Va. father fights for baby Emma in Utah court

Date: 2010-09-09
Source: tbd.com

A Virginia father traveled across the country to fight for the daughter he's never met.

John Wyatt headed to court Thursday stopping only to show reporters the cell phone photo of his daughter Emma. The Dumfries man has only seen photos of his daughter. She was adopted last year by a couple in Utah when Wyatt's girlfriend signed papers without John's permission.

Thursday, Wyatt's attorney argued before the state supreme court that Emma belongs back in Virginia, which granted Wyatt custody.

"I live in Virginia, halfway across the country, and they want me to comply with their laws when my state already said that I did everything to protect my rights," said Wyatt.

Emma, now 19 months, lives in a suburb with adoptive parents Thomas and Chandra Zarembinski.

"She is the cutest little girl and is so loved by the parents and grandparents," said neighbor Bruce Smith.

The Zarembinskis' attorney contends Wyatt missed the deadline to act.

"I've seen many a biological father meet the requirements and stop adoptions. He had sufficient information that this is a Utah adoption and I think he should've acted on it," stated Larry Jenkins, the attorney for the Zarembinskis.

But John Wyatt isn't alone. Tanya O'Dea came from Wyoming in support. Her husband lost his daughter last year in a similar case tried by Jenkins.

"The birth mother and called my husband and said, 'I am in Utah, you will never see this child. You will pay child support for this child until it's 18. Do you understand?' He said, 'no, I do not understand,'" shared O'Dea.

The adoptive parents were not in court, so Wyatt went to their home, bringing balloons, a stuffed animal and a card, hoping to see his daughter. No one answered the door.

Wyatt is not giving up.

He said, "I can't ever let her go. That's my daughter and I will never stop fighting for her."

Utah's supreme court is not expected to make a ruling until the end of the year. The Zarembinskis' attorney says the adoptive parents are devastated too but John Wyatt says they should not have gone ahead with the adoption knowing that he still wanted Emma.

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