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Utah lawmakers make move to stop adoption ‘forum shopping’
Legislature » One legislator calls unwed fathers “semen donors.”

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Ramsey Shaud made a cross-country effort to protect his rights, filing paternity petitions in his home state of Florida, then Arizona and finally Utah as he tried to guess where his former girlfriend might give birth. His petition was deemed too late after it was not filed for several days because of a federal holiday and the four-day week then in force for state workers — a determination also later reversed by the Utah Supreme Court.

Samuel Gerome Dye of Texas had no idea what had become of his son, with whom he’d been involved since the boy’s birth in November 2011, until a former girlfriend admitted she’d fabricated a story about leaving him with her mother and had actually placed the 20-month-old child for adoption in Utah. Dye was reunited with his son in December 2013.

At a glance

Adoption bills stalled

Several other adoption bills did not fare well in the Utah Legislature.

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, introduced but then abandoned a bill that was to have required notice to birth fathers of an adoption proceeding. Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, proposed creating an interstate compact to share information in putative father registries among participating states that passed in the Senate and then got stuck in the House. Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, tried again to provide more access to older adoption records; his bill passed the House but never got traction in the Senate.

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The story of Terry Achane, a married father then stationed with the Army in Texas, made worldwide headlines when his wife came to Utah to give birth and place his daughter for adoption without his knowledge or consent.

Those are the sort of cases Weiler, Wilson and several other supporters said the amendment is designed to fix.

"The problem is Utah is a state where certain adoption agencies bring a mother here because we have the loophole, to bypass the father in another state," said Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield. "That is the loophole that this bill is closing."

Dan Deuel, legislative chairman for the National Parents Organization, said that despite elimination of a provision that would have required notice of an adoption proceeding to be sent to a biological father, it was still "a good change."

"It should help alleviate some of the cases we’ve seen where fathers have been lied to and deceived and had their child taken away from them," he said.


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