Drill Sergeant awaits return of his baby (Updatedx2)

| December 5, 2012

Twist sent us a link to a Fox News article about Drill Sergeant Terry Achane, whose ex-wife prematurely delivered their baby and then immediately gave it up for adoption without the knowledge of the baby’s father;

When he finally learned what had happened from his ex-wife, he launched a legal battle that culminated in 4th District Judge Darold McDade’s 48-page ruling Monday that the baby belongs with her father.

“He’s completely elated at the judge’s ruling,” attorney Mark Wiser told FoxNews.com. “He felt the judge could not rule any other way.”

Achane now hopes the girl’s adoptive parents, Jared and Kristi Frei, will visit him in South Carolina to make the girl’s transition as easy as possible. McDade has given the couple 60 days to return the child, Wiser said.

Of course, the Freis filed for a stay in the case so they can fight to keep the child from her biological father. They’ve set up a legal fund and there are actually people who are donating to it.

The Freis, meanwhile, who maintain a blog detailing the custody battle, did not return a message seeking comment. The couple has raised more than $22,000 in donations for adoption-related costs and attorney fees via the website.

Let me guess what kind of people can justify to themselves keeping a daughter from her Army father. Up to the point where the Freis filed a request for a stay, I blamed the adoption agency, the Adoption Center of Choice, because apparently they knew that the mother was married, but now it’s all on the Freis.


Here is a statement from the Frei family.

The father intervenes…

Several months later, we were able to track down the birth father to serve him with our adoption petition. To our great shock and dismay, he objected to our petition and intervened to stop the adoption. Over the last 19 months, despite the law requiring that a father show interest in his child and at least attempt regular communication to establish a bond, the father has never shown any interest in Leah other than to hire an attorney. He has never sent her clothes or toys, or even a gift on Christmas or her birthday. He’s never inquired into her health and well-being, or other details like when she started crawling, walking, talking, or cutting her first tooth. In short, he hasn’t shown any of the natural affection or interest of a parent. But because the child was conceived in wedlock, he can object to the adoption, forcing us to trial to terminate his parental rights.

Great shock? You mean that someone would not be receptive to the idea of losing their child to adoption without their knowledge or consent?


It seems that the adoption agency is license is not going to be renewed past the new year. That are only getting a extension.

Ken Stettler, licensing director for the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, told the Tribune that the Adoption Center of Choice has operated under a corrective action plan since September, when its license was extended but not renewed. The action was taken because of documentation deficiencies in some case files, Stettler said.

The extension expires at the end of December, the deadline for the agency to come into compliance. But allegations in the adoption case have raised new questions and prompted additional review, Stettler said.

Category: Military issues

Comments (58)

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  1. BK says:

    Apparently, they believe they were selected by G-d to raise this baby. Personally, I’d like to punch them in the throat, along with anyone donating to their legal fund. That adoption agency = black market black baby dealership.

    How much you want to bet this would never happen to a birth mother?

  2. BK says:

    Ugh, look at these despicable people!


  3. Just an Old Dog says:

    I’m sure like any parents, adoptive or not, they are devastated by the thought of losing a child they consider their own. I don’t blame them one bit for fighting tooth and nail to keep the kid. That doesn’t mean I think they should get custody though. Barring any evidence that would show the Soldier would be an unfit father there’s no way in hell that he shouldn’t get custody. As a side the so called “mother” and adoption agency should be the target of the adopted couples wrath, not the father of the baby.

  4. BK says:

    I don’t know, I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of horrible custodial law and what can happen while you’re deployed. I have zero sympathy for them. They can recoup the money, more than likely, through a very appropriate lawsuit aimed at the adoption agency. There isn’t even a question that he should have custody. It’s his daughter. He objected to the adoption as soon as he found out, and it went forward anyway.

    If they fight it tooth and nail, I don’t care a bit about their devastation. They are unpatriotic, evil people who should be pilloried until they do the only right thing and deliver that child to her father.

  5. Loach says:

    I agree with Old Dog. This is not an intellectual excercise. This is a baby they fought to get and are raising as their own child. I don’t think they will win or should win but I do empathize. I would fight too. If there is a fund for the soldier I would like to donate what little I can.

  6. BK says:

    They fought to get it knowing the father was not aware of the adoption, and when they did find out he objected, they went forward anyway. Again, I don’t empathize with them. This wasn’t their first adoption; they know how it works. The only thing that makes this look good is that they went through the agency, but whether they bought the baby in a Wal Mart parking lot or through an agency, they know that the father has rights in all 50 states. Most adoption agencies won’t even move without both parents’ surrender of rights.

  7. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    @3. Until I visited the Freis’ website and read what they wrote, your sentiment was mine. Now, my view has changed. I’m sure they love Leah–their fifth child–but somehow they omit the military status of the toddler’s father. Instead they write that he left his wife “without money, a car, or details of his whereabouts.” Then, after the birth mother(a saint in the eyes of the Freis’)failed at “trying to hold her marriage together,” she put Leah up for adoption and, the Freis say,”Several months later, we were able to track down the birth father….”

    So, this isn’t what it first seems to be. The Fries’ want what they want and portray the birth mother as a saint and the birth father as a villain. How can it possibly be otherwise when they talk about him like he was a criminal to be tracked down and while his absence is explained by his deliberately unmentioned military service?

  8. SIGO says:

    @7: These people are masters of deception. I wonder how many other times they have lied to take care of “God’s children”.

  9. BK says:

    There’s a racial component to this that infuriates me, and I say that without even necessarily believing the Freis’ are racists (some of their favorite children are black!). The language they use to describe him, as 2-17 Air Cav mentions, play into the broken family, absentee black father model. They’re the religious white folk from Utah who are blessed by G-d with the task of raising this benighted child.

    I’m sure it’s unintentional on their part, but I am not convinced that if Drill Sergeant Achane were caucasian, that this would have even happened. I hope this judge orders a forced surrender sooner than later, rather than affording these people any further opportunity to disrupt the good sergeant’s nascent family.

  10. LTC says:

    These people are vile!!! Give the baby back to the Soldier immediately!

  11. valerie says:

    If they listened at all to their attorney, they knew damn well they were stealing that baby.

    And, an attorney who can’t find a serving member of the US military is deliberately not trying. That attorney has an ethics problem.

  12. Lobster says:

    These people live in Spanish Fork. They are the epitome of a Utah County Mormon. I’m sure all their ward members have donated to their cause and their Bishop is door knocking to raise money. SO glad I don’t’ live in Utard County any more.

  13. Ex-PH2 says:

    I’ve read all the comments, as well as the Fries’ blog posts, and my only response to this is that if they REALLY want to give a child a home and loving family, there are MORE THAN ENOUGH ADOPTABLE CHILDREN available through legitimate agencies.

    I suspect that they paid the adoption “agency” a large fee to get this child without the father’s consent, thought they had everything covered, and lo and behold, the legitimate father of the baby said “no”.

    If it’s only about giving a child a home, then they have a moral obligation to return Leah to her father and find another child to adopt. It’s a bit disturbing to me that they don’t seem willing to give an older adoptable child a chance.

    It is exactly the same thing as saying “I only want a PUPPY or a KITTEN, I don’t want an older dog or cat.” Yes. It is EXACTLY the same. It’s what people do. If it isn’t brand new, they don’t want it.

    A kid is a kid. There are plenty of them that need real, loving homes, they simply aren’t all cute little babies. Let’s remember that babies grow up very quickly and become teenagers and want the keys to your car, stay out late without permission, grow a ‘tude for no reason, and expect you to give them what they want without question.

    I find this pair of people rather sanctimonious in their attitude. Apparently, judge has decided against them. Good. I want to know how soon the child goes back to her real dad.

  14. cueto says:

    How can we donate to the drill sergeant?

  15. Twist says:

    @12, My father-in-law is a Mormon Bishop. He is pissed about this case and believes that the child should go back to the father.

  16. JA says:

    Ok, everyone take a deep breath.

    First, the child is going to end up with the Biological father since he never relinquished his parental rights. Put simply, the adoption was illegal. The law is the law, the child must go back to him.

    BUT, I really think the reaction to the adoptive family is a little extreme. I think some sympathy is in order. When one adopts, there is an immediate emotional bond that forms. Put simply, there is an incredible investment that goes into the child and the desire to make him/her a co-equal member of the family. Don’t expect a rational response from them.

    I think we can all agree that the Adoption company needs to be shot and the biological mother is morally abhorrent. The adoptive family is not acting rationally, or even in the child’s best interests, but they are probably seriously hurting right now and not entirely the masters of themselves.

  17. hueydoc says:

    Twist, would he be willing to contact the “adoptive” parents and talk some sense into them?

  18. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    @16. I tend to agree with you but, to me, the couple’s website information is dubious, at best, purposefully deceiving, at worst. And their purpose in omitting the father’s military status and, in my view, portraying him as an irresponsible, uncaring, and callous man is to do what? To request prayers? No, to induce well intentioned people to give them M-O-N-E-Y. Screw ’em.

  19. Ex-PH2 says:

    @16, I understand your viewpoint, but since there are literally millions of single parents in this country, never mind in the world, the idea that this couple were surprised at his refusal to give his consent does not ring true.

    I’ll repeat what I said previously. If their only intention was to give a home to an adoptable child, there are plenty of children who need stable, loving homes and don’t require that the adopting parents jump through hoops to open up their homes to them. These people could also provide long-term foster homes to children who badly need a long-term stable environment, which is an option they could easily pursue. They don’t, however, seem to take that into consideration.

    I’m not judging either side. I doubt that the birth mother was unaware of her husband’s whereabouts or that he abandoned her in anyw way, because he was still married to her when she delivered the baby. There is a lot about the story that the adopting couple have provided that simply does not ring true.

  20. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    @14. There is Achane Fund that I know of but, heck, he’ll probably be glad to receive anything. The Fort Jackson Public Affairs Office can be reached by phone at 803-751-1742 and by email at usarmy.jackson.93-sig-bde.mbx.atzj-pao@mail.mil

    You could tell them you read the story of Drill Sergeant Terry Achane and ask if they know of a donation fund. Failing that, you could ask where mail should be sent to him. It’s worth a shot.

  21. PintoNag says:

    It took them months to find the birth father, and serve him with adoption papers? There’s something wrong here. The child should have been clear for adoption BEFORE going to an adoptive family, not after.

    • Jonn Lilyea says:

      Yeah, the “couldn’t find the father” thing bothered me. Especially in a world that has AKO. A trip to the local recruiter’s office and they could have located and contacted him in minutes.

  22. Cajun says:

    I’m with BK @1 on this one! Like the rest of Yuppie Nation, they “support the troops” so long as they stay gone and don’t come back for what is theirs.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The family is wrong, both legally and morally, and custody of the child should go back to the father who wants her. But before anyone gets this twisted, the family’s behavior is not a representation of Mormon families as a whole. The Utah Mormon communities are known even to other Mormons as kind of “off”. @ #12, you are right in my experience. Utah Mormons are kind of nuts. This is coming from an active Mormon living in Tennessee. I don’t really get along with Utah Mormons for this reason. A lot of them are convinced that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Shame on this family, and I hope this man gets his daughter back quickly.

  24. B Woodman says:

    I live in Utah and caught this on the local news. Funny thing (but I’m not laughing), they failed fo mention the father’s connection to the military. Hmmmmm. Another LSDM epic fail.

  25. Medic09 says:

    Well, I do empathize with the Frei’s feelings towards Leah and their sense of loss. And it stops there. I read a sanctimonious tone in much of their blog. How can they not see what a tragedy has occurred? An innocent little baby has been separated from her father; probably manipulated by a vindictive ex-wife/mother. A family has been torn asunder unjustly (and illegaly). Sure the Freis are hurt. I get that. But what religious doctrine do they think they are applying here; when they keep a father and child apart? They should drop the whole sanctimonious tone, and get their heads and hearts right with this. A child and parent should not be separated. When they are, it is a tragedy. They – the Freis – have a chance now to make that right. That is their higher moral duty; not reviling a father who doesn’t agree to such an unjust and unnatural arrangement.

  26. hueydoc says:

    i have drafted an email but have not sent it yet to the email address in the “adoptive” family’s blog. they did say above the email address that they welcome questions and comments. i would like some input about the email;
    {“your blog page said for questions or comments write to this email address. well, why is the father’s military status not mentioned anywhere on any statement released by the attorneys or the “family”? why was the birth mother’s statements taken as the truth and no effort made to verify her claims? if your concern is in fact for the best interest of the child, why not give her back to her father, who was not informed of her birth until after the “adoption”? the truth of the adoption’s legality will eventually come out. it would be best for everyone involved to come clean NOW with the truth and do what is TRULY best for the child.”}. as i said i haven’t sent it yet. send it, or no?

  27. Bill C says:

    It would be interesting to get some more info about the agency. If they have had legal issues before and do they perhaps work primarily with residents of this area of Utah.

  28. Common Sense says:

    When they found the father 19 months ago, they should have immediately returned the baby to him. Anything else is wrong.

    These cases have happened before, with the adoptive family dragging things out for years hoping that the child is with them so long that it’s cruel to take her away.

    The judge shouldn’t have given them the 60 days. They’ve known it’s been coming for 19 months.

  29. DFK says:

    Am I the only one who thinks the kid looks terrified in the banner picture on the Frei’s site?

  30. The Dead Man says:

    #23 I don’t think anyone here was assuming that really. I have noticed the Utah Mormon thing though. There’s a mindset that you learn to spot in them. The closest I can really come to succinctly summarizing it would be a superiority complex. I’ll keep my eyes out on the local papers and if I catch anything I’ll email it in.

    #30 I thought the same thing.

  31. CAs6 says:

    Hey, anonymous #23, you Tennesee Mormons are just as weird as us Utah Mormons. Don’t think for a minute that you’re any different because there’s fewer of you. I guarantee you have the same weird old guy in your ward that I do.

    I’m holding judgement on this. I know family of the people involved and I want to talk with firsthand sources. Interestingly, this is the second case like this I have seen this week in Utah. The dad got custody returned in the first case, so it may turn out this way in the second.

    And let’s leave off the race thing. The father in the first case was white and his kid was still adopted by someone else. Lets just chill and see how this ends up before we start harassing an otherwise fine seeming family.

  32. CAs6 says:

    Alright, yeah. This situation is pretty crappy. It looks like justice will win out and the dad will get his girl back. The villains in this story seem to be the mom and the shady adoption agency. I hope they give the family a full refund and that the family can get over this. I feel really bad for them, but it is only right that the little girl get to live with her dad.

  33. Anonymous says:

    @CAs6, hey no need to get defensive about it. I think you know too well what I am talking about, the way you flipped out so quick. But that is a conversation best left to another thread.

    In the mean time, I hope to see a speedy conclusion to this mess.

  34. CAs6 says:

    I know just what you are talking about. I wasn’t trying to jump up your shorts, I was trying to be lighthearted about it. Admit it, though, you have the same concentration of weird old people and cool young people as anywhere else.

  35. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    @27. Sure, if you’re interested. Just don’t expect a response.

  36. AW1 Tim says:

    Personally, I’d love to see Federal kidnapping and human trafficing charges brought against the Adoption Agency, the mother, and especially the “adoptive” parents.

    There is no frikkin’ way in hell that those people DIDN’T know what was going on. All of those parties are guilty as sin and need to not only cough up some serious dough to offset the father’s lost time and expenses, but they all need to do a good stretch in federal prison.

    I’ll also bet you dollars to donuts that this is only the tip of the iceberg, and that further investigation will reveal this sort of crap is much more widespread than folks would have you believe.

  37. hueydoc says:

    they took out all contact info on their blog. my email was sent after editing.
    “your blog page said for questions or comments write to this email address. well, here goes. why is the father’s military status not mentioned anywhere on any statement released by the attorneys or the “family”? do you feel someone serving YOUR country has no rights to his child, or you have more rights to his child? why was the birth mother’s statements taken as the truth and no effort made to verify her claims? if your concern is in fact for the best interest of the child, why not give her back to her father, who was not informed of her birth until after the “adoption”? the truth of the adoption’s legality will eventually come out. it would be best for everyone involved to come clean NOW with the truth and do what is TRULY best for the child. you may want to read this; http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/55401223-78/adoption-achane-utah-child.html.csp. if you have nothing to hide and are legitimate, why would you want to be associated with an “adoption agency” with so many questions about their license? it’s not too late to stop this now and do the right thing. their licensing problems may cause the state, or federal government to investigate ALL adoptions that company has done. i hope you do the right thing and return that child to her father where she belongs. thank you for taking the time to read this.
    r. messer”
    the email address for the blog is freiadoption@gmail.com and seems to still be open as i have not gotten an undelivered mail alert.

  38. Will says:

    Just a simple white pages search will locate them.

    …and their home phone #.
    – phone number deleted-

    As of yesterday that number still worked. It rang about 10 times before clicking to an answering machine. “Hi, you’ve reached the Frei residence. We’re not home right now, but leave a message and we’ll call you back as soon as we can.”

    I was shocked (!!!!) That the number actually worked. I hung up the phone but then I called back and pleaded with them to come to their senses.

    I would like to encourage each of you to do the same.

    If you are a christian, and you are against their actions, reach out in love and encouragement to come to their senses.
    They make a lot of talk about they knew it was God’s will to have more children IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT GOD HAD SO CLEARLY MADE IT SO THEY COULD NOT HAVE ANY MORE CHILDREN.

  39. Will says:

    Their blog described how after 4 children suddenly they could not not have any more children. A couple miscarriages, a stillborn baby, and finally she was diagnosed with advanced endometriosis.
    And yet, they were CONVINCED that God had “given them this righteous desire that he had brought to fruition.”
    Nevermind the fact that God has since also prevented them from keeping that baby.

    Why do some people not get that when everything they think they want is cut down, perhaps their convictions were merely their feelings…

  40. jaggirl47 says:

    If anyone is interested in donating to Terry’s legal fund, please visit this FB page:


    Under the notes section it has all of the donation information set up by Terry’s lawyers.

  41. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    No, Will, the case is ended. They lost. Calling their home phone is not a good idea.

  42. Hondo says:

    Will (et al): posting home phone numbers/addresses, even if listed, is generally a NO-GO. It’s been redacted above. Please refrain from such in the future.

  43. jaggirl47 says:

    2-17 Air Cav,
    The case has not ended. Terry does not get his daughter back until Jan 16. That is, he gets his daughter back as long as the stay on the ruling does not get approved. The Frei family has already filed and appeal which can take upwards of 2 years.

  44. Crazy horse says:

    I can’t believe how many people want the child back with her father. He should have made some effort to see or take care of that child. He should have sent presents through ebay. Surely there is an internet connection he could use. He should have tried to visit her during leave. Used skype to at least check on her. From the time she was born and the 21 months afterwards he made no effort to see her. I can understand why the mother would see that as abandonment. I certainly would look at it that way.

    The people who raised her now love her as their own child. They don’t want a different child! If your child dies you don’t want a different child- you want your own child. They don’t want to adopt a different baby. They love her. The child is attached to them as well. It is cruel to separate them at this point.

    I understand serving your country- that is your decision. However, it is not fair to expect the women you are with to raise the children all by herself, and just wait for you to come home every few years. Sorry that is not being a father! It is not like you can be there to support the mother, or take the child to the doctor, or change the diapers. Paying the bills is not enough! Although if she loves you enough it just might be.

    If he has never met this child, how can he possibly love her as much as the adoptive parents do?

    If my ex- decided to come back after 3 years, I would certainly fight to keep my child. Parenting should be a lifelong commitment. It should not be a whenever I feel like it, yet if the child is difficult I dump her with her mother sort of thing. If you put your career first, that is your decision!

    He should get visitation or joint custody. Even if he couldn’t be there- he should have made some effort! Those poor new parents will have their hearts ripped out if she is taken away from them.

  45. jaggirl47 says:

    Crazy horse, your name really fits.
    1st off, Terry was reassigned to Ft Jackson. His wife, 3 days before they were supposed to leave, changed her mind and did not go with him. She told him she wanted to stay in Texas to be close to her family for the birth. Terry had no choice but to leave. He was on Army orders. He had already contacted his new command and they approved him to come home for the baby’s birth.
    Now, within 10 days of Terry leaving for his new assignment, his wife cut off all contact with him. She was not answering the phone, calling him, nothing. As it got closer to his daughter’s due date, he sent friends to his home to find his wife. The house was vacant and she was nowhere to be found. Terry began calling her family (who would tell her nothing) and her doctor (who only told him she was no longer pregnant).
    During the time he left until June, his wife would still make no contact with him. He was still paying all bills, receipts proved this, she was on Tricare under him, they payed for the baby’s birth, and he was still covering his stepdaughter.
    In June 2011, 3 months after the baby was born, his wife finally contacted him. This is when she told him she put the baby up for adoption and what agency she used. He called the agency THAT DAY to try to get his daughter. They refused to give him any information. He hired a lawyer, who sent a letter to the agency and the Frei family. These letters were ignored and the Frei family refused to allow him to see his daughter. No to mention his wife did not disclose to the agency that he was in South Carolina and gave them the home address for Texas.
    Still in June 2011, the Frei’s lawyer called requesting he sign over his rights. This is after he contacted the agency and hired a lawyer. He refused because he wanted his daughter. The very next month, July 2011, the Frei’s filed paperwork in court to have his parental rights terminated. This did not happen because he was fighting with them to get his daughter.
    Now, let’s fast forward to the judgement in November 2012. The court found Terry’s wife was lying about the abandonment claims. First off, he had proof that he was paying all of the bills in the house. Second, bank records showed that during the 10 days she cut off contact, left for Utah, and signed away the baby, she withdrew $500 from their JOINT checking account. Yep, joint. She also used her card to pay for fast food, beauty salons, etc. This showed her abandonment claims were lies. Let’s also mention she has contradicted herself multiple times. She stated she did not know how to get in touch with him, yet in June 2011 when she finally called him, she called his command at Ft Jackson and told them he abandoned her and wasn’t paying the bills.
    So, back to 2012, it was also found with proof by the judge that the adoption agency broke the laws by refusing to give him info, hiding info, and not properly attempting contact. Oh, and they are working on a suspended license for severe paperwork issues.
    The Frei family also knew from the beginning that Terry did not give consent and if he ever found out that he would contest it. They chose to take the baby anyway. It was also found, with proof in court, that the Frei family completely thwarted all attempts to allow him to see his daughter. They ignored all contact from his lawyer, would not allow him to visit, and refused to give their phone number. Terry just received all of the info in November.
    So, this SM had his daughter sold by his wife. And you really think she is better of with people that have shown they support human trafficking?

  46. jaggirl47 says:

    Oh, and I forgot to add he invited the Freis to visit her in South Carolina to help with the transition. They refused.

  47. jaggirl47 says:

    Hey all, serious help is needed for Terry. The Frei family officially filed for appeal which can take 2 years. Terry has already had to pay legal fees for 18 months. We have only managed to raise $1,778.15 for Terry compared to $22,387 the Frei’s have raised. Please help this Soldier!

  48. Crazy horse says:

    jaggirl47- it is really rude to attack a person for making a comment (you referring to me as crazy.)

    If you wonder why the Frei’s are getting funding it is because people are under the assumption the father made no effort to see the child. If he had leave to come home for the baby’s birth why didn’t he use that leave to go find the mother and the baby? If she was withdrawing money from a joint account it certainly wouldn’t be very hard to trace those purchases!

    Obviously there is more to this story than being told. Why would the mother claim abandonment if he was paying all the bills? Why was she so desperate to get away from him? Why did the family refuse to help him when he asked them where she was? Was he abusive? There had to be a reason she went through all the work of disappearing.

    If he really does deserve custody I am sure the courts will find in his favor.

  49. rb325th says:

    Actually the court did rule in his favor there crazyhorse… they granted him custody. The freis need to let this child go back to her father!! She is not theirs no matter how much money they raise. Selfish