Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bill Killed: Fathers' Rights Squashed Once Again

What rights should an unmarried biological father have, when the unmarried birth mother wants to put a baby up for adoption? No rights? All rights? Rights sufficient to hold up or stop an adoption, even if he allegedly is just trying "to make his ex-lover’s life miserable"? And what about the father’s family, the baby’s biological grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins? Could all of them be so evil and into a conspiracy just meant to cause harm and not be sinere in their love for their blood kin?

The baby's father was awarded custody in court, but it was too late - a Utah family already had adopted the little boy, and wouldn’t return him.

Attorney Anne Solomon proposed a bill to protect fathers' constitutional rights by requiring 30 days notice to the biological father and termination of his parental rights before an adoption could take place, along with other changes including new requirements for birth mothers to identify the father and refrain from deceiving him about the pregnancy or their plans. Solomon said current law - adopted through a series of adoption law reforms a decade ago - protects the mother’s privacy to the point that she can hide the whole thing from the father. “What we’re asking here is that the biological father be given notice of the decision to adopt,” she told the committee.

But Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, a lawyer who served on the task force that drafted the reform laws 10 years ago, said, “If there are good fathers out there, they should know they have a baby.” The reforms sought to make adoption easier, he said, by removing a “legal mess” that mothers otherwise could avoid by having an abortion. Adoption attorney Lyman Belnap said of Solomon’s bill, “It shifts all the burden of letting me know to anyone but me. I don’t have to do anything ‘til somebody lets me know, even though my recreational sex has left somebody pregnant and I know that I had the sex.” He added, “I’m as angry as anyone else about what happened to this family that prompted this movement.”

Labrador, who moved to kill the bill, said, “I think Ms. Solomon and in particular the Tenneson family brought up some issues that need to be discussed … but there are some problems with this bill that need to be addressed.” Solomon said she’ll work with the state bar, Health and Welfare and others to craft a better version for next year.

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