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Do Adoptive Parents Have More Rights Than Bio Dads?

Do Adoptive Parents Have More Rights Than Bio Dads?

John Wyatt has been unsuccessfully fighting to overturn the adoption of his daughter, "Baby Emma." He opposed the adoption, which took place in Virginia, and had hoped to raise the child either by himself or with the birth mother. On Tuesday, the Utah Supreme Court rejected his appeal.

The difficulty lies in the details – "Baby Emma" was adopted by a couple in Utah, which has a strict timeframe for an unmarried biological father to assert his parental rights. Wyatt claims he never received proper notice of the birth mother's plan to put their daughter up for adoption. Even worse, Wyatt is unable to appeal under the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, which would require Utah to follow a Virginia judge's order to give him custody of his daughter, because he didn't raise that argument in a lower court. 

Wyatt wasn't surprised: "This is what Utah does. They steal people's babies. It is like a big game to these people." He vows to continue fighting for his daughter and indicated that a challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court is likely.


Wyatt is not the only unmarried dad who has wrestled with this issue – at least half a dozen unmarried biological fathers have unsuccessfully attempted to stop adoptions in Utah.

Read More.

Should the rights of unmarried biological fathers trump those of adoptive parents?

Image Source: Courtesy of Dayna Smith

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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ChristinaCiani ChristinaCiani 5 years
to Jim Bailey: sir, even the Supreme Court disagrees about "biological Relationship" and, with all due respect, sir, they have this to say on the matter: Despite this Court's repeated recognition of these significant parental liberty interests, these interests have never been seen to be without limits. In Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U. S. 248 (1983), for example, this Court held that a putative biological father who had never established an actual relationship with his child did not have a constitutional right to notice of his child's adoption by the man who had married the child's mother. As this Court had recognized in an earlier case, a parent's liberty interests " `do not spring full-blown from the biological connection between parent and child. They require relationships more enduring.' " Id., at 260 (quoting Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U. S. 380, 397 (1979)). Conversely, in Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U. S. 110 (1989), this Court concluded that despite both biological parenthood and an established relationship with a young child, a father's due process liberty interest in maintaining some connection with that child was not sufficiently powerful to overcome a state statutory presumption that the husband of the child's mother was the child's parent. As a result of the presumption, the biological father could be denied even visitation with the child because, as a matter of state law, he was not a "parent." A plurality of this Court there recognized that the parental liberty interest was a function, not simply of "isolated factors" such as biology and intimate connection, but of the broader and apparently independent interest in family. See, e.g. . id., at 123; see also Lehr, 463 U. S., at 261; Smith v. Organization of Foster Families For Equality & Reform, 431 U. S. 816, 842-847 (1977); Moore v. East Cleveland, 431 U. S. 494, 498-504 (1977). A parent's rights with respect to her child have thus never been regarded as absolute, but rather are limited by the existence of an actual, developed relationship with a child, and are tied to the presence or absence of some embodiment of family. These limitations have arisen, not simply out of the definition of parenthood itself, but because of this Court's assumption that a parent's interests in a child must be balanced against the State's long-recognized interests as parens patriae, see, e.g., Reno v. Flores, 507 U. S. 292, 303-304 (1993); Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U. S., at 766; Parham, 442 U.S., at 605; Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U. S. 158, 166 (1944), and, critically, the child's own complementary interest in preserving relationships that serve her welfare and protection, Santosky, 455 U. S., at 760. While this Court has not yet had occasion to elucidate the nature of a child's liberty interests in preserving established familial or family-like bonds, 491 U. S., at 130 (reserving the question), it seems to me extremely likely that, to the extent parents and families have fundamental liberty interests in preserving such intimate relationships, so, too, do children have these interests, and so, too, must their interests be balanced in the equation.8 At a minimum, our prior cases recognizing that children are, generally speaking, constitutionally protected actors require that this Court reject any suggestion that when it comes to parental rights, children are so much chattel. See ante, at 5-6 (opinion of O'Connor, J.) (describing States' recognition of "an independent third-party interest in a child"). The constitutional protection against arbitrary state interference with parental rights should not be extended to prevent the States from protecting children against the arbitrary exercise of parental authority that is not in fact motivated by an interest in the welfare of the child.9 This is not, of course, to suggest that a child's liberty interest in maintaining contact with a particular individual is to be treated invariably as on a par with that child's parents' contrary interests. Because our substantive due process case law includes a strong presumption that a parent will act in the best interest of her child, it would be necessary, were the state appellate courts actually to confront a challenge to the statute as applied, to consider whether the trial court's assessment of the "best interest of the child" incorporated that presumption. Neither would I decide whether the trial court applied Washington's statute in a constitutional way in this case, although, as I have explained, n. 3, supra, I think the outcome of this determination is far from clear. For the purpose of a facial challenge like this, I think it safe to assume that trial judges usually give great deference to parents' wishes, and I am not persuaded otherwise here. But presumptions notwithstanding, we should recognize that there may be circumstances in which a child has a stronger interest at stake than mere protection from serious harm caused by the termination of visitation by a "person" other than a parent. The almost infinite variety of family relationships that pervade our ever-changing society strongly counsel against the creation by this Court of a constitutional rule that treats a biological parent's liberty interest in the care and supervision of her child as an isolated right that may be exercised arbitrarily. It is indisputably the business of the States, rather than a federal court employing a national standard, to assess in the first instance the relative importance of the conflicting interests that give rise to disputes such as this.10 Far from guaranteeing that parents' interests will be trammeled in the sweep of cases arising under the statute, the Washington law merely gives an individual--with whom a child may have an established relationship--the procedural right to ask the State to act as arbiter, through the entirely well-known best-interests standard, between the parent's protected interests and the child's. It seems clear to me that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment leaves room for States to consider the impact on a child of possibly arbitrary parental decisions that neither serve nor are motivated by the best interests of the child.
NicoleWaechtler NicoleWaechtler 5 years
@Jim Bailey, you have no idea what you're talking about. My biological father decided AFTER I was born that he couldn't handle a kid so he abandoned his wife (my mom) and me. Thankfully 3 years later my mom married a man who was man enough to fill the role of "Dad" in my life. I only have one dad. And it's definitely not my biological father. He never paid child support and overnighted his release of parental rights when my dad wanted to adopt me. You, Jim, are ignorant if you truly believe that the man who makes you is the man who should raise you. As for this case, Utah should be ashamed of themselves. This is not the first case like this in Utah and it won't be the last. I commend these fathers for fighting for their babies. Shouldn't it be illegal to have just one parent sign off on the adoption??? I would think both parents would be required to sign over their parental rights?
DawnCadman DawnCadman 5 years
How about considering what is best for the child at this point? She has been with her adoptive parents for over two years now. It would be so traumatic for her to be ripped away from the only parents and home that she knows. The biological dad is being extremely selfish to even consider doing that to poor baby Emma.
CoMMember136311694508 CoMMember136311694508 5 years
Biological Fathers are the ONLY Fathers a Child can have - ALL the rest are pseudo-Step-Dads-@-Best - Enshrine REAL **Equal Parenting** into GLOBAL FAMILY Law and Social Policy from conception will solve this and many more problems of destructive GLOBAL Law and Policies overnight - Onward:)_Jim
MelanieC56004 MelanieC56004 5 years
In my case I wanted the father of my son will care for him even just a little but he doesn't care
JenelleMuir JenelleMuir 5 years
Being a Utah resident for my entire life, I have two answers to this question. I feel the choice for adoption must be made by both parents. But find it bothersome that one, the boy is not close enough to the girl to even know she was pregnant; and two, some wait too long to speak up. I do find it ridiculous that they don't give father the same rights as they do the mother. I don't care how you look at it, that baby is equally both of theirs. But to go in and fight after the baby has already been placed with its adoptive family, I have mixed feelings. I don't know how you decipher which is more fair...the adoptive parents or the birth father. Kind of a hard situation.
AthenaHaegele AthenaHaegele 5 years
The bio dad should have first chose if he wants the child if the bio mother wants to give the baby up. As long as he is a responsible person, he is that child's dad!!
KylieTaylor19639 KylieTaylor19639 5 years
If the adoptive father is a capable person why the hell isn't he being given his child. it sucks for the adoptive family, but surely if he always intended to raise the child should he automaticly get custody unless it can be poved that it would be bad for the child????
JulieKeyworth JulieKeyworth 5 years
I live in Utah, the government here is CRAAAAZZZZZYYYYY!!!!
GriseldaHernandez6431 GriseldaHernandez6431 5 years
I think this is WRONG, period! If the biological father is willing and psychologically fit to raise his/her child then they should be given the opportunity. What makes the courts think that the adoptive parents won't divorce in the future? That said, I totally support the bio fathers. Continue fighting for your rights!
LynnetteLillquist LynnetteLillquist 5 years
I gave mt son up for adopyion when he was 3 mos. old and yes adoptive parents have more right then birthparents because they are raising the child
CoMMember13613652444282 CoMMember13613652444282 5 years
What I don't understand is how can anyone keep a baby that isn't theirs? If the adoptive parents know that the biological father had no intention of giving up his rights, then they need to return the child.
ChristinaDiggs61160 ChristinaDiggs61160 5 years
My brother went through the same thing ... His girlfriend was away at college , never told him she was pregnant . My brother found out he was a father when a mutual friend called and told him that his girlfriend had given birth on the floor of a dorm bathroom . The girlfriend and her family decided to give the baby up and no matter how much we spent on lawyers and times in court ...Utah law prevented him from getting his daughter . Our situation happened in California but the hospital counsel worker convinced the girlfriend that a Utah adoption was best and thats what happened . My niece was picked up by a worker from an agent in Utah and that was that !! Its horribly sad that the biological fathers and family have ZERO rights and those agencies " backed by the Utahs laws" rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars for these adoptions while the biological fathers and family suffer .....
ToniGeiselman ToniGeiselman 5 years
We complain because men don't care but they get slapped on the face at every turn when they do.
CoMMember13630574631222 CoMMember13630574631222 5 years
In my sons case that's what happened. The girl he was with went behind his back and put the baby up for adoption, told us she lost the baby when she did not. She looked my daughter in the face and told her that. My son went through total hell when it was her fault. After $20,000.00 dollars + we were tapped out and they were pulling every trick in the book for the adoptive family and in the end he did decide to sign his rights away to the adoptive family. But we do get pictures and can communicate with the family. Guys just buy a condum if you really don't know how back stabbing and crazy some of these girls can be. Be totally 100% sure you are going to be with the girl you get pregnant, because the lawyers really don't fight for the fathers. My son won in three different courts not to have his rights taken away. but they were going to try and prove he was unfit. He has another daughter and is a great father with another daughter on the way. Hope nobody else ever has to go through what he and his family had to go through.
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