Adoption twist leaves 3 mothers mourning infant’s death

Three mothers are mourning a baby’s death after he was found alone in an apartment in Des Moines, Iowa.

Police arrested a teen Tuesday night hours after finding his 4-month-old son unresponsive.

The police report states that the baby’s mother left 17-year-old Drew Weehler-Smith with the child so that she could run errands.

But when she came back to the apartment on Chaffee Road he was gone and their son, Gabriel McFarland was unresponsive lying in a chair.

Paramedics rushed him to the hospital where he later died.

Weehler-Smith was arrested at his mother’s house and is currently charged with neglect of a dependent person.

Additional charges are possible pending the results of an autopsy.

adoption-gabriel

Gabriel McFarland, 4 months, was found dead after his teenage father left him alone, police in Iowa say. (Photo credit: WHOTV)

The death is just as heartbreaking for an Ankeny couple. For two-and-a-half months, Gabriel McFarland was their son.

The sixteen-year-old mother had made an agreement last September to give up her baby to Rachel and Heidi McFarland of Ankeny. The McFarland’s were there with her every step of the way, and they took Gabriel home to his new room where he lived until March 13th.

“It just felt natural. When he was with us it just felt right. Like we were always meant to be moms,” Rachel said.

They had supported the mother financially through her pregnancy and had been with her at every doctor’s appointment. They repeatedly asked her “Are you sure you want to do this?” The couple say she said “yes.”

On March 13th, they got a call from their lawyer that Gabriel’s birth mother wanted him back and there was little they could do about it. They were left with nothing.

“The thing is we have been scrutinized. Our lifestyle has been scrutinized; the people that are in our lives have been scrutinized. We had to have letters of reference for this home study to make sure that we were adequate as parents, and they never had to have anything when they took him back,” Rachel says.

In Iowa, the birth mother has three months and then one additional 31-day probationary period to change her mind about giving up her baby.

Gabriel was born deaf in one ear and the McFarlands had not only fitted him for a hearing aid, they had begun to prepare to learn sign language in case he lost the hearing in his other ear.

TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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2 comments

  • SG2

    Where is the information reported in this article coming from? Unless the rules in Iowa have changed since November 2011, when my son was born to a birthmother who resided in Iowa… what you have reported here is COMPLETELY inaccurate. Birth mothers are able to sign surrenders/consent to adoption no less than 72 hours after the birth of the baby, and those surrenders are FINAL and IRREVOCABLE, absent fraud or distress (which would have to be pled in a court and require quite a bit of proof to establish). The putative FATHER would have a right to claim the child and dispute the adoption if he registered with the putative father registry within 30 days of the birth and didn't already consent or sign a waiver, himself. But… there's no "3 months & 31 days" to change their mind. Once placed in a legally-approved adoptive home, and consents are legally executed, it's final. There's something that isn't adding up in this story. That said, it's a terrible tragedy and as a PARENT (and adoptive parent), I cannot even begin to imagine what all of these folks are going through. My heart is with them in their loss.


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