Friday, January 27, 2012

Birth Father Wins in Utah Supreme Court

Hmm, maybe the tide is turning!  Utah is notoriously unfriendly to birth fathers, but in this case the Utah Supreme Court has reversed a trial court's ruling that the birth father was not entitled to any say in his daughter's adoption, and remanded for a hearing on whether he had fully grasped the opportunity to be a legal parent:
The Utah Supreme Court ruled Friday that a Colorado father was improperly denied a say in his infant daughter’s adoption and sent the case back to a lower court for a rehearing.
In a split decision that establishes a new ground rule for future cases, the justices said Robert Manzanares’ consent to any adoption was necessary. The majority held Manzanares did not know and reasonably could not have known that a birth and adoption would take place in Utah, entitling him by law to more time to intervene in the proceedings.
Although Manzanares stated in a paternity petition filed in a Colorado court months before his daughter’s birth that he feared his girlfriend might flee to Utah, those were "yellow flags" and not the same thing as having knowledge of such a plan, the majority said.
Manzanares reasonably relied on Carie Terry’s denials, stated in Colorado court filings, of any intention to come to Utah to give birth and place their baby for adoption.
* * *
The Utah Supreme Court instructed the district court to hold a hearing to determine whether Manzanares fully complied with Colorado’s requirements for establishing parental rights to his daughter, referred to in court documents as Baby B., and whether he had demonstrated a full commitment to his parental responsibilities.
Manzanares was nearly speechless after learning of the court’s decision.
"It is still an uphill battle but as I’ve said from day one, I won’t stop climbing that mountain until I have [my daughter] in my life," he said. "I’ve missed so much of her life. It is incredible to know that I could be with her soon."


Anonymous said...

Finally justice!!!!!!!!!!

Mothers who put thier children for adoption without the father consent should be put to jail....

this is from an adoptee that thier own birth mom did the same.

Anonymous said...

What's really horrible is how Utah is facilitating so much potential misery for everyone involved - the adoptive family, the child who will be moved, and the father who has to fight for his child. I wonder if the adoptive parents are aware that they are taking children away from their fathers when the adopt in this manner? Another weird thing is that I know of several single moms who have adopted newborns through adoption agencies in Utah and I wondered why it seemed like it was so easy to adopt newborns in Utah - I guess I know why now.

planejane said...

I hope the tide is turning:

Anonymous said...

from theadoptedones

Of course the prospective/adoptive parents know when the father has not signed off. They have to accept the placement as a "legal risk". Once the adoption petition is filed they are also made aware of any complicating facts.

There is paperwork adoption and one of the primary details in is the "consent" by the surrendering parents. It's not like they can claim they don't know that there is both a mother and a father involved with the creation of the baby.

Anonymous said...

From what another poster said a while ago, the father willingly SIGNED the consent forms, and now, to get back at the birthmother, he's claiming ignorance, and he "didn't know what he was signing". If that's TRULY the case, then yeah...lets hear it for the liars and the cheaters! The 'underdogs". Great way to set an example.

Anonymous said...

From the adoptedones...

Anon 11:11 - did you even read the post?

This post is about a Colorado father who initiated proceedings in the CO courts months prior to the birth - they were they both in CO and then the mother went to Utah to give birth and signed consent.

The first paragraph of the article clearly identifies this - he didn't have a say in his daughters adoption e.g. he didn't sign ANY papers...

"The Utah Supreme Court ruled Friday that a Colorado father was improperly denied a say in his infant daughter’s adoption"

malinda said...

Actually, the birth mother was the liar and cheater in this case -- she lied to the Colorado court where birth father had filed paternity saying she had no plans of placing the baby for adoption in Utah, which is why the Utah case said it was unreasonable to expect the birth father to have filed in the Utah birth father registry.

And the case you're talking about -- a South Carolina case, I believe -- there's a factual dispute about what the birth father knew when he signed the papers. Just signing something, for both birth mothers and birth fathers, isn't enough -- when you are relinquishing something as important as parental rights (I'm assuming you'd consider that important?), it has to be knowing and voluntary.

As to the legal risk if there is no relinquishment by the birth father -- it depends on the circumstances as to how risky that really is in fact. Courts don't recognize unwed fathers as legal fathers -- thus their relinquishment isn't required -- unless they have done sufficient things to "grasp the opportunity" to be a legal father. For most states, that means filing in the putative father registry exclusively. Others look at the birth father's involvement with the child (hard to be involved when BM places newborn with adoptive family), financial and emotional support of the mother during pregnancy, etc. This birth father apparently gave the mother financial support throughout the pregnancy.

Anonymous said...

oops my bad. Yes I was assuming it was the continued saga of the other case.

Interesting that courts do not recognize unwed fathers as legal fathers. That sure isn't the case when it comes to paying child support for an unwed father. The courts go after the unwed father for child support like it's nobody's business.

malinda said...

Yes, the go after unwed fathers for child support -- but he needs to be a legal father, not just a biological father. That means he won't be obligated to pay child support until he acknowledges paternity or there is a legal paternity determination. Once that happens, he's a legal father.

And I agree, it is kind of ironic how desperate people are to KEEP the birth father from being a legal father in adoption cases,but when we want money from him we can't WAIT to make a legal father of him.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Malinda for clarifying the "high risk" component of the adoption legalese.

I too was prepared to blast the adoptive parents for clearly entering into a suspicious adoption, but now believe that they too were probably a bit bamboozled by the birth mother.

And too, many adoptions in the U.S. take place with scant or no information about the birth father.

A gengle reminder for so many of us, not to presume or always expect the worst in adoptive families.

Quite honestly this birth mother should be prosecuted if the claims of the birth father bare out in court.

Shameful and she should be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

From theadoptedones...

I just want to point on that the Adopting Parents (PAPS) in this story were the brother and sister-in-law of the "Birth" mother.

No way they did not know the Father was AGAINST the adoption and have filed paternity actions in Colorado.

The Father called the "Brother" aka PAP after the birth and the "Brother" aka PAP told him to expect a call from his lawyer.

You can read the actual ruling that contains all the above info.