Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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April 13, 2014

Adoption risks focus of lawsuit

GOSHEN (AP) — Adoptive parents Jason and Justina Kramer took a baby girl home back in May 2010, basking in the glow of new parenthood until their adoption scenario unfolded into a nightmare, the couple’s attorney said.

Both the couple and the baby’s father did everything right, the attorney, Charles Rice, said.

But in what the couple alleges was negligence on the part of the adoption agency, Catholic Charities, the baby was placed with the Kramers, of Goshen, after the father had sought to establish paternity.

The father was awarded custody of the child after she lived with the Kramers for more than eight months, leaving a couple in pain for losing a child and a father who missed the first months of his daughter’s life.

The incident spurred litigation that poses the question: Was the agency negligent or was the risk inherent in the adoption?

“If things had been done right, the child should have never been placed with them in the first place,” Rice, who filed the suit against Catholic Charities on behalf of the Kramers, told the South Bend Tribune.

Catholic Charities did not respond to an interview request, but its attorney, Robert Edwards, said the organization is not responsible.

A St. Joseph Circuit Court judge sided with Catholic Charities, but a recent Indiana Appeals Court decision disagreed with the summary judgment and kicked the case back to the county, where it could eventually go to trial.

The story begins in March 2010 when a young woman asked Catholic Charities of the South Bend-Fort Wayne Diocese to facilitate an adoption. Later that month, she told the Kramers she wanted them to adopt her baby.

She did not give a father’s name.

The woman gave birth on May 1, 2010, with the Kramers there in the hospital. They signed adoption papers and took the baby home two days later.

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