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Saskatoon Father Tries For Visitation Rights
Father in P.A. custody case applies to resume visitation
A Father's Fight for Rights
Man fights for custody of son
Dad will get to hold infant son
Father stunned by child support demands in custody battle
RCMP investigates custody battle
Fight for baby XXXX
Court battle deepens as dad fights for infant's custody
Judge backs dad's fight to see infant son
Judge says it's time dad met infant son
Custody battle example of need to change views
Dad's visit with son cancelled
Trust fund set up for biological father
Determined dad sees infant son for first time
Man must travel to Prince Albert to visit infant son
Claims of witchcraft, drugs start child custody trial
Saskatoon father cleared of false paternity charges by DNA evidence
Exchange of cash for baby refuted
Biological father loses custody case
Dad questions definition of father as adoptive parents given custody of son
Sask. adoptive parents win custody of baby boy
Political Commentary
Attention custody case critics
System failed father
Family Law and Public Opinion Come To a Head in Sask. Custody Dispute
Adoptive parents win in father's custody battle
Woman gives newborn son up for adoption, Father asked to pay child support to adoptive parents
Sask. adoptive parents win custody of baby boy
Adoptive parents given custody of son
Dad left out in the cold
Saskatoon man loses high-profile custody battle, mounts appeal
Father won't give up the fight


Saskatoon Father Tries For Visitation Rights
April 13, 2007

The Saskatoon father who lost a custody battle for his son, is trying to get his visits back.

The dad, who can't be named, not only lost his custody battle but his visitation rights as well.

His lawyer Mark Vanstone says getting visits back shouldn't be an issue.

He says there was nothing in his original ruling that ruled out the visits.

They will be in court April 25th.

The father sued for custody when he found out the mother had given the baby to another couple without his consent or knowledge.


Father in P.A. custody case applies to resume visitation

The StarPhoenix

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Saskatoon biological father who lost his case in a custody battle with a Prince Albert couple has applied to resume visitation of his son.

In February, a judge ruled he was not to see his son for a year, giving the child a period of "familial calm" with the Prince Albert couple.

The father's multiple attempts to arrange visitation through the Prince Albert couple's lawyer have been unsuccessful.

In his application to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, he stated he hasn't seen his son since Jan. 22.

Baby Ian "a pseudonym assigned by the court to protect his real identity" was a newborn when he left Royal University Hospital last April with the couple from Prince Albert. He has lived with them since.

Ian's biological father and his fiancee were granted weekly supervised visits, but that ended on Jan. 29 when the Prince Albert couple was awarded full custody.

The application also indicated he would like his official appeal hearing date to be as early as possible.

©© The StarPhoenix 2007


A Father's Fight for Rights

Fri, Sep 15, 2006 05:37 PM CST


A Saskatoon man is fighting for the right to raise his son. The baby, now 8 months old, was given away by his mother at birth. The biological father says he has rights to the child, but he's had to turn to the courts to try to get him back.

XXXX XXXXXXXXXXX
"We've had the baby's room ready for about 3 months now. We're just waiting for the baby."

When XXXX XXXXXXXXXXX found out his ex-girlfriend was pregnant and didn't want the baby he stepped forward and said he would care for the child. However shortly after birth the mother gave the baby boy to a couple from Prince Albert.

XXXX contacted numerous government agencies for help but...

XXXX XXXXXXXXXXX
"The more calls I made the more frustrated I got. It just seemed there was nobody out there who was willing to listen or they didn't care."

Child and Family Services told XXXXXXXXXXX "The Department staff are not involved with this private custodial matter, nor do they have the mandate to become involved."

MLA Ted Merriman says XXXXXXXXXXX deserves a better answer.

Ted Merriman/Community Resources Critic
"Somebody may have made a mistake here and instead of just doing what's right we're putting this man through a whole bunch of hoops that I'm not sure he needs to go through."

In the meantime XXXXXXXXXXX hasn't even seen his son and the legal bills are piling up.

XXXX XXXXXXXXXXX
"Right now we're $20,000 plus, fighting for my rights as a father."

XXXXXXXXXXX's van has become of symbol his fight. Everyday he and his fiancee put a sticker of a broken heart on the vehicle...one for everyday father and son have been apart.

XXXX XXXXXXXXXXX
"The ultimate is to have my son here. To wake up in the morning and know he's in the next room."

Lawyers for the couple who have the child were unavailable for comment today. In the meantime all the parties involved are to appear in Family Court on October 4th Craig Wilson CTV News.


Man fights for custody of son
Child now in care of Prince Albert couple
Lori Coolican,
The StarPhoenix Published:
Saturday, September 16, 2006

Ever since an anonymous caller tipped him off about his impending fatherhood, a Saskatoon man has been fi ghting for custody of his baby son, who was mysteriously whisked out of a local hospital within days of birth and is now living with a well-to-do Prince Albert couple.

"At what point do you sit back and say, 'Laws have been broken here?' " XXXX XXXXXXXXXXX said in an interview Friday. "I just wish someone could crack this thing open and fi nd out who was involved." It was mid-April and XXXXXXXXXXX's ex-girlfriend Tricia -- not her real name -- was almost due to deliver their child when he found out she was pregnant.

The anonymous caller, who identifi ed himself as a relative of Tricia's, warned XXXXXXXXXXX that she was telling people he was the father and vowing he would never get to see the baby, though she didn't want to keep it herself.

The caller said a "parking lot adoption" had been arranged, adding, "Money has changed hands already.

You need to move fast," XXXXXXXXXXX recalled.

Incredulous, he and his fi ancee, XXXX XXXXXXX- XXXXX, started making phone calls. They informed every authority they could think of -- hospital offi - cials, social services offi cials, crisis workers -- that he wanted to take care of his son.

They were told XXXXXXXXXXX had no right to the child -- or even to information about the baby -- without proof of paternity, which could not be obtained until after the birth.

By the time he found out his son had been born, the baby was gone. Hospital offi cials would not tell him who signed the infant out of their care, except to say it wasn't Tricia -- who had been fl agged as a safety risk because of illicit drug abuse.

Members of Tricia's family, including her mother, have told him they strongly suspect Tricia's sister Dora was involved, XXXXXXXXXXX said.

Dora -- not her real name -- is in charge of an Indian child and family services agency delegated by the provincial Department of Community Resources to arrange foster care and adoptions for children at risk. The childless white couple who have custody of his son are personal friends of Dora's, and it's hard to imagine that's a coincidence, XXXXXXXXXXX said.

"I work in the same fi eld as she does," XXXXXXX- XXXXX said of Dora. "And I know you can't sign off on (the care of) your sister's child. It's a confl ict of interest." They've taken their story to offi cials with Community Resources, the provincial Ombudsman, the Children's Advocate, the RCMP and even Premier Lorne Calvert's offi ce, with no results, XXXXXXXXXXX said. Their frustration is growing as time passes.

"There should be government agencies that will talk to you," XXXXXXXXXXX said. "You always hear about deadbeat dads . . . but now I look at it a bit differently.

It's not so cut and dried." A Community Resources spokesperson said the department can't discuss specifi c cases, but added a child can't be surrendered for adoption or foster care in Saskatchewan without the consent of both parents, unless the identity of the father is unknown or he can't be contacted.


Dad will get to hold infant son

Trial will decide final custody in case
The StarPhoenix,
By Lori Coolican,
October 5, 2006

A family court judge has cleared the way for a Saskatoon man to hold his infant son in his arms for the very first time, five months after the child was born in a local hospital and handed over to a childless Prince Albert couple.

XXXX XXXXXXXXXXX and his fiancée can spend one hour a week with the baby under close supervision at a Prince Albert facility while waiting for a trial to decide who will get custody, Justice Sean Smith ruled Wednesday.

The fact that XXXXXXXXXX is the biological father is no guarantee he'll win the right to raise his son, Smith noted.

"My understanding of the law is that he doesn't hold a trump (card) on that."

XXXXXXXXXXX learned his ex-girlfriend was pregnant with his child through a phone call from a member of her family a few weeks before she was due to give birth. By that time he was engaged to marry XXXX XXXXXXX-XXXXX, a mother of two grown kids who can no longer have children of her own.

The family member told him that his ex-girlfriend intended to give the baby up, and that if he wanted any say in the child's future he should come forward quickly.

XXXXXXXXXXX immediately started contacting every government agency he could think of, making it clear he wanted to take care of the baby himself.

He was told to hire a lawyer, and was advised he had no rights until after the birth, when a paternity test could be done to prove he was the father.

The next thing he knew, his son had been born and released from hospital under the name of the Prince Albert couple, who continue to have custody.

Citing privacy restrictions, hospital staff would not allow private detectives hired by XXXXXXXXXX to serve his ex-girlfriend with documents for the paternity test. He sent flowers to her room for Mother's Day instead ? and got the delivery driver to hand over the documents at the same time. Positive test results came back in July.

Considering the circumstances, Smith wondered how the Prince Albert couple can proceed with a legal adoption of the baby, since the biological father's consent is required unless his identify is unknown.

XXXXXXXXXXX's ex-girlfriend will either have to lie to the court and say she doesn't know the father's identity, or the court will have to dispense with XXXXXXXXXXX's consent, Smith said. "How did this come about?"

The Prince Albert couple are intent on keeping the baby and have already spent five months bonding with him, their lawyer told Smith, adding their marital relationship is more long-standing than XXXXXXXXXXX's and could therefore be considered more suitable for raising a child. They did not attend the hearing.

XXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXX-XXXXX have been working multiple jobs to pay legal fees. They moved to a larger apartment, furnished a nursery and submitted to a professional home study, which resulted in a positive review of the environment they can provide for a baby. Now, they have to wait for a trial.

No date has been set. Smith said he'll make arrangements for a pre-trial hearing in order to move the process along as quickly as possible.

"To describe this situation as difficult would be a little bit of an understatement," he said.

Flanked by a crowd of relatives and supporters outside the court, XXXXXXXXXXX said he can't wait to meet his child.

"He's my son, he's family. Family is important."

Even if he wins the custody battle, he said he intends to keep fighting for father's rights to parent their children ? and he wants to know why government agencies that say they uphold children's rights to a relationship with their biological parents whenever possible were unwilling to help him be a responsible father.

"Something went wrong, and I want to find out what it is," he said.


Father stunned by child support demands in custody battle

The StarPhoenix,
Saskatoon, SK,
By Lori Coolican,
Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Saskatoon father who is battling with a Prince Albert couple for custody of his five-month-old son got a shock this week in the form of a letter demanding that he pay them child support.

"Shame on them," XXXX XXXXXXXXXXX said in an interview, after learning the couple who left a Saskatoon hospital with his newborn son this spring -- while he desperately sought help asserting his paternity and right to custody -- now wants access to his financial records in order to calculate how much he should pay them for the child's care.

XXXXXXXXXXX's former girlfriend didn't tell him she was pregnant after their relationship ended last year. He found out in April, not long before his son was born, when one of her relatives called to warn him she'd been telling people he was the father and had already arranged a private adoption for the baby because she didn't want to raise it herself.

XXXXXXXXXXX, who is now engaged to a woman who can no longer have children of her own, immediately began approaching government authorities to say he wanted his son. He was repeatedly told to get a lawyer and seek a paternity test after the birth.

The baby had already been whisked from the hospital into the custody of the Prince Albert couple -- and had already been given their last name -- by the time XXXXXXXXXXX found out the child had been born. Although a paternity test proved his fatherhood in July, he still has not had a chance to hold his only child.

At a family court hearing on Oct. 4, a judge granted XXXXXXXXXXX and his fiance, XXXX XXXXXXX-XXXXX, a weekly one-hour visit with the baby under supervision at a Prince Albert facility.

Arrangements were made for the first visit to take place this week, but the couple who has custody of the baby cancelled the appointment and claimed it was an inconvenient time for them, XXXXXXX-XXXXX said. No new date has been set.

The family court judge said XXXXXXXXXXX's status as the baby's natural father is "not a trump card" when it comes to winning custody, adding the Prince Albert couple has spent five months bonding with the baby and that weighs in their favour. He ordered a trial and promised an early pre-trial date to speed up the process, but as of Friday no date had been set.

XXXXXXX-XXXXX said she's stunned the Prince Albert couple is demanding child support, especially since they didn't raise the issue in court.

Both she and XXXXXXXXXXX have been working multiple jobs to pay the legal bills and other costs associated with the custody battle, including paying for a $2,500 "home assessment" to ensure they can provide a suitable environment for the baby -- an assessment they passed with flying colours, but which the well-off Prince Albert couple never had to undergo.

If his son's mother was the one asking for child support, he would pay it immediately, XXXXXXXXXXX said.

"Last week, (their lawyer said) XXXX was a sperm donor," XXXXXXX-XXXXX said. "It gets more bizarre every day. Come hell or high water, we will find the money to fight this." Two national advocacy groups have taken an interest in XXXXXXXXXXX's custody battle since it hit the media last month.

The case flies in the face of both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which talk about children's right to be raised by their biological parents whenever possible, said Grant Wilson of the Canadian Children's Rights Council in Ontario.

Kris Titus, a board member of the Canadian arm of the international advocacy group Fathers 4 Justice, is organizing a trip to Saskatoon later this month to draw attention to the case.>

Titus hopes to set up a trust fund to help XXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXX-XXXXX with legal bills.

The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2006


RCMP investigates custody battle

Lori Coolican,

The StarPhoenix Published:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A national children's rights group has involved the RCMP in an increasingly bitter custody battle between a Saskatoon father and a Prince Albert couple, who were given custody of his infant son by his former girlfriend within days of birth.

On Monday, the Canadian Children's Rights Council contacted Darrell McFadyen, assistant commissioner of the RCMP for Saskatchewan, to request he order an investigation into how the baby ended up in the Prince Albert couple's custody, states a press release issued by the group.

XXXX XXXXXXXXXXX, whose status as the boy's father was proven by a DNA test in July and recognized by a family court judge last month, said he was glad to receive a phone call on Thursday from an RCMP officer with questions about the situation.

"Prayers are being answered," he said through tears. "Thank God the RCMP are coming so that I can know what happened here."

XXXXXXXXXXX has never seen his only child, who was born in late April and left a Saskatoon hospital bearing a name chosen by the Prince Albert couple, including their surname.

XXXXXXXXXXX and his fiancee, XXXX XXXXXXX-XXXXX, approached a variety of government departments in the weeks prior to the birth, asserting XXXXXXXXXXX's paternity and asking for custody, after a relative of the baby's mother told him the mother had made plans to hand the child over to someone else. The infant left the hospital before they were informed of the birth.

Sgt. Brad Kaeding, RCMP spokesperson for the province, confirmed members of the force's general investigations section in Saskatoon have been ordered to collect more information from XXXXXXXXXXX.

Once that has been done, "a decision will be made as to whether or not the investigation needs to be furthered, or whether or not it is in fact RCMP jurisdiction, as he is from Saskatoon and the incidents which he has referred to are taking place in Prince Albert," Kaeding said.

"It could be that either or both of those jurisdictions have responsibility for the investigation."

Meanwhile, two weeks have passed since a family court judge granted XXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXX-XXXXX weekly one-hour visits with the baby under supervision at a facility in Prince Albert, while the custody issue is awaiting trial.

No visits have taken place. According to recent correspondence from the Prince Albert couple's lawyer, the supervising facility will not allow XXXXXXX-XXXXX to be with XXXXXXXXXXX when he visits the baby because its own internal rules state "parents, not other people."

The facility, a crisis centre called Children's Haven, will not allow any visits until both sides have agreed on a contract setting out the terms, the couple's lawyer wrote.

The terms they propose include that XXXXXXXXXXX not refer to himself as "daddy or any other name derivative of this title," not take any photographs or describe the visits to the media and not call the baby by any name other than the one they've chosen, in order to avoid "confusing" him.

"We would like to be present at the visits in order to facilitate the best experience for our son," the couple wrote in a draft set of rules delivered to XXXXXXXXXXX's lawyer. Such an arrangement is against the rules at Children's Haven, but "due to the age of our child and the circumstances . . . this situation is somewhat unique," they added.

Mark Vanstone, the lawyer representing XXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXX-XXXXX, said unless they can come to an agreement quickly, the location of the supervised visits may have to be changed by the court because of an unusual amount of resistance from Children's Haven in making the arrangements.

An affidavit sworn by the Prince Albert woman who has custody of the baby states that she "was, or is, a board member for Children's Haven and has been a financial donor in the past," Vanstone said in an interview.

"That's all well and good, but I think that may be part of why we're experiencing this level of difficulty."

XXXX XXXXXXXXXXX's custody battle will be the subject of a closed-door pre-trial hearing Nov. 13.

lcoolican@sp.canwest.com

©© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2006


Fight for baby XXXX

Saskatchewan father wants to raise the child his ex-girlfriend gave away

XXXX XXXXXXXXXXX and his fiancee, XXXX XXXXXXX-XXXXX, are seen in XXXXXXXXXXX's van, which has a heart for each day since his son, XXXX, was born. He had yet to be able to meet his son.

Photograph by : Richard Marjan, CanWest News Service

Siri Agrell, National Post Published: Thursday, October 19, 2006

The photographs of baby XXXX are posted on a Web site, uploaded there by a Saskatchewan woman who has raised the boy since the days after his birth at the request of his biological mother -- who decided she could not care for him herself.

But the site is also where XXXX's biological father, XXXX XXXXXXXXXXX, saw him for the first time, after months of trying to win custody of the child that DNA tests prove is his.

"This was my introduction to my son," said Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX, who has never met the baby in person and found the pictures as a result of Googling the child's caregivers' names.

The Web site is simply one facet of a bizarre and complex custody battle in Saskatchewan, which pits Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX and the rights of a father against the couple given custody of the baby by his former girlfriend, and who claim he was nothing more than a "sperm donor."

On Nov. 13, a pre-trial will begin in a Saskatoon court to establish who will win the right to raise XXXX, who is now almost six months old, but the dispute has already escalated into a public -- and intensely personal -- battle.

And although Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX has never met his son, the custodial parents have inquired through their lawyer as to whether he is interested in making child support payments.

"It's entirely common situation where the father admits paternity and does not have custody that he's got an obligation to pay child support," said Dale Blenner-Hassert, a lawyer representing the XXXXXXX. "It's not about to whom it goes, but that it's for the support of the child."

Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX, however, says he has no plans to send money to "a third party when I have been saying all along that I want to bring him up myself."

XXXX was born on XXXXX XX, XXXX, at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon.

His mother, XXXXXX XXXX, had been in a relationship with Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX that had ended the previous November. She had never told him she was expecting a baby.

Instead, she arranged a custody and guardianship agreement with XXXXX XXXXXX and his wife, XXXXXX XXXXXXX-XXXXXX, a married couple she knew who live in nearby Prince Albert, Sask., and who are unable to have children of their own.

The custody arrangement, which legal experts say is a precursor to formal adoption, awarded them the right to raise XXXX as their own, collect the federal child tax credit and even apply to change his last name to their own.

The agreement was dated XXXXX XX, XXXX, the day after XXXX's birth. It stated that "the biological father of the child is not known."

But court documents show that Ms. XXXX did know who the father was, and that on April 23, Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX had found out as well, through a phone call from her stepbrother.

After that call, Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX says -- in interviews and sworn affidavits -- he did everything possible to establish his involvement in the child's life.

He tried to make contact with Ms. XXXX, but she would not take his calls, and so he communicated to her family that he and his new fiancee were willing to raise the baby.

Then, Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX says he began contacting social service agencies, trying to determine his legal rights and how to establish the baby's paternity.

He was told red flags would be raised and that after the baby was born, authorities would intervene.

But Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX was not notified of XXXX's birth, and found out only weeks later that the baby had gone home with another family.

The agencies he had contacted earlier now told him the matter was a custody dispute and outside their jurisdiction. They advised him to get a lawyer and a DNA test.

Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX did both, and when the paternity test came back, he was both a new father and a newly minted father's rights advocate.

But soon things became even more complicated.

XXXXXXX XXXX, XXXXXX's mother, told him she believed her other daughter, a family services director for a native band, had surreptitiously arranged for her friends, the XXXXXXX, to take custody of the baby.

Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX began to suspect that money had changed hands, a claim he says is supported by the new car his unemployed former girlfriend bought shortly after giving birth.

He has taken that story to the news media and related it in an interview with the RCMP, who were asked by the Canadian Children's Rights Council, a father's advocacy group, to investigate a possible "illegal adoption."

Reached at his Prince Albert home, Mr. XXXXXX said he would not respond to "lies and bulls---" and said Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX's biological role in XXXX's birth "is the only true thing" in the case he has brought forward.

Mr. Blenner-Hassert said claims of illegal activity by his clients are "entirely false."

"No money, no backroom deal," he said. "It was simply a private custody agreement between two parties."

But his clients are also firing back with allegations of their own.

In an affidavit sworn by XXXXXX XXXXXXX-XXXXXX, she alleges Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX was once charged with "communicating with another person for the purpose of engaging in prostitution with an underage individual."

"I am very concerned that the Petitioner is but the provider of the sperm that produced XXXX and is nothing more to him," she stated. "Further, I am concerned that the Petitioner is not a safe and trustworthy individual."

Mark Vanstone, Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX's lawyer, said his client -- "like a lot of people" -- was once charged with a criminal act, but that he maintains his innocence and was never convicted.

"How they got that information is another source of interest for us," he said.

The personal attacks have added to already complicated court proceedings and tense communications between both sides.

On Oct. 4, a judge ordered that Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX would be given one hour a week to visit with his son. But when the day of the first visit arrived, Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX claims the XXXXXX cancelled, saying the timing was "inconvenient."

Three weeks after the access order was given, he has still only seen his baby via the Internet -- photographs located on a genealogy Web site.

Mr. Vanstone is confident his client will get his wish in the long run.

"It's a case about whether the child has a right to be with his natural parent or not," he said. "And I think there is precedent under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child putting some kind of premium on that relationship."

But Mr. Blenner-Hassert said biology is not a trump card under Canadian family law.

"At best, he's got some access rights," he said. "The test is: What's in the best interest of the child?"

Leslie Belloc-Pinder, a family lawyer and sessional instructor at the University of Saskatchewan, agrees.

Arguing that it is in the best interest to leave a child with a foster parent, guardian or even a social services agency has defeated the claims of biological parents before, she said, in decisions made all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada.

And the fact that XXXX has been raised by the XXXXXXs since birth will work in their favour, she added, as few courts support removing a child from a happy home.

"The amount of time this child has spent with the family is relevant," she said. "I know the dad's point of view is that only happened because he didn't know what was going on, but time is not on his side."

sagrell@nationalpost.com


Court battle deepens as dad fights for infant's custody

CanWest News Service;

Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Friday, October 20, 2006

SASKATOON - A father embroiled in a bizarre custody battle is heading back to family court in an effort to arrange a first-time meeting with his infant son.

Earlier this month, a family court judge granted XXXX XXXXXXXXXXX and his fiancee a weekly one-hour visit with the six-month-old baby at Children's Haven, a Prince Albert, Sask., child crisis centre.

However, he has yet to see the child.

The baby has been in the custody of XXXXXX XXXXXXX-XXXXXX, and her husband, of St. Albert, Sask., since XXXXXXXXXXX's ex-girlfriend, who does not want to raise the child, gave birth in late April.

This week the XXXXXX' lawyer sent a letter stating that Children's Haven had concerns about XXXXXXXXXXX's fiance, or anyone other than XXXXXXXXXXX alone, being present during the visit. The letter also outlined a set of rules the XXXXXX want XXXXXXXXXXX to follow, including a ban on calling himself ``daddy'' or taking pictures of the baby during visits.

XXXXXXXXXXX's lawyer, Mark Vanstone, said Thursday he was pressing for the meeting between father and son to take place at another facility.

Lawyer Dale Blenner-Hassett, who represents the XXXXXXX, said they had no idea XXXXXXXXXXX was XXXX's father when they took the baby home.

Saskatoon StarPhoenix


Judge backs dad's fight to see infant son

Darren Bernhardt

CanWest News Service; Saskatoon StarPhoenix


Thursday, October 26, 2006

SASKATOON - A Saskatoon dad involved in an unusual custody case began weeping in court Wednesday upon learning he will soon see and hold his infant son for the very first time.

''When he's in my arms, that's when I'll know for sure it's really happening,'' he said in an interview.

A judge hearing the case at Court of Queen's Bench ordered the visitation to occur as soon as possible, citing the child's developmental stage as being at a point where it will begin making attachments to people.

A custody trial must still determine who will raise the boy, but Justice J.A. Ryan-Froslie said the dad has waited long enough.

''The best interests of the child requires immediate action,'' she said, prompting the dad and his supporters to exhale loudly and cry in joy.

Although the names of everyone involved in the case have been published in previous stories, a publication ban was imposed Wednesday because of the personal matters involved.

The father learned just weeks before the child's birth that he was the father. He was tipped off by an anonymous caller, who identified himself as a member of the mother's family.

A DNA test proved his paternity but the birth mother, who didn't want the child and claimed the father was unknown, had already arranged for a Prince Albert, Sask., couple to adopt the child. Because the dad never lived with the baby's mother and their relationship was ''transitory,'' she did not need his permission, said lawyer Dale Blenner-Hassett, who represents the Prince Albert couple.

The couple did not attend Wednesday's proceedings.

Expressing urgency to move the process along, Ryan-Froslie ordered the two sides involved in the custody dispute to promptly go into another room to set a trial date for the custody matter. By doing so, she bypassed the usual step of holding a pre-trial conference.

Within 20 minutes, Dec. 18 was set for the start of arguments.

''We're finally getting things done,'' said the father.

The man was awarded visitation rights by another judge on Oct. 4, with meetings to occur at a children's shelter in Prince Albert. However, no meetings have taken place and both sides have blamed the other for various reasons.

Ryan-Froslie changed the meeting venue to Saskatoon because of possible perceived bias on the part of the shelter, known as Children's Haven. The couple who currently have custody have a connection to the facility, as the woman had served on the board and made regular financial donations.

Saskatoon StarPhoenix


Judge says it's time dad met infant son

SASKATOON (Oct 27, 2006)

A judge has ordered that a Saskatoon father embroiled in a custody battle should get to see his infant son for the first time as soon as possible.

The father began weeping after Justice J.A. Ryan-Froslie ordered the visitation occur quickly, saying the child is at a developmental stage where he is starting to form attachments.

"When he's in my arms, that's when I'll know for sure it's really happening," the father said.

A custody trial must still determine who will raise the baby, but Ryan-Froslie said the best interests of the child require immediate action.

A publication ban on the identities of those involved has been imposed.

The man learned just weeks before the child's birth that he was the father. He was tipped off by an anonymous caller, who identified himself as a member of the mother's family.

A DNA test proved his paternity but the birth mother, who didn't want the child and claimed the father was unknown, had already arranged for a couple in Prince Albert, Sask., to adopt the child.

A lawyer who represents the adoptive couple said the mother did not need the father's permission because he never lived with the mother and their relationship was "transitory."


Custody battle example of need to change views

The StarPhoenix

Published: Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's a fine example of the state of today's society when a man who wants to be a father to his child is not even allowed to have a say in what the child's mother does with the baby.

In this case, the mother wrongly declared the father of the baby as unknown and put the child up for adoption. Now the father has to fight a court battle against the adoptive parents even to get to see his child, let alone obtain custody.

The expenses for the court actions will be paid for by the father and on top of that, the adoptive parents are seeking child support. Meanwhile, they do not want the biological father to get the boy to call him "Daddy," and they are fighting about even whether or not the father should get visitation rights!

How is this situation acceptable? It is far past time for people not only to realize that men are not always "deadbeat dads" but to demand that the playing field be levelled. Far too many courts today treat the mother always as an angel and the father as evil. This is not always true and must be changed.

Bruce Beilhartz

Saskatoon


Dad's visit with son cancelled

Appeal prevents city man from seeing infant for first time

Lana Haight

The StarPhoenix

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Saskatoon dad who expected to hold his six-month-old son for the first time this morning will likely go for coffee instead.

The dad, who cannot be identified because of a publication ban, fought back tears Friday night as he thought about the visitation ordered earlier this week by the courts, but cancelled at the last minute because of an appeal.

"We'll go to Tim Hortons and get coffee, go for a drive," said the man's fiancee as she comforted him as they sat in their lawyer's office.

Those involved in the case cannot be identified, even though their names have been published previously.

"This is the second time that I was promised that I would get to see my son," said the dad.

"When a judge says that I get to see my son, I should get to see him."

The man and his fiancee had been worrying since Wednesday, when they won the right to see the baby boy every Saturday morning in Saskatoon, that this morning's visit would be cancelled.

The baby has been in the custody of a Prince Albert couple since he was born in late April. The man's former girlfriend gave the baby up for adoption. She did not want to raise the child and claimed the father's identity was unknown. The dad learned of the baby through an anonymous tip from someone who said he was a member of the birth mother's family. Even though a DNA test has proven the man is the baby's biological father, he has not seen his son.

A bitter and public custody battle between the dad and his fiancee, and the Prince Albert couple has ensued.

On Oct. 4, Saskatoon family court Judge Sean Smith ordered the man and his fiancee be allowed supervised weekly visits with his son at Children's Haven in Prince Albert. No meetings have taken place, with both sides blaming the other for various reasons.

The Prince Albert couple subsequently requested child support from the dad.

On Wednesday, another family court judge, J.A. Ryan-Froslie, ordered the weekly visits begin today and in Saskatoon. Ryan-Froslie changed the venue because of a possible perceived bias on the part of the Children's Haven. The couple who currently have custody have links to the facility. Ryan-Froslie's order also states that the dad is free to hold his boy, kiss him and take his photo, as long as the pictures are not published or given to the media. As well, the Prince Albert couple cannot be present during the visits.

The first visit was arranged for this morning. That was until the dad received a phone call Friday at suppertime from Family Justice Services, the government agency responsible for organizing the meeting.

On Friday, the lawyer for the Prince Albert couple filed a notice of appeal of Wednesday's judgment with the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in Regina. A judgment usually cannot be enforced while a case is under appeal.

"We're appealing on the basis that the honourable justice did not have the authority to make the order that she did," said the couple's lawyer, Dale Blenner-Hassett, in a telephone interview.

"There was an obligation upon (the dad) to show the court that there had been a material change in circumstances between the 4th and 25th, which is what the judge needed to tinker with Mr. Justice Smith's order."

The Oct. 25 judgment doesn't "tinker" with the earlier court order, according to the dad's lawyer.

"(Ryan-Froslie) was not varying the interim order, but simply implementing it. It only clarifies it and gives it effect. The second order provides greater specificity around visits, but the essence of it is that it is implementing the earlier order. It's still the father's weekly visits," said Mark Vanstone.

Blenner-Hassett said the dad is welcome to come to Prince Albert to see the baby at Children's Haven as early as Monday, but that the couple will not bring the baby to Saskatoon.

"We've got a six-month old baby that has a certain schedule and to be travelling two hours there and two hours back, to be there early in the morning . . . if we are considering the best interests of the child, that wouldn't be something that would be convenient for the child," said Blenner-Hassett.

Vanstone finds that argument somewhat amusing.

"(The dad) does not wish to inconvenience his son in any way. Most likely he would just snooze (in the vehicle)," he said.

Vanstone has other plans for Monday. He'll be in Saskatoon's Court of Queen's Bench requesting a hearing before Ryan-Froslie.

"This particular decision contains a provision that provides that if there are any problems carrying out the terms of the order, there's an opportunity to reconvene and we're going to pursue that in order to clarify the status of the matter," said Vanstone.

lhaight@sp.canwest.com


Trust fund set up for biological father

Darren Bernhardt

Saskatchewan News Network; CanWest News Service

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

SASKATOON -- A bitter custody battle for a six-month-old boy is taking its financial toll.

A trust fund has been set up to assist the child's biological father, who has been fighting since the birth to see and hold his son. The baby has been in the custody of a Prince Albert couple since he was born in late April.

The birth mother gave the child up for adoption, saying the father's identity was unknown.

"It's a fight that's draining me. But there isn't anything that I own that wouldn't be up for sale to keep me going," said the man, who cannot be named due to a court-imposed publication ban.

"They've got my son. My possessions mean nothing."

He learned of the baby through an anonymous tip from a member of the birth mother's family. A DNA test has confirmed he is the father, but the contract between the mother and adoptive parents has made him the odd man out.

The adoptive parents have since given the baby their surname and are seeking child-support payments from the father.

The RCMP's general investigations section in Saskatoon had been collecting information from the parties involved in the battle to determine whether any wrongdoing was involved. The file is now being forwarded to Saskatoon Police Service.

"We will review it and determine what course of action to take," said Insp. Neil Wylie.

The biological father has yet to see or hold the boy, even though a Queen's Bench judge in the family law division last Wednesday ordered visitation to occur as soon as possible. Justice J.A. Ryan-Froslie said the father has waited long enough.

She also ordered the meetings to take place in Saskatoon under the auspices of Family Justice Services. A different judge had earlier named the Children's Haven in Prince Albert as the place for supervised visitation but no meetings took place.

The father objected to conditions the adoptive parents were imposing. Ryan-Froslie changed the venue, citing possible bias on the part of the Children's Haven because of connections to the adoptive parents. The woman used to serve on the board several years ago and has made regular financial donations. The father's first visit with his son was to take place Oct. 25 but was cancelled when the adoptive parents filed an appeal against Ryan-Froslie's ruling. A judgment cannot be enforced while a case is under appeal.

The father's lawyer, Mark Vanstone, attempted Monday to request a hearing before Ryan-Froslie but she cannot speak to the matter while it is under appeal. Vanstone intends to file a motion in the Court of Appeal and set Nov. 8 as a date to address the adoptive couple's appeal.

A date for the custody trial has already been reserved for the week beginning Dec. 18.

The adoptive parents' lawyer, Dale Blenner-Hassett, said the father was welcome to see the baby at Children's Haven on Monday but the father refused. He doesn't want the couple sitting in on the visit because they are opposed to him kissing the boy, referring to himself as father, or taking photos. Ryan-Froslie had forbidden any terms being imposed on the visits.

"So they've successfully stalled everything again," the man said.

"These people are trying to operate above the law when it comes to this child and that's just sad. What kind of people are these that they can't give me an hour with my son?

"They say they're acting in the best interests of the child but come on, I just don't see it."

A trust fund in the father's name has been set up at TD Canada Trust branches nationwide. It is in his name, which can't be published, but most branches are familiar with the case and would know for whom the donations are intended, the father said.

Failing that, he invited people to e-mail (distress@shaw.ca) or phone him (382-3293) for the name on the trust account. He's received offers of money from people as far away as Toronto and Quebec.

The cause has been picked up by the international advocacy group Fathers 4 Justice, which is also considering asking the court for third-party status in the case.


Determined dad sees infant son for first time

Darren Bernhardt

CanWest News Service; Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Friday, November 03, 2006

SASKATOON - A Saskatoon father fighting for custody of his six-month-old son was finally able to hold the boy for the first time Thursday.

''It was great. It was just wow. Amazing,'' said the man, who cannot be named under a court-imposed publication ban.

''He's got a lot of energy. He was kicking his legs like crazy and every time I laughed, he laughed too.''

The visit at The Children's Haven in Prince Albert, Sask., lasted an hour and five minutes.

''It was tough to leave. Then I finally whispered in his ear that I would be back soon,'' said the man.

He says the short visit helped relieve some long-held emotions he has been struggling with since April.

''I don't feel that emptiness anymore of wondering, what does he look like, what sounds does he make, what does he smell like,'' he said.

''It has all just reconfirmed what I have to do, which is to get this baby back and bring him home; bring him to his family, to his grandmas and his nieces and nephews.''

A court has granted the man weekly visits with the child, whose biological mother is a woman with whom the father had an on-and-off sexual relationship. When the boy was born, the woman signed custody over to family friends, a couple who live in Prince Albert.

In a seven-page document giving the couple guardianship, the woman stated the biological father was unknown to her. The father learned about the child in the weeks leading up to the birth, tipped by a member of the woman's family.

A DNA test has confirmed he is the biological father but the contract between the mother and adoptive parents is recognized as law. The adoptive parents have since given the baby their surname and are seeking child-support payments from the father.

A custody trial is set to begin Dec. 18.

In early October, a judge ordered visitation rights for the father but the adoptive parents imposed certain conditions such as prohibiting the man from kissing the boy, referring to himself as dad or taking photos.

The dad opposed and another hearing took place last week in front of a judge who forbid any terms being imposed.

Saskatoon StarPhoenix


Man must travel to Prince Albert to visit infant son

Court 'empathetic' that infant not travel for visits: lawyer

The StarPhoenix, by Lana Haight, Friday, November 10, 2006

A Saskatoon man will have to travel to Prince Albert if he wants to continue seeing his infant son.

"We weren't opposed to having (the visits) occur in Prince Albert. The problem was getting them started," said Mark Vanstone, the man's lawyer.

"Now that that's been addressed, he's delighted to see his son." The man, who cannot be named because of a publication ban, learned last spring his former girlfriend was pregnant with his child. His paternity has been proven by a DNA test. Not wanting to keep the child, the mother gave a Prince Albert couple custody of the baby after he was born in April. The Saskatoon man has been fighting for custody of the baby ever since.

In early October, Saskatoon family court Judge Sean Smith ordered the man be allowed to see his son for one hour once a week at the Children's Haven in Prince Albert. But by the end of the month, the father still hadn't seen his son.

He returned to court and another family court judge ordered the visits occur in Saskatoon, pending a custody trial scheduled for Dec. 18. Judge Jacelyn Ann Ryan-Froslie's order also states the dad is free to hold his boy, kiss him and take his photo, as long as the pictures are not published or given to the media. The Prince Albert couple cannot be present during the visits.

The day before the first visit under that order was to take place, the couple appealed the family court judgment, triggering an automatic stay that froze the ruling.

On Wednesday, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Judge Gene Anne Smith lifted the stay, but ordered the visits occur in Prince Albert, not Saskatoon.

"The court was pretty emphatic that it should not be the infant that is travelling back and forth for two hours every Saturday morning in the winter," said Dale Blenner-Hassett, the lawyer for the couple, who also cannot be named.

"It should be the father that travels." That works for the dad, especially since he had his first visit with his son on Nov. 2 in Prince Albert.

"My client's first priority was to ensure that he had meaningful access with his son. He never intended to inconvenience the couple or the son," said Vanstone.

In addition to ensuring visits take place, the appeal court decision means the custody trial slated for Dec. 18 will go ahead, although Blenner-Hassett has expressed concern he may not be able to fully prepare the couple's case by then.

"Delay in our view will be very undesirable," said Vanstone.


Claims of witchcraft, drugs start child custody trial

Biological father, grandmother both seek baby

Darren Bernhardt

The StarPhoenix

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The trial for custody of a seven-month-old boy began Monday with claims of witchcraft, drugs and an unexpected request for guardianship by the boy's biological grandmother.

"It is my grandson at the mercy of this court. I have been quietly and patiently watching this situation and see no indication of his inherent First Nation rights being acknowledged," the grandmother told Justice Shawn Smith moments after the trial began.

"I'm not taking this step lightly," she added, standing next to Smith and reading a prepared statement.

"I'm afraid for my grandson if his heritage is not recognized.

So I ask that he be returned to me so I can raise him among his extended family and ensure he will not lose that identity." The grandmother is a band member of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation. The biological father is not aboriginal.

The revelation stunned several people in the court, since she was called to support the dad's parental claim.

"Your plea is well-taken and your response is totally appropriate as the grandmother. But your request is not at all on the court's radar," Smith said, explaining she has no custody application before the court.

The dad, Adam, had an on-and-off relationship with the mother, Rose, and was unaware of the pregnancy until being tipped off by Rose's mother. When the boy was born in Saskatoon, Rose signed over custody to a couple living in Prince Albert (Dave and Linda), whom the family had met some 14 years ago.

The names being used are not the actual names of the parties involved. A publication ban has been imposed to protect the baby's identity.

In a seven-page document giving the couple guardianship, Rose stated the biological father was unknown to her. A DNA test confi rmed Adam as the dad, but the contract between the mother and adoptive parents is recognized as law.

Smith must decide, in the best interests of the child, who should raise the boy.

The legal battle is exposing the indiscretions of all involved.

The grandmother testifi ed Rose knew Adam was the father. Rose often spoke of her intention to tell him "but it gradually became clear she didn't want to raise the child with him," she said.

Rose's lawyer, Greg Curtis, and Dave and Linda's counsel, Rick Danyluik and Dale Blenner-Hassett, jumped at the grandmother's about-face on custody.

"So have your feelings changed? You no longer support (Adam) having custody?" asked Danyluik. "You support you having the baby?" "Yes," the grandmother responded, stressing First Nations customs have been around longer than Canadian courts and empower her to raise the child or, at the very least, decide who should.

But Danyluik noted the grandmother is not aboriginal. She has a European background and married a band member. As such, she is no different than Dave and Linda, he argued.

She was also pressed by Curtis to explain why she once referred to Linda as a witch, to which she responded, "I don't want to go there." But when Adam's lawyer, Mark Vanstone, asked why Linda is unsuited to raise the child, the grandmother accused her of practising witchcraft.

"Years earlier," she explained. "(Linda) was not feeling well and transmitted pains from herself to my older daughter." Vanstone spent much of the morning delving into Rose's background of alleged substance abuse and theft allegations, and asked the grandmother about another child of Rose's. Rose hasn't been able to care for the child, who is nine years of age, and the grandmother has raised the girl.

"She's unable to provide for herself.

How could she provide for a child?" the grandmother told Adams. "She's not bad person, but she needs help. She's sick." The grandmother spoke of Adam as a "polite, kind, jovial (and) respectable" person.

"I can't imagine many men in a similar situation who wouldn't have contempt.

But he has never said anything untoward about my girl," she said.

However, Danyluik, one of the P.A. couple's lawyers, revealed Adam has suffered from depression, a bankrupt business, a handful of driving convictions, drug use, an assault on Rose and, in June 2003, was charged with soliciting a person under 18 for sexual services.

The latter was set for trial following a preliminary hearing but was dropped when the main witness could not be located.

Adam also has a child, now 14, with whom he allegedly has little contact.

Another former girlfriend has alleged Adam is the father of her infant child, according to Danyluik.

The case is set to be heard all week in Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench.

Adam is expected to take the stand today.

dbernhardt@sp.canwest.com


P>Saskatoon father cleared of false paternity charges by DNA evidence

December 20, 2006, World Fathers Union News Service (CAN)--Fathers 4 Justice Canada reports that 'Batman and Wonder Woman will again be driving home the message at the Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon today that someone must accept responsibility and take action to STOP the War on Dads.'

The F4J-Canada event focuses on the case of a Saskatoon Dad who has been fighting desperately for custody of his infant son, who is currently in the custody of a Prince Albert couple because the mother signed her rights over. The unidentified father finally received some redemption today as he was cleared of "accusations and claims" he had another child by a young woman known only as Sarah.

The DNA bombshell was dropped at the beginning of the dad's testimony by his lawyer, Mark Vanstone, who produced new evidence to the court that his client was in fact excluded by a 00.00 possibility he was the paternal father of Sarah's child, much to the chagrin and shock of counsel for the responding parties in his current custody battle.

The woman had been making financial demands to the Saskatoon man for several months, equivalent to several thousand dollars, without proceeding with proper DNA testing to determine the man's actual paternity, despite numerous requests by the man. When the Saskatoon man began fighting for his paternal son, the young woman claimed he was fighting for one child, but not hers.

"It's extortion, and it happens every day in this country" says Kris Titus, a member of the National Board of Directors for Fathers 4 Justice Canada who has traveled to Saskatoon from Ontario as a representative and spokesperson for the organization.

No Man is Safe


Exchange of cash for baby refuted

Darren Bernhardt

The StarPhoenix

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Allegations of a "parking lot deal" in which money was exchanged for custody of a newborn baby have absolutely no merit, a Court of Queen's Bench justice was told Tuesday.

The trial for custody of the boy, now seven months old, began Monday. The suggestion the baby was bought is absolutely not true, said Rick Danyluik, lawyer for a Prince Albert couple, Dave and Linda, who presently have custody.

"There is not a scintilla of evidence to support that claim. That was confirmed in today's testimony from (the biological dad's fi ancee)," Danyluik said.

The dad, Adam, 34, was contacted by police on Tuesday morning, informing him an investigation into those allegations has been completed and closed with no proof of criminal activity and no charges.

The accusation was fi rst raised by an advocacy group called the Canadian Children's Council, which phoned the RCMP and made the complaint. Following the investigation, the RCMP sent the fi le to Saskatchewan Justice "as a cautionary measure," said Danyluik.

"The provincial legal department looked into it and upheld the RCMP conclusion." Adam had an on-and-off relationship with the baby's mother, Rose, and was unaware of the pregnancy until being tipped off by a relative of Rose. When the boy was born in Saskatoon, Rose signed over custody to Dave and Linda, whom the family met some 14 years ago.

The names being used are not the actual names of the parties involved. A publication ban has been imposed to protect the baby's identity.

In a seven-page document giving the couple guardianship, Rose stated the biological father was unknown to her. A DNA test confi rmed Adam as the dad, but the contract between the mother and adoptive parents is recognized as law.

Justice Shawn Smith must decide, in the best interests of the child, who should raise the boy.

Taking the stand in the afternoon, Adam blamed government agencies for failing in their duties to protect the baby when he was born. He learned the baby Rose was carrying was his when a relative of Rose called and told him. Up to that point, Rose had denied it whenever Adam asked.

"The guy who called said, 'Funny things are going on. There's talk of money changing hands and the baby being given away,' " Adam recalled. "He told me, 'If you want to have anything to do with this child, you'd better act fast.' " Adam began phoning "every place I could think of." The list included the Department of Community Resources, Child and Family Services, the provincial children's advocate and MLAs.

"There wasn't, at any point, any doubt we wanted this child," said Adam, speaking for his fi ancee.

"What kind of parent would you be?" Adam's lawyer, Mark Vanstone, asked.

"I like to have fun. Ice cream is a big part of my day," Adam replied, eliciting laughs from the gallery.

Government agencies advised Adam that paternity must be proven before he has any right to the child. That couldn't be done until the baby was born, when blood and DNA tests would be taken.

"I was told I had done everything possible to make a claim for the baby and it would be taken care of," he said. "Then (his fi ancee) and I went fi shing." Upon their return, they were told by relatives of Rose that "the baby has come and gone," Adam said, adding, "I can't describe the feeling. I was betrayed by the government agencies." The agencies would not give him any information, citing the Privacy Act. They essentially washed their hands of the matter, Vanstone said in an interview.

Adam contacted a lawyer and started the process of locating the child and getting a DNA test.

Earlier in the day, a report by a private social worker to evaluate the capacity of Adam and his fi ancee to nurture the child was called into question by lawyer Dale Blenner-Hassett, who is working with Danyluik on Linda and David's behalf.

The report hints at a few problems in the individual pasts of Adam and his fiancee, but paints an overall glowing picture.

Blenner-Hassett showed the report cost $1,900 and was paid for by Adam and his fi ancee, who advised the author, Dennis Bueckert, whom to speak with.

Bueckert testifi ed he was told not to bother with Rose or Dave and Linda, because they weren't willing to participate.

As well, Bueckert did not witness Adam and his fi ancee's interaction with the baby.

"The effectiveness of your reporting is drastically reduced, is it not?" Blenner-Hassett asked.

"It's very limited, yes," Bueckert responded.

dbernhardt@sp.canwest.com


Biological father loses custody case

January 29, 2007 Canadian Press
SASKATOON

A man who has battled for nine months to get custody of his biological baby son wept Monday after a judge ruled that the child will stay instead with his adoptive parents.

In a Saskatchewan Court of Queen 's Bench ruling, Justice Shawn Smith said it was in the best interest of the nine-month-old boy to stay with the Prince Albert couple who have had him since birth.

The Saskatoon father said that was unfair.I wasn't trying to win father of the year award or anything like that I was just trying to be a good father, said the man, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the baby.

I 'm left wondering what the definition of a father might be now.

Court heard during a trial in December that the man had an on-and-off sexual relationship with the baby's mother.

He found out about the pregnancy a few weeks before the baby was born. A DNA test confirmed paternity.

The biological mother arranged for the Prince Albert couple, whom her family had known for 14 years, to take the child. But the biological father argued that he never agreed to the adoption.

He also said social services officials did nothing to help him once he found out.

The family justice system needs to be looked at, said the man, his eyes red from crying.

I still feel very, very betrayed by the government organizations. I think that's what set the events into play now, and that's how I lost.

The man said he was willing and able to raise the boy.

However, the contract between the mother and the couple was recognized as law. The guardians had already given the baby their surname.

The decision, made public on the Law Society of Saskatchewan 's website, said the biological father is capable of providing a positive adult presence in the baby 's life, but not in a parental role.

Smith said in his ruling that the child 's welfare must always be the most important consideration.

While blood ties are one factor, they must be considered from the point of view of the significance to the child, rather than the significance to the biological parent, Smith wrote.

The court must also consider the uncertainties associated with transferring a child from a known situation of security and stability to a situation with many unknowns.

The judge also ordered a one-year period of familial calm to give the couple a chance to bond with the child.

During that time the biological father is not allowed to visit his son. Such visits had been ordered by the court before the lawsuit went to trial.

The man said he found out the hard way Monday morning that he can't see the boy.

I went for my scheduled two-hour visit and they informed us that there would be no more visits, he said.

I just want to be with my son.

His lawyer had cautioned the judge to be wary of setting a precedent that deprives fathers of knowing and caring for their children.

It's been disappointing, said lawyer Mark Vanstone said of the decision.

It seems that one could be a natural father who does absolutely everything possible to step forward to identify oneself . . . but the system seems to do nothing but erect hurdles and obstacles to somebody in those circumstances.

Vanstone said it was too early to know if they would file an appeal.

Lawyer Rick Danyluik, who represented the Prince Albert couple, had reminded the court about some of the negative aspects raised against the father and his fiancee during the trial.

Both have experienced alcoholism, several failed relationships and unlawful conduct. The man also has other children by previous relationships, court heard.

Danyluik had urged Smith to put biology aside and consider the level of care his clients could provide. He pointed out the two are financially secure and educated, and could offer the baby better opportunities.

After the decision was released, he disputed claims that it deprives biological fathers of the right to parent.

I'm not sure it is a blow to parents rights, said Danyluik.

In custody matters the focus shifted away from parents rights and more toward children's rights probably 30 to 40 years ago.

The decision, Danyluik said, was appropriate and best for the child.

He described the little boy at the centre of the fight as a very bright, bubbly, happy baby.

I would say he is just absolutely thriving in the care of our clients, said Danyluik. He is doing great, which is just wonderful to see.


Dad questions definition of father as adoptive parents given custody of son

Mon Jan 29, 8:46 PM
By Jennifer Graham

SASKATOON (CP) - A man who has battled for months to get custody of his biological baby son wept Monday after a judge ruled that the child will stay instead with his adoptive parents.

In a Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench ruling, Justice Shawn Smith said it was in the best interest of the nine-month-old boy to stay with the Prince Albert couple who have raised him since birth. The Saskatoon father said that was unfair.

"I wasn't trying to win father of the year award or anything like that - I was just trying to be a good father," said the man, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the baby.

"I'm left wondering what the definition of a father might be now."

Court heard during a trial in December that the man had an on-and-off sexual relationship with the baby's mother.

He found out about the pregnancy a few weeks before the baby was born. A DNA test confirmed paternity.

The biological mother arranged for the Prince Albert couple, whom her family had known for 14 years, to take the child. But the biological father argued that he never agreed to the adoption.

He also said social services officials did nothing to help him once he found out.

"The family justice system needs to be looked at," said the man, his eyes red from crying.

"I still feel very, very betrayed by the government organizations. I think that's what set the events into play now, and that's how I lost."

The man said he was willing and able to raise the boy.

However, the contract between the mother and the couple was recognized as law. The guardians had already given the baby their surname.

The decision, made public on the Law Society of Saskatchewan's website, said the biological father is "capable of providing a positive adult presence in the baby's life, but not in a parental role."

Smith said in his ruling that the child's welfare must always be the most important consideration.

"While blood ties are one factor, they must be considered from the point of view of the significance to the child, rather than the significance to the biological parent," Smith wrote.

"The court must also consider the uncertainties associated with transferring a child from a known situation of security and stability to a situation with many unknowns."

The judge also ordered a one-year period of "familial calm" to give the couple a chance to bond with the child.

During that time the biological father is not allowed to visit his son. Such visits had been ordered by the court before the lawsuit went to trial.

The man said he found out the hard way Monday morning that he can't see the boy.

"I went for my scheduled two-hour visit and they informed us that there would be no more visits," he said.

"I just want to be with my son."

His lawyer had cautioned the judge to be wary of setting a precedent "that deprives fathers of knowing and caring for their children."

"It's been disappointing," said lawyer Mark Vanstone said of the ruling.

"It seems that one could be a natural father who does absolutely everything possible to step forward . . . but the system seems to do nothing but erect hurdles and obstacles to somebody in those circumstances."

Vanstone said it was too early to know if they would file an appeal.

Lawyer Rick Danyluik, who represented the Prince Albert couple, had reminded the court about some of the negative aspects raised against the father and his fiancee during the trial.

Both have experienced alcoholism, several failed relationships and unlawful conduct. The man also has other children by previous relationships, court heard.

Danyluik had urged Smith to put biology aside and consider the level of care his clients could provide. He pointed out the two are financially secure and educated, and could offer the baby better opportunities.

After the decision was released, he disputed claims that it deprives biological fathers of the right to parent.

"I'm not sure it is a blow to parents rights," said Danyluik.

"In custody matters the focus shifted away from parents' rights and more toward children's rights probably 30 to 40 years ago."

The decision, Danyluik said, was appropriate and best for the child.

He described the little boy at the centre of the fight as "a very bright, bubbly, happy baby."

"I would say he is just absolutely thriving in the care of our clients," said Danyluik. "He is doing great, which is just wonderful to see."


Sask. adoptive parents win custody of baby boy

CTV.ca News Staff

Updated: Tue. Jan. 30 2007 9:00 AM ET

The biological father of an infant boy in Saskatchewan has lost a battle for custody, after the court decided the child should stay with the adoptive parents he has known almost all his nine-month-old life.

"I was completely shocked that I had lost the custody and visitation, it was kind of a double whammy for me," the boy's biological father told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday.

None of the parties in the case can be named.

The biological father launched a legal battle last year to get custody of the baby, arguing he hadn't agreed to the adoption.

He said he hadn't even been aware he was the child's father until he received an anonymous call.

The anonymous caller turned out to be the stepbrother of his ex-girlfriend, who he dated for approximately eight months.

"He informed me that the child would be leaving the hospital ... and that I should come forward and do it fast," the boy's biological father told Canada AM.

Once he found out about his son, he sought custody.

"I wasn't trying to win father of the year award or anything like that -- I was just trying to be a good father," said the man.

He also argued that social services officials were not helpful when he discovered he had a child.

"The family justice system needs to be looked at," he said.

"I still feel very, very betrayed by the government organizations. I think that's what set the events into play now, and that's how I lost."

The adoptive parents argued they followed proper procedures in adopting the baby.

In testimony heard last year, the biological mother said she chose the couple to raise her son because she already knew them and knew they couldn't have children of their own.

In a 35-page judgment released Monday, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench said the unofficial adoption had served in the child's best interests and should be maintained.

The judgment said the adoptive parents from Prince Albert, Sask., present "an environment that will best provide for (the baby's) health, education, emotional well-being, opportunity for training and economic and intellectual pursuits."

"While blood ties are one factor, they must be considered from the point of view of the significance to the child, rather than the significance to the biological parent. Any factor, including kinship, must remain subject to the best interests of the child," the court said in its summary of the case.

As well, the court found the biological father was capable of having a positive presence in the baby's life, but not in a parental role. So in order to give the child a year of "familial calm" to promote bonding and attachment in his current home, the court banned the biological father from seeing the baby for a year.

"My concern is (the boy) could have immense difficulty, particularly in the early stages of his development, in reconciling all the complicated adult relationships in his life. In the interests of (the boy's) stability, it is best that he have intermittent exposure to (the biological father), rather than structured continuous access," the court said in its ruling.

"Although this case has generated considerable heartache and stress, it cannot, in a fair-minded way, be said that any party has been in the wrong. Although lives have been disrupted, the turmoil arose from the often complex circumstances that flow from the unfolding lives of real people with human frailties."

With files from The Canadian Press


Political Commentary

November 1, 2006

SP Opinions

Custody case requires quick action by court

For Saskatchewan's justice system to retain a semblance of integrity, it needs to act swiftly to ensure no more foot-dragging occurs in a child custody case in which the biological father, despite court-ordered visitation rights, is yet to hold his six-month-old son.

This is the kind of story befitting a banana republic with a laissez faire approach to legal affairs, not that of a democratic jurisdiction that respects the rule of law and maintains that justice isn't done unless it's
seen to be done.

Although the man says he contacted hospital and social services officials and crisis workers to inform them he'd raise the baby his former girlfriend was about to deliver but didn't want, the child was whisked away and given to a couple in Prince Albert without his knowledge.

The birth mother apparently gave up the child for adoption saying the father's identity was unknown, even though the anonymous caller who informed the man of the pregnancy told him the woman had told people the child was his. A later paternity test, accepted by the courts, shows the child is his.

About the only benefit the paternity test has provided the man was to have the well-to-do adoptive couple sue him for support of a child he's fighting for the right to raise himself. Given the emphasis society places on the value to children of being raised by fit biological parents, this man's struggle to gain custody becomes increasingly difficult to comprehend.

The adoptive couple, who've named the baby and raised him since the late-April birth, maintain that because the biological father never lived with the mother, the relationship was transitory and the woman didn't need his permission to give up the child.

While the ugly and public custody battle wends through the courts, a Saskatoon family court justice on Oct. 4 ordered that the man and his fiancee be given supervised weekly visits with the child at an agency
called Children's Haven in Prince Albert. In granting the visitation right, Justice Sean Smith said the fact that the man is the biological father is no guarantee he'll win the right to raise his son.

Lawyers are downplaying the fact that the adoptive mother has served on the board and has been a regular financial supporter of the agency. When the visits didn't take place as ordered, with each side blaming the other and agency policies being brought into question, another family court justice, J.A. Ryan-Froslie ordered a change in venue to avoid any perception of bias.

Despite the request of the adoptive parents, Ryan-Froslie said the biological father is free to hold the baby, kiss him and take his photo as long as it isn't given to the media, all without the presence of the P.A. couple.

Ryan-Froslie noted that the visits need to take place as soon as possible because the child is at the stage of development where he begins making attachments to people. Despite the judge's caution, the adoptive parents filed an appeal of her ruling on the eve of last weekend's visit in Saskatoon, once again denying the father of the right to see and hold his child.

Justice Smith said in early October that biological fatherhood doesn't provide the man with a "trump card" in the custody fight. His assessment that the five months the P.A. couple had by then spent in bonding with the
child weighs in their favour underlines the need for the justice system to act quickly in this case.

In essence, the more legal hurdles the adoptive parents can erect in the path of the man to deny him contact with the boy, the weaker his claim becomes, even though the will of the court is being thwarted with the
delays. And the longer and costlier the legal battles become, the better the coping ability of the litigant with the greater resources.

What's being seen to be done in this case so far hardly constitutes justice.


Attention custody case critics

Randy Burton
The StarPhoenix
Thursday, February 01, 2007


Any judge faced with solving a complicated child custody case must have the wisdom of Solomon.

Inevitably, one side or the other is disappointed. So it's no surprise to see that many people are unhappy with the resolution of the case of "Adam Hendricks" and his biological son "Ian."

If you listen to the critics, you would have to conclude that the court's failure to award Hendricks custody of his biological son is either:

- the result of a failed justice system;

- the fault of an unprofessional, biased and incompetent social services system; or

- yet another debacle to be laid at the door of the provincial NDP government.

All interesting conclusions, but those who take the time to actually read the court judgment might come away with a different point of view.

For the record, Ian was not snatched away from Hendricks as the result of some nefarious "parking lot adoption."

He was given to a stable family that has known the biological mother for some time and also shows every likelihood of being able to provide him with a good home.

Nor did Hendricks -- not his real name -- have any status as the baby's father under the law. He wasn't married to the mother, nor was he living with her. The mother did not acknowledge him as the father, nor had they signed anything declaring him to be the father.

Provincial social services may have done nothing for him, but they were under no obligation to take his claims at face value. As Justice R.S. Smith noted, "to the authorities, he was simply a male voice on the phone asserting paternity."

It's easy to sympathize with Hendricks' plight, and many people have. At various times in the last few months, his case has been taken up by the Saskatchewan Party, the Children's Rights Council and the inter advocacy group Fathers 4 Justice, all of whom were convinced Hendricks was cheated out of his son.

Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

Smith did not reach his conclusions based on whether Hendricks was actually Ian's biological father -- DNA proved that -- but on what is best for the child.

This is not the first time the courts have ruled this way. The law has been evolving in this direction for years, and the judge cited a number of precedents for his decision, including one at the Supreme Court.

His conclusions are not surprising, given Hendricks' background. Hendricks' family has a history of alcoholism and he has had his own struggles with alcohol. He quit school after Grade 8 and has struggled to make a living ever since, bouncing from the construction industry to a series of odd jobs to a failed wedding business.

He declared bankruptcy in 2002 and now operates a courier business, although he hasn't paid income tax for three years.

He is married at the moment, but is trying to get a divorce so he can marry his current partner, "Ruth." To date, none of his numerous relationships have lasted more than three years. All have ended, as the judge put it, "somewhere between badly and very badly."

Oh, and he also has a 20-year-old daughter that he put up for adoption at the time of birth.

Everyone deserves a second chance and Hendricks might be able to make a new start, but you can hardly blame the judge for thinking he is a poor risk when it comes to providing a stable home for a child.

By contrast, the adoptive family, Linda and Dave Turner -- also not their real names -- have been married for the last 12 years, hold steady jobs and appear ready and able to raise a child. They are described by Smith as "educated, mature and well grounded." At the time they agreed to take the baby, they didn't even know about Hendricks.

In any event, the judge did not reach his conclusion on a whim. The courts have been focused on the best interests of the child in custody cases for at least the last 40 years. Over time, the rights of the parent have become secondary to the best interests of the child.

As long ago as 1982, the Supreme Court ruled that "the dominant consideration to which all other considerations must remain subordinate must be the welfare of the child."

In that instance, the court said "parental claims must not be lightly set aside, and they are entitled to serious consideration in reaching any conclusion. Where it is clear that the welfare of the child requires it, however, they must be set aside."

This approach is reflected in current provincial law through the Children's Law Act, which says "the best interests of the child" are paramount in these cases.

So while some people may not like the result, there can be no question that it is in line with previous decisions. If there is any saving grace for Hendricks in this story, it is that he will still be allowed limited access to his son in the future. He can never be the dad, but he can still see his biological son.

I'm not sure Solomon could have done much better.

©© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2007


System failed father

John Gormley

Special to The StarPhoenix

Friday, February 02, 2007

"Although lives have been disrupted, the turmoil arose from the often complex circumstances that flow from the unfolding lives of real people with human frailties."

No truer words were written than those by Justice Shawn Smith of Court of Queen's Bench in the case of a Saskatoon biological father battling the odds and losing the fight to have custody of his baby son.

The irony of the case is that the judge eventually came to the right decision for the sake of a 10-month-old boy the court called "Ian." But how the story began deserves a closer look.

Start with a guy who has a pattern of hooking up with troubled and vulnerable women. There is a history of alcohol abuse, some financial troubles and a difficult relationship with his rather unstable girlfriend, who later turns up pregnant.

When the guy and his girlfriend had "an alcohol-fuelled violent incident" in the summer of 2005, the relationship ended.

She left him and, in addition to being a drug user with a tough history, she also turned out to be a proficient liar.

By early 2006, the guy was called by the ex-girlfriend's family, tipping him off that she was pregnant and that he was likely the father.

As the baby was being born, the guy did what any concerned father might do -- he called out for help to Social Services, now known as the Department of Community Resources and Employment.

He got nowhere. In the trial, Smith used a clever but frustrating turn of phrase to gloss over the father's anguish by pointing out that while authorities "were never explicitly dismissive of (his) requests, (he) nonetheless received all assistance short of help."

In other words, neither the hospital nor government child welfare authorities did anything to help the panicked father.

In part, the judge writes this was "not surprising as (the father) presented as someone who was unacknowledged by the birth mother, nor did he have a current relationship with her. To the authorities, he was simply a male voice on the phone asserting paternity."

Although the custody trial was not about government incompetence or neglect, ask yourself just what kind of "male voice on the telephone" voluntarily asserts paternity?

Is this, perhaps, a new sort of prank making the rounds? Or maybe some random guy wants to own up to a baby's birthright so he can make child support payments for the next 20 years.

The Court heard the ex-girlfriend, while pregnant and "aware of her own failings," knew her unborn son's best interests lay elsewhere, so she found a couple willing to take the baby and she signed a private agreement with them.

All of this happened before the baby was born. Within hours of its birth, the baby was whisked up to Prince Albert to the waiting arms of the guardians, who will raise him under their name as their own.

The agreement states the girlfriend does not know who the biological father is, yet her family seemed to know enough to phone the biological dad.

And the agreement, entered into before the couple took the baby, states no one has acknowledged paternity, yet at a hospital in Saskatoon there was a man trying to have child welfare staff stop "his" baby from leaving the hospital.

Although the judge says there was no conspiracy to keep the father from his child, there is still no answer to one fundamental question: How does a birth father get a voice when the mother has decided on her own to send a child to a private adoption/guardianship arrangement without his acknowledgment or consent?

The court reviewed the Children's Law Act, which did not include the father because he never lived with the girlfriend, married her or was party to any written documentation confirming his fatherhood.

The precedents canvassed by the court were clear -- the best interests of the baby are paramount over all, including biology, and the test is to be established from the child looking up, not the adults looking down.

And, when reviewing the cases considered by the judge, it is clear that when a biological father with an unstable life, low income or spotty job record comes up against a stable adoptive couple with a big house and higher net worth, he'll be trumped.

So, by the final analysis, it was no surprise -- and probably the best call for the baby's welfare in the long run -- to have him raised by an educated, willing and mature loving couple, rather than by a biological dad and his new fiancee described by the judge as having "significant psychological wounds" and a relationship untested by time.

But did it all have to come to this? Did the child have to leave the hospital, spirited out of town amid court applications and then months of debate over "bonding" and who gets to visit?

For all of his tough breaks in life and difficulties, the father deserved better than this at the hands of child social workers when he first begged for help. Had someone cared enough to do the right thing, he may have stood a chance to prove himself.

He won't have that chance now.

Gormley can be heard Monday to Friday at 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on NewsTalk 650


Family Law and Public Opinion Come To a Head in Sask. Custody Dispute

February 9,2007

Although Saskatchewan media reports suggested a court ruling giving custody of an infant two parents other than the biological father was either incorrect or improper given societal values, family law practitioners say the judge 's decision accurately reflects Canadian case law.

In Hendricks v. Swan [2007] S.J. No.30, a biological mother signed a custody agreement placing her baby in the care of a third party family without the consent of the biological father. Saskatchewan Court of Queen 's Bench Justice Shawn Smith ruled that the biological father was capable of providing a positive adult presence in the baby 's life, but not in a parental role, and the child 's best interests were served by granting custody to the third party family. He also ordered a one-year period of (familial calm ) to facilitate bonding and attachment of the child, allowing the biological father to resume access again only after one year, unless other wise agreed by the parties. Justice Smith noted the case law instructs that : (i) The paramount consideration is the best interest of the child; (ii) Blood ties are a factor to be considered in determining the best interest of the child but they are to be considered for the point of view of the significance to the child, rather then the significance to the biological parents; (iii) The question must be asked which environment can best provide for the health, emotional well-being education, training, intellectual, economic and psychological needs of the child; (iv) The Court must consider uncertainties associated with transferring custody of a child from a known situation of security and stability to a situation with many unknowns. In the case of an infant, the court must consider the potential harm to a child in disrupting a attachments that have developed or are in the advanced stages of formation .

Dale Blenner-Hassett of Arnot Heffernan Blenner-Hassett in Prince Albert represented the custodial parents. "This is not at all precedent setting," he said. "It 's simply following some pretty deeply imbedded principles in Canadian law." There 's so much that was brought out in the trial evidence that has not been focused on in the media or in public opinion that the decision of the court is really not at all surprising once you consider the track record of this individual versus the care giving parents.

Blenner-Hassett added that the one-year calming off period was sensible given the case law preceding this case. I don 't see it as Justice Smith penalizing this individual or sanctioning him That infant needs to know where his home is and where his daddy is and to have two daddies and two homes as Mr. Justice has alluded to would and cause such confusion in that little infant. The adults are confused enough as it is. He added that other case law had dates of four or five years down the road before an application could be made to have influence in a child 's life.

Greg Curtis of Curtis Law Office in Saskatoon represented the biological mother and agreed the decision was thorough and not surprising according to case law. Everything does go on a case-by-case basis. I do not see anything that departs from the application of the law.

Both Curtis and Mark Vanstone, council for the biological father, were at times displeased with some of the widespread media coverage which painted the biological parents and some extended family members in unfavorable lights. A court order later prohibited naming the parties, but the father had already been extensively interviewed and public opinion seemed to be in favor of a biological father 's right to custody of his child.

Vanstone, of Roe & Company in Saskatoon, said his client is "interested in exploring an appeal of the ruling, but no decision has yet been made on weather there are grounds to do so." "One of the concerns we have about the result of the decision is it seems to set a very high standard for parenting and it may marginalize unwed fathers," said Vanstone.

"There 's a sense I think among the populace that natural parents who show up to take care of their kids ought to have the opportunity and that neither parent should really veto the opportunities of the other." He also noted that, under The Children 's Law Act, "had my client been cohabiting with the mom when the child was born, he would have had all the legal recognition of paternity it took months and thousands of dollars to seek" Perhaps there ought to be an opportunity for much earlier paternity testing of a noninvasive kind following the birth of a child so parents can be quickly and clearly identified so that an unmarried natural parent can have the same kind of role that an unmarried parent would have cohabitating at the time of birth.

Georgialee Lang, who practices family law in Vancouver with Georgialee A. Lang & Associate, told The Lawyers Weekly she was not surprised by the trial's out-come. ?The result is absolutely what I expected. ?

Lang said "blood relation is such a minor part of a child's best interests. Fathers in Mr. Hendricks position have an uphill battle to obtain custody when the child's mother does not support the father's role as an active, participating father. In this case, the father's problems were such that there was no real contest as to who would succeed. It's also significant that Mr. Hendricks was given a very restricted access order as well. He obviously did not impress the court."

The access order was the only section of the ruling that surprised Katherine Cooligan, regional leader of the family law group in the Ottawa office of Borden Lager Gervais LLP. She said that Justice Smith did a through analysis and an appeal of the ruling is likely doomed to failure. "Custody is a discretionary order an the test on a appeal is very high. Based on the analysis this court did, the chance of success would be slim. Where the commo0n person might have an issue with the decision is the parents are judged according to their level of stability," added Cooligan in an interview.

What surprised me more was the one-year hiatus and access.

The child had already been seeing the biological father. There had already been an established pattern. I was surprised that it was stopped only to a year later "I didn't see the evidentiary basis of suspending that contract. The decision had already been made that the father wouldn't play the role of parent. If I was reading this case from the perspective from the traditional family, mother and father separated, I think it would be a big leap to say that this parent isn't going to be a parent but he'll have access. An access parent remains a parent."


Adoptive parents win in father's custody battle

Globe and Mail Update and Canadian Press

The biological father of an infant boy has lost a high-profile custody battle in Saskatchewan after a court decision granted full custody to the child's guardians and banned the natural father from seeing the child for a year.

In a 35-page judgment released Monday, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench said the unofficial adoption had served in the child's best interests, and should be maintained.

“It is clear that they present an environment that will best provide for his health, education, emotional well being, opportunity for training and economic and intellectual pursuits,” wrote Justice Shawn Smith.

The court found the biological father — referred to in the judgment under the pseudonym “Adam” — was capable of having a positive presence in the life of baby “Ian”, but not in a parental role.

Due to that, the court ordered the biological father not gain access to the child for one year, unless all parties agreed otherwise. That would give the child a year of “familial calm” to promote bonding and attachment in his current home, the judgment states.

The Saskatoon father said that the judge's decision was unfair.

"I wasn't trying to win father of the year award or anything like that — I was just trying to be a good father," said the man.

"I'm left wondering what the definition of a father might be now."

The high-profile case stretches back to autumn 2005, when the child's biological mother “Rose” realized she was pregnant.

Rose and Adam ended their short-lived relationship after an alcohol-fuelled violent incident in mid-2005.

In a bid to create a better life for her child, the biological mother sought out family friends “Linda and Dave Turner” and, after much consideration and consultation with counsellors and lawyers, the Turners took the child into their home immediately after his birth.

“Having brought Ian home from the hospital, he has, as is the nature of babies, become the centre of their universe,” wrote Judge Smith. “They love him as if he were their own.”

The mother stated in guardianship documents that she didn't know who the father was. A DNA test later confirmed the paternity.

The father found out the woman was pregnant a few weeks before the baby was born, and with his fiancée, sought avenues to gain custody of the baby boy.

But on Monday, he lost the long court process to gain custody of his biological son.

Adam said social services officials did nothing to help him once he found out about the adoption.

"The family justice system needs to be looked at," said the man, his eyes red from crying.

"I still feel very, very betrayed by the government organizations. I think that's what set the events into play now, and that's how I lost."

He said he was willing and able to raise the boy.

While the court said Adam displayed the protective instincts of a father and seemed willing to take on the lifelong role of parent, there were many unknowns, mainly stemming from his relationship and family history.

“When one considers the path Adam has travelled, it is, perhaps, not surprising that he presents as emotionally fragile. However, it is appropriate to note that he has shown grit and determination in his pursuit for custody of his child,” the judge wrote. “Many in his circumstance would have faltered. He has not.”

Yet in the end, being an “adequate” parent was not the best test to determine what was in the best interests for that child, and the judge concluded that “from all the evidence, without hesitation, ... Ian's best interests are served by granting custody to the Turners.”

The man's lawyer had cautioned the judge to be wary of setting a precedent "that deprives fathers of knowing and caring for their children."

"It's been disappointing," said lawyer Mark Vanstone said of the ruling.

"It seems that one could be a natural father who does absolutely everything possible to step forward . . . but the system seems to do nothing but erect hurdles and obstacles to somebody in those circumstances."

Mr. Vanstone said it was too early to know if they would file an appeal.

Lawyer Rick Danyluik, who represented the couple, had reminded the court about some of the negative aspects raised against the father and his fiancee during the trial.

Both have experienced alcoholism, several failed relationships and unlawful conduct. The man also has other children by previous relationships, court heard.

Mr. Danyluik had urged Judge Smith to put biology aside and consider the level of care his clients could provide. He pointed out the two are financially secure and educated, and could offer the baby better opportunities.

After the decision was released, he disputed claims that it deprives biological fathers of the right to parent.

"I'm not sure it is a blow to parents rights," said Mr. Danyluik.

"In custody matters the focus shifted away from parents' rights and more toward children's rights probably 30 to 40 years ago."

The decision, Mr. Danyluik said, was appropriate and best for the child.

He described the little boy at the centre of the fight as "a very bright, bubbly, happy baby."

"I would say he is just absolutely thriving in the care of our clients," said Mr. Danyluik. "He is doing great, which is just wonderful to see."

The guardians have already given the baby their surname and are seeking child-support payments from the father, the court heard.

With a report from Canadian Press


Woman gives newborn son up for adoption, Father asked to pay child support to adoptive parents

1 November 2006

A Saskatoon man, father of a child that has been given up for adoption, is fighting for the right to his son. This story truly is bizarre. The man found out that he was potentially the father of a child given up for adoption at birth. He found out from an anonymous tip from a member of the woman's family. After DNA tests were done, and it was determined he was in fact the father of the baby, he moved for custody of the child.

This now is a bitter battle between the adoptive parents and the man. Recently, a judge ordered supervised visitations for the father, but the first visit was missed as the couple has filed an appeal on the courts order for visitation. Claiming the two hour drive to the visitation center is not convenient and is a hardship on the child, the couple has refused to follow the order.

The couple recently filed for child support payments from the father as well. Imagine, your child is adopted out from under you, and you are required to pay child support. Is this now a new method of profit for families - adopt a child and collect child support.

What is really arrogant about this whole thing is that the child should have a right to be raised by his natural father. Is there not a crime committed when the mother gives the baby up for adoption without his permission? And why is there any question of who should have the child now? I understand the heartache these adoptive parents must be going through, but it is even worse for the father, who is a complete victim in this circumstance. The courts have to make this whole and return the child to the natural father.


P>Sask. adoptive parents win custody of baby boy

CTV.ca News Staff

Updated: Tue. Jan. 30 2007 9:00 AM ET

The biological father of an infant boy in Saskatchewan has lost a battle for custody, after the court decided the child should stay with the adoptive parents he has known almost all his nine-month-old life.

"I was completely shocked that I had lost the custody and visitation, it was kind of a double whammy for me," the boy's biological father told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday.

None of the parties in the case can be named.

The biological father launched a legal battle last year to get custody of the baby, arguing he hadn't agreed to the adoption.

He said he hadn't even been aware he was the child's father until he received an anonymous call.

The anonymous caller turned out to be the stepbrother of his ex-girlfriend, who he dated for approximately eight months.

"He informed me that the child would be leaving the hospital ... and that I should come forward and do it fast," the boy's biological father told Canada AM.

Once he found out about his son, he sought custody.

"I wasn't trying to win father of the year award or anything like that -- I was just trying to be a good father," said the man.

He also argued that social services officials were not helpful when he discovered he had a child.

"The family justice system needs to be looked at," he said.

"I still feel very, very betrayed by the government organizations. I think that's what set the events into play now, and that's how I lost."

The adoptive parents argued they followed proper procedures in adopting the baby.

In testimony heard last year, the biological mother said she chose the couple to raise her son because she already knew them and knew they couldn't have children of their own.

In a 35-page judgment released Monday, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench said the unofficial adoption had served in the child's best interests and should be maintained.

The judgment said the adoptive parents from Prince Albert, Sask., present "an environment that will best provide for (the baby's) health, education, emotional well-being, opportunity for training and economic and intellectual pursuits."

"While blood ties are one factor, they must be considered from the point of view of the significance to the child, rather than the significance to the biological parent. Any factor, including kinship, must remain subject to the best interests of the child," the court said in its summary of the case.

As well, the court found the biological father was capable of having a positive presence in the baby's life, but not in a parental role. So in order to give the child a year of "familial calm" to promote bonding and attachment in his current home, the court banned the biological father from seeing the baby for a year.

"My concern is (the boy) could have immense difficulty, particularly in the early stages of his development, in reconciling all the complicated adult relationships in his life. In the interests of (the boy's) stability, it is best that he have intermittent exposure to (the biological father), rather than structured continuous access," the court said in its ruling.

"Although this case has generated considerable heartache and stress, it cannot, in a fair-minded way, be said that any party has been in the wrong. Although lives have been disrupted, the turmoil arose from the often complex circumstances that flow from the unfolding lives of real people with human frailties."


Adoptive parents given custody of son

By JENNIFER GRAHAM

SASKATOON (CP) - A man who has battled for months to get custody of his biological baby son wept Monday after a judge ruled that the child will stay instead with his adoptive parents.

In a Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench ruling, Justice Shawn Smith said it was in the best interest of the nine-month-old boy to stay with the Prince Albert couple who have raised him since birth. The Saskatoon father said that was unfair.

"I wasn't trying to win father of the year award or anything like that - I was just trying to be a good father," said the man, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the baby.

"I'm left wondering what the definition of a father might be now."

Court heard during a trial in December that the man had an on-and-off sexual relationship with the baby's mother.

He found out about the pregnancy a few weeks before the baby was born. A DNA test confirmed paternity.

The biological mother arranged for the Prince Albert couple, whom her family had known for 14 years, to take the child. But the biological father argued that he never agreed to the adoption.

He also said social services officials did nothing to help him once he found out.

"The family justice system needs to be looked at," said the man, his eyes red from crying.

"I still feel very, very betrayed by the government organizations. I think that's what set the events into play now, and that's how I lost."

The man said he was willing and able to raise the boy.

However, the contract between the mother and the couple was recognized as law. The guardians had already given the baby their surname.

The decision, made public on the Law Society of Saskatchewan's website, said the biological father is "capable of providing a positive adult presence in the baby's life, but not in a parental role."

Smith said in his ruling that the child's welfare must always be the most important consideration.

"While blood ties are one factor, they must be considered from the point of view of the significance to the child, rather than the significance to the biological parent," Smith wrote.

"The court must also consider the uncertainties associated with transferring a child from a known situation of security and stability to a situation with many unknowns."

The judge also ordered a one-year period of "familial calm" to give the couple a chance to bond with the child.

During that time the biological father is not allowed to visit his son. Such visits had been ordered by the court before the lawsuit went to trial.

The man said he found out the hard way Monday morning that he can't see the boy.

"I went for my scheduled two-hour visit and they informed us that there would be no more visits," he said.

"I just want to be with my son."

His lawyer had cautioned the judge to be wary of setting a precedent "that deprives fathers of knowing and caring for their children."

"It's been disappointing," said lawyer Mark Vanstone said of the ruling.



"It seems that one could be a natural father who does absolutely everything possible to step forward . . . but the system seems to do nothing but erect hurdles and obstacles to somebody in those circumstances."

Vanstone said it was too early to know if they would file an appeal.

Lawyer Rick Danyluik, who represented the Prince Albert couple, had reminded the court about some of the negative aspects raised against the father and his fiancee during the trial.

Both have experienced alcoholism, several failed relationships and unlawful conduct. The man also has other children by previous relationships, court heard.

Danyluik had urged Smith to put biology aside and consider the level of care his clients could provide. He pointed out the two are financially secure and educated, and could offer the baby better opportunities.

After the decision was released, he disputed claims that it deprives biological fathers of the right to parent.

"I'm not sure it is a blow to parents rights," said Danyluik.

"In custody matters the focus shifted away from parents' rights and more toward children's rights probably 30 to 40 years ago."

The decision, Danyluik said, was appropriate and best for the child.

He described the little boy at the centre of the fight as "a very bright, bubbly, happy baby."

"I would say he is just absolutely thriving in the care of our clients," said Danyluik. "He is doing great, which is just wonderful to see."


Dad left out in the cold

By DOUG BEAZLEY

My heart aches for him. A room in the house Adam shares with his fiancee in Saskatoon is furnished and ready for a baby boy - the crib, the stroller, the toys.

But the child isn't coming home.

This past week, a Saskatchewan court denied "Adam" (his court-appointed pseudonym) custody of his eight-month-old child. Instead, the boy will be raised by a Prince Albert couple selected by "Rose," the birth mother.

The court also denied Adam an order giving him access to the boy for at least a solid year - unless the parties to the case agree on an access arrangement, which seems unlikely, given the raw emotions generated by the case.

But did this ruling set a legal precedent? Do estranged fathers have fewer parental rights under Canadian law now than they did before Adam took his fight to court?

That's what the losing side is claiming. Adam's lawyer, Mark Vanstone, says the judge in this case picked the P.A. couple, "Dave and Linda," over Adam because they make a better living than he does.

"What this has set up is the potential in law for anyone to have his or her children taken away by the courts and given to someone with a better parenting profile," he said.

That's an exaggeration, actually. Child custody cases aren't decided on precedents; the judge is expected to make a determination in each case based on what he thinks is best for the child. And kids aren't property to be claimed.

But the system wronged Adam the day his son was born, and made it far more difficult for him to make a strong claim to custody.

He learned of Rose's pregnancy in the spring of 2006 through Rose's family, and of her intention to see the child adopted by Dave and Linda, an upstanding couple with a $100,000 income and their own acreage.

Adam's attempts to claim paternity were more or less ignored by the Saskatchewan government.

"To the authorities, he was simply a male voice on the phone asserting paternity," the judge wrote in the decision.

"Although the authorities were never explicitly dismissive of Adam ... (he) received all assistance short of help."

By the time the case came to court, Dave and Linda had been caring for the child for almost eight months - a very long time to an infant. That delay doubtless undermined his claim and strengthened that of the guardian couple.

Bad luck for Adam, his own history worked against him as well. Adam's romantic record has been a series of ricochet, short-term relationships, none lasting longer than three years. His first resulted in a child, a girl, put up for adoption.

When asked, Adam couldn't remember when she was born.

He had a "brief and volatile" marriage in the mid-'90s. His relationship with Rose ended in booze-fuelled violence in 2005; Rose testified he "physically roughed" her.

Adam admits he's had trouble with alcohol abuse in the past, but insists he's been sober since the 2005 incident.

His employment history is spotty as well: odd jobs, construction work sidetracked by injury, one failed business. He declared bankruptcy in 2002. He runs a courier company, but he hasn't filed a tax return in three years.

He claimed to be earning $35,000 per year, a sum the judge found was "the amount he hopes to earn, assuming everything works out.

"When one considers the path Adam has travelled it is ... not surprising that he presents as emotionally fragile."

All of these factors worked against Adam's custody claim, and supported the claim of Dave and Linda.

In custody cases a blood link is a factor, but it's not the only one. Again, children don't "belong" to anyone, and a blood link isn't enough in law to prevent an adoption.

And when a grudge match over custody reaches court, the judge is expected to make a decision that offers the child his best shot at a happy life.

The judge in this case had solid reasons for choosing Dave and Linda over Adam. That said, the judge's decision to suspend Adam's access for a year seems needlessly cruel.

Why hurt him more than he's been hurt already, just to cement the guardians' claim to the child?

"I thought, even if I lose custody, I can still see him. I can be part of his life," Adam told me. "I still can't believe it."

Custody cases always end in heartache for someone. In the judge's own words, "it cannot ... be said that any party has been in the wrong."


Saskatoon man loses high-profile custody battle, mounts appeal

March 1, 2007 World Fathers Union News Service (CAN)---Canadian fathers activist Jeremy Swanson reports that a Saskatoon man known as 'Adam,' who has been embroiled in a high-profile custody battle for his son, known as 'Baby Ian,' has been able to mount an appeal of the January 29th decision of Justice R.S. Smith which granted full custody of the boy to a foster couple and stripped Adam, the biological father of the child, of all visitation rights.

Adam has retained Regina lawyer Brad Hunter of Hunter-Miller Barristers and Solicitors to mount the appeal. The issues in question center about the biological father's right to prevent an adoption arranged by the child's mother, who is alleged to have 'sold' the baby in a 'parking-lot adpotion' without the biological father's knowledge or consent. A full chronological history of the case is given on the father's personal website:
http://www.saskatoondad.com/main.html

This high-profile case has become a touchstone for several Canadian fathers and men's rights organisations. Jeremy Swanson, an Ottawa-area fathers' righs activist, says he has 'symbolically "adopted" baby Ian as our own mascot figure. He is a symbol of the children we have all lost to the tyranny of Canadian family law.'

A short recall and some pertinent information about the case is provided by Mr Swanson:

In January, 2007, Justice R.S. Smith of Saskatchewan ruled that a Prince Albert couple which had adopted baby Ian had the legal right to raise the nine-month-old biological son of Adam. The judge also ruled that Adam cannot see his son for one year to allow "bonding" with the adoptive parents. This is the order which is currently being appealed.

The story began when Adam ended his 2006 relationship with the mother, whom he was unaware was pregnant until a few days before the baby was born. According to Mr Swanson, in April 2006 Adam was 'tipped off' that his former girlfriend was pregnant and that the child was going to be offered for adoption. He was told that he had to 'move fast' because an adoptive couple had already been selected and that money for this transaction had changed hands. The baby's mother is alleged to be an admitted drug abuser and there were fears that the baby might be physically affected.

In adoption documentation the mother claimed that the identity of the biological father was not known. Yet the mother has also sworn in an affidavit that she knew 'Adam' was the Father right from the beginning. Despite the father's legal efforts to stop it, the baby boy was handed over to the Prince Albert couple in what has become known as the 'parking lot adoption.'

The lawyer for the adoptive couple told a national media audience that he had not asked Adam for child support for baby Ian. However, Mr. Swanson says, in a letter dated October 11, 2006 the lawyer clearly states otherwise.

In April 2006 Adam's fiancee Ruth contacted a social worker at Royal University Hospital to voice concerns. She was told by the social worker that the baby would be tested for drugs, as the mother was identified as a possible drug user. She was further told that if the test came back positive that child protective services would be called and the child would not be allowed to leave the hospital until an investigation was undertaken. This would include paternity testing. Just two days after this contact was made a "custody and guardianship agreement" was signed between the baby's mother and the adoptive couple. Adam and Ruth were completely unaware of the agreement at the time.

The appeal of Judge Smith's ruling was filed on February 28.


Father won't give up the fight

Appeal filed in case where biological dad not told of son's birth

Lori Coolican

The StarPhoenix

Thursday, March 01, 2007



A Saskatoon dad says he won't give up his public battle to raise his 10-month-old son, who was handed over to a Prince Albert couple by his mother after declaring herself unfit to be a parent.

"When I started out, I wanted to try and correct a wrong that had happened at the level of the hospital with government agencies, (and) I feel with the ruling that came out . . . we achieved the opposite," 34-year-old Adam Hendricks -- whose real name is subject to a publication ban -- told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.

"I feel if this ruling is left to stand, the precedent can be used for other parents to lose their children," he said.

Baby Ian (a pseudonym assigned by the court to protect his real identity) was a newborn infant when he left Royal University Hospital last April in the arms of Dave and Linda Turner (also pseudonyms) and has lived with them ever since. Despite repeated efforts to assert his parenthood prior to the birth, Hendricks was not told about the delivery until the child was already gone and the private custody arrangement was in place.

Hendricks and his fiancee were granted weekly supervised visits with Ian at a Prince Albert facility during the first leg of the court battle last year, but that came to a halt on Jan. 29 when Justice Shawn Smith ruled in favour of the Turners and awarded them full custody. Citing a need for the child to have a period of "familial calm," Smith ordered a stop to the visits until February 2008.

That part of the ruling has been the hardest to take, a tearful Hendricks said Wednesday.

"On our last visit, he was at the point where he was standing at the edge of the couch, and that's the kind of things that are hurting me, that I'm missing his first steps, his first everything, you know?" At the very least, his son will one day know how hard he fought to be a part of his life, Hendricks said.

"If he's anything like me, he's not going to let it rest. He will try and get the truth of what really happened. I just want him to know that I'm not going to give up. He will someday know the fight that I put up here and the roadblocks that stood in my way." Hendrick's Saskatoon lawyer, Mark Vanstone, said his client is fighting for the rights of children and parents and for the right of natural families to stay together.

During the trial, Vanstone squared off on Hendricks' behalf against three other lawyers -- one for the province, one for the Turners and one for the biological mother. This time around, the father will have a team on his side. Regina lawyer Brad Hunter, a nationally recognized family law specialist, has been hired to assist with the appeal.

"We feel that the issues involved are of such importance, and the work involved in this appeal is so significant, that his addition to the case is most welcome," Vanstone said.

Hunter was not available for interviews, but in a prepared statement he said the appeal involves important principles related to the role of biological parents.

"This case presents challenging questions about the involvement of third parties in parenting, whether third parties have independent rights, when adoption is required and many other points fundamental to the nature of the family and family law in Canada," Hunter wrote.

Hendricks' notice of appeal argues Smith erroneously placed "undue weight upon the better economic circumstances of the (Turners), thus discriminating against poor and working class people." It adds Smith "erroneously created a precedent whereby fit, functional natural parents may lose custody of their natural children to third party applicants who present 'superior' profiles in a narrow, 'best interests of the child' analysis." The judge also failed to address the "legally deficient" custody agreement the mother used to transfer guardianship of the child to the Turners, it states.

The baby's mother, who has struggled with drug addiction, claimed in the document that she didn't know her son's paternity, although the trial heard evidence

she had told her own mother Hendricks was the father. She testified she lied to her mother because she didn't want her to know she'd had multiple sex partners.

The appeal also alleges Smith erred by revoking Hendricks's right to visits with his son for a year, arguing the ruling contradicts the spirit and intent of the province's Children's Law Act.

Hendricks said he hopes visits can resume while the appeal is pending. No court date has been set, although Vanstone said the legal team will push for the earliest possible hearing -- possibly before the summer -- due to the child's young age.

lcoolican@sp.canwest.com