Judge Upholds DHR Decision To Close Adoption Agency
The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
Author: RINER, DUANE; Duane Riner Staff Writer STAFF
A Fulton County judge Friday refused to block a Department of Human Resources (DHR) decision to shut down an Atlanta-based adoption and child placement agency accused of violating state rules.
Superior Court Judge Osgood O. Williams declined to stay DHR's order denying a renewal of the license of Children's Services International Inc. (CSI). The judge ruled the agency had failed "to meet its burden of demonstrating good cause for the issuance of a stay."
While permitting the state to close the private, non-profit organization and take custody of its records, Judge Williams expressed concern about disrupting pending adoption cases. The judge directed DHR to "proceed to finalize" those adoptions and to submit a progress report to the court in 90 days.
DHR spokeswoman Joyce Goldberg said the agency will decide next week when to take charge of the agency's operations.
"CSI is now an unlicensed child-placing agency and will have to cease operation as a child-placement agency," said Executive Assistant Attorney General Perr y Michael.
The agency's lawyer, Robert G. Brazier, agreed with state officials that CSI is out of business for the time being, but he expressed hope the judge will rule in the agency's favor when he reviews the full record and makes a final decision. However, he said the flow of funds will stop in the meantime, and if the agency survives, it will be through the efforts of unpaid volunteers.
In his order, Judge Williams said he will "expedite consideration of the merits" of the case.
In operation since 1980, CSI was denied a renewal of its license by DHR Commissioner James G. Ledbetter in October after the state cited the agency for several violations, including failure to report within 10 days the child-smuggling arrest of a lawyer in El Salvador who had done business with the placement firm. The state also found that the agency took money from eight Florida couples for Filipino babies it could not deliver and failed to provide accurate reports on the health status of two children up for adoption.
Mr. Brazier, who had asked Judge Williams to postpone enforcement of the DHR decision pending a judicial review, said all of the complaints arose out of the activities of CSI's Florida agency.