In a recent Fox News report, biological fathers are fighting a legal battle against Utah. A dozen fathers across the state have filed a civil lawsuit regarding the current adoption law, which allows mothers to secretly give their babies up for adoption.
The current Utah law does not require biological fathers to receive any type of legal notice stating a Petition for Adoption has been filed. Requiring notice to be given provides the biological father with a limited number of days to contest the adoption process. The requirement notice is common in several states and at least recommended in other states.
The lack of notice requirement to biological fathers is also allegedly encouraging birth mothers to move to Utah and secretly place the baby for adoption. As cited in the news report, in 2009, the chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court warned of just such a scenario in which the biological father lost his bid to gain custody. In a dissenting opinion the chief justice wrote, “Utah risks becoming a magnet for those seeking to unfairly cut off opportunities for biological fathers to assert their rights to connection with their children … not every unmarried biological father is indifferent to or unworthy of such connections.”
Overall, the fathers who have filed this law suit are not only seeking monetary damages, but are also hoping the Utah Adoption Act will be found unconstitutional.
It is important for all adoption professionals to understand the importance of serving a biological father with notice of the Adoption Petition. Adoption professionals can avoid such a tragic story by creating their own personal rule of law: when in doubt, give notice to the biological father.