PROVO, Utah – A father and his almost 2-year-old daughter were reunited Friday after a long legal battle with the girl's would-be adoptive parents.
Terry Achane says his now ex-wife came to Utah to put their daughter Teleah up for adoption without his knowledge. He was on active duty in South Carolina. When he returned home to Texas for the birth, he discovered his daughter was born in Utah.
“I was thinking I was married, this was my daughter,” says Achane. “So I’m thinking I would go there, get her back.”
But it wasn’t that simple. Achane’s attorney, Mark Wiser says Utah’s adoption laws are antiquated. Only one parent’s consent is required to place a child up for adoption.
"His spouse was able to, just on her own, have the child placed for an adoption,” say Wiser. “They were not willing to give the child back to the father when he notified them and said, 'You simply have to prove yourself, that you're a fit and proper parent.'"
On a website created by Jared and Kristi Frei, the family hoping to adopt Teleah, they explain they were led to believe Achane abandoned his wife and daughter. The Freis have raised Teleah since she was born.
Achane says he has no negative feelings toward the Freis.
A Provo judge gave Achane full custody of Teleah on Friday. Achane says he’s looking forward to becoming a father, even if it he has missed the first 22 months.
“I'm just happy right now,” says Achane. “I'm with my daughter. It's about time.”
The Freis have filled an appeal with the Utah Supreme Court. A hearing is scheduled for late March.