In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, Jack Strickland alleges the biological mother, an adoption agency, adoptive parents and attorneys conspired in an "illegal, deceit-ridden infant adoption" that deprived him of his son.
Defendants named in the lawsuit include the mother, Whitney Vivian Pettersson Demke; the adoptive parents, identified only by their initials; LDS Family services and attorneys Larry Jenkins and David J. Hardy.
Demke gave birth to the boy on Dec. 29, 2010, and a day later placed him for adoption. Strickland was unaware of the birth, and the relinquishing of her rights to the child, until Jan. 5, 2011. Strickland was unaware that Demke was legally married to another man, not divorced, as she told Strickland, and under Utah law the man had to sign off on the adoption, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday.
Strickland's subsequent paternity claim was never consolidated with the adoption proceeding, and despite several legal appeals on his part, he learned in November 2011 the adoption process was completed, the newspaper said.
In the federal lawsuit Strickland alleges Demke never intended to co-parent the child with him and "intentionally defrauded" him, with the other parties named assisting her in carrying out a "fraudulent scheme."