As little as four years ago, adoptive parents in Texas were not entitled to see their children’s medical, educational, social and other records. A page or two of background information was usually all they received.
“In many cases, no records were sent,” said Mr. Cogan, who filed a number of lawsuits on behalf of adopting families whose initially healthy children later required medical or psychological treatment.
But in 1989, the Legislature passed laws requiring the release of specific information to potential adoptive parents. The information includes medical and psychological records and family health and criminal histories.
“The reform allows folks to look at the records and decide if they can care for the child,” Mr. Cogan said.
The Burgesses had previously filed a complaint against Smithlawn with the Texas Department of Human Services, which monitors 168 private and state-run facilities involved in child placement.
Investigator Barbara Clark subsequently determined that Smithlawn had violated several state regulations in dealing with the Burgesses and other families. The agency, she said, “withheld vital information from adoptive parents, failed to provide needed medical treatment for a foster care child, divulged confidential information and pressured birth mothers to place their babies.”
In Smithlawn’s November 1991 answer to that report. Mr. Hulett said the home admitted no wrongdoing but had made policy changes and would comply with state regulations.
- Exerting pressure on mothers-to-be who come to them for help to forgo their own God-given maternal instincts so that others, deemed to be more deserving, could enjoy the blessings of parenthood. It's pretty difficult to picture Jesus approving of this.
- Disenfranchising fathers in defiance of laws designed to protect their interests in their own children.
- Risking failed adoptions and creating heartbreak for adoptive parents by trying to sneak adoptions through without acquiring legal consent of fathers.
- Concealing and/or lying about medical backgrounds in infants it placed.
- Permitting an attorney member of its own board of directors to represent a couple filing suit against them.
- Bowing to the dog-eat-dog pressures of "the adoption market" that was "putting the squeeze on them" by lowering itself to the least common denominator of professional practice.
CONTINUED: To read additional accounts of NCFA member agencies conducting unethical practices, click on individual agencies listed on archive column, under the numbered entries.