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May 2, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

The adoption industry has struck again. This time it’s in Illinois where the Lutheran Social Services of Illinois is hard about the task of separating an infant from its father. Now, this is not Utah in which the adoption industry, supported by state law, goes to the most outrageous extremes to make sure single fathers don’t have an opportunity to care for their children. But still, the LSS looks to have done some fairly shady things for that very purpose. Here’s one article (Fox2Now, 4/28/14). And here’s another (Fox2Now, 4/30/14).

The dad, Cody Deadmond, is just 16 and in high school. This past February, when he found out the girl he’d been sexually active with was going to give birth to his child, he rushed to the hospital and held the child in his arms. In that bonding moment, he knew that, no matter his age, he wanted to be a parent to his son.

But he was already behind the curve. LSS had already placed the boy for adoption with a couple in the northern part of the state. That in itself is strange. After all, the mother, an 18-year-old girl in the same high school Deadmond attends, had told them his name and whereabouts. They’d even sent him a notice that the child was to be adopted.

It arrived less than a month before his ex-girlfriend gave birth. It reads ‘…you have been named the father of a child… If you would like to parent this child, you will need to obtain an attorney.’

That of course is technically not true and could even be construed to be intimidation of a 16-year-old who might well be unable to afford an attorney. The LSS knew he’s a kid and likely thought he’d be glad to waive any parental rights he has, particularly if asserting them meant hiring a lawyer.

But more important than that are other facts. For example, the hospital refused to allow Deadmond to take his child home with him. Of course they couldn’t be certain he was the father, but the mother had already identified him to LSS, so why wouldn’t she do the same to the hospital? It’s possible she didn’t, because she’d already set the adoption wheels moving. But what’s more likely is that the hospital was doing what hospitals often do – working against a father to facilitate the adoption of his child over his wishes.

Then there’s the fact that the Illinois Putative Father Registry gives a man 30 days after the birth of his child in which to register his desire for notice of adoption proceedings, should they come about. So whatever the case, turning over the child to an adoptive couple at its birth was far premature.

Now, given the fact that the LSS had told Deadmond about his child anyway, it may be that the Putative Father Registry doesn’t even enter the picture. After all, its sole purpose is to deny notice of adoption to all men who don’t register. Deadmond already had notice, but what’s remarkable about this story is that, as seems to invariably happen, the State of Illinois doesn’t make registering easy.

Though Deadmond says he wants to raise his child, he failed to notify what`s called the Illinois Putative Father Registry.  You have 30 days to register after a birth. 16-year-old Deadmond said he and his family didn`t know such a registry existed.

But it’s not just Deadmond and his family who didn’t know about the registry.

He`s since hired attorney Lucinda Bugden who said, ‘(Deadmond and his family) went to a lawyer, not me, who didn`t give them the right advice and now he didn`t register within the 30 day period.’

In other words, that first lawyer either didn’t know about the registry or didn’t know the law about when to register.

And that’s about the size of it. When both regular folks like the Deadmonds and their lawyer don’t know about the Putative Father Registry, it’s a pretty well-kept secret. That’s the way it is in every state I’ve encountered, and now it’s true in Illinois as well. As I’ve said before, PFRs exist to cut biological dads out of the adoption process. There’s too much money at stake to have fathers asserting their rights and interfering with payday for everyone, so states establish PFRs and then don’t let on they exist. Usually due process of law requires states to give notice to those whose legal rights may be altered by a given legal proceeding. We’re supposed to be informed of the nature of the proceeding against us and given an opportunity to assert our rights. But PFRs do exactly the opposite and somehow, the U.S. Supreme Court thinks that’s just fine, thank you.

Speaking of biology, that’s turned out to be the main sticking point in l’affaire Deadmond. The LSS has decided to hide behind the thinnest of legal screens to try to make this adoption permanent. They claim that they can’t turn the little boy over to Deadmond because they don’t know for certain he’s the dad. Yes, the mother said he is and he’s the one they gave notice to, but that’s their story and they’re stickin’ to it.

To which Cody naturally responded with a demand for genetic testing.

Deadmond answered, ‘Their reasoning for that is that they have no legal proof that I`m the father of the baby.’

So Deadmond said he went to get that proof. He said, ‘I`ve taken my DNA. I had to pay $450 to pay for it.’ Meanwhile, he said the adoption agency won`t take the baby for a DNA test. He added, ‘Every time the baby was requested to take a DNA test, they`ve denied it.’

The hearings are North of Chicago, in Rockford, IL where Deadmond`s family hired attorney Lucinda Bugden. She told me, ‘I can`t understand why they`re not just saying ok, lets determine if you`re the father.

But of course she understands all too well. It’s the same thing that happens time and again; if you don’t have any legal right to a child, try and create “facts on the ground.” In this case, that means keeping the baby with the adoptive parents as long as possible in the hope that a judge will decide the child has “bonded” with the adoptive parents and pretend that, in some way, that creates legal rights.

Unsurprisingly, the court seems to be going along with the ploy. As attorney Bugden said,

My concern is, time is on their side. The longer they prolong this, I mean there`s been several court dates in Winnebago county and it`s just been continued. Meanwhile this baby is bonding with these people who have no legal right to this child.’

It’s an absolutely loony concept, but astonishingly, adoption law is replete with cases in which the tactic worked, so why not now? But honestly, the idea that, by acting illegally, parents can in some way create legal rights to a child to whom they have no relationship whatsoever is simply bizarre.

As is so often the case, there was a simple, straightforward way in which this should have been handled from the start. The LSS should have told the adoptive parents about the father and that, if he asserted his rights, unless he was shown to be unfit as a parent, the child would be his. Period.

But instead of doing the right thing, the LSS and the adoptive parents did the wrong thing – the attempted theft and trafficking of a baby boy. Of course it’s all about money. Again, the adoption industry is all about completing adoptions and biological fathers are oh so inconvenient to that end. So we get things like Putative Father Registries and behavior like what’s taken place in this case.

Would Cody Deadmond be an ideal father? Probably not. What 16-year-old would be? But he’s got the solid backing of his mother, step-father and various relatives, and, in any event, that’s not the point. The point is that neither courts nor adoption agencies nor adoptive parents have any business stealing children out from under the noses of fathers, no matter their age.

And again, as in every adoption case, when a baby like this one has adoption forced on it despite having a father who wants to care for him, another baby, somewhere in the world is denied the adoptive parents it needs. That’s because there are millions of children worldwide who have no parents or their parents have had their rights terminated. Those kids need to be adopted and every one of us would rejoice if they were united with loving parents. But since there are far more children in need of adoption than there are parents who want to adopt, every adoption that happens that doesn’t need to means one of those needy kids goes without.

So when you see a case like this one, always remember what’s really going on; an adoption agency and adoptive parents aren’t just trying to take a child from a father, they’re trying to take parents from a child. It’s not a pretty picture.

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#adoption, #LutheranSocialServices, #putativefatherregistry, #CodyDeadmond, #Illinois

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