Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

State News

April 13, 2014

Adoption risks focus of lawsuit

(Continued)

“After the father did come forward, the Kramers disputed the challenge to the status, and that delayed them giving up the child for six months,” Edwards said, noting that the father was revealed to be on the registry about two months after the Kramers took custody.

Edwards also said Catholic Charities is not responsible for the mistake that meant the father did not appear on the registry when staff members checked on May 25, even though he had registered in April before the baby was born.

“Nobody knows why that was,” Edwards said.

St. Joseph Circuit Court Judge Michael Gotsch ruled in favor of Catholic Charities last year in a decision that said the document the Kramers signed released Catholic Charities from liability.

Appealing the decision, the Kramers argued that the release didn’t cover what they said was the organization’s negligence.

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed, and sent the case back to the Circuit Court.

One judge, though, dissented, writing that Catholic Charity’s policy does not say in writing that it must check the registry before a child’s birth, just that it must check it one day after the deadline a father had to register.

“While it may indeed be the better policy for an adoption agency to check the registry before the child is actually placed with the adoptive parents, our statutes do not impose such a requirement,” the dissenting judge wrote.

Citing the dissenting opinion, Edwards said Catholic Charities is planning to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

If the state’s high court does not decide to hear the case, the Appeals Court decision stands, which sends the case back to St. Joseph County.

The Kramers are seeking damages and hoping for a policy change so other adoptive parents don’t have to go through the ordeal.

“This one could have been prevented,” Rice said. “You never want to see parents go through this.”

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