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February 24th, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Finally.  It looks like the State of Utah may be moving in the general direction of sanity when it comes to fathers’ rights to their children and children’s rights to their fathers.  Read about it here (Salt Lake Tribune, 2/22/13).

I’ve been griping about Utah adoption law for years now.  That’s because Utah is head and shoulders the worst state in the country for denying fathers the opportunity to be heard when mothers place children for adoption. And that’s saying a lot.  The simple fact is that no state is what you’d call father-friendly in the adoption arena.  At least 29 states have some form of putative father registry whose sole raison d’être is to cut biological dads out of the adoption loop.  They do that by requiring unmarried fathers to file a form with the state every time they think they may have fathered a child.  How do they know they’ve fathered a child?  Well, if Mom doesn’t inform them, they don’t.  If Mom decides for whatever reason that she doesn’t want Dad to know about his kid, it’s his tough luck.

So, as a practical matter, every time a single man has sex with a woman, he should file the form with the state.  Failure to do so means he’s not entitled to notice of the adoption proceeding if there is one.  So hell-bent on depriving children of their natural fathers are these states that many of them do little or nothing to inform men of their existance of the registry or the legal consequences of not filing.  In short, fathers’ legal rights depend on their knowledge of putative father registries, what they are, how they work and the consequences of not filing, but they’re closely guarded secrets.  They’re so little known, that for the most part, the state employees who are supposed to be keeping the data don’t know much about them, how to file, etc.

As I’ve said before, this obsession on the part of states with removing single fathers from the lives of their children is just crazy every way you look at it.  We all want children without parents to find qualified, loving adoptive homes, but children with fathers who are capable of caring for them should be allowed to.  Otherwise, we’re just using a scarce resource (adoptive parents) inefficiently – i.e. to parent children who already have a dad wh’s capable of doing the job.  Every year in this country, there are only about 125,000 adoptions completed.  Of those, only about 75,000 are stranger adoptions and the rest are done by stepparents.  Meanwhile, over 400,000 children live in foster families, their biological parents having had their parental rights terminated.  In other words, we have far too few parents who want to adopt.  Why use them to adopt children who don’t need adoption?

Not a state in the nation has mastered that simple arithmetic.  All are single-mindedly devoted to the proposition that the more fathers they sideline from their children’s lives, the better.

That’s the general rule, but Utah is exceptionally bad.  The Beehive State makes it virtually impossible for a non-lawyer to figure out what he has to do to comply with its laws and get a hearing in court to stop the adoption of his child.  Come to think of it, Utah lawyers have a tough enough time with that.  That’s why we see mothers coming from all over the country to Utah just to place their children for adoption.  In the recent past, we’ve seen women go to Utah from Montana, Virginia, Florida, Colorado and Texas just for the sake of adopting out their kids.  You’d think those states didn’t permit children to be adopted, but of course they do.  So, if you’re a single mom, why go all the way to Utah?  The answer is simple; Utah rewards lying by the mother more than any other state.  No state makes it as easy to cut the father out of the adoption process.

And finally, folks in Utah are starting to take notice.  The linked-to article is an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune, the same paper that’s done by far the best reporting on the ongoing scandal that is the Utah adoption industry.  The paper comes out 100% for fathers’ rights in adoption cases.

It seems incredible, but Utah laws governing adoption actually invite and maybe even encourage fraud and the undermining of parental rights.

It’s hard to believe because Utah is a state with a widespread reputation for protecting families and children. But the Beehive State attracts mothers trying to circumvent the natural rights of fathers and agencies that encourage such behavior in order to make money on adoptions.

Of course the case of Terry Achane that I’ve written about before is the most recent outrage that prompted the editorial.

Achane’s now ex-wife knew that she had a better chance of getting away with depriving her husband of his daughter in Utah than any other state. State law puts all responsibility on fathers to prevent fraud and gives them little chance of reclaiming their parental rights, even when they have been hoodwinked by their wives and adoption agencies.

It’s apparent that the writers of the law favor two-parent adoptive families over biological fathers who are caring and committed, but may be single. This is absurd.

Into the bargain, the recent spate of fraudulent adoption cases in Utah has prompted one state senator, Luz Robles of Salt Lake City, to file a bill calling for civil penalties and damages for committing fraud in the adoption process.  Senate Bill 183 would allow a father to sue an adoption agency and the mother of his child if either committed fraud in the adoption of his child.  Here’s the text of the bill.

It’s not an airtight bill, but it’s an improvement.  Proving outright fraud isn’t usually easy, but when a mother claims she doesn’t know the father of the child, or where he is or whether he’d consent to the adoption, she treads on very thin ice if those things aren’t true.  Chances are good Dad can prove otherwise if he’s given the opportunity.

So it turns out the people of Utah aren’t as callous toward fathers as their legislators and the adoption industry there believed.  Including the state’s leading newspaper, there’s a rising tide of people who don’t want fathers denied the opportunity to prove their worth as parents.  They want only children to be adopted who need adoption, and not those who don’t.  It’s the type of common sense that We the People so often demonstrate when faced with the facts.  It’s the kind courts and legislatures so often don’t.  And of course it’s the type of common sense and decency that a money-making industry couldn’t care less about.

That’s why the right to sue Utah’s adoption industry may be the only thing that’ll change their evil ways.

If you live in Utah, tell your state representative to vote for SB 183

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