I have watched this case for a while, and, every time I read about it – I get upset all over again. The father is from Pennsylvania, a veteran of multiple tours in Iraq, who lost his child at birth to an adoption in Utah, and has fought for his child since.
Mr. Wes Hutchins is his lawyer, and, as far as I can tell they are still waiting for the ruling from the Utah Supreme Court…please let me know if I missed a more recent update.
His ex-girlfriend left Pennsylvania in May of 2010, and, gave birth in June 2010. The mother told Mr. Carlton that she gave birth to a boy, and, a couple of days later that he died. Mr. Carlton wanted to know where his son was buried, and finally a judge told the mother he had a right to know where his child was buried. She then confessed the child was alive and she had placed the child for adoption, but, wouldn’t state where. Once he found out his “son” was alive he filed an a notice of paternity in Pennsylvania (they don’t have a putative father’s registry). It took another court order to find out the child had been placed for adoption in Utah.
Carlton, a multi-tour Iraq war veteran who now works for a defense contractor, said he acted quickly once the truth trickled out, filing an initial petition for his “son” in Pennsylvania in November 2010 despite having no information about who had his child or where the adoption occurred. Weeks later, he learned the adoption had occurred in Utah and filed a new petition in 4th District Court on Jan. 6, 2011 — about a week after the adoption was finalized in the same court — but, as noted by the adoption agency’s attorney, it contained few details because he was “unable to obtain sufficient information to complete the filing.”
The next revelation was that the child wasn’t a boy, rather, a girl.
It was only in May 2011, after Carlton filed a second amended petition and while he was deployed in Iraq, that he learned his child was a girl.
Can you imagine? First she disappears eight months pregnant, then you are told you are a father of a boy, then that he passed away. A court has to compel the mother to tell him where his son is buried, only to find out his child is alive and was placed for adoption, but you don’t know where your child was placed and you have to go to court to get that information. Once you know it’s Utah, you file there, but then find out it is too late. Months later while you are deployed – you find out your son is actually your daughter.
Carlton’s lawyer Wesley Hutchins argued that it is unconstitutional to apply Utah adoption deadlines to his client, who lives in Pennsylvania. Hutchins says his client did not have a meaningful opportunity to assert his parental rights. He had no way of knowing that his child was being put up for adoption out of state, since the child’s mother lied and told him the baby had died. By the time he learned the truth, it was too late.
…Jenkins maintained that Carlton did not establish his parental rights in Utah under the schedule required, neither did he register as the father in Pennsylvania within the timeframe required under Utah law.
Jenkins argument make no sense to me – even without all the horrendous things that have happened to Mr. Carlton – why would Utah’s timeframes have any bearing on Pennsylvania law, and, why would he have filed within Utah’s timeframes when he thought his “son” had passed away?
Regardless, this type of adoption has to stop. Now we have a child who is 3 1/2 years old, and, who knows how long before the Utah Supreme Court rules, and, even if they win – it goes back to another court. This isn’t right to do this to either the child, or, the father.
At a certain point – every single domestic adoption becomes tainted by the sheer volume of contested adoptions. Do you really think the public can discern the difference? Do you honestly want your child to grow up and find out about this crap happening when they were adopted? Question whether their adoption was on the up and up?
There’s a simple fix.
Demand adoption agencies respect fathers rights. Advocate for laws that respect both parents rights. No matter how much a prospective parent wants to adopt – it has to be done ethically – not just within the letter of the law. Adoption demands better than that! Your future child demands better than that! Stop accepting the status quo that the mother does not need to name the father, or, steps made by your agency to “deal” with the father (the father of the child you hope to adopt – not just “the putative father”). Would you be fine if this happened to your son, you nephew, your best friends son?
Thankfully, there are good lawyers who are willing to stand up and be counted to do their best to protect fathers and their children.
“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough”
― Walt Whitman
Oct 2014: You may speak freely, but please try to use words that everyone can hear about your individual story or view. If you don't, those who can actually benefit won't hear it, I want to see change in my lifetime. I may refuse to approve certain comments.
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