exposing the dark side of adoption
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Utah Supreme Court to hear dad’s bid for his baby


By Brooke Adams

John Wyatt says this is the thought that keeps him going: One day, he will be with his daughter.

Wyatt knows the daughter he calls Emma, now 18 months old, only through photographs. Since her birth in a Virginia hospital, he has waged a battle in two states to assert his right to have custody of Emma.

The next round will take place Thursday before the Utah Supreme Court, where attorneys will argue adoption law, jurisdiction and, perhaps, whether a child is better off being raised by two parents than a single father.

Wyatt claims Utah’s laws are unfairly aligned against unmarried biological fathers and that a Utah judge ignored legal decisions made in his home state and the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act.

“I have the law on my side,” said Wyatt, 22. “These people are blatantly breaking the law. They are just trying to wait us out, hope that we’ll run out of money or give up.”

But about a dozen other biological fathers, most from other states, have failed in similar fights against Utah’s tough paternity requirements. Rulings found that the fathers failed to strictly meet a law requiring them to register their paternity within a certain time frame and to prove in court they could care for the child — regardless of action taken in their home states.

Larry Jenkins, the Salt Lake City adoption attorney who has been involved in at least seven of those cases, also is representing the couple who took custody of Wyatt’s daughter days after her birth.

Jenkins said Wyatt’s claims were filed too late in both Utah and Virginia.

2010 Sep 8