Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dad charged in death of 4-month-old son after lesbian adoptive parents forced to return baby (Des Moines, Iowa)

Dad is identified as DREW WEEHLER-SMITH.

Baby Dies In Father's Care After Adoptive Parents Forced To Give Him Up

By Oulimata Ba | Apr 24, 2014 05:28 PM EDT

Father Charged In Infant's Death After Adoptive Parents Forced To Return Baby

A lesbian couple in Iowa that was forced to return their adopted baby boy was stunned when they found out their former son is now dead and the father is charged in his death.

Rachel and Heidi McFarland adopted baby Gabriel from birth, but were forced to return him nearly three months later when the 16-year-old mother changed her mind, The Des Moines Register reported. Now the couple has learned that baby Gabriel was found dead at his parent's apartment on Tuesday. The father, who was caring for the child at the time of his death, was arrested and charged with neglect.

The McFarlands, who live in Ankeny, found out about Gabriel's death while watching the news on TV.

"It's like he's been taken away from you again," Rachel McFarland told the newspaper. "I cut his umbilical cord."

Gabriel's biological mother, Markeya Atkins, agreed to give her son to the McFarlands in September 2013, WHO-TV reported. After he was born the couple took care of Gabriel like he was their own. That ended after two-and-a-half months on March 13, when their attorney told them the mother wanted Gabriel back. According to Iowa law, a mother who gives a child up for adoption has up until three months to change her mind, WHO-TV reported.

"We had to go through our worst possible day with our attorney," Rachel McFarland told the Des Moines Register. "And then we found out on the news today...Nobody called or told me."

On Tuesday afternoon, Atkins left Gabriel with his father, 17-year-old Drew Weehler-Smith, at an apartment on Chaffee Road while she went to the library. Police then received a call from the apartment a little after 8 p.m. about an unresponsive infant, according to police reports obtained by the newspaper.

The mother had returned home to find Gabriel alone, lying in a chair with a white substance around his mouth. The baby was pronounced dead after he was rushed to the hospital. He was four months old.

A friend of Atkins who stopped by the apartment earlier that evening said she saw the father driving away, leaving the baby alone.

Local police later apprehended Weehler-Smith and charged him with neglect of a dependent person. The father could face additional charges pending an autopsy on the child, the newspaper reported.