Dear Ms. Feverfew –
Church was canceled again yesterday because of the “big” snow storm (we got about 5″) and so I had some free time on my hands. Somehow, I ended up tracking down Utah’s “Adoption Act” and came across some interesting stuff.
“Utah Adoption Act” Title 78B-6-102.7
(7) The Legislature finds that an unmarried mother has a right of privacy with regard to her pregnancy and adoption plan, and therefore has no legal obligation to disclose the identity of an unmarried biological father prior to or during an adoption proceeding, and has no obligation to volunteer information to the court with respect to the father.
Say what??? In Utah, a woman has no legal obligation to tell who the father of her child is prior to placing that child for adoption???? What in the Sam Hill kind of law is that? Now I know why the LDSFS worker told me that I could just “leave him out of it [the adoption]”, that “he doesn’t really matter, ” and “involving him will just complicate things even more for your daughter and her new parents.”
I now know this was incredibly morally wrong. Regardless of if it is the law or not. It is wrong. And this is one of the things I wrestle with – why would a representative of the LDS church tell me to do something so completely amoral? Not just tell me to do it, but actively encourage me to do it and provide suggestions on how to get around telling him the truth.
78B-6-119. Counseling for parents.
(1) Subject to Subsection (2)(a), before relinquishing a child to a child-placing agency, or consenting to the adoption of a child, a parent of the child has the right to participate in counseling:
(a) by a licensed counselor or an adoption service provider selected by the parent participating in the counseling;
(b) for up to three sessions of at least 50 minutes per session; and
(c) subject to Subsection (2)(b), at the expense of the:
(i) child-placing agency; or
(ii) prospective adoptive parents.
Wow. Geez. Three whole 50-minute counseling sessions in return for my daughter? I need to make a T-shirt up for this one. “I gave another family the greatest “gift” of all – my daughter – and all I got was three lousy counseling sessions.”
Three sessions. That’s a hundred and fifty minutes. In exchange for a lifetime of grief.
Here’s the kicker – in your adoption, I was never told I was legally entitled to even this “generous” amount. I never received my three free counseling sessions, courtesy of…well, of anyone. I did eventually find my own way to a counselor. I am very grateful to have found such a wonderful therapist – I am just sad we moved 2200 miles away from him. I could really use a chit-chat session with him about now. But I never got my three free sessions. Do you think 17 1/2 years later is to late to demand them?
78B-6-123. Power of a minor to consent or relinquish.
(1) A minor parent has the power to:
(a) consent to the adoption of the minor’s child; and
(b) relinquish the minor’s control or custody of the child for adoption.
(2) The consent or relinquishment described in Subsection (1) is valid and has the same force and effect as a consent or relinquishment executed by an adult parent.
(3) A minor parent, having executed a consent or relinquishment, cannot revoke that consent upon reaching the age of majority or otherwise becoming emancipated.
So…a minor can’t buy cigarettes. Can’t buy alcohol. Can’t open a credit card or get a loan without a co-signer. Can’t get married without parental consent (and a juvenile judge’s consent if she is 15 or under). Can’t get birth control pills without parental consent. If she is under 16 can’t drive a car. If she is under 13, can’t even open an online email or social networking account without parental consent.
BUT, she can relinquish another minor child (hers) to adoption.Without parental consent. Or telling the father.
That is really screwed up.
78B-6-125. Time period prior to birth mother’s consent.
(1) A birth mother may not consent to the adoption of her child or relinquish control or custody of her child until at least 24 hours after the birth of her child.
Wow. A whole 24 whole hours? Geeze. That’s really nice of them.
How many of us who have had children were at the tip-top of our mental and emotional game a mere 24 hours after having a child? I know I am not. At that point, I am still trying to deal with the uterine cramping, the bleeding, the surging hormones as my milk comes in and my body adjusts to not being pregnant, my raw & swollen girlie bits. I am exhausted – not just from the delivery, but the last excruciatingly sleepless weeks of my pregnancy, the every 4-hour checks by the nurses, and the visits from the family. And that’s after a natural, normal, short delivery without any residual effects of pain meds either.
24 hours after delivery is not the time to be having relinquishment papers shoved under a vulnerable mother’s nose. GoodfreakinFriday, even those “evil capitalist” insurance companies allow a woman 48 hours in the hospital before she has to leave after having a child.
And here are some more of my more favorite parts:
78B-6-126. When consent or relinquishment effective.
A consent or relinquishment is effective when it is signed and may not be revoked.
78A-6-514. Voluntary relinquishment — Irrevocable.
(4) A voluntary relinquishment or consent for termination of parental rights is effective when it is signed and may not be revoked.
No ifs, ands, or buts. No waiting period. No “can I have a week to think this over?” No nothing. So once that order to relinquish is signed in the hospital 24 hours after giving birth, the mother has no legal recourse to revoke her consent.
No wonder LDSFS encourages so many single mothers to deliver in UT. They don’t have to tell the father. They don’t have to get parental consent. There is only a 24 hour waiting period after birth before the mother can relinquish. And then once those papers are signed, the mother has no legal recourse.
It was an enlightening way to spend my Sunday afternoon to say the least. Understanding the laws a bit more in UT helps me understand my experience a bit more as well.