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Court ruling may make families pay closer attention to adoption cases

SALT LAKE CITY Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Family’s seeking adoption may want to pay closer attention to their own cases. That’s what one mother is saying in response to Tuesday’s Utah Supreme Court ruling.
SALT LAKE CITY Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Family’s seeking adoption may want to pay closer attention to their own cases.
That’s what one mother is saying in response to Tuesday’s Utah Supreme Court ruling.

In Tuesday’s decision, the Supreme  Court ordered a new hearing for a Pennsylvania man who is seeking to find his daughter who was given up for adoption in Utah without his consent.
Heather Larson speaks from experience. She was unsuccessful in adopting a child on five different occasions.

“Imagine having to willingly hand a child that you cared for,” says Larson. “(Turn them) over to strangers and watching them drive away for ever.”

In 2008, Heather and Clint Larson watched Talon, a Native American child, drive away with state family services. The courts sided with tribal leaders who sought custody of the child.

“There's no way to describe it,” says Larson. “I collapsed on the scene.”

But the Larsons tried adopting again and once again they were forced to return the child after six months.

“We've actually had five failed adoptions in 7 years and two of them, the children were actually in our homes,” says Larson.

In their cases, Larson says biological mothers changed their minds at the last minute or the courts ruled against the adoption.
Despite her struggles, she favors yesterday's Supreme Court ruling affecting adoptions.
In that case, Christopher Carlton of Pennsylvania seeks to find his child who was adopted in Utah. The ruling overturned a lower courts decision that blocked his attempts. He'll now get a new court hearing. Larson says it serves as a wake up call.

“I think it will help the awareness,” she says.

Adoption attorney Wes Hutchins represents Carlton. He says families seeking to adopt should do background checks on the adoption agencies. He says Utah’s Department of Health regulates the industry. He says the state keeps track of adoption agencies and one can view their track record. He also says parents seeking to adopt should ask adoption agencies for documents that shows the signatures of both parents agreeing to give up their child for adoption.

“Adopted parents should ask for that even if they want to ask for it in a redacted form,” says Hutchins. “If not it’s a red flag.”

Hutchins also the attorney representing several fathers in a lawsuit against adoption agencies and attorneys representing the agencies.
The Larsons now have two of their own biological children but want more. She's still hoping for a successful adoption.

“An adoption can be an amazing thing, for birth families, for adopted families, for the children,” says Larson. “It's just an amazing thing. Don't avoid it. I encourage people to do so but do your homework.”

Hutchins recommends the website www.getbabyjackback.com for families wishing to learn more about adopting.
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