Lawsuit alleges priest deceived woman into adoption

The ruling handed down last week reversed an opinion from U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill,...
The ruling handed down last week reversed an opinion from U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill, who said federal courts didn't have jurisdiction to enforce a ruling from the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Court against non-tribal members, Boise State Public Radio reported. The appellate court disagreed.(KMVT)
Published: Aug. 19, 2019 at 6:49 PM CDT
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Former Omaha woman alleges that the adoption of her newborn baby by a local priest, in the late 60s, was conducted without her consent.

Kathleen Chafin, who is currently residing in Seattle but grew up in Omaha, only reconnected with her son four years ago.

In the spring of 1968, after Chafin left Duchesne Academy for college at St. Louis University, she and her boyfriend found out they were going to have a baby.

According to court documents, the couple planned to marry and then return to college but Chafin, alleges that Father Thomas Halley came to her Omaha home and told her she brought shame to the family. She alleges, he then proceeded to deceive her into adoption.

She had the baby boy in Sioux City.

“I reached for my baby only to find my arms and legs were tied down to the labor bed. I was never allowed to see or hold my child—no matter how much I asked,” said Chafin.

Friday, she filed a federal lawsuit against the Omaha Archdiocese and Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus.

Last year, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld a Douglas County District Court Judge’s decision to dismiss the case because of the statute of limitations.

Chafin connected with her son four years ago when he answered an internet ad.

Chafin believes there are hundreds of mothers across the country who were put in the same position as she was in the ’60s.

“Our babies were taken from us. We were forced into it. We were shamed into it. I was drugged and tied down and to say I willingly gave up my child for adoption is a lie,” said Chafin.

Father Halley died more than a decade ago and the Archdiocese has denied the allegations in the past.

Chafin brings attention to how Canada and Australia have handled similar situations with healing recommendations, regarding how the children of unmarried mothers were often taken from them decades ago.

Chafin said that they offered healing in regards to “living their lives with secrets and lies that were forced on them.”