Soldier wins 22-month custody battle and finally reunited with daughter, 2, who his wife gave up for adoption
without telling him.
Terry Achane returned from work to find his wife had given newborn daughter away for adoption
The girl spent 22 months with the Frei family, who say they are devastated at losing the child
A soldier has been with his two-year-old daughter who was placed for adoption at birth without his knowledge.
Utah Judge, Darold McDade, decided yesterday that Terry Achane, 31, should have custody of Teleah. The girl can now return home with her father, until a March hearing in Utah's high court.
'I got my daughter back,' Achane told the Salt Lake Tribune. 'I’m very happy. It’s 22 months too long, but the wait was worth it.'
Achane said it was just days after he left his pregnant wife for his new job out of state that she quietly signed over their unborn baby to the Frei family in Utah.
The military man said that he and his wife, Tira Bland, were having marital problems not long after learning she was pregnant in 2010, leading to her decision to give up the child.
The now ex-husband says Bland had suggested having an abortion or giving their child up for adoption - fearing she would end up as a single mother - but he said no, encouraging their daughter's birth.
It was just months later in February of 2011 that Achane found himself sent to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for work, believing he’d leave and come back a new dad.
Ten days after his move, however, his wife went gave birth to a premature baby and signed away their child before cutting all contact with her husband.
'I was like, "Utah? Where is Utah?" I’d never been to Utah. She's never been to Utah,'" Mr Achane told the Salt Lake Tribune of the moment he first heard the bizarre and horrifying news.
The girl was placed with Jared and Kristi Frei, who had spent the last few years struggling to naturally expand their family of five children, in the city of Spanish Fork.
But on Friday, Judge McDade upheld his November 20 decision dismissing their adoption petition and awarded custody to Achane.
The Utah Supreme Court then followed McDade's lead. The state’s high court will hear an expedited case for the matter for late March.
Jared and Kristi Frei, the Utah couple who had hoped to adopt Teleah, left the court through a back exit.
The Freis did not speak to the media but their lawyer, Lance Rich, called it a painful time for the family.
Rich requested some privacy for the Freis and for 'the little girl whom they considered part of their family for these past 22 months.'
As reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, Rich stated: 'The Freis’ focus and concerns at this time are to enable her to make a successful transition to her father.
'Please respect the privacy of the Frei family and also of the child in this case and allow all involved in this case to heal from this experience.'
Achane told the Tribune that the decision was 'hard' on the Frei family and that there were a 'lot of tears.'
'They raised my daughter right,' Achane added. 'They love my daughter just as much as I do.'
The Freis appealed McDade's November decision and raised money for their legal fees with a blog. On here they explained how they came to adopt the girl.
'We knew that we were not done having children, but after years of sudden infertility and several miscarriages… we discovered somewhere down the line that Kristi had advanced endometriosis, and would not likely conceive or carry another child again.'
Turning to adoption, in early 2009 the Frei family grew their family by one more with a baby boy named James.
Desiring to add one more child - 'a close, similar sibling' for James - they found Achane's daughter, whom they named Leah.