Bethany Sued For More Than $1 Million
“A State College adoption agency has been sued for more than $1 million by a man who said in a complaint that Bethany Christian Services interfered with his constitutional right to custody of his child.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, said the child’s mother relinquished her parental rights to place the baby up for adoption. Bethany Christian Services placed the child, born in August 2015, with a pre-adoptive married couple in York County.
The lawsuit said the man was notified of the mother’s pregnancy, the child and the pending adoption about six weeks after the birth. It also states that the adoption agency allegedly tried to inform him a week before the birth through Facebook, despite having knowledge of the mother’s intention to give up the child for about four months.
The mother and father, according to court documents, had a short relationship and she did not tell him about the pregnancy.
The suit alleges that “Bethany knowingly, voluntarily and tortiously interfered” with the man’s parental rights by refusing his requests for custody of the child and to visit the child on all but one occasion. The suit also claimed that Bethany Christian Services provided the man with false information about the pre-adoptive parents, would not provide information about the child’s whereabouts and refused to facilitate a paternity test.
“The safety and well-being of children is Bethany Christian Services’ primary concern,” the nonprofit said in a statement. “We are not at liberty to address any questions on this matter at this time.”
The man filed a petition for emergency custody of the child on Nov. 6, 2015, after allegedly learning that the mother intended to take back custody.
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania ruled in August 2016 that “the father has been deprived of (the) child without any evidence in the record that he is an unfit parent, and without the benefit of due process protections.”
The court also opined that the adoption agency’s actions were “troubling.”
In the court’s conclusion, it expressed sympathy to the pre-adoptive parents’ efforts to raise the child, but that “our sympathies must give way to (the) father’s fundamental constitutional rights” and that he is presumed to be a fit parent.
The case was transferred to York County, where Judge Todd R. Platts ordered in June that the child’s biological parents share custody on a week-on, week-off basis.
The lawsuit alleged that Bethany Christian Services’ motive was to protect business profit, which caused economic damages and emotional pain to the father in his quest for custody and also harmed his relationship with the child. The suit has requested more than $1 million in punitive damages, more than $50,000 in compensatory damages and more than $20,000 in legal fees.”
[Centre Daily 8/4/17 By]
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