The rights of unmarried fathers vary from state to state, including Missouri, as some of our earlier posts have pointed out. We thought Missouri readers of our blog would be interested in a story involving a group of women who posed as birth mothers to infiltrate adoption agencies in another state. The women claim they just wanted to hear what these agencies would tell them in regards to paternity rights and giving up their babies in an adoption in that state.
The case involved a number of Utah adoption agencies that included recording interactions with agency staff with the pregnant women posing as birth mothers. The results of the sting are rather disturbing, if not surprising to some fathers' rights advocates. One birth mother said she was "dumbfounded" with what agency staff members were telling her.
One reporter, who was provided with some of the recordings made in the sting, said the tapes provide a disturbing account of what goes on at some of these adoption agencies, especially when the birth mother claims she does not want the birth father involved in the process. One birth mother said she was told that Utah's adoption rules are so friendly that a lot of people come to the state to adopt. If the child is born in the state, the state's adoption laws stand, she was told.
This may sound familiar to some of our readers since we reported several weeks ago on one father in a four-year custody battle for his daughter. His girlfriend lived in Wyoming but travelled to Utah where she gave their baby up for adoption in that state. A Utah appeals court recently overturned the adoption and said they case had to be tried in the couple's home state.
In one recording involving a pregnant woman posing as a birth mother, an adoption agency staff member could be heard telling one woman she was not required to identify the father or even have to tell him anything. She said fathers do not have any rights in that state. One agency went so far as to say they would provide birth mothers with cash payments to help them out.
Not all of the agencies offered cash or provided instruction on how to avoid involving the father in the process, or from even knowing about the adoption. This story is just another example of how some fathers' rights are threatened in some states and how important it is to consult with a family law attorney experienced in paternity cases if you are struggling with enforcing your parental, child custody or visitation rights.
Source: KSL TV, "Utah adoption agencies working to keep birth fathers in the dark," Lori Prichard, May 16, 2012