Heart to Heart Adoptions; Andy and Melissa Moore; The Taking of Ja’Meka

Oh look.  How could it be? Another father’s rights being trampled on by a Utah adoption agency.  Who would have imagined?

Can you taste the sarcasm?

If this is your first time visiting the dark underbelly of the adoption Interwebs, you may not understand.  Utah is infamous for it’s unethical and immoral adoption laws that virtually give fathers zero rights to their child.  Often times, adoption agencies will move moms to Utah to deliver their babies if they know a father will not consent to an adoption or voluntarily terminate his own rights.  This is because it really takes an act of God to retain your rights as a father, in Utah, due to their archaic, unethical laws that continue to be practiced due to heavy lobbying from Utah adoption agencies such as Heart to Heart Adoptions.  No “pesky” father will get in the way of making that buck off that baby in Utah. Better believe it.

Some representatives in Utah have made attempts to change the laws but, alas, all were thwarted.  Why would anyone who profits off of adoption want to make it harder to get those babies?  In fact, a class action lawsuit was brought against the state of Utah due to their unconstitutional laws by twelve fathers.  It was, of course, dismissed. The whole state of Utah is corrupt to the very core when it comes to adoption and father’s rights.

Read about the father’s who initiated the federal class action lawsuit against Utah.

So it was really no surprise, unfortunately, when I heard about Johnny. 

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Johnny with his daughter, Ja’Meka, at the hosptial, when she was born.

Johnny is a father to a beautiful little girl named Ja’Meka that was born on October 18, 2016 in Georgia. Ja’Meka’s mom, while heavily medicated (having had a tubal ligation the previous day) and under duress, on October 19, 2016 was driven to two attorney’s offices by Bonnie Lin Hilton of Heart to Heart Adoptions based out of Utah.  The first attorney’s office was closed, due to being later in the business day.  The second attorney was open and it was there that Ja’Meka’s mom agreed to waive all her rights in the state of Georgia, in regards to her child and the adoption, and instead go by Utah law. She also terminated her parental rights.  Georgia law doesn’t have any waiting period to do this.  It can be done a minute after the baby is born. It was just Ja’Meka’s mom, Bonnie Lin Hilton, the attorney and a notary (Lucinda S. Hand) – signing away her rights while she was medicated recovering from giving birth and a major operation the day before. Let me say that again.  Ja’Meka’s mom signed legal documents that waived her rights and protections under Georgia law and terminated her parental rights to her child a day after giving birth and having a major operation while medicated on opiates. Bonnie Lin Hilton of Heart to Heart Adoptions in Utah arranged this.

Johnny was not aware this was transpiring.  Heart to Heart Adoptions claims that they weren’t aware of who the father was. This is a blatant lie, however. Johnny actually drove Mom to the hospital with labor pains was at the hospital!  There are pictures of him holding his daughter. Regardless, Putative (biological) father law in Georgia is found in Section 19-8-12 of the Georgia Code. This statute requires that a father be given notice and informed of pending adoption proceedings involving his child if one of following conditions is met.:  1.) If his identity is known. 2.) If he is registered on the putative father registry. 3.) If the court finds that the father has either (a) lived with the child, (b) contributed to the child’s support, (c) made attempts to legitimate the child or (d) provided support to the mother during the pregnancy.

Johnny’s identity was clearly known. Ja’Meka’s doctor even checked her vitals while in Johnny’s arms.  Johnny cared for Ja’Meka while her Mom was sedated from the tubal ligation.  While he was not yet on the putative father registry, he had made attempts to legitimize her and provided support to her mother during the pregnancy.  According to Georgia law, notice should have been given to Johnny that his child was attempting to be put up for adoption and he would then have thirty days to legitimize his child – a legal process in Georgia which gives a father rights to his child.

None of this was done and his child was gone the day after her birth.

While Ja’Meka’s mom was tricked into waiving her rights and protections under Georgia law, Johnny did not agree to waive his rights and protections and was very vocal that he did not want an adoption to take place.  His daughter was born in Georgia and all of his rights as well as Ja’Meka’s remain INTACT. 

As much as Heart to Heart Adoptions would like to try to ignore these facts.

That’s probably why Melissa and Andy Moore of Boise, Idaho are purportedly hiding out in Utah. They live in Idaho, have Ja’Meka, and can’t return home because their ICPC paperwork is not complete. They cannot get cleared.  They have not met the requirements to take this child from her home state of Georgia into Utah as prospective adoptive parents. Ja’Meka’s father’s rights were never terminated.  They remain intact.

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Andy and Melissa Moore, couple holding Ja’Meka illegally.

And just for fun, here’s Andy Moore’s grown daughter, Jessica Mawhiney, congratulating her stepmom and dad for procuring this infant. The post is now deleted or made private, as is Melissa’s Facebook profile.

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I guess when you unethically and illegally take someone else’s child you kinda have to hide. Andy’s profile, for now, is still active.

So who is behind Heart to Heart Adoptions?

Founded by Donna Pope and Mary Anne Holmoe, Heart to Heart Adoptions is a “smaller” agency in Sandy, Utah.  When looking at their form 990’s as a non-profit, it appears they don’t make too much of a profit at all.  In fact, they’ve claimed to be in the red for at least one year, losing money.  Now, I can’t say for sure, but Duncan Wright is a board member with Heart to Heart, according to their website and their taxes. I also found Duncan Wright as the owner of a non-profit in Sandy, Utah called “Rotary International.” It claims it has zero income and is a social welfare organization with an affiliation of being a subordinate in a group ruling. A quick Google search will bring you to this page, Sandy Rotary. When you go to the members page, Duncan is listed last and described as:

“Duncan Wright
Club Treasurer

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Duncan Wright has worked for Wells Fargo Bank since he graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in Finance in August of 1985. He was a Branch Manager of several branches prior to working in his current position as a Relationship Manager in the Wells Fargo Business Banking Group. He has worked in his current position for 20 years. He has served as Chairman of the Board of the Sandy Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the Chamber Finance Committee. He has served as the Sandy Rotary Club President and currently serves as the Club Treasurer. He is also a member of the Sandy Honorary Colonels.”

Marney DeVroom is also listed as the Chairman of Heart to Heart Adoptions.  She is also the founder and owner of Spectrum Academy in North Salt Lake City, Utah. According to their form 990’s they are doing a little better financially.  After salaries, expenses, and revenue, they profit just above $700,000 per year. What’s interesting about Spectrum Academy is, they have med182a366ical forms for their students on their website. This is a school that consists mainly of pupils on the Autism spectrum from grades K-12. A private, non-profit charter school.  Of about 36 forms for various different conditions, there is a pregnancy form. While that in and of itself isn’t TOO unusual, the wording at the beginning is.  And give that the founder, director and owner of Spectrum Academy is also the Chairman of an adoption agency, well, let’s just say skeptical cat is skeptical. As an afterthought, Marney is also some sort of counsel for oil companies.

 

The wording is:

“- Three-quarters of a million teens between 15 and 19 become pregnant each year.
– Very few teens who become mothers plan on doing so. Out of all teen pregnancies, 82% are unintended. Teen pregnancy accounts for 20% of all unplanned pregnancies annually.
– Two-thirds of teen pregnancies occur among teens 18-19 years old and teen mothers account for 11% of all births in the US.
– Out of all teen pregnancies, 57% end in birth. Another 14% end in miscarriage.
– Nearly a third of pregnant teenagers choose abortion.
– Black teens have the highest teen pregnancy rate.
– Teens who become pregnant are less likely to attend college
– US teen pregnancy rates are higher than those of other developed countries.
– Teen pregnancy rates declined between 1991 and 2005 but are on the rise again.

Statistically the obstetric hazards for adolescents and their infants include increased
mortality and morbidity rates. Health care priorities for the student include promoting the optimal physical / emotional well-being of the student, concern for fetal well-being, providing information and review of available options, assisting student in positive adaptation to new and changing roles, encouraging family / partner participation in problem-solving.”

This is on a page called “Pregnancy Care Plan” and asks for a medical release for Spectrum Academy to have access to any pregnant student’s medical records. Why would a pregnancy care plan have the above information stated? Why would a school need access to a student’s medical records. There is also a form for Asthma. My daughter has Asthma.  I have never once been asked to release her medical records for her school to have full access to at any time.

The medical release on the pregnancy care plan reads as follows:

“AUTHORIZATION / INFORMED CONSENT / MEDICAL RELEASE
1. I have reviewed and am in agreement with the Health Care Plan and I authorize school officials to provide my child with health care services in accordance with this plan. I understand that my student’s health information will need to be shared:
A. To benefit the student in terms of health maintenance and academic progress.
B. When necessary to accommodate the safety and well-being of student and staff.
C. With the discretion of the school nurse to determine what is shared and who should          know.
2. I understand that consent for sharing of health information will remain in effect as long as my student is enrolled in Spectrum Academy and may be revoked at any time in writing by parent / guardian.
3. I understand if clarification of the health information is needed, my signature authorized the school nurse to contact the medical provider and authorized the medical provider to release information.”

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Hmm.

Donna Pope, the President and Founder of Heart to Heart Adoptions. Let’s be clear.  She is not a licensed social worker.  She is a former respiratory care nurse. She is also the one who was engaging with Johnny in the comments section of his review on Facebook of Heart to Heart Adoptions (which has now been disabled). Heart to Heart does have an active license as an adoption agency that will expire, if not renewed, in 2017.

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Bonnie Lin Hilton, social worker that facilitated all of this. She does hold a current license in the state of Utah as a social worker. She does NOT hold a current Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) license for the state of Georgia – where she was conducting herself on behalf of Heart to Heart Adoptions. img_2038Her current license in Utah is an endorsement license.  In other words, she transferred her license from the state of Tennessee where she apparently worked for an organization called “Adoptions Plus” which I can find virtually no information about, besides the fact that her license as a social worker was tied to that organization and the address of that organization was 2211 Berrywood Dr., Knoxville, TN, 37932.  It wouldn’t be going out too far on a limb to assume that Bonnie may have been trying to run her own adoption agency but failed. hope-zettler Interestingly, Bonnie is also listed on the Heart to Heart Adoption agency website as Hope Zettler, LCSW.  I am stumped as to why this is.  But I think it further proves the deception of Heart to Heart. Was Bonnie Lin Hilton once going by Hope Zettler?
Appears that way on the website. For the record, I found no LCSW license for any Hope Zettler in Utah or Georgia.

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Last, but not least, when Johnny was pleading with them to return his baby, via the comments of his review on Facebook, Donna admitted that the paperwork of relinquishment was incorrect (possibly fraudulent as times were entered incorrectly – on purpose??) and was dismissive to Johnny.  She also either lied, or was unaware that Bonnie knew that Johnny was the father as he was clearly at the hospital. The exchange is painful to watch.

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Another man, Michael Ash, has a similar story to Johnny’s with Heart to Heart Adoptions. His daughter was also taken for adoption without his consent or permission using the same fraudulent and unethical practices that Utah and Heart to Heart are notorious for.  You can read his story here.

So where does Johnny stand?

I’d like to reveal our hand but I think it’s in the best interests of Ja’Meka and Johnny to keep that a secret.  The best thing you can do right now is to show your support of Johnny. A Facebook page has been set up to keep everyone up to date with what’s going on. He’s going to need all the support he can get.

Please head on over to BRING BABY JA’MEKA HOME and show your love  and support for Father’s Rights!

Finally, this is a message to Heart to Heart Adoptions, Donna Pope, Bonnie Hilton, Melissa Moore and Andy Moore.

This is NOT the story you want following you around. We will not stop.  We will not rest. Ja’Meka is Johnny’s daughter and she rightfully belongs with him. You cannot go to Idaho because you’re in violation of ICPC. No court is going to grant your adoption once they find out you have violated this. Furthermore, this is not your child. How are you going to look at yourselves in the mirror knowing you stole someone else’s child? How are you going to look that little girl in the face (if the rare rare chance that you actually get to keep her comes to be, which is doubtful) and say, “Oh, we ran with you. Your Dad wanted you but we wanted you more.”

Heart to Heart – you’re on my radar. You’re on a lot of people’s radars now. You’re business doesn’t seem to be going too well, either. I’m not sure how the IRS, and proper licensing authorities will feel about the dirty dealings you’ve been conducting. I highly suggest you get your stuff together and conduct legal and ethical adoptions instead of stealing other Father’s babies for profit by ignoring their rights.

To all of you involved with this serious miscarriage of justice – RETURN JA’MEKA TO HER FATHER.

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Legally Enforceable Open Adoption Contracts in the United States

*Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and nothing in this article should be substituted for legal advice. I highly suggest any expectant mother who is considering adoption to retain her own legal representation who understands adoption law in the state that the adoption will be finalized as well as the state she lives in. This is my interpretation of the laws and my opinion based on my own research and the stories I’ve heard from others who have open adoption contracts that are supposed to be legally enforceable.*

Legally enforceable open adoptions are a fairly new thing. There are lots of questions about them from adoptive parents, expectant parents, and birth parents. These “legally enforceable” post-adoption contracts can vary widely from state to state. When an expectant mother hears that she resides in a state that has legally enforceable open adoptions usually she has a sense of security in believing that the adoptive parents of her child will not be able to “trick” or “fool” her into relinquishing her child to them by making promises they don’t intend to keep. She may also feel that if the adoptive parents change their mind about the type of contact they want, she is legally protected. On the surface this is what it appears to be. I’d also assume that adoption agencies, attorneys that represent the prospective adoptive parents, and facilitators would not go into great detail about how exactly the law would work. I’d like to take the time to do that here.

I heard one story of a first mom who lived in a state that had legally enforceable post-adoption contracts. This was just a fact. When she asked about it she was told, “Yes, our state has legally enforceable open adoptions.” However, she had no legal representation of her own and found out, after her open adoption was closed and she sought relief, that the law in her state required the open adoption contract to be entered with the final decree of adoption. Because she wasn’t part of the court hearing for finalization, she had no idea if this had happened. Because she had no legal representation, representing HER ALONE, she was unaware that the law was written this way. She did have a post-adoption contract that had been worked on between her, the agency, their attorney, and the prospective adoptive parents, it just wasn’t legally enforceable in her state because it never went before the court.

I heard another story about a mom who DID have her post-adoption contract entered correctly making it “legally binding.” When visits never happened and communication was cut off as soon as her child was relinquished, she pursued the legal channels put in place to enforce the contract. She put up a lot of money in attorney and court fees to be told, by the judge, that she relinquished all parental rights and if the adoptive parents didn’t feel it was in the best interest of their child to have visits then that was their right. The judge then rewrote the post-adoption contract, taking away all direct contact or communication with her child, and only enforced a yearly update.

There was another mother who lived in a “legally enforceable” state where visits and all communication had stopped after three years. When she sought to enforce her agreement she learned two things. 1) She didn’t have anything near the financial resources to even begin the process (as most first parents don’t) and 2) she couldn’t even start the process if she wanted to because she didn’t know where the adoptive parents now resided since their communication drop coincided with a move to a different state in which they didn’t disclose.

It’s important to remember that post-adoption contracts are a very new area of law and there aren’t a lot of cases to set precedent yet. Really it’s up to the judges or mediators involved to determine the outcome of a contested contract, if the first parent can come up with enough money to begin the process. It’s also important to remember that post-adoption contracts are not the same as “custody” or “visitation” agreements you’d see in traditional family law that involves two parents that are not together. You do not retain any parental rights once you have relinquished a child for adoption. They have been terminated. No amount of legally enforceable open adoption laws can change that. No amount of legislation to make more open adoptions stay open can change that. You will not be fighting in court for your “right” to visit your child. You will be fighting to have a contract enforced. This is contract law mixed with adoption law (like I said, new territory). Almost always, a judge has the right to alter the contract, change things using his best judgment, or void it altogether. So, while “legally enforceable,” they are also “legally voidable.” Since there are no parental rights intact, an adoptive parent could argue that they feel a continued open adoption would not be in the best interest of their child. They could argue they simply feel that the constant “hello” and “goodbye” is not something they feel their child is emotionally prepared for. They’d probably get contact stopped, or greatly reduced, just based on that alone. Their child, their call. If there has been an ongoing relationship between the child and the first parents for a number of years it may not be so easy as a relationship has been established and the courts may find it detrimental to sever that relationship altogether. However, it would have to be a well-established relationship with frequent visits and a solid relationship. A relationship like this is most likely facilitated by adoptive parents who are very open-minded, educated, and “get it.” Those adoptive parents who choose to facilitate an open adoption at that level are probably not likely to break an open adoption contract to begin with.

The majority of adoptive parents aren’t “evil” people who set out to break a first mom’s heart, but rather are ill-advised, ill-prepared, or uneducated. They also don’t care to change these things about themselves and only see adoption in the light they choose to.  The most vulnerable first moms/expectant moms, the ones most at risk of an adoption closing, are the ones in the first 5 years into their journey as a first parent. Relationships aren’t well-established yet.

Many states will require mediation before going to court to seek relief of a violation of your open adoption contract. This means that you (and any other party on the contract, such as a first father), and the adoptive parents will be required to sit through a series of “negotiation,” so to speak. A mediator will play “referee.” You will try to come to an understanding and agreement outside of the courts. Sometimes you’ll be required to pay a fee to the courts for the mediation – which is usually split evenly between both parties. Each state has its own individual laws, but usually after a series of about 3 sessions if no agreement can be settled on it will go to the courts and a judge will decide.

What are the consequences for adoptive parents who violate an open adoption contract? No state says an adoption can be reversed or nullified if the post-adoption agreement is not followed. This means that you cannot challenge an adoption because the “legally enforceable” post-adoption contract has been violated. I can find no codes that specifically state any consequences, punitive or otherwise, for adoptive parents that have been ordered, by a judge, to resume the post-adoption contract as it was entered.

28 states currently have “legally enforceable open adoption contracts.” Many of those are only for in-family adoptions and relate only to grandparents.

For a review of each state’s post-adoption contract laws please CLICK HERE.

If you take the time to read some of these laws, you will see that all of them allow for a judge to use his discretion when it comes to enforcement or challenging the original contract.

There are many things to consider when considering adoption for your child. Regardless of your state’s laws any number of things can arise. Even in states with legally enforceable open adoption laws, the jury is still out, so to speak. There are so many things that have not even been addressed. For instance, what if your child is re-homed? While rare, in domestic infant adoption cases, it can happen. Will your legally enforceable contract be upheld in a court of law if your child is put up for adoption by the original adopting parents? Most likely, not. If you are relying on a legally enforceable open adoption as the terms of being able to go through with relinquishment are you prepared to fight the adoptive parents if they violate the contract? Do you have the financial means to do so?

In review, as stated in the disclaimer, I advise any expectant mother who is thinking of an adoption plan to seek independent representation.  This advice is not limited to post-adoption contracts, but for everything surrounding the legalities of adoption. Don’t rely solely on an adoption agency, attorney representing the prospective adoptive parents, a facilitator, or charitable organization to fully inform you. This is something you must actively seek to do on your own.