Lesbian couple’s baby murdered by birth father
A lesbian couple’s adopted baby boy has been taken back by his biological parents and murdered by the father.
For 78 days, Rachel and Heidi McFarland had a baby.
Five weeks later, he was dead.
Transgender Brazilian Roberta Góes Luiz and her lesbian partner also had their adopted baby taken away, by a government official who said that “gay couples are abnormal.”
And last year in the UK, transgender youth charity Mermaids reported that a seven-year-old trans girl had been removed from her mother’s care because she was raising her as female.
They described the move as a “huge injustice and transphobic practice,” and described the ordeal as “devastating for the child”.
Rachel and Heidi, who live in Iowa, adopted Gabriel with the understanding that his 16-year-old mother Markeya Atkins had signed over custody.
But Markeya, a co-worker of Rachel’s, changed her mind – and there was nothing to stop her.
After the couple had coached her through labour and taken care of baby Gabriel for two-and-a-half months, she asked to have him back.
Their lawyer Jason Rieper told the couple that Gabriel’s parents had signed release-of-custody forms – but they hadn’t.
Because of this, Markeya was able to take the baby away from Rachel and Heidi.
Rachel recalled the pain of having to return Gabriel to Markeya, saying: “She wants him back and you have to give him back.
“It was horrible. There are no words.”
‘It’s like he’s been taken away from you again,’ Rachel told the Des Moines Register newspaper.
‘We brought him home from the hospital. I cut his umbilical cord.’
‘It just felt natural. When he was with us it just felt right. Like we were always meant to be moms,’ Rachel she told WHOTV.com.
Just over a month later, the child’s father shook the baby to death.
17-year-old Drew James Weehler-Smith was convicted of second-degree murder and jailed for 50 years after confessing to causing Gabriel’s death.
Rachel and Heidi have now sued Rieper for malpractice and been awarded compensation of $3.25 million.
Rachel told People magazine: “The release-of-custody never got signed by either birth parent.
“Obviously our child and us weren’t a priority to [Mr Rieper].
“We are just happy he was found negligent,” she added.
“That was what our goal was. We will not see any money from this.”
Rachel, who has since adopted two daughters with Heidi, explained: “Adoption wasn’t ever our number one choice, but because it was private it seemed tailor-made for us and we thought this could be our chance to become parents.
“The birth mum didn’t care if we were a same-sex couple.
“It just seemed too good to be true – and it was too good to be true.”
David Brown, who was representing Rieper, said he would look to challenge the decision made at the Iowa District Court for Polk County.
“You can’t control the emotion of a birth mum, and you can’t control the emotions of a 16-year-old birth mum,” Brown said.
“At the end, the kid wasn’t going to [sign the papers] and the suggestion that Jason was to force her to do it, would be unethical for him.”
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However, Roxanne Conlin, who represented Rachel and Heidi, said Rieper “just didn’t get around to” getting the documents signed.
“If the lawyer had done what he was supposed to do, the birth mother would have signed a document called a release of custody and four days after she signed it, it would have been almost impossible for her or the baby’s father to take Gabriel away from them,” she wrote on Facebook.
“The lawyer just didn’t get around to it,” she added.
“The birth mom got mad at the McFarlands and ripped this baby away from the only parents and the only home he had known.”