DES MOINES, Iowa — A trial is currently underway as an Iowa couple is suing the attorney they say cost them the child they wanted to adopt.
Rachel and Heidi McFarland adopted Gabriel from 16-year-old Markeya Atkins.
“Me and Heidi had him through labor and we had him that moment he came out,” said Rachel.
Channel 13 spoke to the parents back in 2014, and shortly after the adoption, Atkins wanted custody back. One month after Gabriel was returned to Atkins, he was found dead inside Atkins’ apartment; Gabriel’s biological father is serving a 50-year sentence for the death.
Now, the adoptive parents are suing their adoption attorney, Jason Reiper.
“The first step is the termination, where the biological parents have to sign a release of custody,” said adoption attorney Shayla McCormally.
That’s what the McFarlands say Reiper didn’t do.
Adoption law experts say that document is one of three that make the adoption legal.
“That is the critical document that the court relies on. Good practice is reading it out loud, you have to have two witnesses plus a notary, that for the most part is what a parent’s rights are terminated based on,” McCormally said.
At the time, the biological parents were minors, so experts say this step is even more significant.
“It needs to be done with even stricter protection that that minor is being advised and understands what they are doing,” said McCormally.
Both Jason Reiper and the McFarlands had no comment.