me when he found out I was dating the father. After giving birth to my son I knew I wanted to keep him. So, my grandparents called my parents and they had a plan ticket waiting for me at will call to go back to Indiana. I had to stay in Indiana until the day the papers were signed. My dad flew me to Las Vegas to sign papers and I was told exactly what to say. He told me that I will forget all about this. I felt so bad about what happend I call my son's father and told him what happend. He actually had paper work drawn up here in Indiana the day my son was born. I gave him copies of the paper work and together we tried to get our son back. We hired a lawyer in Las Vegas and there was no record of this adoption. I signed the adoption papers in Las
    Vegas but the paper work all said Catche County. This county is in Utah. We went to court in Catche Count Utah lost then appealed and took it to the Utah Supreme Court and lost. The reason why my husband was denied because he did not file a petition with the courts stating he was the father. We then took the case to U.S. Supreme Court and they only take so many cases a year and denied ours. Before we went to court my grandfater told me that he would support me but, warned me that I am going up against mormans and I wouldnt win. He was right! My husband and I feel that the whole court was morman and our lawyers. Sad but the adoptive parents lawyer said to my husband just go have another kid, isn't that what you people do? (Refering to Black people) After this remark I was so worried about my bi racial son being raised in a morman town.

    My son's father and I got married in 1994 before we went to court. We now have three other children and have been married for 17 years.

    My daughter found her brother on FB 5 years ago. My husband contacted him and let him know that he was loved and wanted. He did write us back with a little bit of information about himself. The letter seemed scripted but that is understandable since he was only 13 years old at the time. I am happy to say that our family and our son are going to have a reunion this month now that he is 18. This has been a LONG journey.

    I have a hard time with my son being morman since these are the people who took our son away. But, they are the ones who will have to answer to GOD. I just don't know how they can live with theirslevs after knowing the truth.

    I do take personal responsibility for my actions. Because if I didn't lie and sign the paper work then I would have my son now. But I do believe I had post partum depression at the time and my father was not going to take no for an answer either.

    This was 18 years ago I am so saddend to see that it is still going on. Someone needs to change the Adoption Laws in Utah!

  26. I was reseaching ramsey shaw and cannot find anything older than 2011. Was his daughter given back to him? I know this is an old post but i would really like to know. Im not adopted or am adopting, just courious.

  27. Anna,

    I checked the Utah Court of Appeals' and Supreme Court's websites and couldn't find Ramsey Shaud's case. I did find an article from the Salt Lake Tribune on April 2, 2012 noting Shaud's case has not yet been decided and that cases contesting adoptions often take several years. A contested adoption can take years to resolve



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