There’s news in the sad, messy story of Robert Manzanares and his daughter Kaia, who was adopted without his knowledge or consent back in 2008. He is now suing Kaia’s birth mother and her adoptive parents for $120 million in damages.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune,
On Tuesday, Manzanares filed a lawsuit in Utah’s federal district court alleging his former girlfriend, the adoptive parents and the attorneys who represented them colluded to deprive him of his parental rights and essentially kidnapped his daughter.
Wow. Big accusations that are actually founded. Apparently, in 2008, little Kaia’s birth mother gave her up for adoption in Utah without Manzanares knowing, even after he had applied for paternity in Colorado. Basically, since then, he has been trying to get her back, with varying degrees of legal success. I’ve read a couple of articles about it and I just can’t figure out how the baby was even allowed to be adopted, especially considering he applied for paternity before she was born. The couple who adopted her are her birth mother’s brother and his wife, who apparently live in Utah, where her birth mother traveled to give her up for adoption. Manzanares and his daughter do have a relationship…she’s visited him in his home in Las Cruces, New Mexico and he alleges that she says she wants to live with him.
There’s a lot of legalese going on in the article linked above from the SLC Tribune, so maybe those of you with legal backgrounds can decode it a bit better than me. It seems like Manzanares is mainly suing for damages, but does also want custody of his daughter? He has a website called IllegalAdoption.com, with text like “Baby Girl deserves to be with her daddy…Gonna bring you home this time.” Reportedly, he is suing for full custody even though he isn’t opposed to Kaia’s adoptive parents remaining in her life.
Honestly, it seems clear that Manzanares should have gotten custody of Kaia back when she was a baby, based on the shady actions and maneuvering (in two states!) by the child’s birth mother. It’s tragic and terrible that he was not able to. But at this point, Kaia has been raised by her adoptive family for six years, her entire life. In my opinion, it would be cruel to take her away from them now, even if she had regular visits with them.
I feel for Manzanares, I really do. This is an incredibly sad and totally corrupt situation, one I simply can’t wrap my head around. How did an illegal adoption like this happen in the United States in the modern age? Still, I don’t think it’s a good idea to take this little girl away from her adoptive parents for good. Whatever happens with Kaia and her families, I think the fault in this situation lies with the law (and with the birth mom, whose actions against Manzanares seem needlessly harsh). Both Utah and Colorado need to do some kind of legal inquest or investigation and take a long, hard look at the loopholes that allowed a wanted child to to be adopted away from her loving father.