Ankeny Couple Awarded Millions in Adoption Malpractice Lawsuit

Gabriel McFarland

DES MOINES, IOWA  —  Iowa jurors awarded Heidi and Rachel McFarland $3.25 million, saying they believe Des Moines adoption attorney Jason Reiper failed to file crucial adoption paperwork in a timely fashion, which ultimately led to the loss of their child.

In 2014, the Ankeny couple thought they were taking home an adopted baby boy named Gabriel to raise as their own.  Within three months of caring for Gabriel, the couple  was forced to return him back to his biological parents because Rieper did not have the biological parents, Markeya Atkins  and Drew Weehler-Smith, sign any termination of parental rights papers.

Just a month after being forced to give away Gabriel, he was found unresponsive while under the care of Drew Weehler-Smith.  Smith was found guilty of  second degree murder and is now serving a 50-year prison sentence.  Autopsy reports showed Gabriel died of severe head injuries.

Roxanne Conlin is the attorney for Heidi and Rachel McFarland. She was prohibited from proving that Gabriel died at the hands of his biological father, but took to Facebook on Tuesday to publicly discuss the verdict. Her post can be seen in full below.