Reporting Charlie Langton
DETROIT (WWJ) - Some Michigan parents are planning to file a federal lawsuit in Detroit Thursday, claiming that the state and adoption agency officials withheld crucial details about the physical and mental disabilities in the children they adopted.
WWJ Legal Analyst and Talkradio 1270 morning show host Charlie Langton said the parents claim their civil rights have been violated.
“There’s a claim that the civil rights of the parents are being trampled upon by the state because of the state’s failure to disclose information. Who is in the best position to gather information about a child when the child is put up for adoption? It is the state. And if the state is not taking on the responsibility of gathering that information and disclosing that information, that becomes a civil rights violation, that’s a federal issue,” said Langton.
Lansing-area attorneys David and Stephen Kallman told the Detroit Free Press officials from the Department of Human Services and adoption agencies routinely withheld medical records and information about financial subsidies for special-needs children, misled prospective adoptive parents about their rights and stonewalled their attempts to seek assistance.
At the time of adoption, they were presented to parents as healthy babies. But in reality, the lawsuit claims many of the children had significant mental and physical health issues after being born to mothers who were addicted to drugs and alcohol — something the parents claim they were never informed of. Other children were handicapped or had diseases – something the parents claim the state also failed to mention.
Some parents claim their adopted children, most of whom were removed from homes of their biological parent or parents by court order, tortured pets, attacked family members and set fires.
The lawsuit also claims that several light-skinned ethnic minority children were “passed” as Caucasian for the sole purpose of depriving them of federal and state assistance to which they were entitled.
“It would be in the best interest of everybody if the state would disclose whatever information the state knew about these children before they adopted. I mean, disclosure is the name of the game in so many things. We have disclosure laws when you buy a car or a house, so why shouldn’t we have disclosure laws when you adopt a child,” said Langton.
If disclosure laws were in place, Langton said he thinks the number of adoptions would actually increase.
“You have to know what you’re buying, what you’re getting. I don’t want to make it on so impersonal terms here, but we’re talking about the life of a child, that if the parents are doing something good for the children, they should know what they’re getting so they can plan ahead accordingly… I think the state has a duty to go out there and investigate the background of this particular child and the family as well. It would help not only people in Michigan, but across the whole country,” said Langton.
Families included in the lawsuit are seeking as much as $13 million.