January 23rd, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Terry Achane won another battle in his fight to gain custody of his daughter whom the child’s mother, a Utah attorney and the Adoption Agency of Choice in American Fork, Utah, attempted to traffic for adoption. They almost succeeded. Here’s my first post on Achane’s case. On Friday of last week, the Supreme Court of Utah refused to stay the trial court’s decision returning Achane’s daughter to him.
Achane and his daughter’s mother were married when the child was conceived and when she was born in Texas. But Achane was away from home performing his duties as a drill instructor in the U.S. Army. That gave the mother, Tira Bland, the opportunity she needed to abscond with the child to Utah, the state of choice for all mothers bent on depriving a father of his child and a child of its father. Bland didn’t want the child and, despite being married to Achane, decided he shouldn’t have her either.
As I said in my previous post on the case, for an unmarried woman, that’s a slam dunk. Utah and its large adoption industry will reliably do what’s necessary to ensure that (a) the child is successfully adopted, (b) all parties, i.e. the mother, the adoption lawyer and the adoption agency, get paid and (c) Dad is kept in the dark about the whole business. Yes, that usually involves multiple lies under oath by multiple parties, but that’s all in a day’s work in Utah adoption cases.
But Achane and Bland were married, and that’s supposed to make adoptions different in the Beehive State. When Dad and Mom are married, the consent of both is supposed to be required before an adoption can go forward. But the lawyer, the would-be adoptive parents, Jared and Kristi Frei, and the Adoption Agency of Choice, all decided to go forward as if Bland were single. That of course meant more lying by all concerned, but, as I said, it’s all in a day’s work, so that’s what they did. Even when informed that Achane would vigorously oppose the adoption, the adoption agency and the Fries, doubtless on the advice of their lawyer, decided to go ahead and try to get the deal done anyway.
Sure enough, when Achane figured out what was going on, he immediately hired an attorney, went to court and stopped the proceedings. The judge in the case excoriated AAC, the Freis and their lawyer for their outrageous behavior and ordered the child turned over to Achane. Due to legal procedure, that hasn’t happened yet, but, with the state Supreme Court’s refusal of the stay request, it will soon. Even now, Terry Achane is eagerly anticipating the arrival of the child who’s always been his.
She’s over a year old. The only home she’s ever known has been the Frei’s and they’ve been her only parents. Getting used to her new dad and new environment will take some time and surely cause some real emotional trauma to the little girl. Let’s be clear; that emotional upset was caused by the Freis, their attorney and Adoption Agency of Choice. Their dogged determination to violate the law at any cost, to shanghai a little girl away from her father will surely cause lasting emotional damage to an innocent child. And let’s be clear as well, that, in the case of the agency and the lawyer, they did it for one reason only – money.
Legal System Gives Mothers Control Over Rights of Fathers, Children
Tira Bland? She was just doing what the legal system permits (and some say encourages) every mother to do – control a father’s parental rights at her whim. True, she wasn’t quite smart enough in how she went about it, but just one more well-placed lie, and she’d have been home free. All she had to do was say she wasn’t married and didn’t know who the child’s father was and Utah courts would have rubber-stamped her decision in a heartbeat. Now it looks like she’ll be on the hook for child support for a child she did her utmost to get rid of.
Once Terry Achane finally gets custody of his daughter, it should be time for him and his attorneys to start filing some lawsuits, particularly against Adoption Agency of Choice and their attorney who intentionally tried to deprive him of his daughter. He should sue them on behalf of his daughter as well. Given the fact that his lawyers have already called what happened “human trafficking,” my guess is he’ll do just that.
So, in this case at least, all’s well that ends well, particularly if Achane and his daughter can pick up a thick wad of AAC’s ill-gotten cash. But we shouldn’t get too caught up in the happy outcome of a single case. Face it, Achane got lucky. He happened to be married to the mother of his daughter and she happened to be dumb enough or honest enough to tell one lie too few for her scheme to work. The simple fact is those things don’t always happen. The adoption industry in this country is set up to deny single fathers notice when their children are placed for adoption. That denies fathers their rights to their children and children their rights to their fathers.
As practical matter, it also uses the scarce resource that are adoptive parents on children like Achane’s who don’t need to be adopted. That’s triply wrong. Notice to the father should always be a requirement for any adoption to be finalized. And there should be clear and severe consequences for mothers, lawyers and adoption agencies who lie in court. This case will end well, but nothing about Utah adoption law prevents another father in Terry Achane’s position from losing his child.