Fathers sue Utah over law that puts their babies up for adoption

Twelve men are suing the state of Utah because of a law that allows mothers to put up their babies for adoption without the father's consent, and in some cases knowledge.

Wes Hutchins, attorney for the men, contends he is pro-adoption, but that the Utah Adoption Act has resulted in what amounts to "legalized fraud and kidnapping." Hutchins is the current president of the Utah Council for Ethical Adoption Practices and was formerly the president of the Utah Adoption Council.

Some of the plaintiffs' stories:

"Well, I thought I was going to have a son," Nikolas Thurnwald recalled. He said he was thrilled by the idea of being a father with his live-in girlfriend and was with her until a few days before the birth of their child. After trying unsuccessfully to contact her, he went to the hospital where he was told his girlfriend was not a patient. He explained that he had just spoken to her on the phone, "and they said, 'Sir, you need to leave before we call the police'."

After 10 years and more than $30,000 in legal fees, Thurnwald lost his bid to gain custody.

Another Plaintiff and Army veteran Christopher Carlton said that in 2010, his girlfriend told him their son had died shortly after birth. Later, she admitted she had traveled to Utah to give birth and put the baby up for adoption. The baby, now living with an adoptive family, was actually a girl and not a boy.

Court filings in the civil rights suit charge that Utah's laws have prompted women from all over the country to move to Utah so they can give birth and secretly place the baby up for adoption. The lawsuit seeks not only monetary damages for the fathers, but also a finding that the Utah Adoption Act is unconstitutional.

The Utah attorney general's office and former Utah Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow are named as defendants in the suit, along with several other unnamed state officials.

Hutchins said, "The time it takes for these individual cases to be resolved plays into the agencies' hands. They rely on the fact that they can tie these children up in litigation long enough that they will form a bond with the adoptive parents." At that time, even if a father were to win custody, it could mean years of therapy for a child being introduced to the father who in their eyes is a complete stranger.

If you are interested in adoption, Stange Law Firm, PC can help. Our firm focuses exclusively on family law in the areas of divorce, child custody, child support, paternity and adoption among other domestic relations issues.

Source: Fathers sue Utah over law allowing mothers to secretly give up babies for adoption, by Kelly David Burke, Fox News, February 16, 2014.