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1:26pm December 10, 2012

Judge Orders Baby Stealing Couple to Return Baby to Father Terry Achane

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There are some news stories that are so shocking, so incredible and so downright disturbing that you find yourself staring at your smartphone for a few minutes before you can form a real reaction. Seldom does a news event involve that frothy mixture of race, sex, class, law and religion that transforms it from a human interest story to a larger commentary about the times in which we live (or could’ve lived). Nevertheless, the story of Terry Achane, Tira Bland, the Freis family of Utah and one adoption gone horribly horribly wrong will justifiably dominate the news cycle for the next 48 hours.

On Monday 4th District Judge Darold McDade declared that Terry Achane was the rightful legal custodian of two year old girl Taleah and that she must be returned to him from the Freis family in Utah within 60 days. The problem? The Freis family, willingly, illegally adopted Taleah with the help of The Adoption Center of Choice and now pledges to fight the judge’s ruling as long as they can. This story is both sad and maddening since it is literally a petri dish for half a dozen major sociological issues in the United States right now. And while it is hard to properly dissect exactly who was wrong and where, but we can actually start with Terry Achane and his wife (now ex-wife) Tira Bland.

Achane, a career military man, had been married to his wife Tira Bland for a year a half when they found out they were going to have a baby. Unfortunately the marriage was going through a rough patch that was only exacerbated by Achane being assigned to be a drill sergeant in South Carolina leaving his pregnant wife Tira (and her child from a first marriage) in Texas. Bland, fearing the marriage was done for, was afraid of being left with two children and suggested giving the new baby up for adoption or having an abortion. Terry vehemently disagreed, and suggested they go to counseling all the while continuing to pay the mortgage and all of the household bills for the family in Texas while he was deployed in South Carolina like any responsible husband is supposed to. However, Tira had other plans.

According to evidence and Judge McDade’s 48 page ruling Tira Bland began negotiations with The Adoption Agency of Choice without Terry’s knowledge. And even though she and her husband were in a “cooling off” cooling off period, he had made arrangements with the military to come back for the birth of their child and continued his financial responsibilities. Unbeknownst to him Tira was flown to Utah where she delivered their baby Teleah (the name Terry had given the baby) on March 1st 2011 and handed the child over to the Fries family. Bland, in order to cover up her deceit, gave the adoption agency a false address so that they could not find Terry Achane and told the Freis family that he had abandoned her and their children. However, she made one critical error, she informed the agency that she was still married to the father of the infant and that he had no idea she was giving the child up for adoption, let alone given consent. Even though the Freis were informed that they were adopting a child without the knowledge or consent of the married father, and that he would likely legally challenge the adoption if he ever found out, they continued anyway, declaring that the baby was ordained by God to be in their care. When Tira Bland finally told Achane what happened he contacted the adoption agency and hospitals searching for his child and eventually got in touch with the Freis lawyer where the entire ordeal began.

A few things about this case really point out to the challenges faced by Americans everyday when it comes to family planning, class and other issues. The role that active deployments, along with blended families has begun to wreak havoc on military families since the Gulf War era (in particular African American families when 50% of all marriages include a child from a previous relationship.)  While I’m sure that the deployment to South Carolina was not on the only factor in their dissolution of the Achane marriage the fact remains that Military Deployment policies have been horrible slow in adapting to the changing nature of American families. Next, this case reeks of white privilege and religious fundamentalism. The Fries family (who are white) went through with this process even though they knew the entire process was more akin to child trafficking than adoption. Why? Because they were willing to believe the narrative of the deadbeat Black Father and they just assumed that Terry Achane would neither care or have the means to fight them in court for his daughter. What else could explain the behavior of a family that has 4 biological children and one adopted child already, aggressively fighting for another long before the girl was even born? Further, the state of Utah has become notorious for covering for these types of adoptions, given that the state operates as much like a theocracy as a Democracy and even has lawyers who specialize in dragging out these kinds of cases in order to cover for fundamentalist families that engage in high end baby snatching.

One can only hope that after a year of this type of legal wrangling that the Fries family will be compelled (likely legally) to not delay past the 60th day and give this child back to her rightful father and guardian. But if not, at least we can trust that with the amount of public and media scrutiny on the case that Terry Achane will have tremendous public support until the day he and his child are re-united.



About the Author

Jason Johnson
Jason Johnson





 
 

 
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20 Comments


  1. [...] article originally appeared online at Politic365.com. Share this:FacebookTwitterEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. from → Jason [...]


  2. Worse than worse, Mr. Jared Frei is an atrorney and had to have KNOWN that the adoption placement was 100% illegal from the moment he was informed the husband had not consented to the adoption. A true shyster.


  3. that poor man… give him back his daughter this is ridiculous….


  4. The Freis believe what they wanted to believe and now they are intent on dragging out this thing for a long as two more years, without any care or concern for Teleah, who could be as old as FOUR before she’s rightfully returned to her father. They don’t care about her, or else they would do the right thing and give her back to her biological father, who very much wanted and still wants her.


  5. An outrage. How dare this couple keep his child from him. I was furious reading this article.


    • Please go to Support Terry Archane on FB and if you wish and are able, instructions for donating to his legal cause on on there through Paypal. ANY amount appreciated. This man needs all the help he can get. The Freis’ will not fly to SC for him to see his daughter, they insist he come to Utah. His bills are mounting even though the attorneys are giving him a break money wise. We can all make a difference for this man and HIS daughter.


  6. This man is teaching and shaping soldiers; a hero and should be respected for his service to his country and the Freis think they have the right to to take his child, drag it out and hope the judge will not want the child returned to his father? I am still so angry after reading this story!


  7. This is horrible that the family knowingly took in a trafficked child. The mother should be held legally responsible for her role in this as well.. I am shocked that she has not been mentioned yet.


  8. This couple is outrageous, and should be publicly shamed and humiliated for their actions. I am certain that God is not on their side.


  9. Even if Jared Frei wasn’t a lawyer he knew what was going down was shady. When my partner and I adopted our daughter it was made very clear to us what all the guidelines were. Our daughter came home with us from the hospital the day after she was born. However, paternal consent was not signed until two months later. During those months we were painstakingly aware that should that document go unsigned beyond a specific date our daughter would immediately be returned to her biological family. Furthermore, it is important to note that the six month mark is also relevant. Typically this is when you have your final court date. So basically, they kept this knowledge from him until they thought they were in the clear. I can empathize with the Freis family, especially since our daughter is and probably will be our only child. However, what they are doing is reprehensible and wreaks of self entitlement. They should feel morally obligated to return the child to her biological father as painful as it would be. Our daughter is four now and I would be devastated if this was happening to us, but that’s why you don’t do such a big thing badly. They should have gone through proper channels.


  10. Hoping for the best, no one deserves to go through something as heart wrenching as this! They wouldn’t like it if the tables were turned..


  11. this child needs to be returned to his father, the Fries attny should be disbarred for handling an illegal adoption, and the Fries family should be publicly blasted for their refusal to give the child back/for illegally going thru with the adoption, etc.


  12. This case is the tip of the iceberg. I wish someone would expose adoption agencies.


  13. As a veteran of the US Army, I am outraged that a soldier’s parental rights have been ignored and his baby stolen, while he was serving his country. The evidence is clear: the adoption agency, and the adoptive family were aware that father was not aware that the mother had put the child up for adoption. SHAME on the adoptive family. My guess is that it is another Utah Special. SSG Archane is not the only father whose child was stolen by a “loving Utah family”. Talia joins Baby Jack…


  14. We should support the right of Terry Arcane, a soldier who bravely serves his country, to get back the daughter who was stolen from him. As a soldier, he is stationed wherever the Army wants him to go. We need a new Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Relief Act that protects the rights of parents, who are on active duty.



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