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Home / Articles / News / News Articles /  Dad Who Opposed Adoption Tries to Visit Adoptive Parents--and His Child
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Dad Who Opposed Adoption Tries to Visit Adoptive Parents--and His Child

John Wyatt always wanted his child--but can't even get a visit.

By Jesse Fruhwirth
Posted // September 10,2010 -

John Wyatt flew to Utah to appear before the Utah Supreme Court Thursday in hopes of dissolving the adoption of his child to a Utah family, which he always opposed.

Wyatt, 22, of Dumphries, Virg., was featured in City Weekly's July cover story, “Some Call It Kidnapping.” He and several unmarried fathers from across the country are angry at Utah adoption laws they say unfairly cut them off from raising their own children. Several adoption experts in Utah and elsewhere say that Utah's laws most readily eliminate an unmarried father's rights to his child.

At issue in his Supreme Court hearing are conflicting rulings from Utah and Virginia courts. Virginia has issued a final ruling that Wyatt should have custody of baby Emma; Utah courts, thus far, have found in favor of the adoptive family. “What we're shooting for is [for the Supreme Court to rule] that Utah doesn't have jurisdiction … and any future proceedings should happen in Virginia,” Wyatt's attorney Joshua Peterman said after the hearing.

Wyatt's legal complaint cites the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, which determines proper jurisdiction for parental custody cases. Whether that law applies to Wyatt's case is one issue to be decided by the Utah Supreme Court. A decision could come at any time, but is likely to take several months.

After his court hearing, City Weekly accompanied Wyatt to his next appointment: A special delivery of a stuffed animal, balloon and card, delivered to the Canyon Rim home where his biological daughter—19 months old—now lives.

“I'm going to the see the Zarembinskis, the kidnappers who have my child,” Wyatt said. “But I'm not sure if they're going to let me see her.”

He said that with some irony, knowing they almost certainly would not. The two-state court battle Wyatt has lodged has continued alongside the national media campaign that Wyatt—and other fathers who support him—have coordinated to change Utah's laws. He's been their star: Wyatt has appeared on on The Dr. Phil Show, was featured in the Washington Post, and after many months of feeling ignored by Utah's media, Wyatt is pleased his case has now been featured on television and both daily newspapers (see here, here, here, here and here). Dateline NBC also accompanied Wyatt on his visit to the Zarembinskis' home for a future program.

Before driving to the Zarembinskis' home, Wyatt stopped at the Flower Patch near the Matheson Courthouse where the Supreme Court hearing occurred. He was accompanied by his mother, Jeri Wyatt, and friend Tanya O'Dea of Wyoming, whose husband, Cody O'Dea, also battled Utah adoption laws for his child from a previous relationship, but lost in a 3-2 decision (pdf) before the Utah Supreme Court in 2009.

Wyatt picked out a pink stuffed elephant and pink balloon with the words “I Love You” on it. He wrote the name “Emma” in big letters on the card. “Did you know they changed her name to Gabrielle?” Jeri Wyatt asked. “[Writing Emma on the card] will make them mad.”

With a dog barking from the backyard of the Zarembinski's home, Wyatt took his gift package to the front door, knocked several times, but no one answered. He left the package on the porch, but wasn't finished.

“Somebody's got to have answers,” O'Dea said. “Just start knocking on everybody's door. I would.” O'Dea said information provided by neighbors could help Wyatt contact his daughter—if he loses in court—when she turns 18 and may wish to know her biological parents. A recent picture, for example, could be put on the Internet and help lead the child to find Wyatt, O'Dea said.

Wyatt knocked on several neighbors' doors. One neighbor told him both Zarembinskis work and often her grandparents watch her. That was all he learned.

The Wyatts returned to Virginia Thursday. Soon, Wyatt will urge a Virginia court to find the Zarembinskis in contempt for not returning his child to him.

The Zarembinskis were unable to be reached for comment. They did not appear in court and their previous phone number has been disconnected.

“I wish John would have been able to see his child,” Jeri Wyatt said. “I think it's really sad that he's got this child he's never seen and nobody will let him see her. … I would love to see my granddaughter. We love her.”

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Posted // August 2,2011 at 13:16 Who cares able grammatical errors, who cares who is caring for Tanya's kids or what her husband is doing or why he isn't there.
The main issue is that because of a law in Utah, this Father no longer has custody of his daughter and lost all his parental rights. His daughter was born in Virgina, and the Virgina courts ruled that he should have custody. Utah should have no jurisdiction, the child was not born there.


Posted // October 9,2010 at 19:29

Wow he is working at a nightclub as a bouncer. Very impressive!!! Of course the birthmom regrets her decision she needs to in order for her to regain custody of her child if things turn around and this baby goes back to Virginia. I can't imagine the birthfather getting custody it will go to the birthmom. How incredibly sad that she has done what she did. She was a legal adult and she should be made to pay back all the money she received from "selling her baby" and all expences aquired by the addoptive parents for the hell she has put them through!! She should never have contacted an agency and picked a family to raise this child. Interesting though that John was told about her wanting to place the baby through a Utah agency and yet he didn't protect his rights in Utah. It is also amazing how the story keeps changing. How can you believe anything. Im sorry for all parties involved. It should have never happened. How horrible for this birthmom to do that but she did and that is that.


Posted // November 15,2010 at 08:42 - Actually, Anon1, that's one of the disturbing facets of this case. From what I've read it appears that this mother may have signed away her parental rights in violation of Virginia's laws. They require three days of recovery time after the birth of the child before parental rights can be relinquished but she was whisked away to a hotel the day after the baby's birth to be pressured into something she obviously regrets now. How is it that this Jenkins person is still allowed to practice law anyway?


Posted // October 11,2010 at 16:18 - well after reading every article on this story I could find I am not surprised if the bio mom has genuine regret. it sounds like for most of the pregnancy she was excited about the baby then got nervous at the end about her ability to take care of the baby. and the adoption agency took advantage of that and got her to sign over her rights at a very vulnerable time when she was still recovering from childbirth, hormonal, scared, etc. this is why I don't think adoption agencies or potential adoptive parents belong at the hospital and the mom shouldn't be able to sign for a couple of weeks.


Posted // October 10,2010 at 19:13 - well imo she should get at least shared custody if child is returned to virginia. but i guess thats up to virginia. i dont think that particular custody issue would be decided by utah because this case is about deciding jurisdiction, whether jurisdiction is held by utah or virginia. if wyatt wins it just means virginia gets to decide which parent gets custody. i don't know what factors they would use to decide. either way emma would probably get to spend time with both her bio parents which i consider the best outcome. but as i said i am not a supporter of how newborn adoption is handled in this country at all.


Posted // October 10,2010 at 09:49 - Actually, from what I understand about Utah law, if the adoption is not finalized, the mother's parental rights are re-established. Of course she "regrets" placing the baby. I can imagine what kind of hate mail she has been getting from the anti-adoptionists and Wyatt and his group. If she really regretted her decision, she would be sitting right by Wyatt in court.


Posted // October 9,2010 at 22:46 - but then i am personally someone who thinks the waiting period before giving your baby up forever needs to be much longer than it currently is. less than a week is not enough to fully recover from the birth and the hormonal changes.


Posted // October 9,2010 at 22:43 - well from reading the article currently if baby is returned to virginia father gets custody because they already ruled on that. so mother would have to go to court for custody if she wants it. how do you know why she changed her mind? maybe she feels she made a bad decision while not fully recovered from the birth and now realizes she truly wants her baby in her life. although i don't feel too sorry for the adoptive parents since they signed a document before they took the baby out of virginia stating they were aware the father was contesting the adoption.


Posted // October 8,2010 at 13:17

Protected Sex is the answer!!! Educate yourselves so that we are not bringing anymore children into this world that is already overpopulated!!! That and sexual diseases. Wearing a condom is not that hard and would be the responsible thing for both partners to do!


Posted // November 15,2010 at 08:38 - While I am all for the practice of responsible sex, your simplistic assesment is fundamentally flawed. "Protected sex" (like the right to an abortion) will only reduce the number of available babies for adoption and drive more unethical individuals to kidnap them from their loving and commtted birth parents. The "answer" is for Utah to join the rest of the nation, respect the parental laws of each state and possibly the disbarrment of Mr. Jenkins and his "grounding" from lobbying unConstitutional laws.


Posted // October 8,2010 at 07:18

John- If you are so concerned, you could go back and listen to the oral argument at the Utah State Supreme Court. I haven't lied about anything. Cody didn't protect himself in the 20 days required in Utah, because he didn't know he needed to. He wasn't told there was an adoption taken place in Utah. He was told he was going to pay child support til the child was 18. I have not been the one pushing Cody to fight for his daughter. I didn't even come into the picture until she was 5 months old. If he would have started fighting was she was that age, there would have never been a case at all. There wasn't any media coverage on our end until the adoption was final. Keep in mind that Cody lost in a 3-2 decision. If one more judge had ruled for him, that little girl would be here with us. All we are trying to do is prevent this from happening. John and Cody aren't the ones dragging out the court cases. John and Cody are the ones who are left with heartbreak, no faith in the judicial system, and one hell of an attorney fee. I just want to ask you, what would you do if this happened to you?


Posted // October 5,2010 at 14:24

Again I will say this and then I wont be visiting this site or O'dea's site ever again because I'm disgusted with the behaviour on both sides! I am not involved with any of the members involved but apparently those who use such irrational and harsh statements are. It is unfortunate for these poor children that such rash and horrible statements are being made on BOTH sides. Think how these poor children will feel when they do find out the truth because the truth will get out and maybe someday these poor babies will be able to deal with the hate that is thrown around as if they aren't even a person but an object. Like I said earlier it is a privelage to be a parent not a right!! How can any of us be so cruel when ALL sides of the stories have not been presented???? None of us has walked in these poor people's shoes! I feel for John's ex. however she is an adult and NO ONE CAN EVER FORCE YOU TO DO WHAT YOU DON'T WANT TO!! Unless any of you were there in the room when that birthmom relinqueshed her rights to parent that child you have no business saying what she felt at that moment. It doesn't matter what she may say now. She may be saying things because if things don't go the way she intended them than this baby will eventually return to the birthmother and her rights will be reinstated. If that turns out to be the case I hope and pray for this childs sake that the birthmother and birthfathers families can put all their hate and resentment aside for this poor little girl!!! I also hope that as the birthfather and birthmother continue to grow and mature and find another person to share their lives with that neither party will try and throw the other one under the wagon. This is an individual a human being who has so many people love her that she does not need to see so much hate and bitterness, there is already too much of that in this world as it is. She doesn't need it in her home as well!!!!!


Posted // October 5,2010 at 15:04 - Thank you Connie for removing yourself, the last thing we need are more people talking about this case when they didn't take time to read about what happened here. What would be unfortunate is if we all sat back and shrugged our shoulders about human trafficking. I won't repeat this again, you won't hear both sides of this story, the guilty party usually finds, or is instructed by thier lawyers that hiding is the safest option when the public becomes interested. I had to re-read this one as I kept chocking on the shock of amazement: "NO ONE CAN EVER FORCE YOU TO DO WHAT YOU DON'T WANT TO!!" *deep breath for that one* Please lady, mind control used by religious cults is NOT a new concept. What really drives this post home for me is condemning the hate and bitterness in Emma's home. Connie, if you know something we don't about the Zarembinski lair and it's impact on baby Emma speak now, otherwise let me clear this up for you: John never has been able to share even one minute with his daughter let alone been given the chance to share his home with her.


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