Teen dad says adoption agency stands in the way of raising his baby

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) -The teen also has another baby due with a different high school girl

A teen boy claims his baby is being `legally` stolen by a reputable adoption agency.

He`s fighting to get his child back and has the support of his parents.

Cody Deadmond told us, 'I may not be ready for it.  Who`s ready for a kid at 16-years-old before you even graduate high school.'

Deadmond said he didn`t believe it at first, when his ex-girlfriend told him she was pregnant.  He explained, 'She told me on an instant messaging service, which could`ve been her, could`ve been one of her friends messing with me.' He added that his ex-girlfriend hid any appearance she was pregnant by wearing sweatshirts and loose fitted clothing.

He continued to deny it until he got a letter from Lutheran Social Services of Illinois.  It arrived less than a month before his ex-girlfriend gave birth. It reads '...you have been named the father of a child... If you would like to parent this child, you will need to obtain an attorney.'

He decided to fight for his baby.  Deadmond said, 'Just because you`re not raised around a lot of money or around a father who doesn`t have a lot of money doesn`t mean you don`t have the support or motivation and you`re not given the courage.'

His entire family stands behind him, including his mom Angie, who was unavailable for this interview.  When his stepfather talked with me, he seemed honest about his emotions.  Bo Stell said, 'I was pretty upset with him, because I wanted everything for him, then he told me `Dad, I can do this.`

They`re thankful the young mom carried the child to term.  The birth mother is an 18-year-old who also attends Nashville, IL High School.  I talked to her by phone and she declined to talk on camera.  Deadmond said she called an adoption service because she wants the baby to have both a mom and a dad.

Deadmond said he arrived at the hospital for the birth February 4th.  He showed me a picture of him holding the baby.   He said the adoption agency had already placed his child with a family in Rockford, IL.

Deadmond said, 'It was illegal to send the baby home with me.' I asked 'Why?'

Deadmond answered, 'Their reasoning for that is that they have no legal proof that I`m the father of the baby.'

So Deadmond said he went to get that proof.  He said, 'I`ve taken my DNA. I had to pay $450 to pay for it.'  Meanwhile, he said the adoption agency won`t take the baby for a DNA test.  He added, 'Every time the baby was requested to take a DNA test, they`ve denied it.'

The hearings are North of Chicago, in Rockford, IL where Deadmond`s family hired attorney Lucinda Bugden.  She told me, 'I can`t understand why they`re not just saying ok, lets determine if you`re the father.  My concern is, time is on their side. The longer they prolong this, I mean there`s been several court dates in Winnebago county and it`s just been continued.  Meanwhile this baby is bonding with these people who have no legal right to this child.'

Stepdad Stell said, 'We`re going to keep fighting for him and get him home.'

I asked Deadmond, 'What do you want this baby to know when he`s old enough to understand?'  He answered, 'That I was there for him and that I fought for him as much as I could whether I get him or not and that I care about him.'

We found out after our interviews that Deadmond is also expecting another child with a different girl.  The baby is due in September.  I talked today with that young girl and she told me she supports Deadmond in his fight for his other baby.

Lutheran Social Services response could not address specific questions because this is a private adoption.  A spokesperson said the agency has `facilitated thousands of adoptions and it encourages the public to `look at its track record.`  The spokesperson added that

Lutheran Social Services has been around for 140 years and would not be able to survive if it did not follow `the letter of the law.`

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