A New York couple from Long Island has asked a judge to declare void their adoption of two Russian-born children because, they say, the children suffer from mental and emotional disorders.
Nassau County Surrogate’s Judge Edward McCarty III is presiding over the case. In a seldom-made decision, he has agreed to keep the courtroom and case open to the public, citing the “disturbing facts” of the case.
McCarty has asked members of the media not to reveal the names of the parents or the children in the case.
The Daily Mail reports the parents adopted the children, who were then six and eight years old, in 2008 through Spence-Chapin in New York and Cradle of Hope in Maryland. The parents said they were told by the agencies that the “purported siblings” were “healthy and socially well-adjusted.”
However, the parents now claim they have learned that the two children are not biologically related and it has become clear that they suffer from medical and psychiatric problems.
The children, who are now 12 and 14, have been placed in the care of state mental health facilities.
The parents also claim the children repeatedly threatened to kill them while they lived at home.
In separate legal action against the agencies, the parents also allege that they later discovered the children had been sexually abused before being adopted.
If McCarty rules in favor of the couple and voids the adoption, the children would remain wards of the state. They could stay in mental health facilities or be eligible for foster care.
Russia banned U.S. couples from adopting Russian-born children in 2013. Although that ban remains in place, adoption experts are still watching the New York case closely as they believe the outcome could have far-reaching consequences for U.S. agencies and their adoption processes.
Adoption attorney Irene Steffas said in court that McCarty’s decision could seriously handicap agencies’ abilities to place children in homes.
“If agencies had to warranty that children are in good health, agencies would shut down,” she said. “You can do that with a car but you can’t get a warranty with a human being. That’s a dangerous position to put an agency in.”
Adam Pertman, president of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency, didn’t disagree but told the New York Post it was important for parents to get proper medical records from their adoption agency.
“So many kids from institutionalized settings come to us abused and neglected,” he said. “If the records are not accurate, parents are not prepared for the challenges they will face. They don’t get sufficient training. And they don’t get the support and services they need.”
Representatives from the adoption agencies declined to comment.