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Cautionary Tales of Adoption: Addressing the Litigation Crisis at the Moment of Adoption
MRIC 2004/05

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"Cautionary Tales of Adoption: Addressing the Litigation Crisis at the Moment of Adoption"

March 29th 
Liz Brandt - Law

Abstract: Litigation between adoptive parents and unwed fathers is on the rise. Public (and political) attention was brought to the issue by the Baby Jessica case in the early 1990's. Even prior to that case, however, the United States Supreme Court had struck down state adoption statutes because they failed to protect the due process rights of unwed fathers in establishing relationships with their children. State legislatures have tended either to ignore or pay lip-service to the commands of the Court. Thus, state legislation intended to address the issue has only contributed to the increase in adoption litigation. In Idaho we have recently had two prominent cases in which adoptive placements have been disrupted because the interests of committed unwed fathers were violated. I will outline the constitutional problem, discuss a set of guidelines that would protect the legitimate interests of unwed fathers and propose a way for courts to resolve disputes that do arise quickly.

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