Ga. father fights for right to daughter | ajc.com
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 11/23/05
George McCormick brought a car seat to court Tuesday, hoping he’d need it to drive home the baby he’s been searching for since last winter.
But it was her prospective adoptive parents sitting across from him in court who learned that they will get to spend at least one Christmas with the 10-month-old they hope to raise.
McCormick has pursued his daughter through a broken engagement to her biological mother, a would-be adoptive couple in California, then foster care in Georgia and, maybe finally, to would-be adoptive parents in Forsyth County.
All this, he says, because no one asked his permission before a Utah adoption agency took the child the day after her birth.
Under Georgia law, a father maintains his right to a child until he terminates that right. Utah law is looser than other states about fathers’ rights, said Les England, a Utah lawyer who handles adoptions. Utah requires a father to actively claim a child, England said.
McCormick, 29, of Decatur, said he had registered on a confidential Georgia database that lists contact information for men who believe they might have fathered children. Adoption agencies are supposed to check that database before placing children in new families.
McCormick said he wouldn’t have given that permission and that he made clear before her birth that he wanted to raise the little girl he has seen only in photographs.
On Tuesday, Judge Jeffrey Bagley ruled that McCormick will need to prove he is the baby’s legitimate father. Bagley set a Jan. 9 adoption hearing.
McCormick’s case indicates that the national phenomenon of Utah adoption agencies being accused of skirting biological parents’ rights has spread to Georgia.
Another Utah agency made headlines this spring when it was forced to return “Baby Tamia” to her biological mother and grandmother in Chicago after a judge ruled that the agency had not followed paperwork rules. Tamia’s mother said the adoption agency coerced her into giving up the child while she suffered from post-partum depression.
Some Utah doctors also have complained publicly about adoption agencies that bring expectant mothers from other states to Utah hospitals to deliver babies, sometimes at public expense.
In McCormick’s case, the biological mother, who lives in Cobb County, believes the baby would be better off in an adoptive home, said her lawyer, Josie Redwine.
McCormick said the biological mother did not tell him when the baby was born. When he located the baby in California, a month after she was born, the couple who had her returned her to Georgia. She was placed briefly in foster care, McCormick says, and then with a second family, in Forsyth County, that now wants to adopt her.
McCormick calls the baby Catherine Rose, the name given to her by the California couple.
“I want a chance to raise her,” he said.
“I want to be the dad who puts a Band-Aid on her knee, be there when she graduates, walk her down the aisle when she’s married.”
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