You see or talk to the mother every day. Both of you make plans on raising the baby together. One cold evening in February, 13 days before the due date, you talk by telephone and you reconfirm your love for each other and discuss the baby's future in your lives. You talk until almost midnight and you go to sleep restfully knowing you are going to be a proud parent.
The next day, you call your girlfriend and there is no answer. Throughout the day you respectively call her getting more worried with each call. But, still no answer. The next morning you rush to the hospital to see if something went wrong. You see your girlfriend's mother's car in the parking lot and you realized you found her. You ask at the reception desk for her room number and you are told to wait. About 15 minutes later, a hospital administrator tells you there is no patient by the mother's name.
And then, you find out that your baby was born 12 days early. My daughter, Emma, was born and taken out the "back door" of the hospital to be adopted without my knowledge or my consent. You were not allowed to be in the delivery room. You did not experience sitting in the waiting room waiting, and waiting and waiting for the nurse to come out and tell you, "Congratulations, Mr. Wyatt, you have a daughter" or "a son". I was not allowed to even see my daughter in the hospital before she disappeared.
I waited and waited to see her that night. She was hidden in a hotel in a room reserved with a stranger's name. An attorney and a Utah adoption agency representative met with her that evening and had her sign away her rights to my daughter. I never did see her. Not that night, not ever.
I was horrified to find out later that my daughter had been taken from the State of Virginia to Utah to be adopted. I soon learned about Utah's adoption laws and the biased laws they have against biological fathers and father's rights.
Since that night when I learned what happened to Emma, I have been fighting for my legal rights as her biological father to get my daughter back. Within days of birth, I hired a lawyer who immediately filed a case for me to have custody of Emma. I did not give up my daughter for adoption. She will never be adopted. I am her natural father and am her recognized legal father on her birth certificate. I have been a part of my daughter's life since the moment of conception and have continued to be her father in the fight to get her back home with me where she belongs.
Five days after I filed for custody in Virginia where the baby was born, the adoptive parents filed to adopt my child in Utah. A Federal law called the PKPA prohibited the Utah court from proceeding on the adoption, they did so anyway. I hired an attorney in Utah who asked that I be allowed to intervene in the adoption case so I could object to the adoption going forward.
The Utah court denied my action to intervene saying that I was too slow to protect my rights in Virginia because I did not register quickly enough with the Putative Father Registry. Virginia law requires that I be sent a written notice informing me that there is an adoption plan and that I have 10 days to register with the Putative Father Registry. I was never sent that notice. (In Virginia, there are four ways a father may protect his rights so that his consent is required for an adoption and compliance with only one is sufficient. The Virginia Court has said that under Virginia law I timely complied with two provisions. First, by immediately filing my custody action prior to a petition for an adoption being filed. Second, by signing the paternity affidavit and being identified on the birth certificate.)
Utah law requires a father from another state to register with the Utah Putative Father Registry within 20 days of someone first mentioning they are considering an adoption in Utah. They claimed that the birth mother told me she mentioned Utah 6 days before the child was born prematurely and that alleged statement started the clock running. The mother never told me she was placing the child for adoption. We talked every day about how we were going to raise the child together. The mother told me this right up until our last conversation which occurred within 12 hours of the baby's birth.
How and where do you register with the Utah Putative Father Registry? It is a great mystery. No where on Utah's website does it indicate how or where to register. It turns out that their Registry is located in their Department of Health and again there is no mention on their website that the Registry even exists or a contact telephone number. We consulted a Virginia attorney who explained that after much difficulty, he was finally able to obtain the direct telephone number for the Registry. My mother and I called and left voice mails but no one ever responded. Finally, we had to find and hire an adoption attorney in Utah who was willing to represent a birth father and pay him to register me. Once we registered, we were told we registered too late.
Even though the mother and I live in Virginia, the child was born in Virginia, the birth and the baby were hidden from me (how many mother's do you know go hide in a hotel with the baby after giving birth), that I immediately filed for custody in Virginia and the Virginia Court after numerous hearings and an independent evaluation of me, awarded me full and permanent custody of my daughter, I had to ask the Utah Court if they would even let me intervene to challenge the adoption of my daughter and they said no.
This is what happened to my baby, Emma, and me.
My case is not the first one of this type. There are many existing laws and practices in all the states pertaining to unwed fathers which are stacked against our parental rights as fathers, especially when we do want to raise and parent our children.
Initially, actions were taken as if I did not exist - a father unknown and/or not able to locate which was not the case. Virginia law states that when a father is "reasonably ascertainable" he must be served written notice of any adoption proceedings and he must be informed of the Virginia Putative Father Registry. He then has 10 days after being mailed a notice to register. I was not notified legally and I did not give my consent nor terminate my rights as my daughter Emma's father. My child was taken from me illegally and without my consent.
Most unwed fathers have never heard of the "Putative Father Registry". Each state has a different set of requirements for registering. I am providing a link to the Virginia Putative Father Registry to hopefully help other fathers to be informed and not have to suffer through the injustice that has happened to me. http://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/ap/putative_fatherhood.html
The Virginia Court awarded Temporary Custody of my daughter to me on August 24, 2009 and awarded permanent Custody to me on December 11, 2009. Utah was also ordered by Virginia Court Order on August 24, 2009 to immediately return Baby Emma to her home State of Virginia and to her father. The final custody Order of December 11, 2009 also again ordered my child returned to me forthwith. Virginia Court has established Jurisdiction and Venue in the State of Virginia for the Custody of my daughter.
Utah did not comply with the laws of the UCCJEA (Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act ) . The 50 States agreed to abide by these laws in reference to children being transported across state lines and the legal procedures involving custody. When one state has venue and jurisdiction in regards to custody orders, the other state must comply.
Utah must comply with the Virginia Court Orders issued August 24, 2009 and December 11, 2009 which demand the immediate return of my daughter, Emma, to me.
Utah also did not comply with the PKPA (Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act) which is a Federal law that the child's home state determines custody of the child and that all other states shall not proceed with any case effecting custody of the child. Despite this Federal law, Utah awarded custody of my daughter to strangers in Utah and denied me to intervene in their adoption of Emma.
Utah has tried unsuccessfully to adopt my baby out to " strangers" without my permission. The other side, the agency and this family seeking to adopt my child out from under me, are going to keep trying legal maneuvers based on loopholes allowed in a bad and unfair Utah law. I am currently paying three law firms in fighting three separate lawsuits, one in Virginia and two in Utah. Should they be able to "win " my baby because they have more money then me? Should you be able to buy a baby because you can outspend a parent? Is this fair? Is this how justice is suppose to work in the United States of America?
I love my daughter, Emma, dearly, and have a God-given and legal right as her biological father to raise her. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated.
If you would like to help bring Baby Emma home, please visit our donation page for information on how you can help. We currently have three attorneys working on her behalf for her successful return home to her father and family who love her very much.
Thank you for your prayers and help. May God Bless you and your family!
Baby Emma's Daddy