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December 19, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

Samuel Gerome Dye beat the Utah adoption racket. He went to court and got his son back. Not many dads can say the same. Here’s another fine article by Brooke Adams about Dye’s case (Salt Lake Tribune, 12/17/13). In the process, Adams reveals just how willing Utah adoption agencies are to steal children from their birth fathers and how few consequences there are to them when they do.

Put simply, multiple lies by the mother of Dye’s son and by the Heart and Soul Adoptions, Inc. agency, all told in an effort to shanghai a little boy away from his father, have gone entirely unpunished. No one in Utah has raised a voice or a finger to discipline the agency that can only function as an adoption agency at the pleasure of — and subject to the regulations of — the State of Utah. Needless to say, the clear message the state sent to Heart and Soul is that filing documents known to be false and false swearing are perfectly acceptable. And, of course, since they’re acceptable, they’ll recur again and again until someone delivers the opposite message — that lying and perjury may not be committed in Utah courts. When or if that occurs is anyone’s guess.

Dye met and began dating the birth mother, whose name is being withheld by The Salt Lake Tribune, in the spring of 2010. They had been together about a year when she got pregnant.

She broke the news at a tumultuous time for Dye. In April 2011, he was shot five times and left for dead during a home-invasion robbery.

"I didn’t find out [about the pregnancy] until after I woke up after being shot," he said.

Dye, who at the time operated his own landscaping business, spent five weeks in the hospital recovering from his injuries, including relearning how to walk. He and his girlfriend moved in with his parents for a time and then into their own apartment while he continued to recuperate. The girlfriend began working at a daycare center owned by Debra Byrd, Dye’s mother.

On November 25, 2011, Dye helped welcome Samir Oscar Dye — whose middle name is a tribute to his 94-year-old great-grandfather — into the world.

"I’ve been there since day one," Dye said.

The couple faced an immediate setback: Both Dye’s girlfriend and his newborn son allegedly tested positive for marijuana after the birth.

Texas child welfare officials intervened and, because Dye still needed assistance and could not care for the baby on his own, the couple agreed to give temporary legal custody of the infant to two of Dye’s relatives.

Before leaving the hospital, they filled out an acknowledgement of Dye’s paternity and his name was included on his son’s birth certificate.

Dye attended parenting classes with his girlfriend, who initially had supervised visits with their son which were in time expanded to overnight, weekend and weeklong stays. As Dye regained full use of his arms and legs, he helped care for Samir. The state returned custody to the birth mother, then still living with Dye, when Samir was about 10-months-old.

But their relationship had rocky, on-and-off moments.

In November 2012, the Texas Attorney General’s Office filed a court action that recognized Dye’s paternity and sought to establish child support and set out a visitation and custody plan for Samir — an action set in motion automatically when a couple is separated and one party receives state aid of any kind.

It’s rare that such an action by the AG’s Office benefits fathers. The Attorney General is interested in only two things — establishing paternity and getting child support from fathers.

Visitation? That’s often a father’s only parental right coming out of divorce, so what does Attorney General Gregg Abbott do to assist fathers who are being denied access to their children by mothers? Next to nothing. Two years ago Abbott sent out a press release congratulating himself on spending $500,000 to help non-custodial fathers. What he neglected to mention was that he spent about $270 million helping mothers with child support. The United States government budgets a paltry $10 million each year to help fathers with visitation, compared with $5 billion to help collect child support. That 500:1 ratio is as good an indicator as any of the relative values placed on mothers and fathers by the powers that be. But another lesson is that, if there’s no money in it, Gregg Abbott doesn’t do it.

But in Dye’s case, that filing by the AG’s Office was a stroke of luck. Because Mom received some sort of benefits from Washington that are recoupable from the father of her child, the AG filed suit. That established jurisdiction of matters related to Samir in the Lone Star State. So when Mom decided to place the child for adoption without Dye’s knowledge or consent, she found herself legally stuck in the State of Texas instead of in Utah, a state that’s far more enthusiastic about stealing children from fit fathers than any other.

But that didn’t prevent her from trying.

Still, they were together until the end of July.

That’s when Dye said he and his girlfriend had a typical couple’s "misunderstanding," after which the girlfriend informed him she was headed to Louisiana to see her ailing mother.

"That’s the only reason I allowed her to take the trip with him," Dye said.

She returned alone and at first told Dye she had left the toddler with his grandmother.

In early August, the truth came out when, in a tearful phone call, the woman told Dye she’d actually traveled to Utah to place their son for adoption through Heart and Soul Adoptions Inc., the same agency she’d used to place another child. She said he would soon receive a letter asking him to sign away his parental rights.

So Mom began the process by lying to Dye. She didn’t go to Louisiana to visit her sick mother, but to Utah to hand his son to strangers. Once there, she either lied to Heart and Soul or was instructed by it on how to lie to the court. Whatever the case, Heart and Soul’s personnel passed on the lies to the court and even invented a few of their own when Dye and his Dallas lawyer contacted them.

Dye called Heart and Soul Adoptions, based in Centerville, Utah, as soon as he received the packet his girlfriend warned him was on its way.

When Dye demanded to know where his son was, the agency began "ducking and dodging."

"I started getting the run-around from them," he said. "They wouldn’t confirm anything, they wouldn’t tell me anything."

Dye said agency director Denise Garza initially told him he had no rights because he was not listed as the baby’s father on Samir’s birth certificate — which Dye knew was false.

Garza did not return a call from the Tribune seeking comment for this story.

Dye said Garza repeatedly urged him to sign the papers.

"She was, like, just sign then we can go about getting him back and I was like, no, that doesn’t sound right," Dye said, especially since the paperwork indicated he was voluntarily relinquishing his rights.

"It was clear as day. If you sign these papers you’re signing all your rights away," Dye said.

Dye said Garza told him she was on vacation but would contact him when she returned with information about how to get his son back.

"She never sent me any more information," he said. "She stopped answering my calls. I left numerous messages, over and over and over."

The fact that Garza told Dye his name wasn’t on the birth certificate strongly suggests Mom lied to Heart and Soul. After all, why would Garza tell Dye something she knew he knew wasn’t true? Then of course she lied about the nature of the documents she wanted him to sign, lied to him about getting back to him and finally, just hid from him.

My guess is that she wasn’t used to dealing with a father who had some understanding of what was going on. She lied to Dye because she’d lied to other dads before him and her lies had worked. They signed documents based on her false assurances and only then discovered they’d lost their children as a result. I’d put good money on it.

So Dye hired a Dallas lawyer who entered an appearance in the suit the AG’s Office had filed asking for custody of Samir. That was granted, but neither Heart and Soul nor the Utah courts paid it any heed. So Dye hired a Utah attorney, Wes Hutchins, who’s been an outspoken critic of the Utah adoption racket for many years.

Dye and his mother travelled to Utah to press his opposition to the adoption of Samir. In what must be the most telling and one of the few true statements in the entire process, the clerk of the court told them how things usually go down in the Beehive State.

Byrd said when they showed up at the 4th District Court to file the paperwork, a clerk didn’t give them much hope of success, remarking that once a child is in Utah, "they stay here."

That’s usually how it happens, but this was a special case, thanks to the unwitting assistance of Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott. The case his office filed and Dye’s appearance in it meant he’d done what he could under the laws of his home state to preserve his rights to his son. Most men don’t know Utah law requires that, so they fail to do what’s necessary to stop the adoption of their children. Dye didn’t know it either, but, through dumb luck, he did the right thing.

[Utah Judge Thomas] Lowe ruled for Dye on Dec. 10, dismissing the pending adoption and concluding that the prospective adoptive parents were thus "legal strangers" to the boy they’d had in their care since July, Hutchins said…

When Samuel Gerome Dye got the news, he says he went crazy with joy: He ran, he danced, he screamed, he sang in the street.

And then Dye made a beeline for Utah, driving nonstop from Dallas through a blizzard in New Mexico and arriving last Friday to retrieve his 2-year-old son, whom a judge in Utah’s 4th District Court decided last week had been improperly placed for adoption here in July.

On Saturday, Dye and his son Samir traveled home together, putting miles and a nightmare behind them.

"I’m just so happy," Dye said as Samir cuddled on his lap at the Legacy Recreation Center in Lehi. "Since he’s been gone, my life hasn’t been the same. I was miserable, not able to cope. Everyone around me could tell."

So, is all well that ends well? I couldn’t be happier for Dye. He took on one of the most ruthless legal systems in the country and beat it, and who can argue with that?

But his victory came about through luck. Mom happened to receive federal benefits of some sort. The Texas AG’s Office happened to file suit. Mom happened to place the child for adoption after all that occurred. Dye happened to ask for custody in the Texas case. Take any one of those things away and you have yet another child stolen from its father by a state that seems to relish the practice.

And, as I mentioned, there’ve been no adverse consequences to either the mother or Heart and Soul Adoptions, Inc. for their multiple wrongdoing. That just guarantees a repeat performance — probably many of them — in cases in which the father is not as fortunate as Samuel Gerome Dye.

So now that Dye has custody of his child, what’s Mom up to? Does she pay child support? Is she claiming custody? If so, what will the results be? After all, here’s a dad who’s jumped through many hoops and spent who knows how much on lawyers just to keep his son in his life. And here’s a mother who’s lied multiple times to many different people, all to take a child from his father and get the little boy out of her own life.

To a lot of people those facts would indicate who’s the better parent and who’s the one to keep a sharp eye on. But, as we know, family judges don’t often think like other people.

I guess we’ll see.

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