PARK et al.
Adoption. Tattnall Superior Court. Before Judge Rose.
Hester Outman, Jerrold W. Hester, James B. Outman, Justin Y. Hester, Dubberly & McGovern, Joseph D. McGovern, for appellants.
Stafford Law Group, April R. Stafford, Leslie H. Cushner, for appellee.
Sherriann H. Hicks, amicus curiae.
DILLARD, Judge. Doyle, P. J., and Miller, J., concur.
Jana and Derek Park filed a petition in the Superior Court of Tattnall County to adopt C. M. shortly after his birth and, pursuant to that petition, moved to terminate the parental rights of C. M.'s biological father, Tracy Bailey. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the Parks' motion to terminate Bailey's parental rights and ultimately denied their adoption petition. The Parks appeal, arguing that the trial court erred in ruling
that Bailey substantially complied with the requirements under Georgia law for legitimating C. M. by establishing paternity under the law of Bailey's home state of Alabama. For the reasons set forth infra, we affirm.
The record shows that in late 2009, Bailey, a resident of Alabama, and Melissa Mayo, a resident of Georgia, began dating while Mayo was attending Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Within a month, their relationship became exclusive, and nearly one year later, in November 2011, Mayo learned that she was pregnant. Initially, both Bailey and Mayo wanted to keep the child, but after the couple visited Mayo's parents in Georgia a few weeks after learning she was pregnant, Mayo decided that she wanted to place the child for adoption. Bailey objected and maintained that he wanted to be a father. This disagreement ultimately ended the couple's relationship, at which point Mayo moved back to Georgia.
Over the course of the next few months, Bailey frequently called or sent text messages to Mayo in an effort to keep apprised of her and his unborn child's health. However, Mayo expressed to Bailey that she was hesitant to involve him in the pregnancy given his objection to placing the child for adoption. Nevertheless, Bailey maintained his objection, and in July 2012, when a counselor with an adoption agency in Georgia (Bethany Christian Services, Inc.) contacted him on Mayo's behalf to discuss obtaining his consent, Bailey informed the counselor, in no uncertain terms, that he would not consent to the adoption and that any further attempts at communication should be [329 Ga.App. 570] made through his legal counsel. And following this incident, Mayo ceased all contact with Bailey despite his continued efforts to inquire about his unborn child's status.
On July 6, 2012, Bailey filed a notice of intent to claim paternity as to his unborn child in the District Court of Chilton County, Alabama, and served Mayo with a copy of the notice shortly thereafter. A few weeks later, Mayo filed a notice of limited appearance and motion to dismiss, alleging lack of jurisdiction. In addition, Mayo filed a motion requesting that any hearing on the matter be continued until September. The district court granted the continuance, scheduling a hearing for September 21, 2012.
Meanwhile, Bailey continued his attempts to maintain contact with Mayo, but she refused to respond to any of his inquiries. Eventually, Mayo's counsel in Alabama informed Bailey's counsel that all future inquiries should be directed to Mayo's Georgia counsel and that any further attempts at direct communication would be viewed as harassment. Thereafter, Bailey's counsel requested the contact information for Mayo's Georgia counsel, but his request went unanswered for quite some time. In fact, although Mayo and Bailey's son, C. M., was born on August 31, 2012, Bailey received no information about the birth of his child until nearly two ...