Adoptive Parents Appeal Reinstatement of Birth Dad's Rights to 3-Year-Old Adopted Child

Photo: (Photo : THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images)

The adoptive parents of a 3-year-old child have filed an appeal with the courts in Michigan after the child's birth dad, Peter Kruithoff, reclaimed his parental rights.

Attorney Lisa Speaker, representing the unnamed adoptive parents, stated in the appeal that Baby Boy Doe has only known one family -- his adoptive parents -- ever since his birth. Speaker also said that the court's earlier ruling, which gave back Kruithoff his right to the baby, should be considered a court error.

Baby Boy Doe was born on Aug. 9, 2018, but his mother turned him over for adoption before leaving the hospital. Kruithoff claimed in his lawsuit against a Catholic charity that handled the baby's adoption that he was never contacted about his son, even as the law required the agency to look for the other parent within 28 days.

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No Contact with the Mother

Kruithoff divorced the baby's mother days before the birth and didn't have any contact with her after he was arrested for domestic violence. His attorneys claimed that the mother did not inform of the child's birth since she used her maiden name at the hospital. She also did not put the father's name in the baby's documents because she had never told her ex-husband that she would give up the child.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Charities West Michigan placed Baby Boy Doe with his new parents after completing his adoption process with the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court, which didn't recognize Kruithoff's paternal rights. Catholic Charities told the court that they were not aware of the identities of the biological dad and did not question the mother about him. The unnamed couple officially adopted Baby Boy Doe in February 2019.

However, in another court, in Ottawa County, Kruithoff was awarded custody of his baby after he sued Catholic Charities. The father's lawyers accused the charity of a cover-up when they knew that the adoption process would be completed. In August, the Court of Appeals sided with Ottawa County Circuit Court and overruled the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court's ruling over the birth father's rights to his baby in a 2-1 decision.

On the other hand, the adoptive parents protested that Kruithoff and his lawyers were able to unseal the baby's adoption records. They found out that Kruithoff was able to reclaim his rights after seeing a published notice. The Court of Appeals has yet to decide on the adoptive parent's plea.

"It's a disaster for everyone involved," the father's lawyer said in an interview. "All could have been avoided by Catholic Charities by just doing the righteous thing."

Catholic Charities: 80 Years

For 80 years, Catholic Charities has been helping families and children by providing foster care and adoption services. The agency also runs a soup kitchen that serves four million meals a year and food relief in times of calamities and tragedies.

In 2019, Catholic Charities sued Michigan for preventing faith-based agencies from refusing adoptions for LGBTQ parents because of religious reasons. Its lawyers alleged that it's a violation of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The American Civil Liberties of Michigan, on the other hand, sued for discrimination after two lesbian couples were not entertained when they wanted to adopt.

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