Families File Lawsuit Against DHS for Wrongful Adoptions

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

Fetal alcohol syndrome, depression, and oral herpes are just some of the conditions several parents claim were hidden from them when they adopted children through the state.

A lawsuit was filed against the Department of Human Services and Governor Snyder on Thursday on behalf of eight families, including 17 adopted foster children.

One of the plaintiffs is using the pseudonym Sharon C., and she said DHS not only denied her adopted daughter's medical condition, but also botched the adoption all together.

"They did tell us she had an STD, but I just thought it was nothing to be a real big deal," Sharon said.

After multiple doctors visits using her own money and time, Sharon discovered Amelia had syphilis, contracted from her birth mother. That's part of her medical history DHS should have disclosed.

"It wasn't explained to me how she would break out or anything like it," Sharon said.

The condition was so bad, Amelia had to stay in the hospital for several days.

"Not one person from DHS came over to the hospital to see what was going on, they never called my house," Sharon said.

Sharon said DHS did finalize the adoption without her consent, and without her even being present.

"We said 'Well, she's just a Jane Doe," Sharon said. "We had no information on her, we had no social security number or birth certificate. The lady just slid the paper across the table and she was ours and that was it."

Seven other families claim similar horrific experiences after they adopted children who had preexisting conditions that were hidden - including, inappropriate sexual activity against other children, engaging in arson, and torturing pets.

DHS did issue a statement saying they remain committed to the 27,000 adopted children of Michigan and their families, including the eight families involved in the lawsuit.

"That commitment means providing them with the wraparound services and resources that are available," the spokesperson said in the statement.

The attorney representing the families said they're not getting those resources though.

"These families suffer and flounder and need help," said David Kallman, the attorney who filed the lawsuit. "They've adopted these children, they've taken them off the hands of the state. They love these kids, they want to take care of these kids, they can't do it, because they don't have the funding they should be getting."

He claims the families have been denied their Title IV-E adoption subsidy, and it's time to put that issue in front of a judge and jury. Kallman said the state owes the families in excess of $13 million total.

"We've been doing this for a long time, trying to get resolution," Kallman said. "This is not a knee jerk reaction to just rush to court. We've gone through administrative processes."

Amelia is now 5-years-old, and still needs a machine to help her sleep. Sharon said she still hasn't received a penny from DHS, including her Title IV-E funding.

"It's put us under financial stress," Sharon said. "We just go one day at a time, we gotta survive. No matter what."

Kallman said more families have already approached him, and there will be subsequent lawsuits.

The defendants have 28 days to respond to the lawsuit.

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