Eight Michigan families filed suit against the state on Thursday, alleging adoption fraud. They are accusing state agencies of failing to reveal pertinent information regarding the special needs of the children that they were adopting, violating their civil rights in the process. According to the complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, the defendants named in the case "knowingly and negligently caused Plaintiffs' adopted children to endure profound and permanent physical, psychological, emotional and financial harm."
What agencies and groups have been named as defendants in this case?
The complaint names Gov. Rick Snyder, several officials of the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS), including Director Maura Corrigan and Chief Deputy Director Duane Berger, and several officials from the state's Adoption Subsidy Program. On the local level, it names officials from the Ingham County Department of Human Services, Clinton County Department of Human Services, St. Clair County Department of Human Services and the Genesee County Department of Human Services, as well as local subcontracted agencies such as the Ennis Center for Children and Catholic Services of Macomb.
What specifically are the parents accusing officials of doing?
Specifically, the parents of the 19 children involved in the case allege that DHS officials and their agents did not tell them that the children that they adopted had special needs and chronic illnesses. They also are accusing state agents of having "passed" some of the children off as Caucasian to prevent the children from being able to get federal and state aid which they otherwise would have been eligible to receive, according to a report by local CBS News affiliate WWJ .
How is this a civil rights issue, according to the parents?
During a press conference statement released after they filed the lawsuit, the families' attorneys, Stephen P. and David A. Kallman, said that the parents were "assured that the children were physically and mentally healthy," and that "DHS workers fraudulently concealed the children's known disturbing histories, medical records, and multiple impairments." The lawsuit also alleges that the parents and children were denied access to financial assistance and support that they were eligible for by law. On the grounds of the alleged withholding of support, information and financial assistance, the Kallmans are suing for multiple violations of the families' civil rights.
What has been the state's response to the lawsuit?
The DHS had nothing to say about any particular aspect of the case, nor did the agency comment on any of the specific families' allegations. But spokesman David Akerly did defend the DHS in a statement released to the media on Thursday, asserting that similar cases that have previously been brought against the state almost always have resulted in a ruling in the department's favor, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in politics and public issues.