I Want to Adopt, but This Story of a Family Losing Their Daughter Scares Me

mother and son holding hands
iStock.com/Lorenzo Patoia

My husband and I are seriously considering adopting a child, and we get so excited at the thought of welcoming another son or a daughter into our family. But, as much as the idea of adoption brings a smile to my face, there's a part of me that worries -- especially when I read stories like this: Tammy and Edward Dalsing are adoptive parents who recently lost custody of their 3-year-old daughter Braelynn -- a child whom they've known and loved since she was a 3-week-old baby. How could something like this happen? Could it happen to me?


A judge has decided that Braelynn's biological father, Andrew Jack Myers, who was incarcerated at the time of Braelynn's birth, should be the one to raise this little girl now. Though the Dalsings tell Fox News that Andrew never "called, visited, provided financial support or showed any interest in the child's life," he challenged the Dalsings' adoption order just one month after being released from jail, on claims his parental rights should never have been terminated in the first place. 

And apparently, an appellate court judge agrees.

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When Braelynn was 3 weeks old, the South Carolina Department of Social Services removed her from her biological mother Erica Smith's care. She's been in the care of the Dalsings ever since, and they obtained an adoption order in 2015 that legally made Braelynn theirs -- thus terminating Erica's parental rights as well as those of Andrew, who was incarcerated at the time on multiple charges, including fraud and violating probation.

But this obviously was not enough to make the Dalsings' family permanent.

To be fair, it's hard to fault a father for wanting to reunite with his daughter, especially if Andrew feels his parental rights were unfairly terminated. Though Fox News notes court documents indicate Andrew had legal representation when he lost his rights to Braelynn, his lawyer, Melinda Butler, says Andrew never had a chance to fight for his daughter, given he was incarcerated out of state.

I believe in second chances and feel there are gray areas in life (not everything is black and white).

... But I'm just not sure about this case and what it means for prospective adoptive parents who might find themselves in a situation like this, especially when the biological mother supports her daughter's staying with her adoptive family. She told WBTV 3 News, "Please just listen to Braelynn's voice. And give my baby a shot at a normal, fulfilling, happy life that she deserves."

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Dr. John DeGarmo, director of the Foster Care Institute and author of The Foster Parenting Manual, spoke to CafeMom and revealed that stories like Braelynn's aren't super common, but do in fact happen. And, he says, it's not good news at all.

"If this father should receive custody of the young girl, and the adoptive parents lose their legal custody, this will create havoc, on a number of levels, for all states, and adoptive families across the nation," Dr. DeGarmo, an adoptive parent of three children, tells CafeMom.

"The lives of the young girl, her adoptive family, and those who know and love her will face great anxieties and emotional traumas. This is a very frightening and disturbing story."

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Hearing this story makes me a bit fearful to adopt in the future and leaves me with so many mixed emotions. I can't imagine raising a baby as your own, and gaining parental rights before having them stripped away so unexpectedly. It sounds like a crippling blow.

But maybe that's how Andrew felt -- losing his rights like that.

All I can think about is Braelynn -- this sweet little girl who will need to make sense of this all as she grows up -- and what's best for her. I certainly am no adoption expert, but am happy the Dalsings, at the very least, still have her at home while they await their rehearing with the court of appeals.

Hopefully some arrangement can be made that will give Braelynn the time to develop a relationship with the biological father she never met without ripping her from the only family she's ever known.

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