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Biological mom in Utah adoption custody battle speaks

PROVO, Utah (ABC4 News) – Leah Frei is too young to understand the battle between her adoptive parents and her biological father.
PROVO, Utah (ABC4 News) – Leah Frei is too young to understand the battle between her adoptive parents and her biological father.

Tira Bland, the girl’s birth mother, said she loves her daughter and did what was best.

“Her well being is all that matters to me,” Bland said in an exclusive interview with ABC News. “I want to see her successful.”

Leah is living with Jared and Kristi Frei, a local Utah family.

The girl’s biological dad, Terry Achane, said Leah was adopted without his knowledge or consent in 2010. He wants his daughter back.

“He has the fundamental right to be able to raise his own child,” Mark Wiser, Achane’s attorney, said. “They [the Freis] can help or they can be a hindrance. It’s really up to them.”

The controversial case is putting a spotlight on The Adoption Center of Choice. The Utah Department of Health and Human Services said the agency is operating under a corrective action plan and has an extended license.

Ken Stettler, with the UDHHS, told ABC4 Reporter Cristina Rendon the agency is under a microscope for documentation deficiencies in some case files. The Freis case raises more questions as to whether the agency followed correct protocol and requirements during the adoption process.

“I am hurt for the Freis,” Bland said. “They are great people.”

Bland said Achane abandoned her when she was pregnant, which is why she turned to the Frei family.

“They cared about me and the well being of Leah when he wasn’t there,” she said. “He just showed no interest with me being pregnant.”

Achane’s attorney said a judge didn’t find that story credible.

Even though a judge ruled the Freis return the girl to her father, Bland doesn’t want to see that happen.

“I’d rather see her with me struggling first before she goes with him,” Bland added.

The Freis family plans to fight Achane in court.
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