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U.S. Soldier Awarded Custody of Daughter Adopted Without His Knowledge

by Norris Law Group on November 14, 2014

U.S. Soldier Awarded Custody of Daughter Adopted Without His KnowledgeU.S. Army Sgt. Terry Achane and his wife were experiencing some marital problems while they were stationed in Texas in 2011, but Sgt. Achane hoped that things would improve when the baby his wife was carrying arrived and they went to their next station at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.

Things did not work out as Sgt. Achane had planned. His story appeared in a January 2013 edition of the New York Daily News.

Rather than follow her husband to South Carolina, Achane’s wife, Tira Bland, chose instead to start the process of having their daughter adopted in Utah after she was born.  Bland gave birth to the little girl, named her Taleah, and went through with her adoption to a Utah couple without Achane’s knowledge or consent. At the time, he was at Fort Jackson was not aware of his wife’s actions.

The adoptive couple, Jared and Kristi Frei, said that they contacted Achane to serve him with a petition allowing them to adopt the girl, whom they renamed Leah. The Freis also said they were “shocked and dismayed” when Sgt. Achane did not sign the petition, but instead initiated legal action to get his daughter back in his custody. The Freis argued in court that Achane showed no interest in his daughter, which they defined as sending gifts or inquiring as to her well-being. Achane fought back against the Freis’ claims, saying that was never even consulted about the adoption and that his only interest is in getting his daughter back, as he was fully entitled to have her.

A Utah judge agreed with Achane, saying that he was “astonished and deeply troubled” that Achane was not told about the adoption by his wife or contacted by the adoption agency, the Adoption Center of Choice of American Fork, UT.

Taleah was returned to her father in January 2013 per court order and the denial of a stay requested by the Freis. The Adoption Center of Choice has since lost its license to perform adoptions and has closed. Achane says that despite everything, he holds no animosity toward the Freis: ““They raised my daughter right, I believe. I hold nothing negative against them. They love my daughter as much as I do.”

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County, UT and throughout Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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