Harsh Rules for Unmarried Fathers in Utah

There’s a recent Utah Supreme Court opinion,  In re EZ, that raises a bunch of interesting questions that tie back to topics we’ve discussed here.   Here’s a brief summary of the facts.   It’s a tight sequence of events and you’ll need to pay close attention.

Emily Fahland gave birth to EZ on February 10, 2009 in Virginia.  Fahland was unmarried.   It appears undisputed that John Wyatt, III, a man she’d been involved with, is genetically related to the child.  (I’m going of my way to avoid using the word “father” here for reasons I will return to later.)

Before EZ was born, Fahland had agreed to place the child for adoption.   On February 12, 2009 she relinquished her parental rights and consented to adoption by a couple from Utah, TIZ and CMZ.

On February 17 the prospective adoptive parents received permission to travel to Utah with EZ.  (Permission to take the child from Virginia was required.)   On February 18 Wyatt started custody proceedings in Virginia.   On February 23 the prospective adoptive parents filed an adoption action in Utah.   On April 8 Wyatt filed with the putative father’s registry in Virginia.  (This is registry maintained by the state where men who assert that they are fathers of children born to unmarried women may register their claims, as it were.)  Finally, on April 28 Wyatt filed papers in the Utah adoption case, objecting to the adoption.

It might be worthwhile to emphasize a couple of points before moving on.  Fahland was unquestionably a legal parent.  That’s because she gave birth to the child.   (There are exceptions to this rule in some states for women who are surrogates, but they’d have no applicability here.)    Had she not relinquished her rights on February 12 the adoption could not have proceeded.   While her pre-birth agreement to proceed with adoption set things in motion, she had an absolute right to change her mind.  Without her consent, the adoption could not proceed.

Now what about Wyatt’s claim to be a parent?   Here’s how the Utah court considers it.   First, Wyatt might have a pretty good argument that the case ought to be in Virginia rather than in Utah and, as it turns out, he might have been a whole lot better off in a Virginia court.   But alas for Wyatt, he didn’t raise his argument that the case belonged in Virginia rather than in Utah in a timely fashion.   Thus, the argument is waived–which is to say it is lost to him.

The requirement that arguments be raised promptly, and the logical follow-on, that they are waived if not raised, is common in many areas of law.   If you think about it, the orderly process of litigation requires people to raise arguments promptly.  If you let people raise things whenever they happen to occur to them, you end up with something quite chaotic.

What I mean to suggest here is that in general, there are strong systemic argument in favor of having a doctrine that things not promptly raised are waived.    But that said, when you see it actually applied against a person, it can look harsh.  We don’t know why Wyatt didn’t raise the argument in question.  Maybe it was his lawyer’s fault.  Maybe he didn’t have a lawyer.   But it doesn’t matter–it wasn’t raised, it’s waived.  This means he is stuck in Utah.

It turns out that Utah has very strict law regarding the rights of people in Wyatt’s position.   The discussion begins on page 16, but here’s one of the three requirements:

Second, prior to the mother’s consent to adoption , the father must have “fully complied with the requirements to establish parental rights in the child, and to preserve the right to notice of a proceeding in connection with the adoption of the child,”

Practically, this means that Wyatt had until February 12 (three days after the birth to the child) to fully comply with the law.  In this case, he didn’t act quickly enough.   Under Utah law he is not a legal parent and thus, he has no right to object to the adoption of the child.  End of story.

Obviously there’s a good deal more to the discussion than this, but I do think this is the nub of it.   There’s more to say, but let me stop (fearing the dreaded teal deer) with two things that strike me.   You can see this case as one about the difference in treatment between men (Wyatt) and women (Fahland)–couldn’t be starker–she’s a parent, he isn’t.   But you can also think about this as a case about marriage.  If Wyatt and Fahland are married, he’s a father and it doesn’t unfold this way.   Seems pretty clear that the worst thing to be is an unmarried man who wants to be a father.

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68 responses to “Harsh Rules for Unmarried Fathers in Utah

  1. Julie – you missed pointing out that under Virginia law the putative or presumed father must be served. There is no question that the mother knew both the name of the father and his whereabouts…but the forms submitted had nothing listed.

    The way the Utah code is written or interpreted the mother only needs to have mentioned adoption and perhaps that she was visiting Utah for the father to be “on notice”.

    Utah is famous for doing this to fathers – do a quick search and you will see what I mean. John Wyatt is only the most recent.

    Google Putative Fathers Registry plus Viriginia and you will find the government website to sign up on – just about any state that has a Putative Fathers Registry will show up in the top results. Google Putative Fathers Registry+Utah. They have no link to a goverment website and their form is called Notice of the commencement of paternity proceedings.

    Utah is a disgrace and is known to the entire adoption community to be one of the most PRO adoption states in the country. Florida is not far behind.

    It is absolutely disgusting, disgraceful and abhorrent to cheat a father who wishes to parent out of that right.

    • Thanks for your comment–you may know more facts than I do and you certainly know more about Virginia law that is relevant. There are so many things we do not know about specific facts that might matter for some ways of thinking about it. Do we know if Wyatt knew of the pregnancy? Do we know if he knew about her plan to set up the adoption? If he didn’t know, do we know why not–did he ignore the situation? Was he excluded?

      Perhaps a point to make is that under Utah law it doesn’t matter why any of the things did or did not happen. He simply has this absolute obligation.

      I know that Utah is a bit of an outlier here. I’d be interested in knowing why it has chosen this course. Is it pro-marriage–these things only happen to unmarried men? Is it all about making sure children end up in marital families?

      I’ve often mentioned the wide variations in law as you look state to state in the US. This is another place where you can see that. Utah is hostile to unmarried fathers. That’s apparently a permissible option (the Constitution sets a baseline that state’s must abide by, but this doesn’t seem to cross that line.) Other state’s are more hospitable. So where things happen (and where you litigate) turns out to matter quite a bit. The same facts in a different setting yield a different result.

      • The father knew about the pregnancy. He offered her money for expenses but she declined them because she had insurance. He attended her doctor’s appointments. They picked out a name together. She told him she had talked to an adoption agency because her parents wanted her to. She then said she would not go forward with it before discussing it with him. She then stopped answering her phone and he then discovered the baby had been born early. The agency & prospective adopters were only able to get the baby out of the state of Virginia by leaving out the father’s contact information on the paperwork, even though the mother had provided it to them. Virginia would then have been required by law to notify the father. For that act, they are being sued for fraud in the state of Virginia. Since the child was removed through fraud, I believe the Virginia courts should retain jursidiction and the baby should be returned to her father. He followed the neccessary laws in Virginia to get custody and honestly even if he had brought that argument up in Utah earlier I still believe they would have found a reason to rule against him. I’ve never seen a father ever win an adoption case in Utah, they are extremely biased against single fathers (and single mothers too, if they don’t give their babies up, there is a LOT of pressure in the Mormon religion for a single mom to give her baby up as well). One father who registered in time still didn’t get custody because his parenting plan was not “specific” enough – he apparently needed to list the entire daily routine the child would have with him, and the exact person/place that would provide daycare, and other ridiculous requirements.

        • Let’s assume for the moment that there was wrong-doing. You could identify several possible wrong-doers: The woman who gave birth, perhaps? The agency? The hospital? The prospective adoptive parents? (Is the last likely? Would they know what VA law required and be aware of the detials of the paperwork the agency or their lawyers were filing?) The next question, it seems to me, is what remedy should follow. (This reminds me a bit of a discussion on an recent post on a different topic. https://julieshapiro.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/old-news-about-lost-sperm/)

          The standard remedy our legal system tends to provide is money, of course, but money is almost assuredly what Wyatt wants. Let’s assume that what he wants is either recognition as a parent or restoration of the legal status quo as it was before the wrong-doing. Is that a proper remedy if the adoptive parents are not blameworthy? Suppose only the agency was at fault. We could punish the agency (punishment being slightly different from remedy) but what else?

          And where (if at all) to you think about the interests of the child (Emma) in all this? A couple of years have passed. There’s only one family she’s ever known–the adoptive one in Utah. What do we do with that information?

          As with ART mistakes, there are a many difficult questions raised here that extend beyond one story about one child.

          • All signs point ot the adoptive parents knowing. They in fact signed a document saying they were aware the father was not consenting and they would not sue the agency if he won.

            I think Utah comes way too close to endorsing kidnapping here. The only reason the child was able to be taken out of Virginia was through deliberate deception. Utah basically seems to be saying that it doesn’t matter if you have to lie and cheat to do it, as long as you manage to get the child to Utah, Utah will protect you.

            I’m not much for the “only family the child has known” argument, unless the child is much older and able to make their opinion known. Otherwise, again, you basically endorse kidnapping. If the kidnappers just wanted a child and couldn’t afford to adopt, and treated the child well, should the child just be left with them? In addition, I really do not think it is in the best interests of a child to be raised by people who think it’s ok to take a child desperately wanted by the biological father and flee to another state through the use of deception and fraud.

            • More voices of reason.
              Consent. Signed consent from both parents really ought to be mandatory in order to adopt a child and frankly if nobody can locate the child’s genetically related father – tough freaking luck. I mean what if he is away at war or whatever and the mom is just a self centered bitch that does not tell him and she claims she does not know who the dad is. Why should anyone get to adopt and cut him off from his child. Why should the child loose out and get stuck in some adoptive home because of the mother’s selfishness. I say there should be some kind of caviat on adoptions where if the dad surfaces all bets are off and dad gets 50% custody and they can just work out some kind of living arangement or slow getting to know one another arrangement, Under no circumstances should any person other than the genetically related father have his name on a child’s birth certificate.

              • Okay–this goes right back to the beginning of the questions I want to talk about here.

                Signed consent from both legal parents IS required. The thing is, under US law, a man who fathers a child with a woman he is not married to is not always a legal father. Major line of US Supreme Court cases on this starting with Stanley vs. Illinois and going through Lehr v. Robertson, which is not unlike the case here. If the man is not a legal father, then his consent is not necessary. So this all goes back to the circumstances under which a man should be a legal father. We know we disagree here–you’d say DNA is enough, right? I would not.

            • I do not mean to endorse kidnapping but I do mean to suggest that there are a variety of interests to consider and it seems wrong to simply ignore them. I do not really want to get deep into a discussion of the specific facts of the case. My experience is that there is almost always more than one way to look at a story and I don’t feel remotely competent to reconstruct what really happened.

              However, for discussion I’ll assume that the adoptive parents knew that Wyatt didn’t consent. I won’t make any assumptions about what they knew about the legal signifigance of this, because there’s a lot about law people do not know. But I’ll even go so far as to say that they might be morally culpable because even without knowing law they might think what they are doing is wrong (this really does (to my mind) depend on what they knew about the circumstances, but nevermind that for now.) Perhaps this reasonably leads to the conclusion that the adoptive parents should be punished. That’s an point to add to the analysis.

              But think about it from the point of view of the child again. I’m also going to assume here that the adoptive parents are fit parents–that is, that they have done a reasonably good job creating a stable environment for the child. There’s an immense body of literature here about how important bonding and stability is to very young children. Emma will have bonded with her adoptive parents. Their home is the only home she has experienced. She has no bond with Wyatt–a stark fact that I cannot make go away just by assuming him to be blameless. It seems to me that somewhere in the analysis I have to consider the impact on her that moving custody to Wyatt would have.

              If you read through the blog you will see that there are plenty of instances where I think you have to incur that harm because of the way the balance of interests–including the interests in the adiministration of justice–lie. But at the very least, I think you must recognize that this isn’t an easy thing to do. The more time passes, the more difficult it becomes.

              There’s a reason for rules that require you to raise your arguments at the earliest possible moment. If Wyatt had an argument that the case shouldn’t be in Utah (and he did), then raising it first ensures that harm is minimized all around. Emma doesn’t spend so much time with the adoptive familyl. Everyone gets to move on with their lives earlier. Now I understand that it seems terribly harsh to say that his failure to raise the argument at the first opportunity means he cannot raise it later, but this is really a very broad practice in law. You cannot simply discard this rule whenever you want to without considering the very broad systemic changes that would make. Of course it isn’t Wyatt’s fault that the argument wasn’t raised in the first Utah court–that was surely his lawyer’s job. But one of the terrifying things about being a lawyer is that you are acting for your clients and your mistakes hurt them.

              I do not say all this to justify the outcome in the case. I don’t know that it is justified, as I have said. But I do think that there are truly hard questions raised here.

              • I think the very fact they were willing to separate this little girl from her biological family, because they were selfish and wanted a baby at any cost, makes them extremely unfit parents.

              • So I’ve been reading some of the filings from the civil lawsuit, and revealed during the discovery phase was the fact that the adoptive parents were offered a match with a baby born in Texas where both parents would sign consents but that match cost $48,000 and the baby Emma adoption would only cost $20-30,000 so they went with that to save money. Also the adoption agency had a very hard time finding prospective adoptive parents due to the father’s objections and this couple were the only ones who would even consider adopting the baby. So they knew, they were greedy, they were selfish, they could have adopted a baby not wanted by either of its parents, but they felt entitled to get a baby cheaper, apparently.

                • Is there a link to the filings?

                  I’m actually reluctant to conclude that choosing an option that costs anywhere from $18-48,000 less is greedy or selfish. That’s a pretty substantial sum of money–one that for some people (maybe even many people)–could be the difference between something being possible and something being impossible. In any event, I won’t follow to the conclusion you reach without having more information before me. In general it might matter to me who told what to whom–what was disclosed to which people by whom?

          • also, while money might not bring his daughter back to him, it could prevent something similar from happening in the future to another father and his child if he were to win the civil lawsuit he has filed against all those involved in removing the child from Virginia (they were sued for fraud). If the adoption agency and prospective adoptive parents knew that they could have to pay a lot of money in damages if they insisted on proceeding with this type of adoption where the father is fighting for custody, they might decide not to.

            • Key points indeed. Money damages will deter others in the future and the prospect of money damages may change how the parties behave. You might even succeed in shutting down the agency if you get a large enough award which, if it is a bad actor, is a good thing.

              • For an update, he got authorization from the Virginia Supreme Court to seek damages for the actins taken to remove the baby from Virginia. I believe the trial will be in July or August.

        • I did not know we Mormons pressured single mothers like that. In fact, in my congregation, we support them and set up groups.
          I know Utah has some idiot laws (Absolutely backwards and hicklike almost) but, don’t bring in the church to support your position unless you are a member and know what you’re talking about on a factual basis, not what you heard, think, been told by you friends.

          • I think this is an excellent point. It is too easy (and almost always way overly simplistic) to make broad generalizations. I do think it is fair to observe that for whatever reason (and surely for a variety of reasons) Utah has a body of law that strongly favors married different-sex parents over single parents or unmarried parents. I think the ease with which kids are moved into adoption is a non-obvious consequence of this preference, and so I think it is noteworthy. It’s also interesting because some (but not all) of the people who strongly prefer genetic parents have a conservative political bent that generally aligns them with the pro-married parents people. Those constituencies divide here.

            There are some more recent developments from Utah–I have them flagged somewhere and will try to do an update soon.

  2. Wow, very interesting. I didn’t realize that Utah was such an outlier.

    It’s hard for me to feel that the distinction in the legal treatment of the biological mother and father is so unfair though, given the distinction in the physical treatment. The female parent has undergone months of bodily changes and the birth. It’s hard enough to hide a late stage pregnancy that all a man has to do is look at a woman he’s slept with in the past 7-9 months to have an idea of whether he might be a father. Unless the mother has purposely concealed the pregnancy, it doesn’t seem that harsh to set the deadline for a man’s registering his possible paternity quite soon after birth.

    • Right you are. I didn’t mean to suggest that the differential treatment was unwarranted. You’ve made the argument that there are real differences. Of course, to the extent you focus on DNA alone, they are much more the same. This is also where I want to know more about the facts–suppose he paid no attention (which he could do) and that’s why he didn’t know? You would think at a minimum if he was involved he would a) know that she was pregnant and b) wonder about whether there was some plan for after the birth.

      All that said, one also needs to look past the individual case and consider the broader policy Utah is applying. If you look back on the blog there’s a lot about unmarried fathers and the various ways we might think about them. I do think analogizing them to unmarried mothers ignores the really significant differences you observed.

    • it doesn’tt seem harsh? tell me any other area where a US citizen may have rights stripped without due process.
      If i am to be evicted from my apartment for example, the onus is on my landlord and the court to make reasonable effort to ensure that i am aware of the proceedings. The onus is not on me to register with the court.
      Why should loss of parental status be any different?

      • Muwah! Kisarita’s on a roll this week.
        If I was a jilted father I’d want you to be my lawyer and the labor and delivery nurse.

      • It’s harsh, but it’s also different from the apartment poiint (which you are right about.) A US citizen cannot have rights stripped without due process. But before you can get to the question of wheter there was due process, you have to ask whether there is a right. If you don’t start with a right, then you don’t have any entitlement to due process. And as I just wrote in response to Marilynn the key point here is the conclusion that Wyatt didn’t have any rights. He didn’t have rights because he hadn’t done the things required to claim rights.

        I am not asking anyone to agree with this line of reasoning and I understand that many people say he must have had rights because of the DNA. But can we agree that there are two different questions to ask–one is when does a man have parental rights and the second is once a man has parental rights, how can they be terminated. This case is about the first question. No one would say that what happened here would suffice to terminate established parental rights. What Utah is saying is that he didn’t establish his parental rights in the first place. This makes the second question go away.

        As I say, I’m not looking for agreement here, but I would like to try to get some clarity about which issues are being raised and decided.

    • Tara you can’t be serious. Laws that require a man to have done something for the woman while pregnant are lame. No man becomes a father until the fetus is born a person – his obligation as a parent begins there with the birth of his child. Motherhood begins with the birth of the child as well, not before. A single man has no obligation to support a pregnant woman because there is no child yet – she’d get a ticket for driving in the car pool lane at rush hour. (Happened in California)

      So its really not that hard to track an ex boyfriend down and tell him he’s the father and that should be the mother’s responsibility if he’s not around. There is not a state in the union that won’t track the father down for the mother because that is required by the feds in return for the money give for aid to parents with dependant children. The federal government actually says if the guy is hiding out the state can make one of his relatives test to establish that they are the baby’s aunt or cousin or grandparent – so that the man can be named father and be ordered to pay support,.

      So to me it looks like all our government cares about is not having to foot the bill for a child. They don’t care if children are being kidnapped and sold into adoptive homes so long as the jailers don’t apply for welfare. Sick.

  3. here’s the link
    http://www.babyemmawyatt.com
    also Dateline should be doing
    a story on this August 19

  4. Julie,

    It is the interstate compact requirements that must take place before a state will approve the move to another state and one of the requirements is serving notice on the father. That requirement I believe came about from the Kafauver Inquiry into Juvenile Delinquency in the 50’s that uncovered blatant babyselling where the unwed teenage mother would be checked into the hospital under the adoptive mothers name and then the baby transported across state lines. Once the baby was out of state the state had no ability to do anything about any illegal activities.

    As far as Baby Emma. She was born in Virginia to parents who live in Virginia, so the putative fathers registry in Virginia should take priority. The mother does not dispute the fact that John Wyatt knew she was pregnant and an part of her life and wanted to parent. She delivered early if I remember the story correctly. The state of Virginia sided with the father and awarded him temporary custody.

    There is also a lawsuit filed by John Wyatt in the state of Virginia against the adoption agency and lawyer for fraud I if I remember right.

    • yes you are remembering correctly. the mother provided contact information for the father and it was purposely left out of the paperwork so he wouldn’t be able to stop the baby from leaving the state, since Virginia would have been required to notify him. the agency, the prospective adopters, and their lawyers are being sued for fraud.

    • One way to understand this case is as a struggle between Virginia and Utah. The two states have different sets of rules. Let’s assume for the moment that the different rules would lead to different outcomes on these facts–If VA handles the case, Wyatt wins, if UT handles the case, Wyatt loses.

      The PKPA (a federal statute) is designed to ensure that one or the other handles the case rather than both. There might have been a very good argument in UT that the PKPA required that UT defer to VA. But Wyatt didn’t make this argument at the appropriate time and so the UT court concludes it was waived. That said, UT goes ahead and decides the case under UT law and we know what follows.

      What strikes me here is that these questions about jurisdiction and the PKPA and all that look like–maybe they really are–fairly technical legal questions that not many people focus on. But they turn out to have vital consequnces.

      There are other ways to approach the big questions here, thougn. You can think about what the US Constitution says about required treatment of a person in Wyatt’s position. (There is a line of cases relevant here–I think they probably allow UT to do what it did, though I haven’t thought hard about it yet.) You can think about what the right way for a state to approach this problem is–that is, you can think about all the competing interests and how they should be balanced. As is perfectly natural, most of the discussion here (and on the Wyatt website, which is worth a look) is focused on the facts of the individual case rather than on the general interests at stake. I may to a post about the latter points shortly.

  5. Julie must one be a lesbian and have concieved via non traditional means in order to garner sympathy in your eyes? In the case of the lesbian woman who hadn’t seen seen her partners child in years, you didn’t think the “only the family the child knows” should carry much weight.

  6. To answer that first question clearly–no. And though I do not know all the facts, it surely appears that Wyatt is entitled to sympathy. But one of my recurrent points (I hope) is that individual cases and the sympathy that might arise in them cannot always drive legal policy. Sometimes sympathy for an individual adult creates a tension with a child-focussed analysis. Surely we have to think about the child, too? And perhaps about other factors. This is as true in cases like the Vermont/Virginia lesbian custody case (which might be the one you are thinking of?) as it is here. (We’ve discussed that case here: https://julieshapiro.wordpress.com/?s=Vermont)

    It’s worth noting that the legal system draws a major distinction between these cases–one you could accept or not–and it is not that the VT/VA case involves lesbians and ART while Wyatt’s case does not. The distinction courts draw is that in the VT/VA case legal rights were properly established before the separation while in the Wyatt’s case this didn’t happen. Courts find this important because it means that in cases like the VT/VA one (and in Sean Goldman’s as well) the integrity of the legal system is on the line. Courts then insist that those established legal rights be honored. It’s very clear that in the UT court’s view (which is the court that turns out to matter) Wyatt didn’t properly establish his rights and thus, he gets no consideration.

    I don’t mean to suggest that you have to accept this, but you should see that it is part of the underlying rationale the courts offer. My guess is that you think that Wyatt’s rights ARE established by virture of his apparent genetic link. Utah law says otherwise, though, and so Wyatt ends up on the wrong side of the line I tried to describe above. If he’d properly established his rights first, then taking the child away might have been seen as a very different matter.

    I do realize that the Utah court is entirely unsympathetic to Wyatt and that this could be hurtful. I don’t mean to adopt the same stance. But there may be other players (the child? the adoptive parents?) who are also entitled to some sympathy and, in any event, sympathy alone is not a good basis for social/legal policy.

    • The adoptive parents are entitled to NO sympathy! How dare they take this man’s child without his consent! That child will hate them hate them for what they did. Yes I do have a crystal ball, they won’t be able to keep that secret.
      I was looking for california adoptees to help one day because i have those birth and adoption records and I found this guys Mom and sister the same day no less and he’d just posted that morning. Anyway he had heard about the fact that his dad & dads family faught for him and he does not like his adoptive parents for doing that. They gave him a good home but took him to the south where he became kind of a scary military bigot guy and I think his mom and sister are kind or working that out of him so is his dad’s family.
      Its only ok to adopt children if nobody in their family wants them and its ridiculous to say that the father of a child is not family yes based just on blood. Of course he matters We need a federal mandate that every state must follow

      • we know where we disagree–it’s that statement “its [sic] ridiculous to say that the father of a child is not family yes based just on blood.” (I’m assuming here that you mean legal father?) The thing is, your statement that my position is ridiculous has no persuasive force (for me anyway). WHY should legal parentage be based on blood alone?

        If you look back in the blog you’ll find my reasons for rejecting the idea. (It’s very likley I’ll revisit the subject in my next post, too, which will make it easier for people to find. And maybe we move this conversation to a new post.) I’m not sure I’ve ever understood the arguments in favor of your stance. So I’ll ask again–WHY should legal parentage be based on blood alone?

        • No I don’t mean Legal father at all

          I MEAN THE REAL FATHER. REAL REAL REAL

          everyone is affraid to use the word real these days. I’m taking it back. I mean real in the sense that all other types of parenthood are patterned after it and what it is suppose to entail as far as commitment, love, support, etc. The fact that the father fails to or is prevented from meeting those responsibilities to his child does not mean he’s not the child’s REAL FATHER. Any other father that child has is “in-addition-to” rather than “instead-of”. To suggest that the only father a child has is adoptive or is social makes the child a freak of nature, entering the world without any paternal lineage all their own. Like they are not really part of their own family in addition to any families that they were taken into and raised a part of. Its disrespectful. I don’t mean legal I mean plain old father the one that needs no explaination. He made the kid, the kid originated from him. Father.

          • I’ve tried to answer the questions you pose to me in the past. I’ve also asked you repeatedly to explain the rationale for your position. Shouting (as in ALL CAPS) that he is real isn’t an explanation–it’s just stating what you think again. So what makes the guy who is genetically related a father? Are you just saying that this is what nature or God decreed and we must accept it? Is there some argument for why it is a good idea from a policy perspective–is it better for chlidren? For society?

            I do see some points in its favor–it’s easy to tell who is a parent, for instance. There’s no ambiguity. But maybe you see more? Can you explain what they are?

            • I’ve explained it over and over and over again. Two people are responsible for creating a child therefore two people are responsible for protecting the child until the child reaches adulthood. The child is related to those two people, its their job to teach the child what they know. From a social standpoint its unreasonable to expect people who were not responsible for creating the child to take responsibility for raising the child to adulthood. Yes they can volunteer, but a child born to someone in Seattle I’ve never met, would not have a right to rely upon me, a random stranger, 2 states away. It makes sense that the parents the child originated from would owe the child their support and protection and it makes sense that the law should protect the child’s right to that support and protection by criminalizing things like neglect and abuse.

              Now its not that he is an interesting man that participated in the child’s conception, what happened prior to the child’s birth has nothing to do with the reality of who the child’s paternal and maternal relatives are once they are out of the mother’s womb. The child’s paternal relatives belong to the child as do the child’s maternal relatives belong to the child and its not ok to eliminate those relationships from the child’s reality without the child’s permission. Its never ok to takes something that does not belong to you without permission and the child can’t give permission so its not ok for anyone to interfere with the performance of that duty owed to the child by the parent. The mother should not be able to interfere with the father’s attempts to take care of the child if she does not think he’s well suited to take care of their child she’d better be able to prove it ….is he in jail for abusing other children? Is he on house arrest and not allowed to be within 100 yards of a school or playground? What basis for being judge jury and executioner does the mother have? What if someone came along and said she was not fit to be a mother because she was too poor or she did not come from a good family? There is always going to be someone who could offer a person’s child more of something than they have. There has to be a dividing line where we say it does not matter how much or how little you have the children you create have a right to rely on you to make it work for them and if you can’t – then other people enter the picture.

              Being pregnant is a before birth kind of thing. The woman may be the most familiar to an infant at birth but pregnancy in and of itself does not demonstrate that a woman is capable of caring for her own child once its born. I’ve been pregnant more than 13 times, I’m an expert at pregnancy and I can tell you for sure, pregnancy does not prepare you for taking care of a living breathing crying baby. The baby enters the world with two relatively inept caregivers at best and one of them has a familiar sent and sound to kick things off to a good start. Thats it. The child has the right to be around people that would be relevant to their own appearance and physical changes and if that is taken away from the child there had better be a damn good reason for it. Is that so hard to understand. The father is relative to the child more than a stranger.

            • I’ve never once said or intimated that its what nature or God intended and you know that I never said that. I say the same thing which is that its only logical for the child and society to rely on the people who made the baby to take care of the baby.

            • Ahh what makes the guy whose genetically related a father is a genetically related child. He would not be a father unless someone exists thats related to him as his child.

              That is the answer the birth of his child makes a man a father. Same goes for women/mothers regardless of who gives birth.

        • Why should it be based on anything else until one of the parents proves themselves unfit to the extent that they’re jailed for it?

    • but Utah SHOULDN’T matter, they should be respecting the laws of other states by default. The judge at the trial court wasn’t stupid, I’m sure he knew about the PKPA. Their laws are purposely set up in a way that doesn’t respect other states or the residents of those states at all. It is flat out WRONG to be taking a child from a biological parent on a technicality, especially when the only reason the child is in Utah is because of fraud. As soon as Utah realized that the Virginia law had not been followed because of deliberate fraud by the agency and prospective adopters the child should have been immediately sent back and the placement invalidated.

      • A foundational notion in our legal system is that the judges have to wait for the parties to make the arguments. They are not supposed to define what’s important in a case–that’s up to the people involved. I understand how you’d have liked it to work, but this is really fundamentally at odds with how our legal system operates. A great deal–possibly way too much–depends on the lawyers.

        In most of Europe they use a different system where the judges take much more initiative and the lawyers have a much smaller role in things. I think because many Americans distrust government and see judges as part of government, this has never been a popular model here.

        • Well Utah law specifically even says that the father can register in the mother’s last state of residence, or where the child was born – but only if done within Utah’s time limits, and not the original state’s. I think that shows a lot of arrogance and disrespect for other states and their residents.

  7. No sympathy here for the adoptive parents who KNEW before they filed the petition to adopt that one of the parents had never been for adoption. That is a morally bankrupt choice to go ahead and file the petition.

    The child had a loving father and extended family. Therefore no best interests of the child can be put forward.

    And if you try to put forward the claim of bonding and damage done then that blame goes squarely on the adoptive parents who chose to create that very situtation.

    It would be well worth your time Julie to delve into the full adoption act of Utah to see exactly how ethically wrong-headed it is.

    • I agree that IF the adoptive parents knew the background facts, then they are not entitled to much sympathy. As in Spain, you can distinguish between those who unwittingly adopted children stolen from their original parents and those who had greater knowledge. https://julieshapiro.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/stolen-spanish-children/ But I’m not sure these distinctions should determine the outcome in the cases anyway. Perhaps I was wrong to even raise the issue of competing sympathies. It muddied my main point–I don’t know that we can make broad social policy based on sympathy for individuals in one case. (I’m not saying the Utah has the public policy right on this one, by the way.)

      It does seem to me that there is often a tension between a child-focussed approach (which would look at what is best for either an individual child in an individual case) and an approach that is centered on the interests/behavior of adults (who did wrong? who was wronged?) The passage of time is very problematic for the child-centered approach. Think about the child taken by the lesbian mother in the VT/VA case. She’s not seen her other mother for years. There’s no doubt it will be very jarring (at least) if she is transferred from one household to the other. How do we weigh that against the fact that the mother who fled clearly violated the law and the court orders? Somehow we want to resolve these cases without doing harm to the child, but that may not always be possible.

      I also need to quibble with some of your formulations in a way that I hope will not provide a firestorm. I see that Wyatt was apparently ready to become a loving father. But he never met the child and thus, he has not yet had the chance to be a loving father. I’m not sure what you mean that no best interests of the child can be put forward, either.

      • Well I think Utah’s current adoption laws are bad for reasons beyond this case. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it won’t be the last. As they currently are written, Utah’s laws encourage adoption agencies to try and convince pregnant women considering adoption to come to Utah to give up their baby. I think this is bad for everyone involved – mother, father, and baby – and benefits only the agency and adoptive parents. The child can be needlessly separated from a biological parent who desperately wanted them. The mother, away from family/friends/support system, may feel pressured to make a decision she didn’t really want to make. The father loses the protections of their home state and by the time he can find a lawayer in Utah, it will almost certainly be too late. But I don’t agree with promotion of adoption in general. Adoption should be a last resort for situations where neither the mother or father feels willing or able to raise the child. I strongly disagree any state promoting adoption over a child being raised by a fit biological parent, but Utah is even worse because it tries to void the protections other states give the parent/child relationship.

      • Julie, point blank why should the man who fathered the child not have a legal right to at least attempt to fulfill his obligation to his child even if the woman who gave birth does not want him to? My theoretical man is trying to cooperate with her to do right by the child and my theoretical woman is thwarting his attempts because she wants to keep the kid all to herself or share the child with yet another person without the consent of the man who got her pregnant. She does not want to cooperate to give the child a chance at being a full fledged member of their paternal family as well as their maternal family. Why do you personally favor laws that don’t give fathers a chance to do right by their children? Oh wait he had a little window of a chance and he missed it? You can’t arrive at your performance criteria until after the child is born. The woman made the baby she’s responsible for it the man made the baby he’s responsible for it the baby came out of the woman’s body so she is better equipped to provide care than she is but – he should still be obligated to provide care or an environment where the mother can focus on caring – something.
        What is your beef with fathers that want to take care of their kids? Why do they get totally out ranked by a married couple who paid an agency for his baby. I really find adoptive parents who fight biological parents for their children to be monsters. I’m sorry but adoptive parents could be given any random baby and call that child son or daughter and love them equally as much, they only love their adopted sons and daughters because they’ve raised them as if they were their own, Plain old mothers and fathers have sons and daughters that are not interchangeable at birth, if someone takes them away another one similar in appearance will not resolve the loss. They will love their missing child no matter who has them no matter what name they wind up with they still belong to the man and woman who made them, they still are missing from their own families. Its not the same in adoption, it can be better in adoption or worse but it is not not the same. Having adopted parents means that somewhere you have real parents, the adopted parents are extra for children who really need them. If a child does not really need them they are just in the way.

        • I agree 100% with you Marilynn. The adoptive couple in this case was 100% aware the father wanted the child before they ever took the child into their home. They could have easily turned down the match and waited for one where the father did not want the child, or adopted an older child from foster care, but clearly they just felt entitled to this man’s baby.

          There was another case (didn’t make the news because there wasn’t a court fight, but the family was interviewed for an article on a similar case) where I truly felt badly for the adoptive parents – the mother really made up a convincing story about how the father could not be located, and a long time went by without him registering so they thought that her story that the father had left her due to not wanting a baby was true. Then the father came forward, it turns out the mother had lied to him that the baby had been miscarried and cut contact with him and he only learned the truth much later on through a mutual acquaintance. Due to the fraud he was able to challenge the adoption but meanwhile they had to wait and care for the child while DNA tests were done, they could not give him over right away as he had to be identified as the father. Ultimately they cooperated with transitioning the child to his father’s custody and had no ill feelings towards the father, instead blaming the mother for lying to them. In that case I truly did feel bad for them and it would be a very kind gesture if perhaps they could be sent some pictures and updates.

          • This illustrates to me how dependant on specific circumstances sympapthy can be. (And of course, those sorts of circumstances are often in dispute.) But ultimately I don’t quite know what to do with sympathy. It’s obviously enormously important in the court of public opinion and there’s no doubt in my mind it can change the outcome of some cases. But I don’t know that we can have legal rules that say things like “the most sympathetic party wins.”

            Law is supposed to be rational–which is perhaps a silly idea in itself. We are supposed to set sympathy aside and identify the various interests at stake; The interest of the unmarried father, the interest of the prospective adoptive couple, the interest of the child, the interest of the judicial system in an order resolution of disputes, the interests of Virginia in determining what is best for kids born in Virginia, the interests of Utah in adjudicating what happens to kids living in Utah and so on. The idea is we identify interests, perhaps figure out which ones matter most and which don’t matter at all, and then figure out some way to balance them (because they will almost always be in tension.) Because law is general and applies to lots and lots of people in lots of specific situations, we’re supposed to think generally about these things and not be overly distracted by sympathy for one person or another.

            I think this is probably an unattainable goal. We are all subject to emotional appeals and we all feel sympathy for some people some of the time. But I do think it’s a problem if we let the whole thing collapse into the question of who is more sympathetic.

            • Well my sympathy for the adoptive parents in that case doesn’t extend to me thinking they should have gotten to keep the child, because I think it was the right result that the father got him back. But I do think they should be entitled to financial damages from the mother who purposely lied only because she was mad at her ex, and I do think it would be wonderful if the father could send them pictures and maybe even let them visit the child occassionally.

          • You see Rebecca those people wanted an adopted child whose parents agreed to the adoption. Honestly if a child’s missing father surfaces at any point and I mean 16 years old he should be recognized as being that child’s father and the court should void the adoption or make the adoptive parents work with him towards reunification and he should begin supporting his child – he would not come forward if he were not prepared for that. The child has their own whole family to be part of. Its wrong to take that from the child without the child’s permission. Yes I agree with you.

        • You’ll find tons on the blog early on about this–about why DNA alone should not be enough in my view. Go look at the one-night-stand discussions. But of course, Wyatt could rely on more than DNA. He’s got some sort of conduct during the pregnancy and yes, in my book that does count for something. The question is how much it counts for and how we add things up. And the thing is, I’m not sure. I think being pregnant counts more than being supportive and being around, but I haven’t finally figured out where that leaves me. The woman who gives birth is a legal parent by virtue of her pregnancy, etc. Maybe other people get to be parents of a child at birth by virtue of having been on the scene, but I’m not sure what I think about that really.

          I know you’ll think this odd but I think Wyatt is in much the same position as a lesbian partner who participates in a plan to conceive a child but isn’t the person who gets pregnant. What are her rights of the couple splits up? Same as Wyatt’s, I think. This is because to me the DNA stuff is unimportant. In both instances you have a person involved and invested and all that. So however you resolve one, I think you resolve the other that way as well. (This for those who have suggested I always argue for more favorable treatment for lesbians, which I don’t think is a fair characterization of what I’ve written.)

  8. That couple could have moved on and adopted a baby that was really available who had the consent of both parents to be adopted. They’d get over yet another “failed placement”. Tell you what I know a whole lot of parents devastated by the successful placement of their children in situations not all that different than this r worse taking older children from them in whacked cps cases where the state makes mom out to be a monster sabotaging reunification because the kids are blond and adoptable and won’t be on welfare in an adoptive home.

    Really any baby will do for people trying to adopt. The same cannot be said for parents loosing their children like this. Parent’s should not loose their kids unless they’re put in jail for some haneous crime and there is nobody in the family to care for the kid. Strip a child of its real parents because they did something not wrong enough to go to jail for? Not signing the registry fast enough? If there is a hell, there is a special place for people like those adoptive parents and the people that aided them.

    I can’t help all the parents that ask me for help finding their kids now i have to give them my passwords and tell them how to search this is such a chronic problem only a national law will save ,more kids from loosing their families.

    • True enough. And (at least in theory) if the argument about Utah being the wrong place to decide the case had been raised at the first hearing in Utah we could have ended up here much more easily. That’s why the failure to raise the argument at the first hearing matters. It allowed time to pass and left us with a much messier situation. I know some folks are skeptical about what the first Utah court might have done had the argument been raised, but I think we just cannot know that. As Marilynn suggests, the stakes would have been much lower at that point.

  9. Julies comment: “I also need to quibble with some of your formulations in a way that I hope will not provide a firestorm. I see that Wyatt was apparently ready to become a loving father. But he never met the child and thus, he has not yet had the chance to be a loving father. I’m not sure what you mean that no best interests of the child can be put forward, either.”

    My intent was that the child had a loving family who wanted the child. So often fathers are derided as dead beat – don’t give a damn – don’t want to pay child support because the mother forgot birth control. In this case he stepped up to the plate during the pregnancy and he has other family willing and able to be supportive family.

    As to the time passage – the courts are also to blame and the bias behind the long delay has to also be looked into as causing harm. This case was heard by the supreme court in September of 2010 yet the ruling was not handed down until July 2011. There is no plausible excuse and one can only come to the conclusion that the delay was intentional to cause the public to come to the conclusion that it was in the childs best interest due to the bond. This tactic in contested adoptin cases is not new and frankly the judges should be censored for it. I am sure if they are in such elevate positions they would have the ability to determine which cases need to be settled quickly and what cases do not cause further harm by delays.

    Really, there is no excuse for this. And when you stop and think about it – Emma will google herself when she is older – I have never met an adoptee who hasn’t. She will find all the nitty gritty details and heaven help her parents when she does. The betrayal will be immense and the conflict of her feelings of love for her parents will be at war within her that will not easily be solved. Tell me which is better – break a bond in early childhood, or finding out as an adult your life is all lies and people were harmed by the actions of those you love.

    • I see your point now and it is a fair one. Sorry for the quibble. That’s actually a distinction that matters to me and one I think the law has trouble with. There are all sorts of situations in which a woman who is not married becomes pregnant–in some there is man standing by and wanting to be involved and in others there isn’t. Perhaps we shouldn’t be looking for a one-size-fits-all rule here. That’s part of what troubles me about the DNA alone argument–it makes all those guys fathers. A more nuanced rule would be better in my book. And perhaps under that rule (which doesn’t actually exist) Wyatt would be a father.

      You’re right, too, about the courts and the passage of time. I’ve often thought that they ought to fast-track family court matters involving children. There are countless cases with heart-rending facts where the time it takes to litigate becomes part of what shapes the outcome. Cases where people are denied contact with kids who they should be seeing, cases where kids are living with the wrong set of people. The more time passes the harder these cases become–and courts routinely take many months or years to rule on these cases. I don’t think that’s only a problem with cases like this one in a narrow sense and I’m not prepared to say there’s ill-will. Family law is often a low priority, just as it is often a low-status branch for the practice of law. Sigh.

      I cannot tell you what the future holds. I cannot tell what is worse or what is better for Emma. I cannot tell you what the adoptive parents are or are not planning to tell Emma, whether they’ll lie to her and so on. I cannot tell you what Wyatt might say in explanation if he’s the one who ends up raising Emma. Frankly, I don’t think anyone can know any of this, though it sure would be swell if we did. But you know, this case never really turned on what was best for Emma because it got all snarled up in the question of parental rights.

      • The child’s right not to be separated from his or her relatives should be paramount. Its not parental rights that this case is about its the adoptive couple interfering with performance of parental obligations by the child’s father. I think the child has a right to be raised by the father and mother both and its up to the parents to figure out how to make it work when they are not in love and don’t want to live together. If they cannot agree to let someone else raise their child the mother will simply have to cooperate with him in raising the child. Its not impossible, she’s not in jail. If she fails to do it then she’s abandoning her kid. The child’s right to be raised by them relies on their duty to do that raise their kid. Interfering with that kid’s rights is meddlesome and arrogant. They give adoptive families a bad name like they are all just heartless baby snatchers. Which is not true I know, but sometimes it sure feels like it.

        • The mother in this case actually regrets her decision and if what is alleged in the civil lawsuit is correct, it was mainly the maternal grandparents that coerced her into putting the child up for adoption because they were paying for her schooling and threatened to cut off the funds. They hired a lawyer for her that was very pro-adoption and I doubt her interests were every really considered. She has said she would like to be a part of Emma’s life if she is returned to her father.

          • Yay – good mother. i feel bad for her loss

            • Yes, I feel bad for her as well. I don’t know that I’d be able to still have a relationship with my parents if I were her. I think it’s awful what they did to her and to their granddaughter.

              • Well children generally want to be wanted by their parents – accepted and loved. If at some point they come to their daughter and say look we love you and we made a terrible mistake, we were not willing to see you as the mother that you are and were not thinking of how loosing your child would damage our whole family, we’re sorry. The girl would probably burst into tears and want a hug. Whatever they can do to facilitate reunification either now or if they have to strike the moment the clock turns 18 years, they should do it and I think the mother and her child should forgive them. They’re a family.
                Obviously I’m big on seeing families forgive eachother when possible its my hobby.

          • We’re way further into the details of the facts here than I am comfortable with. i don’t have any first hand knowledge about what happened here and i would guess that there are many points that are in dispute. I do not know what really happened.

            That said, there is one point I would make here–a general one, not tied to the specific facts. I am sure there are instances where parents agree to the adoption of a child and come to regret it. No doubt there are cases where they do this under pressure from their own parents or from other relatives/friends/adults. It’s easy to feel sorry for someone who has made a decision like this and come to regret it. It must be a very hard thing to live with and, if you attribute the decision to someone else (which may be just a tad self-serving) then you would expect there to be quite a bit of anger from that.

            But should a person who has come to regret consenting to an adoption be allowed to revoke the consent? Surely it has to be final at some point? Think where that things would be otherwise.

            I can be sympathetic here, but also there there has to be a time when it is final and done and cannot be undone. If all I cared about were the plight of the person giving up the child for adoption, maybe I wouldn’t say this. But I care, too, about the child (who has a new life built on the consent that was given) and the adoptive parents (who relied on the consent). I care that people can move on with their lives.

            Again–this is not a comment specifically about the Baby Emma case–i don’t know if this falls in that category or not. Maybe it does not. I’m commenting on the general views I see being played out in the comments.

            • No Julie you keep returning to the idea that anyone feels sad for the parents. Its not their rights that are being violated – the child has a right to expect to be supported and taken care of by both parents that created him/her (there goes the 2 parent model). The child is born with maternal and paternal relatives; the child’s grandparents belong to him or her aunts uncles cousins siblings, they belong to the child and the child belongs to them.

              If you have offspring and they don’t think of you as their parent, you blew it and did not meet your parental obligations. It does not change the fact that you are the child’s parent. If someone else chooses to raise your child because you can’t or are prevented from doing it, it does not mean your debt to the child is erased, they still deserved you to take care of them, the other people did not owe it to the child to step in and take up your slack. There is no guarantee that the parents of a child will meet their obligation to take care of their child or incorporate the child into their families at least to the extent where the child knows who the relatives are and the relatives know who the child is (no child should be a dirty secret). So you keep returning to this being some sort of violation of the father’s rights when I see it as interference with performance of his duty and obligation to raise his child. Those people are preventing the child getting to be taken care of by her parents and be a member of their families like she’s suppose to.

              What is best for the child is for the parents to meet their obligation to the child even with meager means even if it means curly cue coordination between homes in an effort to cooperate so that the child is not abandoned by the people who made her and locked out of the family she belongs to. Stop thinking of this as being about the father’s right to his child. This is about the child’s right to her father and those adoptive people will always be performing parental duties above and beyond those she’s owed. They don’t owe her that but he her father does.

  10. Julie – that is why Utah adoption law is highly problematic in the time lines required, especially for out of state fathers. The law is biased toward a two-parent (male/female) MARRIED couple being the superior folks to raise and unrelated child, and the hoops and roadblocks put in place create the difficulty in finding out exactly has to be done, so they deny justice.

  11. There is surely a bias in favor of married parents. If Wyatt and Emma’s mother were married he would have no trouble–but he isn’t and so Utah will do all that it can to get the child into a married household. I agree that this is unfair and problematic.

    • Gee half of all marriages end in divorce and somehow that tenuous social institution manages count more than than a genetic parent child relationship that does for a fact last an eternity long after the parent and child are dead they will be related to each other. Its so arrogant to replace a permanent parent with some guy in an-at-best-death-do-you-part relationship with one’s mother or worse adoptive mother. If they are jailed and nobody in the family will raise the kid. Can’t think of any other reason it would be beneficial. Abusive? Prove it and put them in jail before you take their kid.

  12. http://www.babyemmawyatt.com/att.OppositionToMcDermottMotionProtectiveOrder_2-Exhibit.pdf

    The above document very clearly outlines the fraudulent activity that took place in this case.
    It is unfathomable that a child can be taken away from a parent in this manner because of a technicality in the law. I feel for all parties involved. I have children and would fight until my last breath for them, but I also feel for the child, she only know her adoptive parents and although their actions to adopt were fraudulent, they are now her parents who love her deeply. She loves them and would be horribly heart broken if she was taken from them. With that said, I do not think the her biological father should end his fight for her. If he gives up, this will definitely continue. The law needs to be changed. I think I am most disgusted with there maternal grandparents, adoption agency, and the lawyer for taking advantage of a scared first time mother. Not everyone is born to be a parent and though she may not have been ready for a child, she was definitely pressured into a rush rush hush hush decision to give away her baby without regard for the father. It’s extremely unsettling that our society has come to stealing babies from parents to pad the pockets of adoption agencies that thrives on the desperate nature of adoptive parents.
    I could say so much more and I know many will have opposition to my opinion but it is just that, my opinion.

    • I’ll be the first to say that I do not know what the underlying truths in this case are, nor do I have any way of ever finding them out. But I think you’ve outlined the difficulty that the court has–and it’s one that I’ve written about elsewhere on the blog. The passage of time has, for better or worse, created a new reality for the child. Changing the status quo therefore has substantial costs to the child. I suppose sometimes someone can make judgments about whether those costs are worth it in the long run, but I do not presume to be in a position to say that in this specific case with this specific child. (I know others will be happy to do so.) https://julieshapiro.wordpress.com/2010/01/03/vermontvirginia-update-and-isnt-this-a-bit-like-brazil/

      All that said, you make a key point about how the law changes. It only changes if people persevere in their struggles. If the biological father her stops, then he law remains unchanged. Thus, even a litigant who recognizes the problem caused by the passage of time might choose to continue in order to ensure that others who come after her/him do not suffer the same fate.

  13. My son is currently battling his ex-girlfriend for rights to see his child. They lived together in Oregon and then split up. She moved to Utah and a week later informed him that she was pregnant. He went to see her and visit the doctor and then on his way back to his home in Oregon she informed him that he will NEVER see the child, that his name will NOT be on the birth certificate, and that the child will not even know the name of its father. There is even question as to whether it is even his child because one of her friends commented on her facebook page asking if it was someone else’s baby. But according to Utah law, after a woman informs the father that she has moved to Utah, the father only has 20 days from the time he was informed to file with the state of Utah as being the father. They don’t even allow for the baby to be born to do DNA testing to be sure. Well 20 days has long passed and we are at a loss as to what to do. I have read 100’s of horror stories similar to this. Even fathers who did register in time were still taken off the birth certificate for some other unknown state regulation that wasn’t performed before deadlines. As far as I can see, Utah is nothing more than a human trafficking state.

    • DNA testing! Glad you brought that up. This is one reason why this can’t all be done before the birth- the father should have the opportunity for DNA testing.

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