All custody battles are heartbreaking on some level, but what young dad John Wyatt is going through right now is particularly tragic. Wyatt was 19 when his now 2-year-old daughter was born. The plan, or so he was told at the time, was for Wyatt and his girlfriend to decide after the baby came if they would raise her together or if Wyatt would raise her himself. But that's not what happened at all.
When Wyatt went to the hospital in his home state of Virginia where his girlfriend went into labor, she was already gone. She gave up their daughter for adoption, Wyatt was told, without his consent and in the most underhanded way you can imagine.
Wyatt got a lawyer immediately to try and get his daughter back, but the baby was already in Utah, a state, not coincidentally, with some of the most restrictive custody laws in the country: If a parent doesn't file for custody within the first 20 days of a child's life, they lose their parental rights entirely.
Wyatt didn't even know where his daughter had been taken for the first 20 days of her life.
It was too late by the time he tracked her down. Utah supreme court ruled that Wyatt "failed to exercise his parental rights."
Wyatt's daughter is nearly 3 years old, and he's spent her entire life trying to get her back. He's never even seen her in person, and the only pictures he has of the girl were taken when she was around 4 months old. Wyatt says he'll never give up, though -- he even has a bedroom set up for his daughter (his name for her is "Emma") at his mother's house.
How is it even possible that a variation in custody law from one state to another is preventing a father from reclaiming his stolen biological child? Particularly when Utah law is in desperate need of an update anyway?
In a statement, the Utah Attorney General cited the birth mother's decision that it was in her child's best interest to go to an adoptive family as one determining factor.
Ironically, the baby's mother, Colleen, has since reunited with Wyatt and now regrets her decision to give her daughter away.
This baby belongs with her biological family!
Do you think Wyatt will get custody of his daughter?
Image via MSNBC
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