Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Bill imposes sanctions for adoption fraud

Adoption is a unique way of finding good homes for children who otherwise might be left to fend for themselves. The children who are placed for adoption come from all walks of life; some are there because the state voided their parent's parental rights others are there because their parent or parents voluntarily placed them there. The decision to place a child up for adoption is a difficult one and as more and more cases are showing in Utah the decision isn't always legally made with both parents consent.

In response to the growing number of adoption fraud claims one Utah senator has sponsored a bill which would punish those agencies found taking part in the regrettable practice. The most recent case involved a father's fight to regain custody of his two-year-old daughter who was placed for adoption without his knowledge by his wife at the time. Other cases involve mothers telling fathers their child died at the behest of adoption agency representatives. All these cases are legal due to the current language of Utah's adoption law which gives fathers very little say or recourse in adoption fraud cases.

One unique provision of the bill is that it allows for courts to place more weight on the due process rights of the father than the bonding the child has made with the adoptive parents. This is a complete departure from traditional standards which always place the best interest of the child first. The bill would also allow for attorney fees to be paid by the losing party and sets standards for adoption agencies a change from current law which immunizes birth moms and agencies that practice this type of adoption fraud.

This bill is aimed at not only helping fathers but also helping those who are seeking an adoption as they could spend thousands of dollars only to end up heartbroken. Adoptions, when done correctly, are a beautiful way of creating new families.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune "Bill would allow sanctions for adoption fraud by agencies, birth moms," Brooke Adams, Feb. 18, 2013

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