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Another Utah Adoption Fiasco: Judge holds father responsible for State’s gross negligence.

Salt Lake City, Utah (May 25, 2010) – Ramsey Shaud, an unmarried 23-year-old construction worker and waiter from Crestview, Florida, wonders what more he could possibly have done to preserve his rights to his now five-month-old daughter. When Shaud’s girlfriend told him she was pregnant and planned to place the child for adoption, Shaud insisted on having custody, filed in the Florida putative father registry, and offered financial support to the mother. The mother rejected his offers and left for Arizona, and later Utah.

Shaud immediately filed in the Arizona putative father registry and contacted Utah attorney Daniel Drage. With Drage’s help, Shaud filed a paternity claim in Utah and a notice in the Utah putative father registry five days before the birth. Utah law requires an unwed father to file the claim and notice before the mother consents to adoption. Shaud’s notice was mailed on January 12, 2010 and marked received by Utah Vital Statistics on January 14. The mother consented to adoption on January 19, and an adoption petition was filed.

When notice of the adoption petition did not come to Shaud, Drage investigated. He discovered that Vital Statistics had not processed Shaud’s paperwork until January 20, making Shaud’s filing one day late. Moreover, the date of receipt on the envelope had been altered from January 14 to January 20. The adoption was then ordered without Shaud present.

“I did everything I possibly could to completely comply with Utah’s strict adoption codes only to be told in court that the state of Utah held my paper work for 6 days,” said an exasperated Shaud. “This is completely heart breaking and I want nothing more than to raise my own daughter.”

Erik L. Smith, a paralegal from Ohio, who assists attorneys nationally in contested adoptions, echoed the frustration: “This shows what a sham the Utah system is. Not only are the laws burdensome, but even when a father follows the law the state can thwart him.”

Attorney Drage filed a motion to intervene in the adoption and served subpoenas on Vital Statistics employees. A judge ruled that Shaud had preserved his right to due process. For unknown reasons the judge was replaced by Judge Robin Reese, who reconsidered the matter. Reese refused to admit Drage’s evidence about Vital Statistics activities and denied Shaud’s intervention, citing Utah Code 78B-6-106(1). That statute does not excuse a parent from complying with the laws based upon any “omission of the other parent or third parties.” Reese considered Vital Statistics a third party and held Shaud responsible for the late filing. Reese rejected Drage’s argument that the State cannot deny an unwed father an opportunity to assert his parental rights.

Shaud faces a wait of several months while his case is appealed. Should he prevail, the adoptive parents will no doubt argue that the child should not be removed from the only home she has ever known.

Erik Smith
[email protected]
(614) 571-2999


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  1. I was listening to some old episodes of This American Life (public radio)from last year, and heard a story about an adoption agency based out of Utah/LDS that was taken to court for falsifying records in Samoan adoptions. The defendants ended up being held accountable by never being allowed to work in adoptions again.
    The story was about a family who adopted a girl from Samoa, but the girl’s family thought she was going to the U.S. on an education program. There were 30 or so kids who experienced similar things.
    Anyway, my question was, has anyone in the Bastard nation blogsphere wrote about this? I wanted to learn more.

  2. Utah has become the mecca for shady adoption practices which seem to fly due to LDS influence. I had been following this case with some interest because this poor man did everything he should have done. I guess the only thing he DIDN’T do was to dust off his crystal ball! Shame on him!

    Things have gotten so bad in so many of these situations that it seems to me that the only thing that will be a saving is if the Feds step in and make some guidelines. The danger there is that they will be worse!

  3. Off-topic but timely:

    US senators unveil plan to aid Haiti orphans

    “Three US senators on Wednesday unveiled a bill to clear away hurdles to citizenship for roughly 1,000 Haitian orphans whose adoptions by US parents were rushed because of a January earthquake.

    Gillibrand was joined by fellow Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Senator James Inhofe in unveiling the plan.

    “This bill will alleviate the legal burden facing the adoptive parents of this group of orphans, and finally bring needed relief as these adoptive families begin their lives together,” said Inhofe.

    The children were allowed into the United States through humanitarian parole visas and formally deemed orphans by Haitian authorities, but failure to complete the adoption paperwork could result in a years-long wait before they can get legal resident status.

    The legislation would enable US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to allow parents who are US nationals to apply immediately on their adopted children’s behalf to become legal permanent residents and ultimately qualify for citizenship.”

    The bill is S.3411.

  4. Also OT:

    CNBC will show a 1-hr documentary titled “Escape From Havana” about Operation Peter Pan at 9ET tonight (Thursday).

    CNBC occasionally does sensationalist documentaries, for example “Marijuana Inc.”, but this one is pretty unusual as it doesn’t seem to be related to economics at all. (I imagine the theme will be ‘capitalism=good, communism=evil’.)

  5. Thanks for the reminder, anon guy. I saw it advertised, but it skipped my ;mind. I’ll post something on it in a little while.

  6. Kitta here:

    It seems that fathers’ rights are a joke in Utah, and other states as well. Even when a father follows the law, he is denied, and when government officials (allegedly) behave fraudulently, the evidence is suppressed.

    Only adoption matters.

  7. I used to think that Florida was adoption central in the US. But all that I have read and learned of late leads me to believe that Utah tales the title. This man’s story is proof that adoption is stronger than the individual and is gaining strength all the time in places like Utah.

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