Tragic: Lesbian Couple Awarded $3.25m After Their Adopted Son Was Reclaimed by Birth Mother Only to be Killed by Father

A lesbian couple have been awarded $3.25million for emotional distress against their own lawyer after their adopted baby boy was reclaimed by his birth mother, only to be murdered by his father weeks later.

Rachel and Heidi McFarland, of Des Moines, Iowa, were awarded the considerable sum after a jury agreed that their adoption attorney, Jason Rieper, acted negligently by not getting the child’s biological parents to sever their parental rights.

The McFarlands were at the birth of their son Gabriel in December 2013 – and even cut the umbilical cord.

But just a few months later, the teenage birth mom Markeya Atkins, then-16, changed her mind about the adoption and took him back from the women who had brought him up as their own.

Within a few weeks, Gabriel’s father, Drew Weehler-Smith, then-17, was arrested for murdering the little boy. He has since been sentenced to 50 years in jail.

The couple said they were devastated when they learned that the little boy they considered their own son had died – while watching the news.

‘It’s like he’s been taken away from you again,’ Rachel McFarland told the Des Moines Register in 2014.

‘We brought him home from the hospital. I cut his umbilical cord.’

The couple, who had supported the mother financially through her pregnancy and had been with her at every doctor’s appointment, spent every waking moment with the baby – and had even planned to learn sign language after learning Gabriel was born deaf in one ear, in case he lost the hearing in his other ear.

‘It just felt natural. When he was with us it just felt right. Like we were always meant to be moms,’ Rachel told

The couple said they repeatedly asked Atkins if she wanted to go ahead with the adoption and she said ‘yes.’

After the tragic loss of their son, they filed a negligence lawsuit against Rieper in August 2014, claiming he failed to complete the basic adoption paperwork, which left the couple powerless when Atkins decided she wanted her baby back, Yahoo reports.

The couple said that the judgement felt like a weight has been lifted although they revealed they were unlikely to see all, if any, of the sum awarded for emotional distress after Rieper revealed he plans to challenge the result.

Rachel, who now has two daughters with Heidi, said that when they were told in March that Atkins wanted Gabriel back, their lawyer said there was nothing they could do.

‘If the lawyer had done what he was supposed to do, the birth mother would have signed a document called a release of custody and 4 days after she signed it, it would have been almost impossible for her or the baby’s father to take Gabriel away from them,’ Roxanne Conlin, who represented the couple, wrote in a post on Facebook.

‘The lawyer just didn’t get around to it.

‘The birth mom got mad at the McFarlands and ripped this baby away from the only parents and the only home he had known.’

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Source: Daily Mail