• Sun, Jan 27 2013

Way To Avoid A Custody Battle – Wife Gives Up Newborn For Adoption Without Telling Her Husband

shutterstock_120953119A custody battle is never pleasant. But that is no reason to avoid one altogether by giving your child up for adoption without consulting her birth father. Who does that? Tira Bland apparently thought it would be a good idea. She placed her two-year-old up for adoption at birth, without her soldier husband’s knowledge. This story is really weird.

The child’s father, Terry Achane, says that 10 days after he left his pregnant wife for a job out of state, she gave birth prematurely and gave the baby up for adoption without his knowledge or consent. They were having marital problems and he guesses that she was afraid of being a single mom.  She gave the child up to a Utah couple hoping to expand their family of five children.

I was always under the assumption that there was a lot of time, legalities, and paperwork involved in something like this. I had no idea that an adoption was something that could start-to-finish take 10 days. Something about this story just doesn’t seem right.

On Friday, a Utah judge ordered that the family’s adoption petition be dismissed. Jared and Kristi Frei had to give up a child who they considered part of their family for the last 22 months. Ugh. All because Bland decided to make a decision that was clearly not hers alone to make – and take a child away from a father who obviously wanted her.

I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to give a child up at birth. But deciding that motherhood is something that you dont want doesn’t give you the right to rob your husband of the opportunity to raise his child. Not to mention break the heart of adoptive parents who have been raising this child as their own for almost two years. The couple said they were “deeply saddened” by the court’s ruling to give Teleah back to “a father she does not know at all.”

As much as I am sad for this adoptive family, I have to side with the birth father here. He’s spent the first two years of her life trying to get her back.

I just hope he gets sole custody.

(photo: Andrey Eremin/ Shutterstock.com)

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  • meg

    There are one or two states where you can give up a child without the father getting input, but they were MARRIED, which I’m pretty sure means he has legal rights regardless of that. Also, I know people who have given up babies without the father “officially” signing off on it, and it involves a length public notification process asking the father to come forward, etc. It’s not something you just do, spur of the moment.

    I have limited sympathy for the guy, though, seeing as he left his pregnant wife. (Although it’s unclear, do they mean he abandoned her, or that he simply moved out of state temporarily for employment? If it’s the former, screw him.)

    • CG

      It says he is a soldier…I assume that’s why he left?

    • NeuroNerd

      According to the linked article, he was sent to Fort Jackson for work. I’m assuming the military sent him there. More than that, he appealed this early. The adoptive family had their petition to adopt dismissed in January of 2012, but they appealed that, keeping the girl from her father for another year.

    • meg

      Ok, well, if he left for military service, that’s a different scenario than if he just up and deserted his pregnant wife. Which means there’s even MORE fishiness to the adoption process. Like I said: this isn’t something you can generally do in a flash.

    • StephKay

      Maybe this is total lack of understanding on my part (I live in Canada, and have no personal experience with adoption) but I was under the impression that the long drawn out side of adoption was for the adoptive parents. I thought if a woman is working with certain private agencies she’s given portfolios of potential parents and gets to select the best match based on their qualities. If this happens close to a woman’s due date (or if the baby comes early, like in this case) you could very well have adoptive parents sitting on a list for years and years and suddenly receive a phone call that a baby is due within a couple of weeks and a decision needs to be made. I’ve heard this narrative quite a few times from adoptive mothers, getting sidelined by a birth mother making the decision at the very last second. Am I way way off with this, or is Utah very different? I know the legalities around the dad are very strange, but I don’t understand why the speed of the placement is being called into question in the article and here. If there was fraud, or the agency believed the father was on board, I don’t see why this couldn’t happen overnight.

    • bumbler

      I agree, I personally know 3 families who got their babies from mothers who decided on the day of birth to surrender the infant for adoption. All were perfectly legal, legit adoptions (two in the states, one in Canada). It’s common for the infant to be placed into the adoptive home as a “foster” child for 6 months until the paperwork clears. It varies by state.

    • VanCan

      You’re right about the speed of placements. The fishiness in this case is because the agency knew Ms. Bland was married, so her husband would have had immediate custody of the child even if he had abandoned her. The agency claimed that Mr. Achane couldn’t be located but they knew that he was in the military; that right there is BS because no one’s easier to find than a soldier. The agency committed fraud and child trafficking and unfortunately the Fries family went along with it and made the situation infinitely worse.

  • Blooming_Babies

    This case is so horrifying, every turn with all the people involved is so wrong.
    The mother, who gave up a child she knew was wanted by her father.
    The adoption agency who placed that baby knowing full well the father wanted her and did not consent.
    The adoptive parents who knew when they took that baby that the father did not know about the adoption and that he would likely fight to get her back when he found out.

    None of those horrible people love that little girl in the least, I am disgusted that this abuse took almost two years to make right.

    • meg

      If the baby was legally cleared for adoption, through whatever deceptive means, it’s unlikely the parents “knew that the father did not know.” They thought they were taking an unwanted child. Yes, this is a horrible situation all around, but I think the adoptive family has been wronged as much as the little girl has – can you imagine going through the long, intense process to adopt, then having an absent father (for all you know) show up out of nowhere and try to take your child back? A child you’ve welcomed into your home?

      It seems that the child being back with the father may be the best situation, but that doesn’t diminish the loss the adoptive family must be suffering right now.

    • CleaK

      No, they were made aware that the adoption was contested from the get-go. He contacted the agency as soon as he determined what had happened and it was relatively early in the proceedings, only to be blocked by the agency at all turns. The adopted family went ahead and then openly defied any and all attempts he made to have any sort of relationship with his daughter. Then they tried to block the adoption termination on the grounds that the guy did not get to know his daughter. Both the adoptive parents and the agency got a good scolding from the judge. The guy was lucky he had been married to the mother, had he not been with Utah adoption laws being what they are, he would not have won this fight.

      Frankly, I think had they all worked together they could have avoided a lot of nastiness and the adoptive family could have retained some role in her life, which is now looking doubtful. People always say they are acting the best interest of the child, when in fact often the only interest served is that of their own pride.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1165875627 Jennifer Ives O’Meara

    It is one thing to leave your pregnant wife for work, because you are a soldier, but how did she manage to give birth & hand over baby without so much as a phone call or visit from husband. Even if she blocked his calls, and lets say for arguement sake he tried to reach her for 2 months straight with no answers, any military leader, boss, etc would see the importance in this situation and grant him (father) temp emergency leave to go and figure out what is going on. You don’t leave a pregnant wife & not talk to her, regardless of the relationship status unless you just don’t care. This is a mess, and I actually think the judge is wrong. I think the child would be better off with the only family she has ever known, and not a father who may still be in the military, and maybe single, and maybe deployed for a year at a time. Where is the stability in her life that she so desperately deserves. UGH whole thing pisses me off, and so called daddy should man up and return her, if he truely cared for her & wanted whatwas best.

    • meg

      Good point …

    • bumbler

      easy to say when it wasn’t your kid that was given away without your consent. You’ve made a lot of assumptions that may or may not be true. For all we know, he could be akin to the devil or worthy of sainthood. At 2 years old the child is still young enough to transition to her biological family without serious emotional distress (most likely, every kid is different). Another thing to consider is how the child would feel when she’s grown up and knows the situation. Would she be content knowing she was stolen from her father, regardless of what kind of person he may be?
      I find it strange that you both accuse him of being inactive during the adoption, and then call him a jerk after he actively fought for 2 years in court to get the child back. Which is it?; Did he carelessly let the child escape him or selfishly hunt her down? I find your perspective illogical and reactionary.
      As for the adoptive family, that would be a true nightmare. I’m wondering if they or the agency cut some corners. In general a legally married woman can’t simply hand over an infant without her husband’s consent. Perhaps someone lied or there were forged documents.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1165875627 Jennifer Ives O’Meara

      I never called him a jerk. You must not of read my statement correctly. Of course I made assumptions, as did you. Neither one of us read any official legal paperwork on the matter. As far as being young enough to transistion into a new family, yes that is true, but you can’t deny the fact, that a childs most important & basic developments happen from birth till 3, you screw that up because of bs fighting, and you will spend a lifetime repairing the damage, ie talking bonding, trust, security. The adoption family deserved to keep her, maybe with split custody. Sounds silly, but wondeer WHO is going to carforher during the day while he is at work? Who will care for her 24hours a day, for a full year of military deployment and or then some? I am sorry, his reasoning is just as shady as the speed of the adoption. Even if my husband walked out the door calling me a bitch again, because we have been fighting non stop, and I was in my 3 rd trimester of pregnancy, he would never go longer than 24 hours before making contact withme, and making sure I am ok, if but only for the baby’s health. The facts are easy to add up, they fought all the time, he left state for work, and in his own words, she must not wanted to have been a “single mom” , meaning she felt that was the life she had to look forward too. Only a woman whose husband doesnt make any effort to contact her once he leaves.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1165875627 Jennifer Ives O’Meara

      can make a desperate and maybe one sided decision as she did. I am sorry, but I don’t applaude this ruling at all. if he really gave a shit, he never would have left WITHOUT her, making sure the baby was born healthy, then kick that bitch to the curb.

    • VanCan

      He did give a shit. He didn’t just “leave for a job out of town.” He’s a soldier in the army and was reassigned to a different base out of state. That happens to soldiers; they don’t get to pick where they’re posted. His wife decided not to join him. She gave birth early and didn’t notify him. Unless you expect him to go AWOL (that’s breaking the law) and also have precognitive powers and know she’d gone into labor, he had no way of being there for the birth. He probably assumed, because he’s sane and normal, that his wife would freaking tell him the baby was born. She’s not sane or normal, so she didn’t. Once he was made aware of the baby’s location, he immediately petitioned the court to get his daughter back. HE GAVE A SHIT. Two years’ worth of shit, actually.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1165875627 Jennifer Ives O’Meara

      There marriage was in trouble, she came up pregnant, and she asked him in the beginning, we need to talk about alternatives, (adoption or abortion) He said no, I want to keep baby, she agreed after discussing with him thier options, beacuse she had hope for the marriage. But as reported in several pieces on the issue, she found herself alone & pregnant, with no help, no support from her husband. No money, no contact. When he couldnt reach her, he send a friend over to their home, when friend found it empty, he didn’t return to Texas to find her, when he went months without hearing from her, he assumed she got an abortion. WOW, that just screams supportive husband. He only found out about the baby after she called him to start divorce paperwork.
      If you want to be a father, to your unborn child, regardless of the relationship status, you find a way, you make shit happen, you stay involved in that womans life until the baby is born. I am sorry if you emotionally & physically abandon your prego wife, then you don’t deserve to be apart of the extremely hard decision that poor woman had to make, and that was to unselfishly give that baby to a loving home.

    • jessica

      That is interesting but just doesn’t match the facts of the case at all.

    • http://twitter.com/imimbles Jade

      That’s simply not true. He was sent to his new job but still paid the mortgage and everything on the old house, he was planning for her to join him.

    • Rachel

      What is temporary emergency leave? I am am a third generation Army vet, and my husband is still active duty, and we have not heard of this.

      Emergency leave is issued when a Red Cross message gets transmitted. A typical chain of command would authorize ordinary leave for the situation described **if the training schedule permits**, but I don’t know where you’re getting 2 months from… maybe I’m overlooking something, but I didn’t see any reference to that.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1165875627 Jennifer Ives O’Meara

      I am an Army vet myself, 3rd generation as far as I know military member, oddly enough I did both basic & AIT at ft jackson. I know how things work in the service, so explain how a man can PCS to his next duty station without his pregnant wife? (unless of course the obvious, he reports for duty, sets up housing, sends for her while she wraps up thier previous life in texas). He did none of those things. He did not move there household items, he did not set up new housing, didnt even visit hospital to set up appt at new ob office for her. He left early enough in the pregnacy that he assumed she aborted, because he didnt hear from her. If he truely wanted the child, and was worried about the child, why didnt he visit any of the free JAG offices to talk to someone about his legal options? Again he did not. Why didnt he go to Texas and find his wife, and physically see her? He just went about his life, assuming she would just you know “handle” this whole pregnancy, single parenting thing all on her own with no physical or emotional support from him. That she would just call him when the baby was born. Because again, he told her he “wanted” the baby. It wasn’t until 3 months AFTER the baby was born and in her new home, that the mother contacted him, to file for divorce, that he found out about the baby. I am sorry, but my husband would never have done this too me, or his child. There is talk, and there is action. He was all talk and no action during the pregnancy, I fully support her (mothers) decision, because as a woman I would be terrified to be in her position, and I can totally understand her fears, and rationale for her actions.

    • once upon a time

      You’re friends with Terry Achane are you? No? Well then, do you have any references for the claims you’re making about his actions?

    • Rachel

      Third generation as far as you know? I don’t even know what that means. But please, since you’re so enlightened – what is temporary emergency leave? I’m guessing your MOS was Airborne Captain Ranger Level 9 or something like that.

      I just looked up WHY he went to Fort Jackson (shock and awe at what Google searches reveal), and it was to serve as a drill sergeant. So yes, it the timeline makes perfect sense. Although I guess you probably remember your drill sergeants having an abundance of free time and flexible leave schedules.

      I’m hoping you just have some emotional investment with the adoptive family because this reaching is ridiculous, and I fail to see how an objective person would draw such far-fetched conclusions.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1165875627 Jennifer Ives O’Meara

      3rd generation I think means, my great grandfather died a horrible death at a very young age and never got to see his own children grow up, so therefore I do not know much about him you smartass hooker. I was a 71D. My investment in the issue iswith the child, and the poor woman that gave birth to her who is now being villified as well as the adoptive parents. These are not evil horrible people, and the speed at which everyone is so quick to judge them allthe while making daddy dearest the saint is sad & disguisting. Ps I am glad you know how the internet works

    • Rachel

      Yes, I do know how the internet works. I also know what “generation” means. Within your family, you are one generation. Your parents are another generation. Your grandparents are yet another generation. In case that was confusing, we’ve now discussed a total of three generations.

      So, what’s temporary emergency leave? This is now coincidentally the third time I’ve had to ask, and I know how confusing “three” can be, so let me know if I need to do so once more.

    • K.

      You’re one of those people who gets on juries and then rejects overwhelming evidence because “I just don’t think he could do that! He seems like such a cool guy!” aren’t you? Your little fantasy is that some deadbeat dad “abandoned” a poor pregnant lady who had no choice but to put the poor baby up for adoption.

      Let’s take stock of what *actually* happened, versus what you are speculating:

      DAD–is in the military and went out of state for work. Was supposed to be back in time for the birth, but baby arrived early. While he was out of state, he tried contacting wife/mom, but she moved without telling him–he did NOT abandon her, she abandoned him. When he came back, spent months tracking down his illegally adopted daughter. Went to court, paid legal fees, to win custody. Will probably have to do it again (I hope not!)

      MOM–moved without telling her husband and didn’t leave any forwarding contact information so he couldn’t reach her while he was out of state. Deceived adoption agency by giving them faulty contact information so they couldn’t contact the father. Then contributed to human trafficking by selling–and yes, it was SELLING if, one assumes, like any other private adoption agency, the agency charged a fee for this arrangement–her own child.

      So you tell me: which one is the careless, selfish, vindictive one of the two?

      And by the way, not that your reading of the situation is in ANY way relevant because there are no laws that require someone prove that they are “fit” enough to parent their own child. So even if Arcane was a jerk, it really doesn’t matter–legally he has still has a right to his own child.

  • Lynn

    This is a tough one for me…

    I gave my baby up for adoption about 10 years ago and his birth father fought it tooth and nail. Now, granted, I actually told him about my plans to do so, but I’m still having trouble judging this lady. There was a lot going on between my son’s biological father and I, much of which was never reported to the police (he was verbally and physically abusive). I wasn’t equipped to raise a child on my own, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to let him be raised by his rage-aholic biological father. Just because his biological father wanted him, didn’t mean it was the best place for him. The desire to keep your child safe is a pretty overwhelming thing, even if it means handing him over to someone else to raise.

    I’m certainly not saying what she did was right. She should have at least let him try to prove his case in court. I just understand what it’s like when desperation takes over.

    • VanCan

      The difference is that you were not married. This birth father was married to the birth mother. Legally, he had nothing to prove to anyone in any court. He had just as much right to custody as she did. If Ms. Bland was worried about Mr. Achane’s fitness as a parent, she had other legal remedies at her disposal. Kidnapping (which is what she did) is not a solution.

      I am a mother because a loving couple BOTH decided to place my daughter for adoption. I appreciate and love BOTH of them for making that decision together.

    • Lynn

      I didn’t say what she did was right. I think she should have taken the legal route as well. But let’s not pretend that just because they were married that makes it so simple. I don’t see why being married means he somehow has MORE rights than an unwed father. If I were married to my son’s biological father it wouldn’t have changed my feelings on the situation.

      I’m glad you adopted your daughter from a couple that BOTH made the decision together, but sometimes things don’t workout that way. Again, I’m not saying she made the best decisions here…I’m just saying that I’m having trouble judging her because I know what it’s like when you reach that “Oh shit” moment and you start looking for ways to keep your kid safe and ensure a future for them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1165875627 Jennifer Ives O’Meara

      Lynn, I think you are very brave. It took a lotof courage to do what you thought was right. (and I believe what you did was right) Everyone is quick to judge this birth mom, and the adoptive family, but how easily everyone forgets, it was not thier body that carried that baby! It was not thier future as a divorced & now single mother who probably agonized over her decisionas too how this child was going to live a good & healthy life with a family. This poor woman was alone, and did not wantto be a single parent, and I feel very sorry for her.

    • once upon a time

      Okay, let’s reverse it then? Woman gives birth, leaves the child at home with the dad while she reports for duty. Woman – as you claim Terry Achane has – doesn’t claim family housing, doesn’t call for two months, doesn’t provide any support, blah blah. Husband freaks out, puts child up for adoption. Mother finds out and fights for two years to get her child back.

      Not a single one of you would be calling her selfish or casting aspersions on her motives.

    • VanCan

      Achane and Bland were not divorced when she gave birth. They were not even legally separated, though they were living in different states. Stop inventing stuff to fit a more convenient narrative. Ms. Bland, with the help of a shady adoption agency, broke the law.

    • VanCan

      Let me explain, then. Being married, the law in most states is that he is presumed to be the biological father. Unmarried fathers usually do not have that legal presumption on their side. As the presumed (and actual, in this case) biological father who was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, he has immediate custody and parental rights over that child at birth. The mother in a marriage does not magically have more rights to the child than the father.

  • London

    I actually live in Utah where this custody battle is going down. There is a LOT more to this story then what is in the article. I am absolutely on Terry Achanes side and Utah really needs to reform the adoption rules. I’m not sure if I can post a link or not but if you look at the Salt Lake Tribune site (no I am not affiliated with them in anyway) they have a lot more detail. What the Frei family has done is awful.

  • K.

    This is fucking scary.

    First of all, was there an adoption agency involved? Because then they should lose their license and be sued up the ying-yang. A woman shows up and says, “Here, I give this child up” and the agency doesn’t do ANY research as to whether the child is actually hers to give up? In other words, they just took the money and ran? Fuck no.

    Second, if there WASN’T an adoption agency involved, then the mother AND adoptive parents should go to jail. Sorry. You can’t just trade children like that.

    Third, even if there WAS an adoption agency involved, then the mother should be punished, along with whomever heads that agency, because the father (who was ALSO married to the mother in this case) has custodial rights to the child.

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