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In an adoption, custody or abuse case, a child is the real party in interest. Since the child is the real party in interest, it is his best interest and corollary rights that come before anything else, including the interests and rights of biological and adoptive parents.
John and Jane Doe filed a petition to adopt a newborn baby boy, Richard. Richard's biological mother, Daniella Janikova (Daniella), and father, Otakar Kirchner (Otakar), were not married. Daniella executed a consent to have Richard placed for adoption four days after he was born. Daniella, however, did not tell Otakar. Otakar was told that Richard died shortly after his birth. Daniella did not tell Otakar that Richard was living and had been placed for adoption until Richard was 57 days old. After he discovered that Richard had been placed for adoption, Otakar opposed the adoption on the basis that he did not consent. Otakar and Daniella then got married. The adoption case proceeded to trial. The trial court found that Otakar was an unfit person to have a child and therefore his consent for the adoption of Richard was not required. The trial court then entered a judgment of adoption, with John and Jane Doe adopting Richard. Otakar has appealed from the judgment of adoption and the orders inherent to the validity of the judgment of adoption.
Did the trial court validly enter the judgment of adoption in favor of Jane and John Doe, notwithstanding the objection of the child’s biological father?
The judgment of adoption and the orders inherent to the validity of the judgment of adoption were affirmed. The court held that the child was the real party in interest in the adoption case and that his best interests controlled. Because the child was placed for adoption and lived continuously thereafter for longer than 18 months with his adopting parents, it was contrary to the best interest of the child to remove him from his home and family by disturbing the judgment of adoption. Moreover, the court held that there was clear and convincing evidence that the father was an unfit person to have the child. The court considered what occurred during the entire pregnancy and birth as going to the weight and credence of the testimony and evidence. The scant and churlish effort made by the father to discover whether his child was alive or dead had not demonstrated a reasonable degree of interest, concern, or responsibility as to the welfare of his newborn child during the first 30 days of his birth as required by law. His consent to the adoption was therefore not required.