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

by Norris Law Group on January 31, 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.” This was introduced in the previous installment of this blog. In this installment, we will examine the case in greater detail.

All of the fathers involved in the lawsuit have fought to stop adoptions of their children, with a variety of results. The fathers include: Robert B. Manzanares; Christopher D. Carlton; Jake M. Strickland; Jacob D. Brooks; Michael D. Hunter; Frank L. Martin; Samuel G. Dye; Bobby L. Nevares; William E. Bolden; John M. Wyatt III; Cody M. O’Dea; and Scottie Wallace.

Manzanares’  former girlfriend asserted that she had no plan to put their child up for adoption in a paternity proceeding in Colorado. She then told Manzanares in an email of January 2008 that she intended to travel to Utah in February to visit a relative who was ill. In fact, she gave birth to their daughter in Utah and placed the infant with a relative.

Carlton, a resident of Pennsylvania and a military veteran, was told by a former girlfriend that their daughter had died shortly after her 2010 birth. Months later, after a judge ordered the woman to disclose where the child was buried, Carlton learned that his daughter was indeed alive and  that his former girlfriend put her up for adoption in Utah.

Martin fought adoption of his daughter born in 2012. He won, and now has custody of her. Dye also successfully regained custody of his son, who was brought to Utah by his mother and placed him for adoption when he was about 18 months old.

O’Dea told a former girlfriend that he objected to her plan to place their child for adoption and signed with “father registries” in his home state of Wyoming and Montana, where the biological mother had once lived. The woman called O’Dea from a blocked telephone number and said she was in Utah in June 2006 and told him, “You will never see this baby” and that he “will not father this child. You will pay child support until the child is in college.” O’Dea asked her if that meant she no longer planned to put the baby up for adoption. But the woman’s response was, “If you understand what I have told you, that is all I have to say,” and then she hung up.

O’Dea’s child was born that very day and placed for adoption in Utah. He went on to fight the adoption before the Utah Supreme Court, and lost.

The lawsuit also alleges that these twelve fathers represent a much larger group of an estimated 300 fathers whose constitutional rights have been violated by Utah’s adoption laws. Hutchins may seek to certify the case as a class-action lawsuit at a later time.

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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