Couple of moms file lawsuit to adopt

An Oakland County couple, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, filed today in U.S. District Court a suit to overturn the Michigan law that prevents them from jointly adopting children.

DeBoer and Rowse, according to a story in the Detroit Free Press, have been together for more than a decade, and are certified foster parents. Though DeBoer adopted their daughter, and Rowse adopted the couple’s two sons, DeBoer is prohibited from adopting the boys and Rowse is prohibited from adopting the girl because unmarried couples cannot adopt in Michigan.

That violates the Equal Protection Clause, they say.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bernard Friedman.

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Michigan Adoption Day Nov. 22

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Michigan families from Houghton to Cassopolis will celebrate the addition of new family members through adoption on the ninth annual Michigan Adoption Day.

In an Oct. 26 resolution, the Michigan Supreme Court designated Nov. 22 as Michigan Adoption Day, declaring that the event’s goal is “to draw attention to children and youth in foster care, particularly their need for permanent, loving families, and also to promote efforts to help those who remain in foster care.” Michigan Adoption Day is co-sponsored by the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS).

Held each year on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Michigan Adoption Day is aimed at highlighting issues for children and youth in foster care, including their need for permanent, loving homes. About 30 of Michigan’s 83 counties are expected to participate this year, finalizing an anticipated 200 adoptions on or about Nov. 22.

In addition to local events, the Supreme Court and DHS will co-host a program at the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing. Governor Rick Snyder is slated to speak along with DHS Director Maura D. Corrigan and Chief Justice Robert P.Young Jr. The Hall of Justice event will include finalizations of adoptions for families from Ingham and Ionia counties.

The Hall of Justice is also hosting the Heart Gallery this month. The Heart Gallery, a photographic exhibit of Michigan children waiting to be adopted, is a project of DHS’ Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange.

Anyone interested in adopting a child may call toll-free (888) 200-4005 or visit www.adoptuskids.org. For Spanish, call toll-free (877) 236-7831 or visit www.adopte1.org.

For more Adoption Day information, see www.courts.mi.gov/adoption-day.

Source: The Michigan Supreme Court.

Bills would streamline adoption process for foster care children

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Supreme Court Justice Mary Beth Kelly and Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura D. Corrigan have urged legislators to approve bills before both chambers that will streamline the adoption process for children in foster care. The passage of these bills could pave the way for expedited placement in qualified, permanent homes for more than 1,100 children.

Currently, the only person authorized to approve adoptions for children in foster care is the Michigan Children’s Institute (MCI) superintendent. Since April 2010, the MCI superintendent has received 1,100 such cases for approval.

Under the bills, the MCI superintendent, the legal guardian for children committed to MCI when parental rights have been terminated, may authorize a designee to provide written consent to the adoption, marriage, guardianship or emancipation of MCI wards. The designee would be allowed to authorize adoption requests where the child is already living in the recommended adoption home and a review by a caseworker and supervisor has determined there are no concerns about the placement.

Kelly said her experience as a family court judge convinced her that the bills are needed.

“No matter how good a job the MCI superintendent does, he or she is only one person, and it is simply unrealistic to expect one person to perform in-depth reviews of hundreds of these cases each year,” Kelly told legislators.

While finding a permanent, loving home for children in foster care is a key mission for DHS, Corrigan was clear that the expedited process will not sacrifice due diligence in the examination of potential adoptive families. The department will be systematic, careful and considerate when determining who will be named as a designee, Corrigan told members of the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services committee.

“The best place for a child is in a stable, permanent home. That is our goal for each of the 4,150 children in foster care available for adoption. Joining a family should not be delayed because only one person in the entire state can authorize a child’s adoption or guardianship,” Corrigan said.

Among the bills’ supporters is the Michigan Probate Judges Association. In a March 15 letter to Sen. Judith Emmons, Judge Dorene Allen, chief judge of the Midland County Probate Court and chair of the MPJA’s Juvenile and Adoption Issues Committee, wrote that the legislation “will facilitate the permanency of children in the abuse and neglect system, certainly a goal we can all agree upon.”

Source: Michigan Department of Human Services