Saturday, May 17, 2008

Teacher, Teacher Call On Me!!!

I know the answer to the question! See me sitting at my desk waving my arms in the air so the teacher will let me talk? Good grief, I have spent the last six years of my life combing Westlaw, Lexisone and Versuslaw studying up on domestic adoption fraud and looking for the legal opinions to resolve the mess my agency created in my life.

Do you think that domestic adoption has the same degree of fraud as international adoptions?
The short answer is yes, I do. Yes, I lived it. Yes, I plan to amend my civil complaint and allege fraud. Fraud with facts to support the tort as my former attorney should have long ago but was too fill-in-the-blank to do it.

The long answer, I really feel is a good way to do some legal education on some of the more well-known legal decisions concerning domestic adoption fraud. Which is divided into a couple categories. First are the cases where agencies use fraud to get the first mother's consent. Second are the agencies where they ignore putative father's rights. Third are agencies who promise happily ever after and don't deliver. Fourth are the wrongful adoption cases where agencies represent the adoptable children as healthy and mentally sound and they are actually quite ill children. The result is the adoptive family experiences unexpected and extraordinary medical expenses and ruined lives.

I also think this would be a good opportunity to explain the fiduciary duty of adoptions agencies and the higher level of legal duty that imposes on an agency entrusted to handle adoptions. It really shoots that "adoption has no guaranteed outcome" phooey to shreds when you look at the legal issues and gee, paralegal like me likes to talk about legal issues and educate in the process. I think a second post on the Crib just for breach of fiduciary duty is in order and I'll get around to it soon.

I think the Third District Appellate Court gives a great definition of Fraud under the Adoption Act in Illinois:

"Fraud, for purposes of the Adoption Act, is defined as 'anything calculated to deceive, whether it be a single act or combination of circumstances, whether the suppression of truth or the suggestion of what is false, whether it be by direct falsehood or by innuendo, by speech or by silence, by word of mouth or by look or gesture.' Regenold v. Baby Fold, Inc., 68 Ill. 2d 419, 435, 369 N.E.2d 858, [] (1977), quoting People ex rel Chicago Bar Ass'n v. Gilmore, 345 Ill. 28, 46, 177 N.E. 710 (1931). Where such fraud is proved, it vitiates all transactions touched by it. Gilmore, 345 Ill. at 46." In re Adoption of E.L., A minor, 315 Ill. App. 3d 137, 151, 733 N.E.2d 846, 858 (2000)"
Gee, that pretty much covers every paragraph in that falsified home study that the appellate court deemed defamation per quod and reckless, doesn't it? Write a home study addendum behing the PAPs back, don't tell them what it says for over a month and then not fully investigate the allegations and say so in the home study document? I think we covered suppression of truth, suggestion of what is false, direct falsehood, innuendo, speech, silence, word-of-mouth and other forms of dishonesty, with that little falsified home study that I still don't have case entries made during the time LSSI wrote it. How in the heck do you write a home study and not make a case entry? Hell, Kim Holder wrote case entries for phone calls where she got a busy signal but not one during a home study addendum? Go figure!

Incidentally, the agency in this case, In Re: O.S. that defines fraud under the Adoption Act was none other than Lutheran Social Services of IL. Uncanny, huh? LSSI told the first mother she could have visits with her child. LSSI was trying to terminate her rights to so an LSSI foster parent could adopt. The first mother worked her rear off to correct the problems in her life without any help from LSSI for years. However, LSSI imposed the condition mother could not tell the child she was his mother. Needless to say, the mother failed the bonding assessment and LSSI recommended the child be adopted by their clients. Court said nope! Appellate court remanded it and ordered the agency to give the first mom a fair and fighting chance. One of the few appellate cases I found where the court actually examined the social work methodologies of a child welfare agency in depth. More courts need to instead of just taking the social worker's testimony at face value.

There is also the Tina Olison case, also a LSSI adoption case. Tina was another first mom who rehab herself with no help from Lutheran despite being ordered by the court to give Tina services. Tina went above and beyond to get her child back. However, the LSSI foster mom was none other than now a Supreme Court Judge Ann Burke and her Chicago Alderman husband. Tina didn't have a chance.

A related question to fraud is ethical in nature. Is it fraudulent to recruit PAPs to a domestic program when the agency does not have an equal number of maternity clients to provide children for the PAPs, for example? Is it ethical and/or fraudulent not to tell domestic PAPs on a waiting list the program is on hold due to a shortage of pregnancy clients needing adoption placement services?

For a clue, read article:
LSSI admits they recruited PAPs with a lousy ratio of maternity clients. It was on the front page of the paper and if Kim Holder said it and the newspaper quoted her, I suppose she is telling the truth. Would have been nice if she told the truth to us in February 2002 and not waited until December 2003. We were recruited by LSSI in September 2001 and the domestic program went on hold about a month before our home study was finished in late January. All Kim Holder told us is we "had to be patient since things are a little slow". We decided to network with other agencies who need AA PAPs and they welcomed us into their agencies, but LSSI objected strongly to us networking.

According to
LSSI's fall newsletter, another PAP lingered for two years in the domestic program before they sent the PAP to Bulgaria, where she had a failed adoption. Then they sent that PAP to GT. Five and a half years and three countries to complete one adoption and LSSI brags about Kim Holder being a compassionate caseworker? Go to page 17 of the PDF for the story.

Very strange how LSSI decided to publish their summer newsletter just before oral arguments on the appellate case on November 5, 2007, isn't it? And to publish their next newsletter bragging on an adoption Holt actually handled a few days after the appellate decision was released. Kim Holder's contribution to that adoption was pretty minimal. So what she wrote a home study? And actually wrote one that pleased her PAPs? Again, not your usual timing on the newsletter release, is it?

I've got a ton more of appellate decisions for wrongful adoption, putative father's rights, duress in obtaining the consent of the birth family. One of these days, it ought to make a dandy law review article. It will be a chore to write but worthwhile.


Chew/VintageUte said...

"Do you think that domestic adoption has the same degree of fraud as international adoptions?"


Different beasts but just as evil.


webmaster said...

Yes I have been the victim of adoption fraud also. My daughter Peyton was put up for adoption by her mother Inderia the day that she was born. I never gave consent, was not notified, and never would have consented. According to her own sister she was given $5000 to sell our child. I live in PA, adoptive couple live in Delaware, and the agency is out of NJ where gay couples are permitted to adopt. I want my daughter back. I started a blog to explain the whole ordeal, write letters to Peyton, and hopefully find the help that I need to get her back. Please visit my site "Peyton's Story"