Love Isn’t Enough: the “Baby Emma” Saga

Too bad Baby Emma's father didn't see "Juno" first...

This, from the birth father’s perspective, is the strange story of “Baby Emma,” a newborn whisked out of Virginia by her mother to be adopted by a couple in Utah, which has unusual laws that seem to circumvent fathers’ rights in others states:

“My name is John Wyatt,  the birth father of Baby Emma Wyatt,  born February 10, 2009 in Woodbridge, Virginia.  I have never held my daughter in my arms or even been allowed to see her in person.  My daughter has never had her Daddy hold her and say “I love you” to her, or hug her and kiss her.  Baby Emma and I have been denied those precious moments together.

“Imagine this happening to you: as a 20 year old, you have been friends with the mother since second grade and you have dated since middle school. You anxiously make preparations with the mother of your child, your childhood sweetheart,  for the arrival of your new baby.  You go to the doctor’s appointments, you rub the mother’s belly and feel your baby moving and kicking in the womb.  Both of you pick out the name.  It’s so exciting, you can hardly wait for the arrival of your new baby!! You look forward to what you expect to be the happiest moment of your life, to be with the mother and baby at birth…Both of you make plans on raising the baby together.  “One cold evening in February, 13 days before the due date, you talk by telephone and you reconfirm your love for each other and discuss the baby’s future in your lives….The next day, you call your girlfriend and there is no answer. Throughout the day you  call her getting more worried with each call. But, still no answer.  The next morning you rush to the hospital to see if something went wrong…You ask at the reception desk for her room number and you are told to wait. About 15 minutes later, a hospital administrator tells you there is no patient by the mother’s name. And then, you find out that your baby was born 12 days early. My daughter, Emma, was born and taken out the “back door” of the hospital to be adopted without my knowledge or my consent.   You were not allowed to be in the delivery room.  You did not experience sitting in the waiting room waiting, and waiting and waiting for the nurse to come out and tell you, “Congratulations, Mr. Wyatt, you have a daughter” or “a son”. I was not allowed to even see my daughter in the hospital before she disappeared.

“I waited and waited to see her that night.  She was hidden in a hotel in a room reserved with a stranger’s name. An attorney and a Utah adoption agency representative met with her that evening and had her sign away her rights to my daughter.  I never did see her.  Not that night, not ever.

“I was horrified to find out later that my daughter had been taken from the State of Virginia to Utah to be adopted.  I soon learned about Utah’s adoption laws and the biased laws they have against biological fathers and father’s rights.”

[You can see the whole story on Wyatt’s website.]

Thus began a long legal battle in which John Wyatt tried to get his daughter back, or at least to have visiting rights. I have no comment on the legal issues; when states duke it out over conflicting laws and jurisdictions, matters of right and wrong are often an afterthought. The ethical issues are clearer.

Did Emily Fahland, Baby Emma’s mother, act unethically? Obviously, if John Wyatt’s account is anywhere close to the truth. She misled him, she deceived him, she lied to him; she was brutally unfair to him, and cowardly in the bargain. But John Wyatt’s blithe and idyllic description of his anticipated parenthood and his pain at his ultimate betrayal leave out a basic ethical principle: accountability. Wyatt’s plight arises entirely from the fact that he seems to have never heard of the concept of marriage, which would have served four important and culturally reinforced objectives:

  1. It would have established a binding commitment on his part to care for and be a parent to the child
  2. It would have given the mother security that she would not have to raise the child alone.
  3. It would have ensured that, at least at the beginning of her life, Emma would be part of a stable family unit.
  4. It would have guaranteed him legal rights.

It is irresponsible to intentionally or carelessly create a child outside of marriage. Dumb and reckless acts have consequences, and Wyatt’s failure to agree to (or perhaps insist upon) marriage as a condition precedent to conceiving was unfair to all concerned—his daughter, his girlfriend, and himself.

For reason’s unknown, Emily got cold feet. Maybe she realized she wasn’t ready for motherhood, since she wasn’t ready for marriage. Maybe she concluded, during all those long talks with John, that he was a deluded, naive man-child who she couldn’t trust. Maybe he’s a nutcase; maybe she’s a nutcase…maybe they both are nutcases, drawn together because of their mutual nuttiness. Whatever the reason, there is a prima facie argument that they are both irresponsible, and once Emily decided she wasn’t inclined to raise Emma, the options were reduced to John, raising the child by himself, or a stable couple in Utah.

As far as Baby Emma, now named something else, is concerned, Emily made the caring, responsible choice. Did she do it the right way? No. Hell no. Is John justifiably angry and understandable feeling betrayed? Sure. But my sympathy for him is limited by his continuing omission, as he writes about his plight, of the advisability of marriage anywhere on his website. If what happened to him serves as a cautionary tale for other long-time couples in their twenties who are tempted to “anxiously make preparations… for the arrival of [their] new baby” to remember that they have an ethical obligation—to their planned child, as well as society—to ensure that he or she will have a family to enter upon delivery, then the entire ugly episode will be well worth the trouble.

I believe a biological father who won’t commit—legally as well as emotionally—to a binding relationship with the biological mother before conception should have no more rights in his offspring’s care and parenting than a sperm donor, unless the mother chooses to grant him some. He should only have obligations, such as financial support. The fewer incentives society has for couples to be irresponsible, the better. The fewer out-of wedlock children the better. The fewer single parent households, the better. Emily’s resorting to the Utah adoption system accomplished all three. Brava.

Yes, I feel sorry for John Wyatt, but not that sorry. Love is wonderful, but love without responsibility is a ticking bomb. He had it within his power to prevent this whole mess, simply by having a baby the old-fashioned way, by saying “I do” before “Let’s do it.”  Next time, John, get that license first.

______________

Clarification: The furious comments generated by this article require one further comment. I have nothing but admiration for single parents who, for whatever reason, find themselves raising a child without a partner and dedicate themselves to the task. They often do a spectacular job, and their courage and stamina is miraculous. I also believe it is reckless and irresponsible to seek single-parent status when one does not have the resources, support network and ability to meet that challenge, or when a two-parent arrangement is feasible.

 

[Much thanks to Clare Palmatier for suggesting the issue, and I hope she’s not too mad at me.]

147 thoughts on “Love Isn’t Enough: the “Baby Emma” Saga

  1. I saw this story on Dateline and am horrified that the adoption agency and the “adoptive parents” KIDNAPPED this little baby. Why did they move from hotel to hotel trying to prevent him from her? They had no right to her. Now that this story has gone NATIONAL John Wyatt will get his baby back (see related cases: Baby Richard; Baby Jessica). You cannot kidnap a child and delay giving his baby and then say, “we’ve bonded.” Baby Emma will get over it and she should have been given back from the start.

    • You can dispute the manner in which Baby Emma was adopted from the mother, but by no possible definition can the adoption be called a kidnapping. You might as well call it a billiards game. The mother had custody and voluntarily gave up the child in aan (arguably) legal proceeding. It doesn’t help the analysis of a difficult situation to add fantasy to the equation.

      • IT was a kidnapping! They snuck out the side door of the hospital when he came to get his baby, then hid in two different motels before leaving Virginia. He was granted custody of EMMA 5 days prior to the kidnappers filing adoption papers. Utah is corrupt corrupt corrupt! Some of the things they have done to him and other fathers is APPALLING and THANK GOODNESS Dateline brought some of them out in the open. One guy DID file in time and the court actually crossed off a date stamp and restamped it with a later date which was one day after the deadline!!! Didn’t even try to hide it!!!!! CORRUPT!

        • Suzy, Suzy. Changing motels isn’t kidnapping—the couple didn’t want a confrontation with the father. Neither would I. The courts decide who gets custody, not you. I have no idea what the other situation is you refer to, but it has no bearing on this one. I don’t particularly agree with Utah’s policy, and never said I did. I am not defending the mother, who treated John horribly, or Utah. The adopting couple did not kidnap anyone, and not a single jurisdiction in the US would ever accuse them of doing so. At worst, they accepted a mother’s dubious granting of custody to them, but she did grant the custody.

          I wrote, and still maintain, that John is paying the price for his own irresponsible conduct, and he is. The fact that it took multiple parties, some of whom have behaved unethically, to cause his problems doesn’t change his accountability.

          • The adoption agency and the low life people who stole Emma knew John wanted her. It was written right on the adoption paperwork the mother filled out. They are scum for keeping that child, plain and simple.

            • Dana – I believe the SCOTUS will take the case, will give John back his child, and there will be consequences for Utah’s corruption. The adoption agency and the scum who now have Emma will also be held accountable in a civil court, I guarantee it. They will have no trouble finding 9 jurors who will be outraged at what has happened. Sadly, in all of the posts on the internet, I have seen a couple of people say that the scum who have Emma have absconded to South America. Whether this is true, or whether it is random gossip is hard to say. But one thing is for sure, these people have proven they are low lifes who will stop at nothing (including baby stealing) to have a child and they are exactly the type of people who would disappear with baby Emma. I ask all of you adoptive parents: If you knew that the father wanted his child, would you take that child? They knew right away, before they even had her, that her father wanted her, and they took her anyway. What kind of people do that? Not morally upstanding people, that’s for sure!

              • This is a rant, and a factless diatribe, and is not the kind of comment that is welcome here. You get no more warnings.

                “Dateline” is not evidence, nor is it objective. The adoptive parents are not “scum,” and the fact that they knew the father wanted custody, if that is indeed true, either makes them scum nor kidnappers (though it makes them wrong.)
                If a father does not have legal custody, and the supposed love of his life is so concerned about his fitness as a father that she will give her child to strangers, I can see how a couple might take the baby in the best interests of the child.

                If I had to bet, I’d say that SCOTUS will not get into this.

                • I see, people who have a different opinion than you can not comment here. You think people should live their lives according to what you believe is right, and if they don’t, then they deserve what they get. What does that say about you? Let me ask you this – if the mother of this child did not want the father raising it – why did she write on the adoption paperwork that the father wanted the child????? The scum who have Emma (that is what they are to me, if you don’t like that, then that’s ok because I am not required to view the world the same as you do) are supposedly intelligent people – could they not figure out that same thing? They stole someone’s child, so desperate to have their own child they didn’t care that her own father wanted her. They, their attorneys and the courts have all been complicit in dragging this thing out in the hopes that down the road some court would say that Emma would be better off staying where she was because she had bonded. I will ask you again, if someone kidnapped your child at birth and you found her three years later, would you say “just leave her with the kidnappers” because she had bonded with them? That is the exact thing happening here. Someone took this child from a father, SNUCK her out of the state because they knew if he had possession of her they could not take her, ALL PARTIES KNEW HER FATHER WANTED HER, INCLUDING THOSE THAT HAVE HER RIGHT NOW.

                  Now, if I am not welcome to post here because I have a different opinion than you, then so be it. Really, the only thing I am doing here is trying to wrap my head around how someone could possibly thing there was any justification whatsoever to what was INTENTIONALLY done to this family, and by family I mean this father and his daughter.

                  • Excuse me? You have commented here often, and always in disagreement. MOST of the comments on this blog disagree with me—that’s why I allow comments at all, and reply to most of them. Rants are not welcome here, like your last post, which just made blanket assertions and indulged in personal insults without contributing anything of substance to the argument at all. You are throwing around over-the-top invective like “low-lifes”, “scum” and “evil” to describe one side in a complex controversy, as if the disposition of the issues were obvious. They are not obvious, and screaming that they are does not make it so.

                    Your purely emotional, increasingly fantastic characterization of the dispute does John’s advocates a disservice, because it shows how divorced from objective analysis they are, and how immune to reason. Now you are asserting that the woman who gave birth to Emma isn’t part of the family! THAT’S ironic, because the child was adopted on the not unreasonable theory that the mother and child were “the family,’ and the sperm-donor who couldn’t be bothered to establish a legal bond to his own child through marriage wasn’t!

                    There was no kidnapping, Suzy. Quit saying that. It makes you look foolish.

                    • I think you are the one looking foolish by asserting that this father got what he deserved because he had a child out of wedlock – it is foolish to think the world has to live according to your ideals. I use those words to describe the people involved because that is what they are to me, and believe me, that is MILD compared to what I have seen. Only a low life would take a child from a fit parent who wanted that child (and John was declared fit and given custody in Virginia 5 days before these people filed adoption papers). To me, that is basic fact. A no brainer. And yes, the woman who gave birth to EMMA is NOT her family because she gave her away – well sold her really. At that point, she stopped being Emma’s family. The only ones doing John’s advocates a disservice are those who stole his child and those who back the kidnappers and feel that kidnappers should be allowed to keep the children they have stolen! This WILL go to the Supreme Court and he will get his child back. If that doesn’t happen, then this child will grow up, find out what happened and hate the people who kidnapped and raised her and know them for the selfish people they are. Meanwhile, we ALL have to fight to get this madness stopped. John is not the only victim, there are many many more. Utah is basically running a baby stealing ring, and that is the reason I believe the Supreme Court will take this case and they will rule that Utah’s laws are unconstitutional and can not stand.

                • I think at this point your arguement is that regardless of what might have happened in the past, it is in the interest of Emma’s emotional health to leave her with the Zarimbinskis. And in the very short term you’re probably right that she would miss them (just as a two and a half year old internationally adopted child is bound to miss his or her foster parents when placed with an adoptive family). But, lets consider the alternative. Say Emma remains with the Zarembinski’s. She is eventually going to get older. Eventually, she’s going to discover computers, all she needs to get online is a library card. She’s bound to search her name and theirs and will see the whole story. Unless she is a very pliable personality and totally dominated by the Zarembinski’s she will be beyond outraged. Then what? Not only have they deliberately seperated her from her father who never gave up on her (and still will not have), not only did they go unpunished, not only were they in fact rewarded for what they did with custody of her but according to the law she now HAS TO remain under their roof until she is eighteen. No matter how many times she runs away (unless she gets out of state) the police will continue to return her to these people, not just to tolerate them, but to live with them…again and again until she is eighteen on February 10 2027. Talk about emotional damage! Therefore, even if your only concern is for Emma’s emotional welfare, the only humane solution for her is to return her home to her father now.

                  • That’s one scenario, the worst case. Another, a more likely one, is that her parents explain her past to her early, certainly in terms most flattering to them and their actions. A mother who couldn’t care for her and didn’t trust the biological father whom she knew well handed off to a loving couple who wanted her and loved her and who fought the father for custody at great expense and hardship, because they loved her so much. And the courts agreed.

                    If she grows up happy and secure, feeling loved and not being deceived, she may seek out her biological father and mother, but without rancor against the only parents she has ever known. If the Zarembinski’s are wise and good parents as well, and if Emma isn’t psychologically damaged by the conflict, this what should occur.

                    • Oh I’m sure they’ll “explain” until they are both blue in the face and yet they will slant things towards their own favor. But, then the kid learns to google and reality hits. She’s going to discover facts they’ve kept hidden for years, not just rumors but original documents (like those granting her father temporary custody in Aug ’09 and permanent in Dec ’09 in the state where she was born). It’s possible that she’ll grow up and believe that they were right, but very unlikely. Even most Morman, Utah residents who are also adoptive parents don’t agree with what they did and almost certainly Emma won’t either. I understand that they were both at least 46 when they got her and are now unlikely to be able to start all over again with another baby. Certainly no one in their right mind would trust them to honor any promises regarding “open” adoption. So, they know (and have known for a long time) that if its not Emma, they don’t have a child (or at least not one raised from infancy). And they want a child and John says they can’t have his. So yes, even under all these circumstances its possible that Emma will grow up to believe what the Zarembinski’s do about this but, considering the enomority of what they have done, it’s unlikely that she’ll want to live with them (even if she does forgive them). The decision to forgive them in future or not is hers but hopefully the U.S. Supreme Court will agree that she does not owe them the rest of her childhood. Any realistic consideration for her future mental and emotional health leads to only one conclusion, that remaining with these people for another sixteen years will (almost certainly) result in only very angry and very trapped very young girl. Emma deserves better than that and should be allowed to go home now.

            • You are illogical and unfair. Why do you think the mother wanted the baby away from John? What do you think she told the adoptive parents? If she told them that he was an unfit and unreliable father and to please take her child away and give her a good home, why is taking her at her word not a good and noble thing? You don’t know these people or what happened in that meeting. Stop calling them scum.

              • For some reason I couldn’t reply directly to your August 30 comment “You have insufficient regard for the bonds between a person and those who raise her.” Where to begin with that one? Well, I’m pretty sure I’m a person and I know one or two things about the bonds between my parents and myself. I’m also a parent and though my husband and I are raising them with our faith and values they all have minds of their own, thank God! It would be scary for a young person to simply turn out a mindless clone who accepts whatever their parents have done as above reproach. And this was a vicious assault on human rights, hers! Of course there are bonds between a child and those who raise her, of course you will almost always love those who raised you regardless, but there are standards of behavior. The Zarembinskis are gambling that no matter what they do, Emma will not only forgive them but somehow be content living with them and calling them her parents for years after she learns the complete, unedited truth! That’s a huge gamble to make. She deserves much better.

          • I’m very curious as to what you mean when you write irresponsible conduct. I’ve read this case over and over, read statements from the father as well as the birth mother and just haven’t ever read a single statement that alleged John top be irresponsible. I can only assume you know something available to the public.
            In the comments above you say you don’t know anything about the “other things” to which the poster writes but that doesn’t make sense considering how opinionated you are and the things you are referring to are the awarding of custody top John by Virginia PRIOR top Utah giving custody to the ski’s family. Obviously you DO know what she was referring to or how would you have such a staunch opinion?

            • Renee, it is irresponsible to have a child without a marriage and a reliable commitment from both parents. Per se irresponsible. Go ahead, tell me it isn’t. Tell me that piece of paper didn’t matter, tell me this would have happened if John could have kept it in his pants, practiced responsible birth control, or waited to have a child until he had a stable relationship and home.
              Yup, John didn’t see this as irresponsible conduct, and neither do you. That’s why these messes happen. People like you are reason these things happen, people who think having a child is like having a puppy.

    • Im heartbroken for John Wyatt that he has to lose his daughter as an ethical lesson. The fact is the adopted parents manipulated the system to there advantage in order to take a baby. Im sorry they couldnt have babies of their own but its wrong to take someones child under the guise of we would be beter parents because we’re married???

      • “We would be better parents because 1) the mother doesn’t want the baby 2) there is not a stable parental unit seeking to care for the baby.” If I knew that the father wasn’t aware of the adoption, I wouldn’t participate in it. The post was not about the adoptive parents’ ethics.

  2. You do understand, Jack Marshall, that the corrupt state of Utah considered a vague text message sent before the child was born was sufficient “legal notice” to start a clock ticking on a rule the father of this child didn’t even know existed, right? Are you also aware that the mother put on the adoption paperwork that the father did not want to give the child up, right? And are you also aware that the adoption agency snuck the baby out the side door of the hospital when they learned John had come to see his child, right Jack? And that they hid out in two separate motel rooms (so they couldn’t be found), right Jack? And that emails exist between the adoption agency, the low lifes who now have Emma, their attorney and the birth mother indicating they were evading the birth father, right Jack? And that the low lifes who now have Emma knew from the second they got her that her father wanted her, right Jack? And you do know that John Wyatt was granted full custody in the state of Virginia – who has legal jurisdiction per the UCCJEA, prior to adoption papers being filed, right Jack? Tell me how can a person adopt a child without the consent of the custodial parent???? And how, knowing these simple facts, can you even begin to justify what was done to John & Emma Wyatt?

    • Yes, Suzy, I know all that, and as I said many times, but you choose not to read, I am not picking sides between Virginia and Utah. The courts decide…nit you, not me, not Nightline. What I don’t know is why the mother did this, and I suspect it was because she doesn’t trust John with the child for reasons that have yet to be revealed. If she told the adoptive parents that her baby would be safer with them, you cannot condemn them like you have been doing. And there is no way you can know that.

      • She did it because her parents coerced her into it. Her mother was in the motel room with her badgering her to sign the papers. Why do you think she added that he wanted to raise the child? She surely would not have put that on the paperwork if she felt he wasn’t fit. Her parents did not want that child anywhere near her so that she would not be tempted to take her focus off of finishing school. They are just as evil as the adoption agency, the scum who now have Emma, their attorney and the state of Utah!

        • What do you mean, her parents badgered her into it? Could your parents badger you into giving up your child and betraying the love of your life? Could anybody? She is 100% accountable. Did her parents have a gun at her head? What stopped her from saying, “This is my child, and my choice. Get the Hell out!” Nothing. She is accountable. John is accountable. Everything about their conduct shows me that they weren’t mature enough to take care of a hamster, much less a baby.

          You are constructing an elaborate fantasy to paint the adoptive parents as villains and the natural parents as passive victims. The fact don’t support it. Baby Emma’s plight was the direct result of the bad decisions of a pathetically immature and impulsive couple. AGAIN, I don’t much like Utah’s law, but I have little doubt that Emma will be better off with her adoptive parents than with either of her natural ones. That doesn’t make the result right, but it doesn’t make it horrible either.

          • I never said she wasn’t accountable. My point was that her reasons for stealing the child was not because she felt John wasn’t fit. It was her parents influence and yes, she ALLOWED them to influence her. The people who have her now are evil and selfish baby stealers and they have proven they are not fit to have any children by the mere fact that they were willing to take a child away from a parent who wanted her. That is not a good person, period. She is not better of with selfish people like that. ANd who appointed YOU judge? You say they aren’t fit to be parents because they don’t fit into your mold of how they should have behaved in their sexual life? This is a couple who had been together since Junior High and had been friends since 2nd grade. It’s not two people who met in a bar, did the deed then got pregnant. And even if that were the case, the father still has a right to keep his child!

            • Still hysterical, Suzy. I’m trying to be patient, but there are limits.

              You have officially stepped on one of the third rails here (and refuse to consult the comment policies). Everyone in a culture has a right and responsibility to assess what is good and bad conduct, and addition to that, ethics, the study of right and wrong, is my business, livelihood, profession and passion. “Who appointed you judge?” is the cheap shot of the desperate debater out of arguments—which you have been from the beginning.

              How do I know this birth parents would probably be disasters? Gee, let me think…how about the fact that they couldn’t even hold on to the custody of their own child, or be fair and honest enough with each other to prevent this fiasco?

              This isn’t “my mold.” Marriage is a responsible and proven building block of a stable family and society. These two juveniles have the wisdom to invent a better way? Looks like their experiment didn’t work out so well, doesn’t it? I’d guess John wishes he had gotten that license after all…except that his “true love” didn’t have the regard for him that he thought. I guess having a child with a woman like that isn’t a good idea either, is it…especially for the child?

              • Clearly I’m not going to change your mind, which really wasn’t my goal, and I know you aren’t going to change mine. I do find it sad that you can’t even see you are attempting to fault the father on this for not living life according the the way Jack thinks it should be lived. There are plenty of unmarried parents and single parents out there who have loving and stable families, and there are plenty of married two parent families who don’t.

                I do apologize if I violated any comment policies – I didn’t even know any existed. This is a passion filled and heated subject, it is very scary when the law condones child stealing, and our country is already in degrading at a staggering rate without adding this to the mix. I will continue to do everything within my power to have my voice heard and alert people to the corruption in Utah, and you continue to say “that’s what you get because you don’t live according to MY values and ideals”.

                Good day.

                • 1. Before you comment on a blog, it is ethical to read the policies—you are a guest here. It’s really hard to find—in block letters, under the title “Ethics Alarms.”
                  2. You are not capable of having your mind changed, because you do not listen, or have anything approaching an open mind. You keep writing the same thing over and over.
                  3. The law does not condone child-stealing, and that’s not what happened. I told you to stop saying this, which is a misrepresentation, STRIKE ONE.
                  4. I fault the father because he is one of those at fault, not the only one, but one . Don’t misrepresent what I wrote. STRIKE TWO.
                  5. Your representations about stable unwed families are irrelevant, since this one was clearly wasn’t, FOUL.
                  6. I told you, and am factually correct, that I am not faulting John for not following my values, but rather for being irresponsible and selfish, and not following societal values. You have no right to come on my site and accuse me of doing anything but applying fair ethical analysis as I see it. You can disagree all you want: I don’t have to take insults, especially from a hysteric who offers only wild emotion and anger. STRIKE THREE.

                  You’re out. Go rant somewhere else; you are part of the problem.

          • hi Jack
            I understand that you made this (above) comment back in August in response to Suzy. Here’s your quote “You are constructing an elaborate fantasy to paint the adoptive parents as villains and the natural parents as passive victims. The facts don’t support it.” Well, at the time none of us (other than the Zarimbinski’s and their lawyers) had the facts to know if they were villians or not: although I think its fair to say that you Jack gave them the benefit of every possible doubt. I understand that you wanted to believe the best of them but the facts are in and, it turns out, they didn’t deserve it. http://www.babyemmawyatt.com/Legal.html If you follow the link (and if I posted it correctly) you will see the documentation verifying that the Zarembinski’s lawyer acknowledged and worried about how John was “waving his arms and jumping up and down” and a later e mail from the man currently holding the baby in his home stating frankly that the goal was to “keep John Wyatt chasing his tail in the dark in Virginia for as long as possible”. All this illustrating their efforts to point him solidly in the wrong direction when it came to protecting his parental rights. These are of course also now among the docuements that Emma will eventually find online. I understand that at the time you had no way of knowing the true nature of these people (anymore than I did) but you’ve put a lot into defending their right to keep John’s daughter and it seems only fair that you know the kind of people you defended and what passes for “ethics” in the home they now intend to raise Emma in.

  3. What is stopping someone from walking into a supermarket in a poor area and taking a baby from a carriage and and keeping her because she wants a baby of her own? She has more education, a better home, a wealthy husband and a fancy car. Baby Emma, or Gabby as she is being called now, was stolen from her dad. He has rights and asserted them. Just because this new family wants to be complete, doesn’t mean that can buy a baby. We have laws and they broke them. This is the United States and that is what it is, kidnapping.

    • What are you talking about? A mother gave her baby up for adoption. There is a dispute about the father’s rights. There is a dispute over which state’s laws should apply. Calling it kidnapping doesn’t clarify the issues, and doesn’t help us fix the problem. Why not call it cannibalism or germ warfare? It isn’t any of those things, either.

      Hysteria isn’t an argument.

    • No, but a the relationship between a baby and a mother isn’t legally weakened by not being married—the baby’s relationship to a father is. If it’s a legal couple, they have equal rights. If not, the mother is the decision-maker. Makes sense to me. There are consequences of having kids before marriage…and should be.

      • There have already been two cases of unmarried fathers having their adopted children returned to them. This will be another one. The SCOTUS is reviewing this case and is expected to make a decision in July. I really wouldn’t want to be Thomas and Chandra Zarembinski.

        • I think you are mistaken about the U.S. Supreme Court.The case has been submitted for review, but SCOTUS has not accepted it. It might yet, but the odds are long. At this stage, there can be no good result—-the whole thing is an utter mess, with the child the ultimate victim.

          • It’s not really a long shot. According to the Federal Parental Kidnapping law, Virginia has jurisdiction because it is the home state. Emma was born there and John and Emily (the birthmom) live there. The SCOTUS really only needs to review it and kick it back to Virginia. Of course this is an utter mess. The Zarembinskis’ knew what was going on and that John wanted Emma. They were selfish and they took her. They should have thought about Emma and her family first and themselves second. They did not do that. They had to hide in hotels under assumed names before they could get out of state. What person who is doing something legal and ethical does that? They have been unable to adopt her because of the Federal Kidnapping charges, so they have only been her caregiver. He has full custody granted to him by the state of Virginia again where she was born. What happened to John Wyatt is criminal and all those who conspired against him belong in jail.

            • If SCOTUS takes the case, I’d bet on John and Virginia prevailing—that’s how I’d vote. I think the long-shot is SCOTUS agreeing to review the case at all. We shall see. I hope you’re right.

              Do you think the birth mother—John’s soul mate— belongs in jail?

              • I think she was coerced by her parents, a nun, an adoption agency, their lawyers and the Zarembinskis’. However, we have to make sure that this never happens again. If she goes to jail as an example, it won’t. I do think the lawyers, adoption agency and Zarembinskis’ should be in jail. When a person is jumping up and down exercising his rights, the adoption ends right there. Once it continues, it is kidnapping.

  4. Jack Marshall is not so full of it! I don’t care how the decision was made with or without a marriage license it is clear that the rights of the child and the father was trampled on. How backward can a state be and call itself part of the U.S. Laws are to protect not just the mother but the father also. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t seek out and punish deadbeat dads and then in the same breath remove a fathers rights as a parent just because they aren’t married. The reason this law of only allowing a parent 20 days to appose the adoption is because if it were overturned the state of Utah would have to explain all the illegal adoptions made in their state. I’m sure it all adds up to money!

  5. John is still waiting to hear if SCOTUS will hear his case but there is some very good news regarding the lawyer who will be representing them. Is anyone familiar with “The Loving Story” ? They were an interracial couple who had to go to the US Supreme Court to gain the right to raise their family in Virginia. Until this case was unanimously decided, Virginia didn’t recognize interracial marriages. (Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h62ZBiHNJoM). They were represented by two young lawyers. One of them, Philip J. Hirschkop is representing John and Emma today. So if the U.S. Supreme Court is willing to hear arguments he will again be representing a family who just wants to live peacefully in Virginia. It appears approval or denial of certiorari will be decided sometime in May.

  6. You have no idea if the adoptive parents are providing a loving home or not you do not know them! You need to wake up and realize this is not the 1950’s and marriage does not mean anything when it comes to loving a child. Two parent, married, or religious it doesn’t guarantee anything when it comes to the safety and love of a child. Being in foster care I am fully aware of just how “loving and secure” a family can appear. It is HIS child and you expect him to just sit back and shut up because he didn’t go get a piece of paper from the court house just because in your opinion (which BTW you come off very biased and can’t seem to see anyone else’s point of view) only married people should be allowed to procreate! Get over yourself, if that was my kid there is no person on earth that would stop me from personally seeing my child received the love and care they deserve From me.

    • My blog ate my longer response, and your irrelevant comments isn’t worth taking the time to re-do it. Brief summary: since I never said that anyone should be prohibited from having children without being married, since nothing in the post suggested that adoptive parents are necessarily loving or that natural parents aren’t, since “just a piece of paper” is an ignorant non-argument cliche, since pieces of paper start wars, run billion dollar industries, decide who gets to stay in homes, and generally rule the world, your entire post shows that you are only capable of arguing against absurd assertions that appear nowhere in the post, and don’t have a clue what ethics is. No, I am seldom persuaded by hysterical arguments by readers who don’t comprehend what the topic of the blog is, and evidently can’t read. Go figure.

  7. You have a twisted sense of reality.. I’m still looking but I sure hope this man got his child back and that she isn’t too traumatized by the fact that she was left with these people for so long. If they cared about that child they should have given her back from the beginning since this is a battle they hopefully can’t win. Any problems she has adjusting are their fault.

  8. hi Amanda thank you for your interest in Emma and her family. I’ve always felt responsible for Jack’s two articles on this as I originally brought it to his attention. With a site called “Ethics Alarms” I had no doubt that he would support Emma’s rights to her family but I guess sometimes you learn the hard way. I was surprised to see an update on this pop up in my email but glad to know they have not been forgotten. The news so far is not good. A Act of Love (the agency) is still operating. Their clients still hold Emma in their custody and in light of the fact that she is now six, they probably will for the remainder of her childhood. But remember, John is young. He will be thirty eight when she turns eighteen and his mother probably in her early sixties. Emma (who by then doubtless will answer to another name) WILL have every opportunity to learn her story and know her family as soon as she is free of the clients and ready to. And while her father’s lawsuit against the clients and their agency may be tied up in court for years, I’ve no doubt she will be able to sue them herself one day… when she is grown and free but sadly that won’t be for awhile. If the subject of adoption ethics is of interest to you I suggest you also read up on the very sad story of little Veronica Brown. Placed against her father’s will with a South Carolina family he fought (at times from deployment in Iraq) for two years to bring her home to Oklahoma and soon after her second birthday that’s exactly what happened. She was a beautiful, happy, healthy little girl with a wonderful, close extended family. Veronica was very close to her father, stepmother, grandparents and sister. But the Capobiancos had a powerful PR firm and powerful supporters including Dr. Phil and Troy (“the locator”) Dunn. When the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that Veronica was not protected by I.C.W.A (Indian Child Welfare Act) South Carolina reversed their decision not to give custody to the Capobiancos and Veronica at the age of four was taken from the family that not only had raised her for the past twenty months and with whom she was happy but who also were her biological kin; all so the Capobiancos could “adopt” her by force and against everyone’s will. They are now suing Veronica, her father and the Cherokee Nation for helping them in court. As Veronica (at five) obviously has no assets, the only things she can really be sued for are future earnings and the right to her story. Doubtless, it’s the right to her story that they would like to control but hopefully they won’t get that too. Her contact with her father is very limited but she too is getting closer to the magic age of eighteen every day. Next month, Veronica’s stepmother will give birth to a new baby sister but Veronica will not be able to know her as apparently the courts have decided her job is to stay in South Carolina and try to save the Capobiancos marriage. I know, scary. The thirteenth amendment was supposed to have outlawed slavery in 1865 but as Emma and Veronica’s stories show us, it’s something that still happens. http://www.thelostdaughters.com/2013/07/with-sad-hearts-lost-daughters-welcome.html (scroll down just a bit for the article). Again, many thanks for your interest in Emma and her family!

    • This is deluded. For good or ill, “Emma” is the daughter of the couple that adopted her. When she is 18, she will have called them Mom and Dad for a very long time, and is not going to sue them, nor could she for a legal adoption.

      I have never said what happened to her biological father was fair or right, only that he was irresponsible and accountable for what happened. And he was. Get married before you have children, and this doesn’t happen. Ever. That’s the lesson here.

  9. About a year or two ago John and Emily had another baby (how sinful as it was out of wedlock). Emma/Gabby has a full sibling. This won’t turn into a compete disaster when Emma/Gabby is of age. I’ll grab the popcorn ;). Good job Zarembinksis’ Hope Stockholm syndrome kicks in for your little runner hostage.

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