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Fathers File Suit Against Utah in Adoption Cases, Part 1 of 2

by Norris Law Group on January 30, 2014

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a group of twelve biological fathers whose children were placed for adoption in Utah without their knowledge or consent have filed a federal lawsuit against Utah. The suit alleges that Utah adoption laws effectively permit “legalized fraud and kidnapping.”

The fathers, represented by attorney Wes Hutchins of West Jordan, allege that two former attorneys general “did nothing for more than a decade to correct the fraud and deception” that led to their children being placed with adoptive families in Utah. They also allege that these attorneys general did so despite their full knowledge of “gross adoption infirmities” in Utah’s current laws.

In the suit, the twelve fathers claim that their children were essentially “[kidnapped] and [were subjected to] highly unethical and disruptive placement into adoptive homes without the knowledge or consent of their biological fathers.” The suit also claims that Utah’s adoption laws are a “confusing labyrinth of virtually incomprehensible legal mandates and nearly impossible deadlines” and allows unconstitutional violations of the rights of unwed fathers.

The lawsuit also states that Utah’s adoption laws can be easily exploited by biological mothers, adoption agencies and adoption attorneys in a way that was never intended. The plaintiffs claim that Utah’s adoption laws actually encourage biological mothers to “secretly flee their home state” to give birth in Utah without any notice to the biological fathers. The mothers then “return to their home state[s], seemingly unaccountable for their immoral, unethical, and fraudulent conduct…An adoption may be accomplished through fraud, misdirection, misrepresentation, and lies, however, fraud expressly may not be a basis to undo an otherwise fraudulent adoption.”

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages as well as a finding that the Utah Adoption Act is unconstitutional. The defendants are the Utah attorney general’s office, former Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow, and unnamed state officials, though Hutchins said he may amend it to add current Attorney General Sean Reyes.

A spokeswoman for Reyes said Wednesday afternoon that the attorney general was reviewing the case but did not immediately have a comment.

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County and throughout Utah in the area of family law. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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