Feud Continues Over Custody of Adopted Baby Leah
An adorable baby girl named Leah is at the center of a bitter custody battle that's different from any you've heard before.
Her biological mother gave her up for adoption.
“I think about her every day, and I knew that it was the best decision,” said Leah’s biological mother Tira Bland.
Baby Leah’s biological father, an army drill sergeant, says she was adopted without his knowledge or permission, and now he wants his daughter back.
"I was very surprised, shocked and hurt," her biological father, Terry Achane, said.
But, baby Leah’s adopted family have loved and raised her since she was just a few days old.
Bland and Achane were married in 2009. The marriage ended in bitterness just a year later when Achane was transferred to an army base in South Carolina right before Leah was born.
Bland said, “He left me with nothing. I was left to survive, and figure it out all on my own.”
But her ex-husband has an entirely different version of events.
"She left me, if you want to put it in those words. She abandoned me," said Achane.
Tira told INSIDE EDITION'S Diane McInerney she had no money and wanted a better life for baby Leah, so she made the painful decision to put her up for adoption.
McInerney asked Bland, “Why didn't you tell the baby's father?”
“We tried to reach out to him. I had family reaching out to him. It got to the point where he didn't respond back,” she said.
Achane said that simply isn't true.
McInerney asked, "Is she lying?"
"Uh, yes. She made no contact with me," said Achane.
The drill sergeant said he was shocked to learn that his daughter had been adopted by Jared and Kristi Frei of Provo, Utah. The Freis have five other kids, including an adopted son.
Now a Utah judge has issued a controversial ruling, ordering Leah return to her biological father by mid-January. The judge says he was, "Astonished and deeply troubled," that the adoption agency didn't do a better job trying to find out if the baby's father had agreed to the adoption.
Bland said she believes her ex should allow Leah to remain with the Frei family, and she has an emotional message for him:
“For you just to up and leave the way you did, and the lies that you are telling people you didn't know that I was pregnant. You knew very well that I was pregnant. We shared this bond,” said Bland.
Leah is now 21 months old, and her adopted parents are appealing the court ruling.
Krisit posted on Facebook, "There has never been any question to us that she is ours!!!"
“This was for the best of Leah. I did this for Leah,” said Bland.
Achane said, "She belongs with her father. She should have been with me."