The State of Utah is poised to pilfer yet another child from yet another fit father. Read about it here (Salt Lake Tribune, 9/6/11).
This time it’s Floridian Ramsey Shaud who’s the victim of a state that makes no secret of its antipathy for single fathers. There are plenty of states that make the adoption of a single father’s child against his wishes a simple matter. But none comes close to Utah’s astonishing disdain for paternal rights and due process of law. We’ve seen some real doozies in the past, but Shaud’s case may be the worst yet.
As assiduous readers of this blog will remember, Kevin O’Dey’s girlfriend first lied to him that she’d miscarried to throw him off the adoption trail. O’Dey had always said he wanted to raise his child, but Mom decided to not give him the opportunity. Nevertheless, O’Dey learned from a mutual friend that she was still pregnant, so he filed with the putative father registries of the two states he thought she might be in. He was wrong; she was in Utah, where else?
Just hours before she was due to deliver the child, his girlfriend placed a strange call to O’Dey saying that he would never see his child and that she was in Utah. That apparently constituted legal notice to O’Dey not only that she was having the child, but that she was placing it for adoption. All her subterfuges found favor with Utah courts and O’Dey lost his child forever.
More recently, the same Utah Supreme Court placed its stamp of approval on the lies of Emily Fahland who managed to mislead the father of her child, John Wyatt, long enough to pass the little girl to adoptive parents in a Virginia hotel room. They and their Utah lawyer then whisked the child away to Utah where, despite findings by a Virginia court that he was a fit father entitled to custody of his daughter, the Utah Supreme Court once again forced adoption on a child who didn’t need it.
Now it’s Ramsey Shaud’s turn to face the music. He had a brief, casual affair with Shasta Tew of Crestview, Florida back in 2009. Tew became pregnant and announced to Shaud that she intended to abort the fetus. Shaud objected and Tew backed out, announcing her new intention to place the child for adoption.
Shaud objected to that too and immediately filed the necessary forms with Florida’s Putative Father Registry. The next he heard from Tew was via a handwritten note saying she was going to Arizona and Utah and would “stay on in Utah for a while.” Hot on her heels, Shaud filed with Arizona’s Putative Father Registry and went online to see what obligations Utah imposed on him for preserving his parental rights.
Confused by the state’s website, Shaud hired a Utah attorney in January, 2010. He had no concerns about his ability to stop the adoption because Tew’s due date was in February, but unknown to him, she gave birth prematurely on January 15th. Still, his attorney, Daniel Drage, filed Shaud’s paternity case on January 12 and faxed a notice of paternity to the state’s records office the same day. He also mailed the notice which was marked ‘received’ on January 14th.
So, no problem, right? The petition was filed on the 12th and the notice was received at the latest on the 14th. The child was born on the 15th. Even though time was tight, what could possibly go wrong?
Well, the records office happened to be closed that day, a Friday, because of the state’s four-day work schedule, and was closed the following Monday, which was a federal holiday. A clerk filed Shaud’s paternity notice on Jan. 20, a day after Tew relinquished her rights and the infant was placed with adoptive parents through A Act of Love Adoptions.
The result? Shaud lost. A trial court ruled that he failed to file his notice in time and therefore, the adoption was final. Of course he had filed on time, but since the clerk didn’t officially accept the notice prior to the child’s birth, Shaud is out of luck. As far as the trial court was concerned, Ramsey Shaud, another fit father, will never see his child again.
And again, as with O’Dey and Wyatt, it’s not because he didn’t do everything in his power to stop the adoption and gain custody of his child. In his case as in theirs, the courts intentionally abetted lying by mothers. Here as there, the courts place fathers’ rights in mothers’ hands. Here as there, the courts honor the letter of the law above its intent. And here as there, the courts blatantly deny to fathers any semblance of due process.
But here, unlike in the other two cases, the courts abet the willful incompetence of the office of records. The very idea that a document that’s been received on one date but not “officially” received until four days later should be allowed to take a man’s child from him forever is outrageous. No concept of due process of law permits such a thing.
Oh, there are a couple of other similarities to the O’Dey and Wyatt cases. One is A Acto fo Love Adoptions and the other is attorney Larry Jenkins. That’s right, both were the bad actors in all three cases. Indeed, in the O’Dey case, another adoption agency first contacted Kevin and, on learning he was contesting the adoption, backed out. That’s what any moral adoption agency would do; it’s what most adoption agencies do.
But A Act of Love Adoptions has no such scruples. Neither does its attorney, Larry Jenkins. They both seem to be in it for the money and they both know just what a mother has to do to wrest a child from its fathers. (The similarity between the call from O’Dey’s girlfriend and the note from Tew are too obvious to overlook.) I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Jenkins told each of these mothers exactly what they had to do to deprive the fathers of their children and that they followed his instructions to the letter.
Adoption of children is a fine thing. That’s because children without capable, loving parents need to be adopted. But children who have those parents don’t need adoption. Utah’s outrageous adoption procedures make a mockery of the real purpose of adoption – to give loving parents to children who have none of their own. Adoption in Utah is a race to see if a father can figure out a mother’s lies before the courts ratify them.
The Salt Lake Tribune’s article doesn’t exactly scream for adoption reform in the state, but it’s pretty clear that the writer knows what everyone reading the piece should know – that Utah’s abuse of fit fathers for the sake of fueling it’s adoption industry is a fraud and an outrage.