Adoptive parents sue over cuts.Byline: Randi Bjornstad The Register-Guard
Parents who have adopted some of Oregon's most emotionally and physically damaged foster children have filed a class action suit against the state for cutting back their assistance.
The suit was filed in federal court on behalf of four couples - two from Lane County - who altogether have adopted eight children through the state's Adoption Assistance Program.
The families contend that the state Department of Human Resources The fancy word for "people." The human resources department within an organization, years ago known as the "personnel department," manages the administrative aspects of the employees. , which oversees the adoption program, doesn't have the right to reduce monthly assistance payments to adoptive parents adoptive parents Social medicine Persons who lawfully adopt children, who are generally married couples but may be single persons, including homosexuals; most APs are married by 7.5 percent.
The payments can be less than $200 per month per child or more than $1,000, depending on the severity of each child's needs. The state makes adoption assistance payments on behalf of about 7,000 adoptees each month.
In the case of the four families, monthly payments for individual children ranged from $250 to $1,200 before the cutbacks, which went into effect Feb. 1.
The children suffer a variety of ailments, including attachment disorder at·tach·ment disorder
A behavioral disorder caused by the lack of an emotionally secure attachment to a caregiver in the first two years of life, characterized by an inability to form healthy relationships. from abuse and neglect, developmental delays developmental delay
A chronological delay in the appearance of normal developmental milestones achieved during infancy and early childhood, caused by organic, psychological, or environmental factors. , physical disabilities and prenatal prenatal /pre·na·tal/ (-na´tal) preceding birth.
Preceding birth. Also called antenatal.
preceding birth. exposure to drugs and alcohol.
The suit, filed last month, says federal law requires states to enter into assistance agreements with families that adopt children with conditions severe enough to qualify for the payments. Once in place, the plaintiffs contend, federal law requires parental assent to change the amount, unless for some reason the child or family no longer fulfills the eligibility requirements.
In mid-December, the state sent out a letter to adoptive parents, telling them of the impending im·pend
intr.v. im·pend·ed, im·pend·ing, im·pends
1. To be about to occur: Her retirement is impending.
2. rollback A DBMS feature that reverses the current transaction out of the database, returning the data to its former state. A rollback is performed when processing a transaction fails at some point, and it is necessary to start over. See two-phase commit. . The letter acknowledged that the contracts between the state and the families didn't allow the government to reduce the payments unilaterally, said the families' attorney, Art Johnson of Eugene.
The letter instructed the parents to agree in writing to the reduction within 10 days or face complete termination of their assistance agreements, and by extension their entire payment. The state also told the families that hearings to protest the change would not be an option.
The suit is one of several under way to challenge state program cuts made to cope with a $2.5 billion budget shortfall.