Update: Williamsport Man Gets New Chance at Custody of Child He’s Never Seen

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WILLIAMSPORT - Christopher Carlton of Williamsport won the right to pursue custody of a daughter he’s never met, due to a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court.

Utah's highest court unanimously found a lower court judge made a mistake when ruling that Carlton forfeited his parental rights in the case that involves his biological daughter, who is now almost four years old.

In 2010, Carlton served as a military contractor in Afghanistan. He was away when his then-girlfriend gave birth to a baby girl.

When Carlton returned to Williamsport, he claims she said the baby was a boy and had died before Carlton returned stateside.

A few months later, as Carlton was pressing for details on the child's death, he says his ex's friends persuaded her to tell the truth: She flew from Williamsport to Utah, gave birth to a baby girl, and enlisted the help of a company named "The Adoption Agency of Choice" to place the child with an adoptive family.

When Carlton first tried to get custody, a lower court in Utah ruled that he had waited too long and that the time to challenge the adoption expired.

But, Tuesday, Utah’s Supreme Court ruled that the lower court did not take into account Carlton's Constitutional rights and ordered that the Williamsport man be given a chance to claim that some of Utah's adoption laws do not take into account his rights as a father.

In recent years, several military fathers have made the same claim about Utah, as they say their lost their parental rights while serving out of the country while children's mothers were flown to Utah and paid to surrender custody of their newborns.

Last month, the Utah Supreme Court awarded custody of a two-year-old girl who had been raised by an adoptive family to the biological father, who serves in the US Army.  In that case, Sgt. Terry Achane's estranged wife allegedly claimed he was in Texas, when he was in South Carolina, and could not be served.  The judge in that case called Achane's treatment by The Adoption Center of Choice "utterly indefensible."

Carlton, whose biological daughter's placement was also handled by The Adoption Center of Choice, says he expects to have a new hearing on his case next month.

Meantime, the state of Utah revoked the license of The Adoption Center of Choice last week.

The initial Action 16 Investigation by Newswatch 16's Dave Bohman can be found here.


  • Marie Stoves

    I hope and pray he gets his child. I do think that for the sake of the child, he takes time to get to know her and let her adjust to him. AND that some consideration be taken to allow the adoptive family to maintain contact with her. After all , they are the only family she knows and to cut them off totally would be traumatic for her.
    Can’t charges be filed against the birth mother for this? this is tantamount to kidnapping isn’t it? This man was alive and serving his country!

  • lolo

    What is wrong with the laws in Utah and these adoption agencies? You would think that when you put a baby up for adoption that you would need consent from both parents. I understand this innocent child is in the middle of this but I would have to side with the father in this situation. How legitimate are these adoption agencies that they do not seek out the child’s natural parents before handing baby’s over to adoptive parents. The mother of this little girl must be something else? I couldn’t imagine flying my pregnant body to Utah to give away my child. Something just does not seem right with this agency. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is not the first of many similar suits of this nature. Good luck to Mr. Carlton, I hope all works out well for you and your daughter!

  • t

    I agree that taking this child from the only home she knows is hard but wouldnt it be possible for partial custody (of either side). This little girl prob. gained a bond with her new mommy and daddy and if they love this little girl and if the biological father is a nice guy then why cant everyone win (except the dirtbag mother). If this is a battle between biological and adoptive parents then neither one is gonna win in the long run and this child is gonna suffer.

  • Helen

    Everyone is so happy for this man who never even met this child, but does anyone not feel for the adoptive parents who have been living with their daughter for 4 years, who now might lose her? How about the 4 year old child who draws pictures for “mommy” and “daddy”, who might now be sent to live with some strange man? What happened to begin with was awful, but I think to go and hurt an established family is even worse.

    • Adrienne Carlton

      I am this child’s paternal Great Aunt. I would like to say that the adoptive family has been given consideration and rights that were absent from their child’s family. They have had the opportunity to love and nurture the child. They could have allowed our family to do the same. At some point we all must share our children with the world. I am praying she gets to know there is a wealth of family waiting to embrace her. Sad my deceased mother wasn’t allowed to see her great grandchild. The unconstitutional practices in Utah are to blame. God will have his way in this and every situation.


    He is an awesome man friend and father I know him personally hes a really good friend of my family I hope and pray he gets his little girl sad that she would have to learn whos her parent all over again but the birth mother and the agency did wrong in this case not chris not the adoptive parents I hope and pray he wins he will pave a new way for fathers everywhere fighting for there child good luck chris ♥ nothing but love and prayers your way

  • justcurious2

    Such a shame that the child’s mother did this to him. Men should have some say when it is their child. I hope he can get custody. He is trying to do the right thing…it is his child!!

  • J.T.

    While I understand that his rights were violated, and he wants his daughter back, I feel for the child. If he wins, she’ll be ripped from the only home and family that she’s ever known. As frustrating as it would be for him, maybe a slower introduction would be best.

    • Adrienne Carlton

      How is my nephew supposed to know that the people she was placed with would be adequate parents? If wait and see is good for the adoptive parents, then it should apply to him as well.

  • L.S.

    This happens. I know someone who was pregnant and considering adoption. When she called one of those adoption helplines, they outright told her that if she thought she would have problems getting consent from the biological father they would send her to Utah because of their lenient laws. Thankfully, this person decided against that. But it makes me wonder how many other fathers have been scammed like this and maybe don’t even know it!

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