By John Steven
A Virginia father who claims his daughter was put up for adoption without his permission has lost his bid to have her returned because a court said he did not file the right paperwork in time.
John Wyatt said that he never gave up his parental rights to his daughter, known as 'Baby Emma’, before she placed with an adoption agency two days after her birth.
But the State Supreme Court in Utah, where the child’s adoptive parents live, rejected Mr Wyatt’s appeal to overturn the adoption, finding he did not meet the required deadlines for asserting his rights.
'I am going to keep fighting for my daughter,’ said Mr Wyatt, who is planning a challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court.
'Whether I have to wait until she is of age, I want to be a part of her life.
'There is nothing anyone or those people can do to stop me from being part of her life.’
Mr Wyatt said he had hoped to raise his daughter, who was born on February 10 2009, alone or with his then-girlfriend Emily Colleen Fahland, who is the birth mother.
But two days after the baby was born Ms Fahland relinquished her parental rights and the baby was placed with a Utah couple.
The court found that Mr Wyatt did not file any visitation or custody petitions until April 28, over two months after the birth.
'The district court correctly concluded that Mr Wyatt failed to assert his parental rights in time in either Utah or Virginia prior to the birth mother’s relinquishment of her parental rights in [Baby Emma] and thus waived all rights to contest the adoption,’ wrote Justice Jill Parrish.
Larry Jenkins, the lawyer who represents the adoptive parents, Thomas and Chandra Zarembinski, told the Salt Lake Tribune: 'I can say they are very gratified with the ruling. They think the court did the right thing.’
Mr Wyatt said he is not surprised by the decision. 'This is what Utah does,’ he told the Tribune. 'They steal people’s babies. It is like a big game to these people.