CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Can biological mothers victimized by adoption scam get their children back?

Oct 10, 2019, 6:07 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:27 am
(Stock Photo)...
(Stock Photo)
(Stock Photo)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s Office has stated they have no interest in overturning any of the adoptions that were part of a human trafficking adoption scam which was reportedly run by a county assessor in Arizona.  However, if any of the birth mothers wanted to get their children back, do they have any options?

Some parts of the law say these mothers will not be able to have their kids returned to them.  On one hand, the state statute seems very clear.

Utah Adoption Council President Lonn Litchfield says, “The statue says that when a birth parent signs a consent to adoption, it may not be revoked.”

On the other hand, you also have case law and there are several examples people challenging a contract they signed after they were reportedly tricked into signing it.

“If a signature is procured by fraud, duress, or undue influence, then it can be withdrawn, just like a signature on any contract,” Litchfield says.

If the mothers go to court to try and get their children returned, Litchfield says it will be an extremely hard legal fight.  They will have to prove they were coerced or tricked into giving up their child.  Plus, they only have a few years in which to do that.

“I think only one of the cases in case law actually finds that the birth mother can take back her consent.  In practice, at the trial court level, I really haven’t seen it happen,” according to Litchfield.

State statutes are designed to protect the adoptive parents so children aren’t taken away from their families years after the adoption happened.  Still, he says, “It’s pretty scary to be an adoptive parent in this context because, you just don’t know.”

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Can biological mothers victimized by adoption scam get their children back?