Indiana could have — and should have — taken a step to fulfill both a promise to adoptive families and Gov. Mike Pence’s talk of a “pro adoption agenda.”
Instead, the Department of Child Services faces a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of families on a “waiting list” for money intended to help them raise children adopted from Indiana’s foster care system.
The suit was filed last week against the DCS and Director Mary Beth Bonaventura on behalf of Debbie Moss, a LaPorte grandmother taking care of her three grandchildren without the subsidies promised her.
Moss would be due about $40,000 from the state based on payments she negotiated with the DCS, according to Indianapolis attorney Richard Shevitz.
Attorneys allege the DCS breached its contract with families by telling them they would be placed on a waiting list until the money was available — while returning nearly $240 million to the state over a five-year period.
Moss is one of the 1,400 families on a waiting list.
It remains to be seen how this suit will be resolved, but one thing is clear: The General Assembly should have stepped up to restore the state subsidy that was cut in 2009 by then-DCS Director James Payne. Legislators had ample opportunity — and good reason — to do so. Yet last session marked the fifth year in a row that the issue has died.
Payne’s fondness for declaring that people “should adopt for love, not money” overlooks the basic realities of the costs of caring for children in need of support.
For several years now, Indiana has failed to live up to its obligation to 1,400 adoptive families. The lawsuit is the latest chapter in this very sad story.
— South Bend Tribune