Michigan families file lawsuit alleging wrongful adoptions

(WXYZ) - "It was frustrating We felt deceived," says "Kimberly H."

We're calling her Kimberly H. in order to protect the identity of her little girl, who we refer to as Zola.
Kimberly and her husband of Waterford adopted Zola two years ago, but Kimberly says she feels betrayed by the state's Department of Human Services, or DHS, and some adoption workers.

She says they withheld information that Zola had sickle cell disease.

"We asked (if she had any health issues) and they had very little information to give us. They didn't even know why she was in foster care," she says.

Zola was placed with Kimberly's family as a foster child when she was 6 weeks old.
Kimberly says she and her husband found out on their own that Zola had sickle cell when she was 6 months old.

"She should have started treatment for sickle cell when she was 2 months old. If she had contracted pneumonia, it could have been fatal to her. I was devastated for this sweet child who i didn't know for sure was going to be our daughter. I was so angry. We had tried so hard to advocate for this child and the system had blocked us at every move," she says.
Now Kimberly H. and 7 other families are all part of a federal lawsuit accusing the governor, DHS and several child welfare agencies of concealing medical information in the adoptions.
David Kallman represents those families and the 19 adopted children between them.

"They didn't inform the families of the problems these kids had .. which they were aware of and can be documented for in dhs records. Therefore, most of them thought they were receiving healthy little kids," says Kallman
He says most of the families learned *after* the adoption that their children suffered from serious medical conditions such as fetal alcohol syndrome, AIDS and and bipolar disorder.

The lawsuit also alleges families were denied benefits after the childrens' special needs were discovered by the parents.
Kallman says the families are owed around $13 million dollars in state and federal money.

"The state is sitting back and saying we're not going to help now. You didn't ask on time Well, the parents didn't know to ask," says Kallman.
Kimberly and her husband adopted Zola *after* learning she had sickle cell. She's already been hospitalized 18 times.. and had five blood transfusions.
Kimberly says she and her husband have already gone through their savings.
"There never doubt going to adopt her. The doubt came in how we going to take care of her.
I would love for somebody to recognize what DHS is doing is not right and for them to be held accountable and for these families to get benefits and get the help they need so they can provide for these kids," she says.

7 Action News received no comment from the governor, but DHS released this statement:

"We remain deeply committed to the 27,000+ adopted children of Michigan and their families who are receiving subsidies, including the 8 families who are involved in this lawsuit. That commitment means providing them with the wraparound services and resources that are available. Being a partner to adoptive parents and helping build stronger families for children who need a home has been and will continue to be at the core of our mission at DHS."

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