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The biological father of an infant boy has lost a high-profile custody battle in Saskatchewan after a court decision granted full custody to the child's guardians and banned the natural father from seeing the child for a year.

In a 35-page judgment released Monday, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench said the unofficial adoption had served in the child's best interests, and should be maintained.

"It is clear that they present an environment that will best provide for his health, education, emotional well being, opportunity for training and economic and intellectual pursuits," wrote Justice Shawn Smith.

The court found the biological father - referred to in the judgment under the pseudonym "Adam" - was capable of having a positive presence in the life of baby "Ian", but not in a parental role.

Due to that, the court ordered the biological father not gain access to the child for one year, unless all parties agreed otherwise. That would give the child a year of "familial calm" to promote bonding and attachment in his current home, the judgment states.

The Saskatoon father said that the judge's decision was unfair.

"I wasn't trying to win father of the year award or anything like that - I was just trying to be a good father," said the man.

"I'm left wondering what the definition of a father might be now."

The high-profile case stretches back to autumn 2005, when the child's biological mother "Rose" realized she was pregnant.

Rose and Adam ended their short-lived relationship after an alcohol-fuelled violent incident in mid-2005.

In a bid to create a better life for her child, the biological mother sought out family friends "Linda and Dave Turner" and, after much consideration and consultation with counsellors and lawyers, the Turners took the child into their home immediately after his birth.

"Having brought Ian home from the hospital, he has, as is the nature of babies, become the centre of their universe," wrote Judge Smith. "They love him as if he were their own."

The mother stated in guardianship documents that she didn't know who the father was. A DNA test later confirmed the paternity.

The father found out the woman was pregnant a few weeks before the baby was born, and with his fiancée, sought avenues to gain custody of the baby boy.

But on Monday, he lost the long court process to gain custody of his biological son.

Adam said social services officials did nothing to help him once he found out about the adoption.

"The family justice system needs to be looked at," said the man, his eyes red from crying.

"I still feel very, very betrayed by the government organizations. I think that's what set the events into play now, and that's how I lost."

He said he was willing and able to raise the boy.

While the court said Adam displayed the protective instincts of a father and seemed willing to take on the lifelong role of parent, there were many unknowns, mainly stemming from his relationship and family history.

"When one considers the path Adam has travelled, it is, perhaps, not surprising that he presents as emotionally fragile. However, it is appropriate to note that he has shown grit and determination in his pursuit for custody of his child," the judge wrote. "Many in his circumstance would have faltered. He has not."

Yet in the end, being an "adequate" parent was not the best test to determine what was in the best interests for that child, and the judge concluded that "from all the evidence, without hesitation, ... Ian's best interests are served by granting custody to the Turners."

The man's lawyer had cautioned the judge to be wary of setting a precedent "that deprives fathers of knowing and caring for their children."

"It's been disappointing," said lawyer Mark Vanstone said of the ruling.

"It seems that one could be a natural father who does absolutely everything possible to step forward . . . but the system seems to do nothing but erect hurdles and obstacles to somebody in those circumstances."

Mr. Vanstone said it was too early to know if they would file an appeal.

Lawyer Rick Danyluik, who represented the couple, had reminded the court about some of the negative aspects raised against the father and his fiancee during the trial.

Both have experienced alcoholism, several failed relationships and unlawful conduct. The man also has other children by previous relationships, court heard.

Mr. Danyluik had urged Judge Smith to put biology aside and consider the level of care his clients could provide. He pointed out the two are financially secure and educated, and could offer the baby better opportunities.

After the decision was released, he disputed claims that it deprives biological fathers of the right to parent.

"I'm not sure it is a blow to parents rights," said Mr. Danyluik.

"In custody matters the focus shifted away from parents' rights and more toward children's rights probably 30 to 40 years ago."

The decision, Mr. Danyluik said, was appropriate and best for the child.

He described the little boy at the centre of the fight as "a very bright, bubbly, happy baby."

"I would say he is just absolutely thriving in the care of our clients," said Mr. Danyluik. "He is doing great, which is just wonderful to see."

The guardians have already given the baby their surname and are seeking child-support payments from the father, the court heard.

With a report from Canadian Press

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