The Daughter He Found
By Jeffery M. Leving
A thin pasty-faced tattooed teen-aged girl knocked on Ed Green’s Salt Lake City, Utah,
condo door one day a couple of springs ago. She looked strung-out and exhausted and
burst into tears the moment she opened her mouth and sputtered, “You’re my father.”
Much to Ed’s surprise, the image of a girl he’d had a somewhat casual relationship with
in college came back to him. Her eyes the same steel blue as the tattooed girl’s.
Immediately he wondered, why had the girl he’d slept with in college never told him she
was pregnant and that she’d given birth to their daughter? Over the next few hours he
learned the tragic story of his daughter and the tumultuous life she’d lead since her birth.
After giving birth, her mother realized she didn’t really want to have a baby and half-
heartedly mothered her until she put her up for adoption as a toddler. Her adoption family
broke up and she was thrust into bouts of poverty and depression and early
experimentation with hard drugs and left with an overwhelmingly constant feeling of
abandonment and rejection.
A bit shocked but full of paternal love and desire to be the father Tiffany wanted and
deserved, Ed welcomed Tiffany into his world with open arms. She moved into Ed’s
condo and almost immediately bonded with Ed’s mother and 12 year-old daughter. By
the following fall she was enrolled in her first semester at community college and
thriving. While on the one hand Ed was thrilled and grateful he could fill a void and have
some positive influence on Tiffany’s life, he was also angry and hurt that Tiffany’s
mother could have given birth to his baby and put her up for adoption without legally
having to notify him. It took him awhile to let go of the idea that if only he’d known
about Tiffany from the beginning, her childhood would have been less traumatic.
However, even if Ed had known that Tiffany’s mother was pregnant and wanted to put
Tiffany up for adoption, Ed would have had to jump through impossible hoops to assert
any rights to decisions regarding his daughter. In fact, Utah has become to go-to state for
pregnant women who want to exclude biological fathers from the decision making
In the state of Utah a birth mother may consent to an adoption or relinquish an infant
after giving birth. She does not need the consent of the unmarried father unless he has
done the following: filed a petition to establish paternity in a Utah court with an affidavit
stating he is "willing and able" to have full custody and will pay child support,
pregnancy-related and childbirth expenses (it also must detail a plan for the child's care);
filed a "notice of commencement of paternity proceeding" with the Office of Vital
Statistics; and has offered to pay for a reasonable share of the mother's pregnancy-related
and childbirth expenses, unless he is able to show he did not know about the pregnancy,
or was prevented from paying the expenses, or the mother refused his offer to pay.
Under Utah’s law Ed would not even be entitled to notice of the mother’s proceedings
unless he complies with the above as an unmarried biological father. By virtue of the fact
that he is engaged in a sexual relationship with a woman, a man is considered on notice
that a pregnancy and adoption proceeding regarding the child may occur. Utah imposes
upon the father a duty to protect his own rights and interests.
This is archaic and sexist and heartless and downright ridiculous. Just because a man
doesn’t have a uterus doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about what happens to his biological
offspring. Just ask Ed Green who, two years after reuniting with his long-lost daughter,
Tiffany, still shakes and shudders when he thinks about all the years Tiffany lived feeling
abandoned, without knowing her father was more than willing to love and nurture her.
Jeffery Leving (http://dadsrights.com) was named one of “America’s Best Lawyers” by
Forbes Radio™ and is the country's leading authority on fathers' rights. He is the author
of Fathers’ Rights, Divorce Wars, and the new book How to Be a Good Divorced Dad, a
book which garnered praise from President Barack Obama and an endorsement from
Francis Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Leving was recently honored in
Resolution No. 995 by the Illinois House of Representatives for his “forward-thinking
initiatives in the field of law and father’s rights” and that Leving “serves as a model of
hard work, integrity, and dedication for the people of the State of Illinois.” He co-
authored the Illinois Joint-Custody and the Illinois Virtual Visitation law and lectures to
lawyers as well as divorced dads across the country.