Adoption legislation held hostage in committee, for now

Posted at 6:19 PM, Feb 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-20 00:43:58-05

SALT LAKE CITY - A Utah senator has introduced legislation that would provide legal rights for the father of a child put up for adoption.

It's a scenario you may be familiar with: a mother gives birth to her child and doesn't tell the father when she gives up the baby for adoption. The dad is left with no legal rights because of a legal loophole, a legal loophole some say could cost a father his child, and a bill aimed at changing that was debated in a committee hearing Tuesday, that got very heated at times.

Some excerpts (a conversation between Senator Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake County, the sponsor of the adoption bill and the chair of the committee):
"It's my bill Senator, point of order."
"Thank you."
"Senator, let me answer your question."
"Wait, whoa whoa. Questions directed at the Chair. I don't want badgering going on."
"I didn't get an answer to my question."

Questions and concerns over the adoption bill left its fate in the hands of the committee, where it's being held for now.

Wes Hutchins, an adoption attorney, says the legislation would have held adoption agencies more accountable. Hutchins claims some agencies encourage deception and lies.

"Adoption agencies coach Mothers on how to cut birth fathers out of the parenting picture," Hutchins said.

However, lawmakers echoed several concerns saying, "We're saying that after an adoption occurs in this bill, anyone can say a lie was told in the process?"

Despite strong testimony from Jennifer Graham, whose son has never meet his baby boy Jack because his birth mother gave him up for adoption without his knowledge, legislators said the current law would have protected him had filed for paternity before his child was born.

"He was told that if he did that he would never see his son," said Jennifer Graham.
"Understood," said one State Senator.
"That is in text message," replied Graham.
"I can see that but the law would have worked if he would have filed. You'd have your grandson."

The Committee did not vote on Senator Robles' bill, instead deciding to bring it back another day during the session.