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U.S. Supreme Court hears complex adoption case

North Carolina residents may be familiar with a potentially landmark case originating in Oklahoma that is currently being weighed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case began in 2009, when a military man who had been with his pregnant fiancee for over a decade found out she was breaking up with him via text message. The news surprised him as he was looking forward to being a father and starting a family.

Then, she asked him to turn over custody rights to their child. When the baby was four months old, the new dad was getting ready to deploy overseas, so he consented, presuming that she was to retain custody. However, upon signing away his rights, he was informed by the woman's lawyer that she decided to give the baby up for adoption. While he secured his own lawyer and appealed immediately, his parents had to handle his legal matters after he shipped overseas.

In the meantime, his daughter was adopted by a South Carolina family. Since the father actually had Cherokee roots, he was granted the right to intervene since his daughter was being adopted by a non-Native American family. The adoptive family lost the case before the South Carolina Supreme Court during the summer of 2012. The case is now pending resolution before the U.S. Supreme Court as of April 15.

An unmarried father can struggle proving he has rights to a child if the mother has already given up the baby. A family attorney might be able to help a father in such a situation mount a solid appeal in order to possibly secure custody of the child.

Source: Tulsa World, "Supreme Court hears Indian child custody case," Michael Overall, April 15, 2013

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