' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Teleah Achane will stay with daddy

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Teleah Achane will stay with daddy

 Terry Achane and his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Teleah
Now that Jared and Kristi Frei of Utah have withdrawn their appeal to fight the father of the daughter they have been raising, and she will stay with her father, Terry Achane, the question some have raised is how will the two-year fare? After all, she is now living with "a stranger"--her real father.

She's going to be just fine with her real daddy and undoubtedly, his extended family.

Some of you will remember "Baby Jessica" who from 1991-93 was caught in a similar legal battle between a couple in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Robert and Jan DeBoer, and her natural parents, Cara and Dan Schmidt, who ultimately prevailed and got their daughter back. Jessica, as the media
came to know the little girl, was turned over to a court representative, with a lot of media hoopla, crying loudly as she was given to a stranger. A more ugly case of baby-theft-by-nearly-licit-means would be hard to find, and the media bought into it way more than they did this time.

Look up Baby Jessica/Anna Schmidt (the name her natural parents gave her) and you will find this at Yahoo:
"Anna Lee Jacqueline Schmidt known as Baby Jessica is now a legal adult and is able to contact the DeBoers if she wishes to. I am close to her family and have watched Anna grow up to become a very smart and very talented and gifted in the field of music as is her mother Cara and such a beautiful young lady her frame is small only 5 foot tall and she is maybe 100 pounds at best just like her mother Cara's still with those big amazing eyes..thanks to her grandma!"
Jane and Lorraine, the first summer
When Anna was twelve or so, Diane Sawyer did an update with Anna at home with her parents. She had no memory of the time with the DeBoers, and as far as I know, has made no attempt to contact either one of them.

Then there is "Baby Richard," who was not returned to his natural father until he was four in 1995. According to Baby Richard--A four-year-old comes home, which came out in 2003, the crying 4-year-old boy the world knew as "Baby Richard" eight years ago is now a smiling, 7th-grade, straight-A student at a Catholic school in the south suburbs. His real name is Danny and he bears no emotional scars from being abruptly taken from his adoptive parents, the Warburtons, and given to his birth parents, the Kirchners, said his psychologist, Karen Moriarty, who wrote the book.

Photo: Good morning everyone. What better way to wake up than to see this beautiful smiling princess?

One never knows how one's life will turn out, but we do know that whenever possible an individual should be raised with his own people, people who look and act like him, people with whom he shares traits and talents. Teleah will not grow up wondering, why didn't my real family want me? Her mother did not, that is true, but Terry Achane, her daddy, came through for her. She is not going to go on national television one day, as is AshLee on The Bachelor, and talk about her abandonment issues, the psychological fear of losing control, or that her "real parents didn't want me," and cry as she talks. Her daddy did want her, very much.

During President Obama's speech last night he made a comment I scribbled down, thinking of Terry Achane when I heard these words: "What make you a man isn't about the ability to create a child, but having the courage of raise one." Terry Achane is a courageous father.

He could use our help to pay his legal bills. A PayPal account is set up at the law firm that helped him, Wiser and Wiser. Facebook has a Support Terry Achane page, and the graphic below is that that. He does have legal bills, and the Wisers, father and son, deserve our thanks for taking this case. Let's show our support and help out. --lorraine


  1. I just love a happy ending. I think it will do wonders for this little girl's self-esteem that her daddy moved heaven and earth to keep her.

    Since you brought up "The Bachelor", I was shocked last night when AshLee mentioned that her relationship with her adoptive mother was so awful that she ran off and got married at the age of 17. I mean these are the same APs that she keeps saying she was so blessed to be adopted by. And next week, Sean sits down for a pow wow with AshLee's adoptive mom. I wonder if those not affected by adoption are getting what we are out of this story line. Somehow, I doubt it.

  2. Robin: I didn't hear that on The Bachlor--about her relationship with her adoptive mother--I think I was so focused on the fear that she was going to say she was a birth mother I blocked out anything else. I was totally freaked out, waiting for her big reveal. When I heard it was only a short marriage, I relaxed. I think she has mostly talked about her great adoptive father. Those not involved in adoption aren't watching the show the same way we are, but messages like AshLee's that cannot fail to reach some ears--the show has millions of viewers. She has talked about control issues, abandonment issues, she has cried on camera about her natural parents "not wanting" her. Some of that is getting through to adoptive parents, wanna-be adopters, etc. Just as it did on ANTM, as we've talked about before.

    But I think she is going to have her heart broken. The word in blogdom [spoiler alert]is that Sean is engaged to Catherine.

  3. I read the spoilers, too :) But I think Sean has a stronger connection with AshLee (or at least that's the way the show is editing it). I think he would give her the love and security she needs but, unfortunately, I think he would feel that he has to prop her up too often. The life-long effect of adoption issues certainly does affect interpersonal relationships.

    But back to Teleah. Sometimes I wonder if I'm imaging it but I swear that even the youngest children recognize their own natural parents. I watched the handover of Teleah at Mr. Achane's attorney's home and she didn't seem frightened at all. And she has looked happy and comfortable in every picture I've seen of them together.

    I remember watching Tyler and Catelynn (of Teen Mom fame) on their visit with Carly when she was only a year old. She kept putting her arms out for Tyler to hold her. I've never seen such a young girl want some 'strange' male to hold her like that. I swear she knew he was her father.

  4. Robin, where did you see the handover? I'd love it see it.

    Do you have any memory of the Baby Jessica fracas? It was a circus, and nearly all the media sided with the DeBoers, as they were more middle-class than the Schmidts. Charlie Gibson on GMA (who was one of the hosts then) was such a booster for the DeBoers I could never watch that show again when he was on it. Then when the hand-off came, in the driveway of their home, every crying yelp was recorded and played on the news. The DeBoers had played around the courts, refusing to recognize another state's jurisdiction, etc., but the media ignored all that. The Schmidts got her back because the father, as in the Achane case, had not consented, but the difference is, Cara Schmidt, the mother, wanted her baby back almost as soon as she signed the papers. CUB was portrayed as a group of wily hyenas clamoring for their babies back.

    The Deboers did not stay together.

  5. It's funny, since becoming an adoptive parent, I have done a 180 on the Baby Jessica case. For years I believed that the DeBoers were in the right, and I was completely sympathetic to them. Now, the more I've learned about adoption over the past several years, I have come to totally see how wrong the DeBoers were. They should have given the baby back immediately when Cara first stated she had changed her mind, and that Dan was the father.

  6. Just send my (small)donation by Paypal; happy to help our for 5 bucks!

    Adult adoptee | somewhere in Europe

  7. Anne: Thanks for telling us about your turnabout in feelings about the DeBoer case. The media really had a field day with that one, totally biased towards to crying DeBoers who were all over television. Charlie Gibson on Good Morning America practically made letting them keep the baby a personal crusade, and it so much of it had to do with the lower status/income of the Schmidts. After that, I could not watch the show as long as he was still in the host's chair--privileged, Princeton, no empathy for someone outside his class. He was also an chauvinist ass.

    The New Yorker piece by adoptive mother Lucinda Franks (married to the popular NYCity District Attorney Robert Morgenthau) was full of blatant errors that a fact-checker could have easily found. For a lot of reasons, the case became rather personal to me. Cara Schmidt changed her mind very soon, went to CUB, who supported her, and CUB was then made out to be a bunch of wily hyenas. It was a sickening media display. The DeBoers ignored court rulings in Iowa where the Schmidts lived.

    Initially omitted (and always buried) in the news reports was that Cara Schmidt began asking for her child back within four weeks of giving birth. Also glossed over (or not mentioned at all) was that Cara Schmidt missed Iowa's three week deadline for changing her mind about the adoption by merely five days. If this had happened in another state, such as California where a woman has six months before the decision to relinquish her child is final, Jessica would have been immediately returned.

    At least in the Achane case, there was a clear-cut case of deception on the part of the girl's mother, his wife Tara Bland, and Terry Achane was not maligned, but supported, in the media.

  8. "Terry Achane was not maligned, but supported, in the media."

    I think a large reason for the support of Terry Achane was that he was married. There is still considerable discrimination against unwed mothers and fathers.

    Sorry, Lorraine, I looked but I haven't been able to find the clip showing Teleah being handed over to her nfather in the attorney's home. I understand that he had visitation with his daughter so he would not have been a complete stranger to her. I still find it hard to believe that a child who is very secure in her adoptive home wouldn't be distraught about being turned over to someone else, unless she felt a great level of comfort and familiarity with him. He is her father, after all.

  9. Currently reading the Baby Richard book and I had followed the Baby Jessica story when it appeared in the papers. I was horrified about how the first parents were portrayed in the media. I hated the movie that was done on the Jessica story.

    I am now aghast by what I am reading in the baby Richard case. First Lady Hilary Clinton, IL Gov & his wife, they all sounded off publically and did not read the court papers(which were public record) and yet told of the travesty of pulling this child from the adoptive home. No one tells how Otakar Kirchener contacted them within 57 days of his son's birth or how they disappeared after the birth and changed phone numbers so that the mother or father couldn't contact them-when they had been told the dad wanted his son. They told everyone to tell him his son died-which is why it took nearly 2 months tocome forward.

    Adoption needs to change. Get rid of the almighty dollar , have national laws that are intended to preserve families first but that clearly provide regulations to follow so birthparents know what their options are.

    Prayers for Taleah!

  10. I am happy to see this little girl returned to her Father and wish them nothing but peace.

    However, I find it interesting that the same community that blasts adoption for removing children from "family" and turning them over to complete strangers....the same blog authors who waded into IA and pointed out the loss of the only world these children know (especially toddlers and older children)....the same folks who claim over & again the life long damage adoption causes......all of that simply vanishes because the child's time with their adoptive family placement was only, 2 years? 4 years?, more?

    Is there a point when it could become harmful; that the affects would be damaging? And why is it so important to stress there are no lingering concerns? These children ended up back where they belonged; if there were lasting affects, that doesn't negate right triumphing over wrong.

    This story would have been enough simply shared as it is....a reunion between father and daughter.

    Simply picking out 2 well publicized cases and pointing out they don't recollective their time as young children, hardly creates a solid case. Sadly I suspect some of the damage exists for some of those children. I hope there is support for them.

    Some of the questions will remain...such as why was I put up for adoption in the first place? etc....

    Yes, their families fought for their return but to pretend that thse children won't be marked in some way seems naive.

    Thankful today for one happily ever after, just wishing to see it in a more practical light.

  11. Beth:

    I understand your perplexity because your point has occurred to me to; but the difference is that the child has ended up with the people who will be like him, who are like him (or her) rather than becoming a stranger in a strange land, always trying to fit it. I have gotten a number of emails from adoptees who talk about this, often especially after reunion when they see how in fact, they do fit seamlessly into the style of their original family.

    Babies need love and care and feeding and naps and diaper changes; when she is old enough to relate to others in a different way, Teleah will be among her own people. I was responding to a comment at another blog about this subject--how will the child be in the long run?--and I did know there were some answers out there. And in the two cases I cite, the children--when they learn their whole story, will realize how much their natural parents wanted them--and fought for them. Of course, we can't say that about Teleah's first mother.

    And that is what I wanted to share here. FMF aims to do more than just be a news site. We provide commentary on the news.

  12. Lorraine,

    Thank you for clarifying; I do better understand your intent now and why you shared the information regarding other stories of reunion.

    I wish I could say that I felt more comfortable with my nfamily but sadly I seem to continue to straddle two worlds and surprisingly seem to fit in best with my adoptive family; perhaps due to the familial ties forged over years of holidays, upbringing, traditions, etc.

    I think in part that was why your need ( as I previously thought) to paint these children as scar free left me baffled.

    I still would be shocked if truly these children grew to adulthood completely free of this trauma, lingering doubts or questions.

    Even returning to similiar looking and acting people is no guarantee of an easy transition and I do break with your logic that a 2 or 3 or 4 year old's sum life experience is significantly more than diapers, feedings, etc....much more. The first 5 years of life set the foundation for learning and attachment that is with child/person through their life. It is a critical time of development and any disruption is just that....a disruption.

    :) But that's what make respectful dialogue so interesting. I appreciate your insights.


  13. Beth, get real. Adoptive families are not real families here. They are forever fake, filled with mismatched souls who cannot breach the biological divide. It does not matter how close they grow, or how precious each member becomes to the other. Even the passing of time has no effect on this equation. Adoptees weren't meant to be with "those people".

    Ask the rest of the world if being born into a family guarantees that you will be loved or even remotely understood, and you know what the answer will be. The world will say NO. So don't take it to heart. This is an alternate universe. Nuttin' you can do about it.

  14. 1Beth,

    Its definitely a question and a concern that has arisen before and thank you for writing it here.

    A big reason we cheer for the child being returned to birth family is that in most of these cases, they have been fighting for their kids for a year or more. The adoptive parents (especially in the three cases mentioned-Richard, Jessica and now Teleah) knew about the birthparents petition to keep the adoption from being legalized but they still file to keep the child. Many of the birthparents would have been open to a continued relationship with the adoptive parent for the best interest of the child, but because of the agregious nature of the way they stalled or fought in court to retain custody, it didn't happen.

    As an adoptee- I looked like I COULD fit into my a-family- but I just didn't. My apars were the Archie Bunkers of our neighborhood and I was the social worker type kid who brought every stray home- or would have had I been allowed!So when I found my mom and family, I found where I fit in. I finally had a 'family' not a house where I resided. My husband also is adopted and had similar situation where he never fit in- we still absolutely adore his adoptive family- but he fits in like a glove with both sides of his birth families.

    These discussions are so valuable because they raise questions like this-and at some point adoption laws should be uniform so that situations like those above stop happening.

  15. My daughter always straddled two worlds, yet our families were both middle class, and so there was no a great disparity. It was a world view that was quite different. But she seemed, to my eyes, to have the same or similar coloring as her adoptive mother. There was a had a large framed photograph of the family hanging on the wall of their living room. When I once remarked that she (in contrast to her adopted brother, who was darker in skin tone and hair color) looked like she fit right in (there were two biological children also), with her adoptive family she immediately took umbrage and told me in no uncertain terms how she did not fit in with them.

    From what I have observed, when the adoptee is better educated, and grows up in a higher status than her biological family, she has a greater sense of being the "other" in that family, and feels more distant and remote from them, as evident in the various adoptee memoirs. Ithaka comes to mind.

    I agree much is focused on the early years, but some new research indicates (see that piece at the end of the shame blog) that it may be more like 12-16 that counts much more. Of course, any child growing up with out love is going to be affected. Teleah was undoubtedly cherished by the Freis, a good thing.

    Anonymous @3:49, the reason for your snark? Everyone understands that people who grow up in a good and loving family feel very close to the parents who raised them, and very much a part of that family, even if it is not their first family to whom they are biologically related. My daughter certainly did, and felt close to them, including her siblings. She also felt close to my family. And she had problems, at various times, relating to either one.

  16. From the New York magazine piece I mentioned. Looks like this deserves a new blog post:

    " Zero to 3. For ages, this window dominated the field, and it still does today, in part for reasons of convenience: Birth is the easiest time to capture a large population to study, and, as Levitt points out, “it’s easier to understand something as it’s being put together”—meaning the brain—“than something that’s complex but already formed.” There are good scientific reasons to focus on this time period, too: The sensory systems, like hearing and eyesight, develop very early on. “But the error we made,” says Levitt, “was to say, ‘Oh, that’s how all functions develop, even those that are very complex. Executive function, emotional regulation—all of it must develop in the same way.’ ” That is not turning out to be the case. “If you’re interested in making sure kids learn a lot in school, yes, intervening in early childhood is the time to do it,” says Laurence Steinberg, a developmental psychologist at Temple University and perhaps the country’s foremost researcher on adolescence. “But if you’re interested in how people become who they are, so much is going on in the adolescent years.”

  17. Lorraine, assuming the best, I assume that anonymous is just talking about the Freis and the De Boers, and their ilk, people who knowingly keep defenseless children from a loving natural family. I share the opinion that such people do not deserve to be seen as family.

  18. Theodore, I was not talking about any custody case. I support the return of all these children--Jessica, Richard, Teleah--to their natural families. It is ethical, legal, and right.

    What I do not support is the idea that biological families are "by nature" better supporters, understanders, and lovers of their children than non bio-parents or even just adults (could be a foster parent or social worker) who enter kids' lives.

  19. There are significant differences between the Schimdt case and Archane case. In the former case, the birth mother changed her mind after the revocation period. However, because the unmarried birth father had not given his consent she was eventually able to get the baby back.

    In the Archane case, the adoption was actually illegal since the birth mother was married and had concealed the adoption from the father. She basically kidnapped her daughter and handed her over to an agency in Utah. Both the agency and the birthmother should, IMHO, be facing federal criminal charges (kidnapping is a federal crime).

  20. Of course there were differences in the cases--in all of the cases.


    Anna Schmidt asked for her child back five days past the deadline in Iowa, but in other states she would have been within the time she could have had her baby returned. Instead, the DeBoers dragged out the case in TWO state courts (Iowa and Michigan) for as long as possible.

    In my mind, Jan and Roberta DeBoer represent the worst kind of grasping, greedy, ugly adopters who will do anything to get another woman's baby. They gave all people who want to adopt a black eye. What kind of woman keeps a baby after five days when she knows the real mother desperately wants her back? Roberta DeBoer is beyond loathsome, since you asked. The Deboers adopted again, incidentally.

    At least, the Freis gave up and let Teleah stay with her daddy.

  21. Anon 3>49--(pick a name, please, any name)

    You do not think that natural families are better "understanders" of their children than families (adopters) picked at random?

    Data says otherwise....

    We've written about this before--traits shared across adoption are statistically as likely to occur as pure chance. In other words, the likelihood of an adoptee sharing a certain trait with his or her adoptive parents is statistically no greater than sharing it with a total stranger passing by on the street, and is not related to their being in close proximity for years. You'll have to look up the blog posts by yourself, don't have time today.

    But you have your mind made up--sounds like you don't need facts.

  22. @ I am Anon. 3:49

    "What I do not support is the idea that biological families are "by nature" better supporters, understanders, and lovers of their children than non bio-parents or even just adults (could be a foster parent or social worker) who enter kids' lives."

    But you support that total strangers are than their own genetic and biological people? Would you say the same thing about your own biological child, if you had/ have one? There is not one person on the face of this earth a "better" supporter, under stander and lover of my son who I am raising. I created, nurtured and gave birth to this human being and there is no one else who loves him more than I ever will. This I know. I wish someone would have the nerve to say that to my face.

    Your comment is baffling and bizarre, just like adoption itself and the people who think they are "better" to raise someone else's children. They aren't.

  23. from facebook when this blog was posted at the Support Terry Achane page:

    "I agree and this is my area of professional practice. She will be fine and probably has adapted already without a problem. Long term memory at this age is almost nothing. Trauma memory is different related to things like fires, abuse, etc but general memory not really. Most children do not have long term memory till 3 or 4 and think about older children that even at 8 or 9 forget details about the family summer trip. she is pasted the trust vs mistrust stage and is in Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt which is all about learning to be ok with being "me" so this is a perfect time for her to move to her father. Everyone in her world looks like her.
    21 hours ago."

  24. Lorraine said:



    "At least, the Freis gave up and let Teleah stay with her daddy."

    Even if the Freis had not given up, Teleah was never going back to them. Even in Utah.

    In many adoptions the birth father does not give consent. However if he is not married to the birth mother, that consent is not always required depending on the actions of the birth father and the laws of that State. If the the father is married to the mother, his consent is always required even in Utah.

    However immoral you believe the actions of the DeBoers were, the behavior of the Freis was far worse. The adoption was obviously illegal from day one and the probability of the Freis winning in court was zero. Trying to fight it just harmed the child and their other children.

  25. "Also not mentioned: that Cara Schmidt had signed the relinquishment papers 40 hours after the child was born, at the time believing that the attorney for the DeBoers was her attorney. Once Dan Schmidt learned that he was the girl's father, he joined Cara in the fight to get their daughter back, all within a month of the girl's birth. The DeBoers were in defiance of the Iowa Supreme Court when they began their battle in the Michigan courts. When the Schmidts went to Michigan and asked for the sheriff to help them get their daughter back, they were refused and told if they acted alone they could be arrested. You practically have to be a private eye to ferret out this information."

    I'd the say DeBoers and the Freis pretty much have equal standing, in terms of having zero empathy. Do read the piece called May the Richest Parents Win--The DeBoer Case. Link at end of piece.

  26. So happy=) Do you know if Matthew Tenneson got the same happy ending or are Jed and Cally Nielson still holding little Harvey hostage

  27. Just randomly came across your page while looking at the internet googleing etc.This case and baby 'Jessica/ Anna' makes me furious. The obsessive ownership needs of thesr adoptive parents is sickening. I was adopted as a 6 week old baby in 1974 Ireland. My adoptive parents were wealthy, which I think was the only necessity in Irish adoptions.My adoptive parents had a child of their own who was 2 when I was adopted. My relationship with my sister and parents was a mess. Growing up as a four piece family I was completely aware that I was the 'odd' one out.My sister was a much longed for premature baby who was exactly like my adoptive parents in every way. I was taller than her, blonde and bigger built which was pointed out to me at every family reuniin, funeral etc. I grew up feeling unloved and unwanted.My adoptive mother told me that my natural mother was 16 and didn't want me. I missed her and cried for her at various times in my life. When I turned 18 I began searching. In Ireland you are not entitled to ur birth cert and I had no information. After 20 yrs of looking the agency found her in May 2012. I met my mam in November on a rainy Friday in Dublin. I loved her ftom the minute I met her. She is the image of me and told me the story of a lonely girl pregnant at 15 in catholic Ireland. I have no negative thoughts towards her. What I am angry about is the fact that she was sent to a Magdalene laundry(unwed mothers religious institution.) where she had me and was told to sign two forms. In Ireland the natural mother has 6 months to change her mind. Just two months after my birth my mam met her husband of 38 yrs. She told him about me and they went to the agency to get me bk and was told by a nun to 'fuck off' quote, unquote. My mam and her husband went on to have 5 children together whom I have met and love.I am 38 and have brothers and sisters aged 37,36,35,31,25. I feel as those my childhood was taken from me. Great site.xMichelle.x



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