A Utah judge is reportedly “astonished and deeply troubled” that an adoption agency deliberately circumvented the rights of a married U.S. Army drill instructor whose daughter was adopted at birth without his knowledge.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Judge Darold McDade, in a 48-page ruling, has given the adoptive couple 60 days to give the 21-month-old child back and said the Adoption Center of Choice’s policy of refusing to disclose any information to Terry Achane, 31, once he learned what happened to the girl whom he named Teleah is “utterly indefensible.”
Achane said it was just days after he left his pregnant wife for his new job out of state that she quietly signed over their unborn baby to a family of seven in Utah.
The military man said that he and his wife, Tira Bland, were having marital problems not long after learning she was pregnant in 2010, leading to her decision and his now spiraling struggle despite a judge ordering the girl returned to him last October.
Archane says Bland had suggested having an abortion or giving their child up for adoption – fearing she would end up as a single mother – but he said no, encouraging their daughter’s birth.
It was just months later in February of 2011 that Achane found himself sent to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for work, believing he’d leave and come back a new dad.
Ten days after his move, however, his wife gave birth to a premature baby and signed away their child before cutting all contact with her husband.
‘I was like, “Utah? Where is Utah?” I’d never been to Utah. She’s never been to Utah,’” Mr Achane told the Salt Lake Tribune of the moment he first heard the bizarre and horrifying news.
Feverishly calling anyone who may know where his wife could be, while fearing she may have carried out the abortion she once threatened to do, he learned from a family doctor that his wife was no longer pregnant but they could not legally disclose what had happened to the baby.
An ounce of relief only came to the horrified man when his wife finally called him in June, telling him she had signed away their baby to the Frei family.
Once he learned of his daughter’s fate, he immediately tried to track his little girl down but upon contact with the adoption center they refused to disclose any information on her whereabouts.
The agency told the court in October that it was standard procedure to not share any information with a father of a potential adoptive child when asked.
“This is a case of human trafficking,” attorney Mark Wiser told the newspaper. “Children are being bought and sold. It is one thing what [adoption agencies] have been doing with unmarried biological fathers. It is in a new area when they are trying to take a child away from a married father who wants to have his child.”
The girl’s adoptive parents, Jared and Kristi Frei, declined to comment, but they did write this on a blog about the case.
‘We have not lost our conviction that we are in the right!!!!!!’ Kristi Frei wrote. ‘We have only ever wanted to do right by Leah, and have always felt we have been acting in her best interest to keep her with our family and raise her as our own. Our hearts have demanded it — there has never been any question to us that she is OURS!!!’
James Webb, executive director of the Adoption Center of Choice, did not return a call from The Salt Lake Tribune and attempts by the newspaper to reach Tira Bland, the birth mother who is now divorced from Achane, was unsuccessful.
Achane, a drill instructor in South Carolina, said he just wants his baby girl back.
“I am not a very religious person,” he said in an interview last week. “But ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ If they prolong it, that is more time away from my daughter. There are precious moments I can’t get back … It has been a year and a half now. There is no court order saying they have the right to my child. I just won the case. I want to get my daughter and raise my daughter.”
I have so much anger over this story, beginning with the birth mother. In essence this woman just sold the child without the father’s consent and this adoption agency should be shut down. They knew the father was not aware that his daughter was being put up for adoption and they had no problem with moving forward with the adoption. The same thing with The Frei Family… the adoption agency told them that the father was not aware and he may come looking for his child and they still decided to go forward with the adoption. I find all of this to be disgusting and the fact that the Freis keep using the court to delay this man’s child being returned to him, while proclaiming they’re “In The Right”…please have a seat. That is not your child and you are wrong. Give it up and give back Teleah to her father!! What say you? Share your thoughts on this adoption gone wrong?
Thanks to TiffaniP for the tip.