Adoption is becoming increasingly popular in the United States as a recourse for couples who are unable to conceive. Unfortunately, ridiculous civil suits are also becoming increasingly popular in that country. Not surprisingly, the two have finally found a way to come together.
A "wrongful adoption suit" occurs when a couple sues the adoption agency who connected them to the child they have adopted after finding out that the child has some sort of genetic or chronic illness, or a family history for an illness, which they were not informed of before they adopted the child.
The following information was extracted from an online court document about the case of Jackson vs. the State of Montana, issued March 10, 1998:
In April 1994, adoptive parents Eugene and Peggy Jackson filed an action based in negligence with the District Court for the Thirteenth Judicial District in Yellowstone County against the State of Montana, the Department of Family Services, and John and Jane Does I-IV (the State). The Jacksons primarily alleged the State negligently misrepresented, and failed to disclose to them, certain material facts regarding the psychological and medical background of their adoptive son's birth mother and putative father....
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Lawrence John Allen Russell (later renamed Aaron Jon Jackson by his adoptive parents and hereinafter referred to as Aaron) was born on November 8, 1983, to Deborah Annette Russell, his biological mother. Aaron's two putative fathers are Brian Scott and Robert T. Stevens. Russell spent much of her pregnancy incarcerated at the Women's Correctional Center at Warm Springs, Montana, during which period she underwent a psychological evaluation by clinical psychologist, Dr. B. A. Peters. Dr. Peters...characterized her as an "emotionally immature and inappropriate" young woman who "is making a marginal psychological adjustment." Ultimately, Dr. Peters diagnosed Russell with borderline intellectual functioning and inadequate personality.
In January 1984, Russell fed her infant son soda pop, meat, and vegetables, which caused him to aspirate and led to his hospitalization. As a result of this incident, the State began providing child protective services to Russell and Aaron....
On December 31, 1984, the District Court issued an order terminating the parental rights of Russell, Scott, and Stevens, and awarded permanent legal custody of Aaron to the State with the right to consent to his adoption. Roughly one month later, resource worker Betty Petek contacted the Jacksons and informed them that Aaron was available for adoption....
To become adoptive parents, the Jacksons completed a written application and participated in personal interviews with Petek. During the course of this application process, the Jacksons advised Petek that they could not provide care for a child that had, or might be at risk for, developing a mental disorder. On March 10, 1984, Petek completed the Jacksons' adoptive home study and recommended that they "be approved for the adoption of one Caucasian child, either sex, infancy through two years of age," noting that they would consider adopting a child with "a minor correctable handicap...."
During this visit, the Jacksons specifically asked Wallace and Petek whether there was any history of mental illness in Aaron's family. Although they were each aware of the reports completed by Dr. Peters, Dr. Collier, and Dr. Edwards, as well as Filipovich's social study, neither Wallace nor Petek disclosed the content of these evaluations to the Jacksons in response to their inquiry.
Now, while I'm all in support of adoption agencies providing full disclosure, especially when the parents say they don't want a potentially handicapped child or the accompanying expenses, I think this is a bit of a bad precedent. What would happen if these parents had given birth to a child handicapped in the same manner? Would they have given that child up for adoption immediately? What if they had their own child and one parent discovered afterwards that their spouse had a family history of illness that hadn't been mentioned?
And today there was a story on NPR Morning Edition where a mother of a child conceived by way of a sperm donor is suing the sperm bank, as well as the heretofore anonymous donor, for not disclosing information about a family history of kidney disease. Wrongful adoption suits like the one above could be used as a precedent for cases like this.
It's ridiculous to expect any child to be "Gattaca" perfect when born, whether the child is your own or a sperm donor's or an adoptive child. But I worry that people are going to start thinking they have a right to exactly this -- full disclosure of a parent's genetic history and potential "flaws", and outright rejection of any child that doesn't match this ideal.
Parenthood simply isn't like this. Anyone who thinks so needs to stop watching so many Hollywood actors and actresses and go spend some time with real-life parents of real-life children. It would do them a world of good.