Family Law

Couple give up custody battle over adopted toddler who court returned to father

A Utah couple have given up their fight for custody of the 21-month-old girl they adopted at birth.

Jared and Kristi Frei say the ongoing legal battle over custody isn’t worth the “potential psychological damage” it could have on the child, the Salt Lake City Tribune reports.

The Freis have asked the Utah Supreme Court to dismiss their appeal of a judge’s ruling ordering the return of the girl to her father, Terry Achane, an Army drill sergeant stationed at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.

Achane, 31, and then-wife Tira Bland were living in Texas in 2010 when they conceived the girl. Achane received a job transfer to South Carolina a couple of months before the child’s birth. After he left, Bland decided to place the baby up for adoption and traveled to Utah to give birth, claiming that Achane had abandoned her and had no interest in the child.

An adoption agency placed the baby, born March 1, 2011, with the Freis. When Achane found out what had happened, he contacted the agency and demanded the return of his daughter, which was refused.

In November, a Utah state judge ruled that Achane’s parental rights had been violated, dismissed the adoption and ordered the child returned to her father. The Freis appealed.

Lance Rich, the couple’s lawyer, issued a statement on the Freis’ behalf saying they had decided to put the child’s needs ahead of their own hopes and were committed to working with Achane on a “successful transition.”

Mark Wiser, a lawyer for Achane, said he was pleased to hear the Freis had dropped their appeal and were allowing Achane and his daughter the opportunity to “move on with their lives together as they should have been allowed to do almost two years ago.”

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