Utah high court rules in favor of adopted parents in 'Baby Emma' case

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  • valency Orem, UT
    Aug. 31, 2011 11:07 a.m.

    Dear Rifleman,

    Based on your comments, I would expect you to relinquish your children for adoption should you (a) ever divorce or (b) your wife dies, leaving you a single father. According to your own words, your children would no longer be "in a normal 2-parent home." Certainly you would be "smart enough to know it would be in the best interests" of your children to be raised by a mother AND a father.

    Hopefully you be man enough to realize how selfish you were for wanting to parent your children, even without your wife. I expect you would be at your local LDSFS office within days of either of those events, ready to sign away your rights to a TWO-PARENT family.

    Oh. The single parent (for whatever reason) = bad parent equation doesn't apply to you?

    If it's good enough for John Wyatt, it's good enough for you, sir.

    I would also expect you would insist your wife do the same, if you were to pass away. According to your own reasoning, she would no longer be qualified to raise your children. They would deserve from life than to be raised by a single parent.



  • K Mchenry, IL
    Aug. 7, 2011 6:24 p.m.

    He registered in Virginia before the potential adoptive parents left the state with the child. They need to get both parents permission to place. I'm sure some could argue that a child would be best suited in a home that has no children than one of 5 siblings. Lets take all the 5th children born and place them with childless couples. That is as ridiculous as suggesting this is about who is better to parent.

    US supreme court will rule for dad. And Emma will hear about how the couple tried to hang onto her. And explain why she was kept from dad. Who was lied to and still filed paternity.

  • Kinjite DURHAM, NC
    July 27, 2011 1:19 p.m.

    For those claiming this is a good ruling because the father should have married the mother. The mother did not want to marry him so according to your logic he has the right to force her to marry him in order to protect his parental rights. You can not simultaneously claim he should or is required to marry the mother in order to protect his parental rights and not give him the power to make her marry him.

  • Kinjite DURHAM, NC
    July 27, 2011 1:17 p.m.

    A few salient points.

    1. In Virginia the birth mother is required to wait three days before signing over a child for adoption. Emma's mother signed the papers and Emma was removed from the State of Virginia on day two. This is a clear violation of Virgina adoption law and makes the adoption null and void. The kidnapping couple new they were breaking the law and did so willingly - that makes it a kidnapping.

    2. Baby Emma was and still is a legal resident of Virginia. The simple fact of flying her to Utah at two days of age does not make her a resident of Utah and therefore Utah doesn't and has never had jurisdiction.

    3. This is now a Federal case and I fully expect the federal courts to reverse Utah courts. Not only on the above points but on other constitutional poiints as well.

  • Sego Lilly Salt Lake City, UT
    July 22, 2011 12:03 a.m.

    adoption is in the best interest of the adoptive parents - no one else.

    I am an adoptee (step-parent) and it was not good. My brothers and sister were treated differently while there was a lot more expected of me.

    I did finally meet my birthfather when I was 17 I wish that I had been given the change to know him while I was growing up. One of my relatives apologized for keeping me and my father apart.

    The birthmom here walked away from the gift that Heavenly Father gave her, and now the courts are forcing the birthdad to walk away for his child. If we are going to keep children away from one parent because the other gives up their parental rights then it's time to start taking children away from parents when they divorce or are left widowed.

    Utah family court - you are not God so stop acting like you are. Heavenly Father knows where the children are born to and one day this young father will be united with his daughter and have the opportunity to let her know how much he loves her.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 21, 2011 6:15 a.m.

    Re: Joggle | 8:29 p.m. July 20, 2011

    To the contrary, this story is totally about morals. A birth mother chose to give life to her baby instead of aborting it. Thereafter she chose to place her baby in a normal 2-parent home because she is smart enough to know it would be in the best interests of her baby. Obviously she didn't think Mr. Wyatt would be able to teach Emma the value of getting married before having babies.

    Baby Emma will have both a mother and father to watch her perform in her first school play. Poor little Suzzie will notice and wish she had a father too.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    July 20, 2011 8:29 p.m.


    Traditional marriages fall apart everyday! There are no guarantees in life. While a single parent may not fill the shoes of a missing parent this doesn't mean that the shoes can't or never will be filled by extended family, a future spouse, or grandparents. Perhaps Baby Emma does have a good home, but do we really know that she will have a "bad" home with the REAL father who wants to raise his own flesh and blood? This is a custody and care issue....not an issue of whose moral standards are better. If he can parent and care for her....he should be able to have custody. Utah's attempt at legislating the morality of a father and child from another state is disusting, in my opinion.

    There are plenty of single-parent homes with fathers still filling their fatherly roles despite not being with the mother. There are also men in traditional marriage who are lousy fathers. Should we start removing children from their homes simply because they aren't a "traditional" family? As great as adoption is for many children....the biological father should at least have a choice after the woman has given up hers.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 20, 2011 7:53 p.m.

    Re Joggle | 1:29 p.m. July 20, 2011

    While many single parents are able to give children stability and have "family values" they are lying to themselves if they think they can fill the shoes of a spouse in a traditional marriage. Both parents bring unique and different qualities to the table as parents, and a mother can't fill the role of the father.

    There has been an ever increasing decline in morality and the children suffer the most as a result. Baby Emma is lucky. She'll grow up in a home where she can observe the roles both a mother and a father contribute to the family.

  • CB Salt Lake City, UT
    July 20, 2011 3:08 p.m.

    This was a victory for Emma. Now she won't be yanked from the only home that she has ever known and the people she has bonded with. In most of these cases the child seems to be the one left out of the loop and the sympathy goes to those who should receive the least attention because of the selfish, self indulgent behavior that led to the situation to begin with.

  • Flying Finn Murray, UT
    July 20, 2011 1:40 p.m.

    @ LisaM

    Nobody on the face of the earth has ever suggested that having 2 parents in a home automatically makes it anything, let alone stable. You can find exceptions to every rule. Obviously your mother was an exception to the rule that says women don't tolerate men hitting them. The first time I ever hit my wife would also be the last time. She just wouldn't tolerate it and I would never in a million years expect her to!!.

    What a lot of women fail to understand is that children are typically much safer in a 2-parent home than they are in a home where momma has a boyfriend. Any police officer can testify to that statement.

    In this specific case Baby Emma IS this family's child!!!

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    July 20, 2011 1:29 p.m.

    Whoever said that stability only lies with a two-parent unit is out of touch with reality. Many single parents are able to give children stability as well and have "family values". Divorce or single parenthood isn't always a recipe for instability. Even seemingly stable two-parent families can become unstable (and divorced) at the drop of a hat! The birth father shouldn't have to be in a shot-gun wedding either because an intimate relationship is producing a child. Those days are over. Perhaps the decision not to marry despite the impending birth was a smart choice by BOTH the birth parents. Nobody should be forced to marry simply to please the moral requirements of other people! We can't assume the birth-mother even wanted to marry the birth-father. We don't really know that....do we?! I love the the broad morality brush some people use here to paint everything black and white!

    July 20, 2011 12:56 p.m.

    So 2 parents in the house automatically makes for a stable home, what cave are you people living in, maybe if my mother had left her abusive husband instead of staying cause she thought it was "better for the kids" her and my sister would still be alive! Just because someone is married that does not make them any more fit to raise a child! More so if it is not even their child!!!!!!!!!

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    July 20, 2011 12:34 p.m.

    How many of you out there are adoptive parents?

    I am. My wife and I adopted a baby at birth in 1991 by private adoption. We knew and our lawyer reiterated to us several times that the birth father had rights to this child for six months and we were only granted temporary custody until that six month period expired. It was an agonizingly long six months waiting for that permanent custody paperwork.

    If couples are unwilling to accept the risk that they may have to surrender custody, then they shouldn't adopt. The laws don't take into consideration the emotions of the adoptive parents.

    I'm not saying the adoptive parents are right or wrong, but if they had temporary custody and the birth father exercised his rights to the child during the allowed period of time, then the child should be surrendered to the birth father.

  • Flying Finn Murray, UT
    July 20, 2011 11:58 a.m.

    @ Ms Molli

    Why is it that those who favor giving this little girl to a man who never bothered to marry her mother are agitated by terms like 'family values' and 'loving parents'? Could it be that these politically incorrect terms rub on a sore spot?

    This is not a soap opera for Baby Emma or her parents. She'll now have the chance to learn some more politically incorrect phrases like 'chastity' and 'virtue'.

  • Ms Molli Bountiful, Utah
    July 20, 2011 10:49 a.m.

    Some of ya'll are writing quite a soap opera over this! I'm amazed at all the "facts" some of you seem personally aware of, including what these "loving parents" are going to tell their adopted child. LOL

  • ClarkKent Bountiful, Utah
    July 20, 2011 10:36 a.m.

    @ Rifleman, the "family values" term makes people feel all warm inside doesn't it. Have you checked the divorce rate in Utah lately? Makes you wonder if people really believe what they say.

  • Flying Finn Murray, UT
    July 20, 2011 10:28 a.m.


    These loving parents won't wait 15 years before telling their daughter that she was adopted, that her birth mother loved her enough not to abort her, and that her birth mother wanted her to benefit from the advantages of being raised by two parents. This story has a happy ending for two loving parents and their daughter, Baby Emma.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 20, 2011 10:14 a.m.

    Re: ClarkKent | 7:57 a.m. July 20, 2011
    "Utah's laws make me sick."

    Utah isn't for everybody but the majority of Utahns like our state laws just fine. They are one of the reasons why people who believe in family values come here. Babies shouldn't be treated like yo-yos and jerked around by unwed fathers who never gave a passing thought to marrying the baby's mother.

  • Tami Herriman, UT
    July 20, 2011 10:04 a.m.

    All of you who are making comments about the irresponsibility of the birth father need to go back a bit to the story of "he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." We all make mistakes. That does not mean our parental rights or the love for our own child go out the window.
    Sarah B-sometimes the best interests of the child means she stays with a birth parent who obviously wants her. I would not want to be in the adoptive parents shoes in 15 years when they have to explain that although the father wanted her, they chose to take her away from her father because they thought they would be better parents. I think there will be some understandable anger issues there. I speak from experience on this one.
    Ethel-I don't think the child is benefited in the long term by being taken from a birth father who wants her.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    July 20, 2011 8:33 a.m.

    I'm getting the impression that there are a few illigitimate fathers on here who don't like the fact that their irresponsible behavior is not sanctioned by the State. They behave selfishly and immorally and then think they should be rewarded with some sort of "rights."

    This child has the "right" to a good family and a stable home. I'm not one bit sorry for these guys. They need to grow up. What's best for the child is what matters. The State is doing EXACTLY the right thing.

  • Kami Bountiful, Utah
    July 20, 2011 8:25 a.m.

    I hope this goes to the US Supreme Court. I don't think this should be a State's rights issue. The high court needs to decide whether biological fathers (no matter what State they live in) have rights in this regard. Shopping for State laws that are more favorable to adoptive parents is completely out of line in my opinion.

  • GQ Monkee Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 20, 2011 8:22 a.m.

    More needs to be done to make potential, unmarried fathers aware of what they need to do to secure their rights as parents. In most states, and especially in Utah, the unwed father must assert that he is the child's father and is planning on remaining active in the child's life. This can be done by registering on a state's putative father's registry any time after intercourse with the birth mother. Wyatt did not register, either in Virginia or in Utah, until after the mother waived her parental rights. Since she had waived hers and he had yet to claim any, this baby was given up legally and adoption proceedings were started legally.

  • ClarkKent Bountiful, Utah
    July 20, 2011 7:57 a.m.

    Utah's laws make me sick.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    July 20, 2011 7:43 a.m.

    I have no sympathy with the birth father. If he wanted parental rights, he should have married the mother.

    These are the messes that are created when people act irresponsibly, behave in selfish and ways then leave others to clean up the mess. He needs to learn from this and behave more responsibly in the future.

    The Child is MUCH better off with a two-parent, stable family. I'm glad the courts got it right this time.

  • Ethel Home Town USA, UT
    July 20, 2011 4:12 a.m.

    There may be more to this untold story. By and large, there are paternal biological "grandparents" who are behind the fight (and money) for the child in adoptive situations such as this. Everything was done that pertains to the legal adoption of Baby Emma. The Utah Supreme court ruled it as such. No amount of battle is going to change the facts.

    Yes, Utah has a law that the birth father is on notice at the time of conception and has nine months to make his claim. Just because he was there at that time, does not make him a father. His lack of action until after the adoption took place created the issues for his rights one way or the other.

    The birth mother was in her legal rights to place this baby, and too little too late happened after the fact regarding the birth father, so ruled by the final court ruling. Children are not property, but are protected for this same reason by the law. Life may not seem fair, but the one who is to benefit by all this is the child in the long term.

    Leave it at that, and go your separate ways.

  • Rmh Fairfield, CT
    July 20, 2011 12:54 a.m.

    He filed for custody in Virginia 5 days before the adoption was filed for in Utah.

  • juni4ling Somewhere in Colorado, CO
    July 19, 2011 10:37 p.m.

    From the article:

    "Simultaneous to the adoptive parents taking the child to Utah and filing an adoption petition, Wyatt initiated custody action. In April 2009, he registered as the child's putative father."

    So, if I am reading this correctly... At the *exact* same time the kid is taken to Utah, the father asks to be granted custody of the child.

    Do I understand that correctly?-?

    How is that kidnapping.

    When the adoption papers were signed, and the kid is en-route to its new home... That seems a little late to claim that the kid has been "kidnapped..."

    Once the documents have been signed and the wheels went up on the airplane flying the family back to Utah, it seems a little late to be claiming the kid has been kidnapped.

    He was there when the pregnancy took place. Didn't ask for custody then.

    He was there when he was told she was pregnant. Didn't ask for custody then.

    The pilot gets clearance to take-off, and the kid has a new home... Yeah, bad timing to start claiming parental rights, bud.

    And... Utah courts have just as much power as Virginia courts...

    Tough situation. Good ruling.

  • Rmh Fairfield, CT
    July 19, 2011 10:06 p.m.

    The reason Roe v Wade says abortion is a mother's decision is because the pregnancy takes place in her body. Once the child is born, obviously that no longer applies.

  • SittingReading Sandy, UT
    July 19, 2011 9:38 p.m.

    "Utah encourages kidnapping."
    "Virginia is ignoring the rights of the adoptive parents."
    "Utah doesn't like single fathers."
    "Isn't it better for the child to be raised by loving parents?"

    None of these arguments deal with the actual problem. The child's mother put "Emma" up for adoption. She cut the father out of the entire birth process. She decided that neither of them were ready.

    If we say that the mother has the right to decide the child's fate, then the adoptive parents have legal right to "Emma." If we say that it should be a choice made by both parents, then Mr. Wyatt should be the legal guardian.

    Where is the mother? She is sitting out while the States duke it out. If we really want an answer, then we need to have her in court. Otherwise, she stated her case, and didn't want the child.

    Roe vs. Wade states that the mother has the right to choose the fate of the child. Are we saying that it shouldn't apply just because a single father apparently wanted the child?

  • desnewsreader Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 19, 2011 9:37 p.m.

    I agree that this is a very unfortunate case, and I don't like the way the child was brought to Utah. However, if a mother has the right to terminate a pregnancy without the father's permission, she should have the right to place it for adoption without his permission as well. I admire this gentleman's desire to care for his child, but he cannot provide a stable environment with a mother and father.

  • mroach West Jordan, UT
    July 19, 2011 9:30 p.m.

    Dear Rifleman,
    Forgive me for asking a hypothetical. Imagine that tragically your spouse dies while giving birth. Following this, as a single father (I assume that since you are not "riflewoman"),would you conclude that you could not possibly provide for the child like a loving 2-parent family could and therefore, as a matter of principle, ditch the child? And if you decided differently, and wanted to keep the child, would that be proof that you don't really care about the child.

  • Gruffi Gummi Logan, UT
    July 19, 2011 9:30 p.m.

    A third comment - I apologize, but this made me really mad. The father was given legal custody by a court in Virginia, and this means that Mr. Wyatt may simply ask the authorities in Virginia to prosecute the crime (kidnapping). According to the U.S. Constitution (Article 4, Sections 1 and 2), the "good people" can (and should) be extradited.

  • Gruffi Gummi Logan, UT
    July 19, 2011 9:09 p.m.

    "However, the state's high court ruled that Wyatt failed to meet the "strict requirements for unmarried birth fathers" as laid out by the Utah Legislature and therefore waived his rights to the child."

    The child was kidnapped from Virginia, Mr. Wyatt was a resident of Virginia, and Utah is simply usurping the jurisdiction here. Because of this, the quoted argument is totally irrelevant. Go to the federal court, Mr. Wyatt!

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 19, 2011 9:01 p.m.

    Re: Joggle | 5:26 p.m. July 19, 2011
    "What are the adoptive parents going to tell the child?"

    Emma's parents will tell their daughter the truth. Her birth mother loved her enough to want her raised in a traditional 2-parent home where she would be loved by both a mother and a father.

    There are far fewer divorces when people give some careful consideration to the qualities they want in their spouse, and then wait until after they get married to start having children.

    What can this stranger give Baby Emma that her loving 2-parent family isn't providing? If the bio-dad really cared about Baby Emma would he take her from the only family she's ever known?

  • Gruffi Gummi Logan, UT
    July 19, 2011 9:00 p.m.

    "That good people" are simply kidnappers, in my opinion, who rely on legal technicalities to separate the child from her biological parent. This is wrong, this is immoral, and I hope they will lose the civil case.

  • Rmh Fairfield, CT
    July 19, 2011 8:45 p.m.

    Disgusting. These people basically got away with kidnapping. I feel awful for the father and the little girl, who deserved to grow up with her REAL father.

  • SittingReading Sandy, UT
    July 19, 2011 8:44 p.m.

    This is just a messy case in General. Being a Virginian who moved to Utah for college, i do find irony in it. But the case hinges on something which is being ignored. Does the state have the right to take the choice away from the mother. The right to choose the life of the child has be established as a maternal right. She decided against keeping the kid and putting the child up for adoption.

    Although the father seems intent on wanting to raise his child, something which is commendable, he is going after another state in something which is a matter of Federal law. It isn't fair to tell the adopted parents, whose only failing is not knowing how much the father wished to be part of the child's life, that they can't keep a child they have come to love. If Mr. Wyatt didn't like the idea of losing his child, he needed to file as soon as she mentioned the idea of adoption.

    This is just a messy case in all.

  • Clarissa Layton, UT
    July 19, 2011 8:17 p.m.

    I'm glad the decision came out the way it did. This is the best outcome for the child, although I do not like seeing anyone suffer loss. My birthfather gave me up for adoption when I was 13. Best gift he ever gave me. We're still in contact. When the child is old enough, she should also be given this option if she desires it. I was 28 years old when I got back in touch with my birth father. If he had only married the mother, this would never have happened. Some poor choices were made. Good luck to Baby Emma!

  • mroach West Jordan, UT
    July 19, 2011 8:16 p.m.

    RE: SarahB
    Am I understanding you correctly in saying that no single parent should be able to raise a child? BTW, if its for the best interest of the child, what exactly qualifies you to have kids that this man does not have? Where else should the govt decide what is best for you? If the birthmom had decided to keep the child, would this man have to pay child-support? If so, why then should he have no standing on who gets to raise the child as it is his? This lawyer seems to pop up a lot in Utah adoption cases where the agencies are playing fast and loose with the rules.

  • Sarah B SLC, UT
    July 19, 2011 6:46 p.m.

    How awful that good people who wanted to give a child a stable home with both a mother and father are now being sued by the "man" who couldn't keep his pants zipped.

    The adoptive parents simply tell her the man who was the sperm donor wasn't the best person to raise her, so they got that privelege.

    It's all about what's in the best interest of the child.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    July 19, 2011 5:26 p.m.

    I'm aware of too many situations where Utah was really good at denying divorced and unmarried biological fathers their parental rights in favor of biological mothers and adoptive parents. There definitely seems to be a prejudice within the courts in these matters. What are the adoptive parents going to tell the child when old enough? Your biological Dad wanted to be your real Dad, but the court said no?