Comments about ‘Utah Supreme Court hears fight over 'Baby Emma'’

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Published: Friday, Sept. 10 2010 12:58 a.m. MDT

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lin

This sperm donor thinks he is capable of raising a child. He should have no rights since he wasn't married to the mother of the child.

I think it is the grandmother who is behind all this fuss.

Rob

I wish I knew more about this situation. The Father said he filed paperwork in time. The birth mother and adopted parents say he didn't. If she had residency here the state of Virginia has no say. This is sad. I understand both sides and someone will be hurt. Let's hope the child isn't hurt but she might be.

Rmh

Rob - some information about the case and why I think Mr. Wyatt should get his daughter back. I will have to break it up into multiple posts because of the character limit but I hope it answers your questions about where the parents resided; where the child was born and given up for adoption, etc.

Rmh

The birth mom never set foot in Utah. The baby was born at a hospital in Virginia and she met the agency and adoptive parents in a hotel in Virginia where she signed paperwork. Virginia laws give more rights to birthfathers than Utah. They require notice if the biological father is known (and the birth mother listed the name of the father in the paperwork, in this particular case) and also has a longer waiting period for an unnamed birth father to step forward and contest the adoption. Meanwhile, as soon as he learned of the birth, Mr. Wyatt hired a lawyer and filed a petition for paternity and custody in Virginia courts.

Rmh

At the time it is highly possible that the baby had not yet left the state, though he was unable to locate her. The records do show the case was filed in Virginia around a week before the first petition for the adoption in Utah. (it may have been a bit less than a week but it was somewhere in the range of 4-7 days before the adoption petition) Ultimately the case finished its rounds through the Virginia courts and ended with the determination that the baby was wrongfully removed from the state, that the adoption laws of Virginia were not followed, and that Mr. Wyatt would have sole legal and physical custody of the baby. However, while there are laws regarding interstate child placement/adoption, going to another state to get a different custody ruling, etc these are federal laws and it is up to the federal courts to enforce them if a state refuses. So this will likely end up in federal court if the Utah Supreme Court refuses to recognize the Virginia custody order.

snowman

Matilda: She also deserves to know her biological family.

Demisana

@snowman - believe it or not, not every adopted child WANTS to know their birth parents. Some of us just want to be left alone. And all of us should make that decision for ourselves, and not have it forced on us.

Rmh

Demisana - would you argue that if a newborn is kidnapped and enough time passes that the baby bonds to the kidnappers, they should get to keep custody to avoid upsetting the child, even though they broke the law and stole a child that wasn't theirs?

if you would say no to that, than how is this case any different if it turns out the adoption was not legal? And before you say Utah law allowed the adoption, that is not the issue here, the issue is whether it was legal to take the child out of Virginia against the wishes of a parent whose rights were not terminated in an attempt to escape Virginia law. There are federal laws about jurisidction in child custody cases and the legality of taking a child to another state to get a different custody ruling, and it is very possible these laws were violated and thus the adoption was not legal.

Steven S Jarvis

This kidnapping case intrigues me.

I have two adopted nephews. Neither one came from a situation that the father likely knew of the child. One case it was very uncertain which man was the father, and the other was a semi-pro athlete. There always was concern the adoptions could be contested til six months had passed and the adoptions stuck.

This case and others like it have bothered everyone in our family. We could feel for the adoptive parents. We could feel for the child. We can also feel for the birth father. For one thing, he is no more a "sperm donor" than the woman an "incubator" or "egg donor." He is Emma's father and has established his parental rights in Virginia (he was declared the sole guardian). But Utah has so far denied him of his child.

By stealing the baby out of the state of Virginia, the adoption agency IS guilty of kidnapping. They and the birth parents knew that the father wanted her. The agency did what they could to steal her away so they could essentially sell her to the highest bidder. So how is this not kiddnapping?

cjb

This really isn't as hard of a case as it seems. Any family adopting knows there are adoptions that happen without the concent of the father involved and that some adoptions involve parents who are not residents of the state of Utah.

It makes as much sense that Utah's registry ought to hold in such an instance as if India had a similar law and the mother took the child to India to be adopted.

Should a father lose rights to his child because he didn't bother to register himself in India?

Ethel

Mr Jenkins is quote4d, "Wyatt took no legal action prior to the adoption proceedings and waited more than two months after Emma's birth to place his name on the Virginia Putative Father Registry, Jenkins said."

If that is correct, then Wyatt was too late to make any claim. However, Wyatt claims, according to the article that he filed a week before the Virginia birth.

The fine line here is though, that Utah law has the birth father on notice from the time of conception. The complication here is that the adoption was in UTAH. The birth mother has the option to place her child up for adoption 24 hours and one minute after the delivery. Whether that delivery is in UTAH or another state, who knows?

Nevertheless the adoption was finalized in Utah. That must be why the Utah Supreme Court is up to review it at this time.

The article states that the birth mother changed her mind to marry the father. It is her decision and legal in Utah.

What a fine mess this is and has become. The child should stay with the adoptive couple. Wyatt needs to move on if he loves the child.

Bubble

On the threads about illegal immigrants and the family being torn apart because one (or both) parents are deported, many people state that any harm to the children by being separated from their parents is the fault of the parents who broke the law and put the child(ren) in that situation.

If any harm occurs to this child, it is the fault of the biological mother - who placed her for adoption knowing the father wanted to raise her - and the fault of the adoptive family who knew - long before the child bonding with them became a real issue - that the father was contesting the adoption and wanted to raise his daughter. If they cared about the needs of the child as much as they cared about their own wants, they would have returned the child to the father months ago and prevented any risk of harm to the child from drawing this case out.

The father did everything he needed to do, according to the laws of his state - the state that has or should have jurisdiction - to protect his parental rights. His daughter was stolen from him. He should suffer because someone else committed a crime.

GoManUReds

Please read the article before you post. The birth mother waived Virginia rights and accepted Utah adoption law in the hospital. Utah has ruled in favor of the adoptive family while Virginia has ruled in favor of the birth father. The registry is a national registry so the nonsensical "registering in India" analogy carries no water. You may have an opinion but try improving your reading comprehension before you form that opinion...or had you predetermined it was a case of baby snatching?

Timp

the child belongs w/ his biological father.

Hey It's Me

BY THE WAY. . . I know of an adoptive family in the state I'm originally from that totally abused, pschologically, emotionally, and physically their adoptive daughter. She is grown up and found her real parents as soon as she was legal!Some of you metion that this little girl is established where she is. Well what about all the children that are adopted when they are 3,4 10 years old and have been living with foster parents till then etc. "Baby Emma is still young enough she can make the adjustment. I just don't get where Utah courts think they can overrule another court that made a decision. I feel bad for both the adoptive family since they have grown to love her but I feel bad for the dad that he has never gotten to hold his baby! If he loses, I hope the adoptive family will allow him to be a part of the baby's life and see her!

stanfunky

What was the father's intention when the child was conceived? What were his intentions during most of the 9 months of pregnancy? The mother did not make this decision to adopt in a vacuum. Likely she looked at the father as not being responsible enough, or prepared, to raise a child. However, when his mommy found out she was going to be a grandma, she stepped in and got him on the ball, and has fueled this ever since. I'd like to hear who's going to raise the child if the father is awarded custody, $$$ says it's his mother, the "Grandma".

Bubble

@ Ethel: What you are ignoring is the fact that neither parent lived in Utah at the time. Also, the baby was born in Virginia. Someone in Virginia is under no legal obligation whatsoever to file any paperwork in Utah. According to standard legal rules of jurisdiction, Virginia had (and has) the rights to this case.

According to legal documents, the father filed for custody within 8 days of his daughters birth - well within the Virginia guidelines. That filing was 5 days before the adoption paperwork was filed in Utah.

Utah law may put the father on notice from the time of conception, but that does not matter as Utah had no legal jurisdiction over the father, the mother, or the child.

Sorry Charlie!

Someone on a story about this issue from a few months ago brought up an interesting point:

If the roles had been exactly reversed - If the father had removed the child from the hospital without the mother's knowledge and placed the child for adoption, it would never have been considered a legal adoption no matter how much time passed - as soon as the mother said she had not given permission and wanted to raise the child, she would have been returned to her. (And the father would probably have been charged with parental kidnapping and all kinds of other stuff.)

This father is not doing anything wrong - the wrong and the harm come from the birth mother, the adoption agency, and the adoptive family. Too bad none of them are willing to do the right thing.

livestrong

The dad had 9 months to make it clear he wanted the baby. I have no sympathy for someone who takes that long to decide he really does want to be a dad (a decision that should have been made before you jumped into bed without protection).

This baby has a family now and should stay with that family. End of story. What is best for the kid? A family who loves it or a dad who wasn't sure he even wanted it?

snowman

Demisana: They may not want to know but someday they will need to know their biological family.

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