Parents Sue Over Adopted Special Needs Baby
March 2, 2011
by Sasha Emmons
When I was having problems conceiving my second child, I gave serious consideration to adoption and even had appointments at a few agencies. Initially, I was very into the idea of adopting internationally, and giving a child from an impoverished country a chance for a better life that they wouldn’t otherwise have. But I had to be real with myself: It’s one thing to imagine yourself all Angelina-esque with a Benetton ad-ready family, it’s another to wrap your head around the possibility of caring for a child with serious health problems resulting from poor prenatal care, malnutrition, and sub-par medical care—a reality for many children from developing countries. A co-worker who adopted from Ethiopia freaked me out with a story about how the first child she tried to take in, who she’d been told had only minor medical issues, died while the paperwork was being processed.
Plus: Answers to Obnoxious Adoption Questions
Here’s the truth I came to: Although I knew I wouldn’t hesitate to nurse the child I already had through any health crisis that came our way, I also knew I was not up to knowingly taking on a special needs child. I focused my efforts on domestic adoption, where medical statuses a little more certain. And then, luckily, I got pregnant.
Plus: What It’s Really Like to Adopt a Baby
So it was with interest that I read about the couple who are suing their adoption attorneys over not being informed about the serious health issues their adopted son is facing. Despite adopting domestically, Lynell and Victor Jeffrey were unaware that son Ellington had a serious neurological condition. They are suing for $5 million to cover past and future medical expenses. In New York, the state where their attorneys have their offices, adoptive parents must be informed of any medical problems. It’s unclear if the son’s health issues were known at the time of adoption.
Plus: Keeping Adopted Kids Healthy
The parents had every right to know what they were getting into (although, in parenting, however it happens, do you ever really know?), but I wonder how this child, now 5, is going to feel when he realize his parents have, well, buyer’s remorse.
What do you think: are these parents justified in suing? Would you have it in you to take on a special needs child?