United States Army Drill Sergeant Terry Achane, the father whose wife put up their baby for adoption without his knowledge or approval, has his daughter back.
The reunion came after a Utah court reversed the adoption – much to the disappointment of adoptive parents Jared and Kristi Frei. Twenty-two months ago, the Frei family adopted baby Teleah from an adoption agency. This last Thursday, Teleah was returned to her father.
For now, at least.
As the crow flies, the story is that Achane and (his now-ex-wife) Tira Bland lived in Texas, and in 2010, Bland became pregnant. Bland had (allegedly) told Achane that she did not want to live as a single mother, and was considering an abortion or giving the baby up for adoption. Achane urged Bland to go through with the pregnancy and give birth.
Then in February of 2011, Achane was stationed at a U.S. Army base in South Carolina. Days later, Bland gave birth to a premature baby in Utah, and quietly signed the baby off for adoption with Utah’s Adoption Center of Choice. During this time, she had cut off contact with Achane. In her adoption papers, she had intentionally listed an old address of Achane’s, so that the adoption agency wouldn’t be able to get in touch with him.
The agency attempted contact with Achane, and when they couldn’t reach him, went forward with the adoption. The whole process from birth to adoption took two days.
Meanwhile, Achane, without any contact from Bland, had a friend visit his old house. The friend told Achane that it looked vacant. Upon hearing this, Achane attempted to contact family doctors to see if Bland had carried out the abortion. Doctors were not able to confirm much with Achane, but in June, Bland finally called Achane and let him know that she had adopted out their baby in Utah without his knowledge or consent.
According to his lawyer, Achane contacted the adoption agency that had given Teleah to the Frei family, but the agency denied him access to information – even when he had said that he had not consented to the adoption. The agency claimed that it was standard procedure to not share information with the father of a potential adoptive baby.
On November 20, 2012, a Utah judge ruled in favor of Achane – ordering the Frei family to return Teleah within 60 days. But the Frei family filed a motion to delay the return.
The Daily Mail reports that by December, “the Utah adoption agency that organized the botched adoption had been under the scrutiny of state licensing officials for three months.” The Adoption Center of Choice was operating under an extended (but not renewed) license due to discrepancies and deficiencies in filing.
Last Thursday – January 24, 2013 – a Utah judge again sided with Achane and ordered Teleah be returned to him immediately. Achane and his daughter await a hearing in Utah’s Supreme Court, which is scheduled for March.
The Frei family kept a blog during the process, where they have been collecting donations to help with their legal fees. On it, they paint a picture of Achane as an absent father, who never cared to meet or take care of his daughter, and one that “left [Bland] without any money, a car, or details of his whereabouts.”
“But because the child was conceived in wedlock,” the blog later continues, “[Achane] can object to the adoption, forcing us to trial to terminate his parental rights.”
So far, the Frei family has raised over $22,000.
Robert Franklin (Esquire, even!) of Father’s Rights organization Fathers & Families wrote last week:
Face it, Achane got lucky. He happened to be married to the mother of his daughter and she happened to be dumb enough or honest enough to tell one lie too few for her scheme to work. The simple fact is those things don’t always happen. The adoption industry in this country is set up to deny single fathers notice when their children are placed for adoption. That denies fathers their rights to their children and children their rights to their fathers.
For now, Teleah is back with her biological father, who told papers that he is “very happy” and that the wait has been “worth it.”
(This article was picked up by The Good Men Project.)