Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Adoptions laws set to change as Governor signs new law

There are cases where adoption is the best solution for all parties involved. Then there are cases where adoption only serves to benefit one or more of the parties involved. And then there are adoptions that do more harm than good to those involved. Typically these are adoptions carried out over the objections of one of the parents or the child's family members who are seeking custody. Although the American legal system is far from perfect, it does have the ability to make changes and corrections.

Utah has been in the news over the outrage that its adoption laws have caused from the fathers of children adopted away without their knowledge. A law recently signed by Utah's governor introduced changes in the right direction to the often abused adoption act. Changes to the law come in response to multiple lawsuits by fathers who claim that Utah's adoption laws have been used to kidnap their children and adopt them out to new families. Although the law does not penalize mothers who choose not to notify fathers that they are placing their child up for adoption, it places a burden on the judges of knowing whether or not a father is seeking custody of their child.

Under the new law mothers will be required to have lived in Utah for at least 90 days before they can give their child up for adoption. Those mothers who have not lived in Utah for 90 days can still give their child up for adoption but must give the father's contact information to the court. Not only does the law allow fathers to better challenge adoptions, but it also provides an avenue for them to see their child in cases where they do not receive custody.

Utah's adoptions laws are likely to undergo more changes before its adoption system is considered fixed. Until that time, unwed fathers will have to continue to fight hard for their children who are adopted out against their wishes.

Source: Huffington Post, "Utah Governor Signs Law Beefing Up Adoption Rules," Annie Knox, April 3, 2014

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