Here is another one of those adoption cases where a recreational sperm donor was given the right to overturn an adoption over the mother’s objection. Just like in Florida where the Judge backdated the paperwork so the recreational sperm donor could appear to have followed the law; so too the Arizona courts overlooked Arizona law to give this recreational sperm donor a chance to screw up another poor kid’s life.
Arizona, after all, has the oft cited ‘putative father’s registry’. This supposedly functions in order to protect a recreational sperm donors legal rights to any children he might inadvertently spawn by allowing him to register both before and up to TEN DAYS AFTER THE BIRTH in the event that he has unprotected casual sex with a woman. It also supposedly functions to protect children from having a recreational sperm donor show up to overturn an adoption by terminating the rights of never-married men who don’t register in that putative fathers registry at least TEN DAYS AFTER THE BIRTH. Of course, it only works if Judges follow the original intent of it. Which many decide not to do. Thus, once again we see the Judicial branch refusing to follow the intent of our laws and legislating their own personal opinions from the bench…
This so-called father never bothered availing himself of this putative fathers registry, even though evidence was presented at the trial that this child was the result of a SIX months relationship and one of his co-workers testified he was aware of the pregnancy but unsure if it was his child.
Well boo freakin hoo…
So he knew damn well he could have been a father and should have had his name registered in that putative father registry BEFORE the birth of that child just as Arizona law requires…Nor did he give his casual sex partner a PENNY for any medical expenses or bills related to her pregnancy. Never got her a vitamin or a hot-dog to eat or provided in anyway whatsoever for the healthy birth of that child. Yet a second after delivery he could hop out of bed, throw on his jeans and show up in the delivery room with the exact same legal rights to that child as the mother. Even though he did not contribute ONE DAMN SUBSTANTIAL INVESTMENT IN THAT CHILD, other then a quik drop sperm deposit.
The biggest outrage however is that once again, we see Judges legislating from the bench as they decide that they don’t like the law, which Arizona legislators have enacted (acting as the people’s proper representatives)…
Clearly it is time to enact some version of my ‘Three Strikes Law for Judges”…where we have review committees composed of both attorneys and lay people who review every overturned case for adherence to the law…if it becomes apparent that a particular Judge or group of Judges obviously ignored the law then the first offense is an automatic $10,000 fine EACH, PERSONALLY PAYABLE…second offense is an automatic $20,000 fine EACH, PERSONALLY PAYABLE…third offense is an automatic $30,000 fine EACH, PERSONALLY PAYABLE and then you’re automatically disbarred; so you can’t continue wrecking havoc on our nation by substituting your personal bias and opinions for the laws as they stand…
Not what you feel like they should stand for but the original intent of the laws…
Anyway read below for another sickening example of why mothers need to address these public policies as they now stand and ensure that whatever decisions we ultimately make for the good of our children are NOT overturned on the whims of a few Judges and a recreational sperm donor, all refusing to follow the law…
Court decision impacts custody of a young boy, future of N.M. adoptions
By Joline Gutierrez KruegerTribune Reporter
August 5, 2006
A recent court decision in a custody battle between the biological father of a 2-year-old boy and the adoptive parents who have raised the child since he was 3 days old could have a "chilling and rippling" effect on future adoptions in New Mexico, legal experts warn.
The state Court of Appeals opinion, filed July 26, reverses the earlier decision by state District Judge John Pope in Valencia County to terminate the parental rights of Edgewood resident Mark Huddleston.
According to the opinion, it was not sufficiently proven that Huddleston had abandoned the child after the birth and that his consent was required before the mother proceeded with the adoption.
The appellate court also ruled that Huddleston's actions, or lack of them, before the baby's birth don't prove that he caused the parent-child relationship to disintegrate.
"We conclude the district court improperly focused on Mark's pre-birth conduct, and thus the court's finding that Mark presumptively abandoned the child is not supported by substantial evidence," the decision states.
The case will now be remanded back to the District Court, which must determine which family should have custody of the boy - and which man he will call "Daddy."
The ruling does not automatically award custody to Huddleston.
"I realize it's going to be an emotional roller coaster for everyone, especially my son," said Huddleston, a 40-year-old married man and the father of two grown children. "But that does not take away the fact that I'm the biological father and I'm fit."
The adoptive parents, identified in court documents as Bobby and Rosario Romero, said through attorney Hal Atencio they were shocked by the decision.
"They do not understand the reasoning of the Court of Appeals."
Atencio said his clients will ask the court to reconsider its decision. If that is denied, the clients will appeal to the state Supreme Court, he said.
"We're not done yet," he said.
Huddleston, who has not seen the boy in a year, said he plans to file for custody and visitation rights.
"I will never give up on my son," he said.
If the decision stands, it could make adoptions in New Mexico a riskier proposition because it calls into question when a biological father needs to take responsibility for the child if he is to have any parental rights.
Said Atencio, "It's a weak position for a man to say `I was there for the fun part, I was there for the sex, but I'm not going to be there for the responsible part. And yet I want equal rights as the mother and the right to veto an adoption even on the last day.'
"This decision by the court is going to be huge if this doesn't get reversed," he added. "It's going to be detrimental to adoptions in the state of New Mexico."
The Romeros argued that Huddleston did nothing to establish his paternal rights to the child until well after the boy had been placed with them.
The biological mother, identified in court records as Helen G., testified that she told Huddleston twice that she was pregnant and he had at least one opportunity to notice her visibly pregnant. A co-worker of the mother's also testified that Huddleston had known of the pregnancy but did not know if it was his.
Huddleston, court records state, also did not give the mother financial support during her pregnancy.
According to the appellate opinion, the child was the result of a six-month relationship that ended June 2003 between Helen G., an Albuquerque hotel employee, and Huddleston, an account executive for a company that delivered chemicals to the hotel.
In February 2004 - eight months after the affair ended - Helen G. gave birth to a baby boy, whom she placed for adoption with a private agency three days later.
But Huddleston said he did not know he had fathered a child until he received notice from an adoption agency two months after the birth.
The state District Court apparently did not believe Huddleston, ruling that he "knew or should have known that he fathered a child" and that his lack of action constituted abandonment of the child. The lower court then terminated Huddleston's parental rights and found it was in the best interest of the child to remain with the Romeros.
The appeals court's opinion also agrees there was "substantial evidence" that Huddleston knew or should have known about the pregnancy.
But it's what Huddleston did after the child was born and placed in the adoptive home that the appellate court recognizes more.
Court records indicate that after receiving the adoption notice Huddleston met with the adoption agency to seek information on how he could obtain custody of the boy.
When the agency told him he could not, he hired an attorney that day and signed up with the state putative father registry the day after that.
New Mexico statute says that fathers must sign up with the putative father registry within 10 days of the baby's birth.
In April 2004, Huddleston filed a paternity lawsuit to contest the adoption.
Huddleston also underwent a DNA test that proved he was the father.
"Once the DNA test came back, I should have had my son back," he said.
Huddleston said he began the process of appealing the lower court's decision in June 2005 and completed it this January, all without the help of an attorney.
"The custody case cost me a lot of money, so I decided to pay a company to do my research and I did my own appeal," he said.
Lisa Olewine, president of the Adoption and Foster Care Alliance of New Mexico, agreed that the appellate ruling poses some significant problems for future adoptions in the state.
"That makes every adoption very risky. It's going to have a chilling and rippling effect on adoptions," Olewine said. "If a father knows there's a baby out there, they really don't have to do anything during the pregnancy. They can just show up later and claim the child. There's no permanency in this child's life."
Santa Fe adoption attorney Ross Randall said the case points out the need for the state to strengthen its requirements for registering with the putative father registry, the so-called "sex equals notice" law.
"Other states have a law that says having unprotected sex with a woman puts you on notice that you may be a putative father. And if you don't continue a relationship with the woman, you have to register," said Randall, a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. "It puts the burden on the man to register if he has any desire to seek parental rights."
Meanwhile, the boy remains with the Romeros, the only parents he has ever known. It could be months or even years before the legal arguments are sorted out and a final decision is made as to whether he stays with the Romeros.
"My heart goes out to these parents who are now looking at the possibility of losing their child," Randall said. "It would be to the child's best interest if these parties would sit together and come to some agreement about visitation, involve the father in the life of the child, resolve this out of court. They all have an interest in the child's life."
The appeals court, too, recommended that mediation between the parties be attempted in order to prevent undue heartache.
"We recognize that our holding will have a powerful impact on the lives of the parties and, most dramatically, on the life of the child," the appellate court wrote. "And as our Supreme Court noted ... `in resolving the best interest of the child the district court should not be bound by the traditional bright line solution of awarding the child like a trophy to whichever party wins the litigation.' "
But the case is not likely to be resolved amicably.
"I'm telling you, it's been really nasty," Huddleston said.
He dismisses the argument that removing the boy from the only parents he knows could damage the son he says he loves.
"It's unfortunate, but we cannot as a society say we're sorry this happened but we need to leave him where he is, and we need to circumvent the natural parent's rights. I guess, where do you draw the line? If they can do it to me, they can do it to you."
Huddleston had been allowed supervised visitation with the boy during the custody case in state District Court. Those ended when his rights were terminated.
Besides heaps of legal bills and reams of court documents, all Huddleston has to show now of his fatherhood is a photo of the boy at 11 months that he keeps in a Bible.
"I look at it every day," he said.
"It's very difficult to deal with this," he said. "I talk to my pastor. I have a supportive family. I view termination of parental rights as a death penalty."