State Sues Unlicensed Adoption Agency

Date: 1989-04-27

The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
Author: RINER, DUANE; Duane Riner Staff Writer STAFF

An embattled private adoption agency that has continued counseling prospective adoptive parents despite the loss of its license in December has been hit by a state lawsuit aimed at shutting it down.

The suit, filed against Children's Services International (CSI) by the state Department of Human Resources (DHR), follows an April 11 incident in which two DHR employees were refused access to the CSI office at 1819 Peachtree Road N.E. and obtained a search warrant to inspect its records.

"Upon conducting an inspection of the premises," the suit said, "it was determined that CSI was engaging in child-placing activity . . . without a license."

The suit, filed in Fulton Superior Court, seeks an injunction barring CSI from operating a child welfare agency and restraining the non-profit organization "from violating the laws of the state of Georgia relating to child-placing agencies and child welfare agencies."

CSI spokeswoman Patricia Johnson said Tuesday that the state's lawsuit, filed late Monday by Attorney General Michael J. Bowers, was expected. She accused DHR of "trying to regulate things that are really outside their jurisdiction."

She said the agency is set to challenge in court DHR's contention that CSI's present, scaled-down counseling activities fall within the state's regulatory powers. She added that CSI has not processed adoptions since Judge Osgood O. Williams refused in December to block DHR's decision to revoke the agency's child-placing license for alleged violations of rules.

"The regulations say that counseling service is not child-placement activity," Ms. Johnson said. "We assist families who want to adopt in Latin America with their paperwork."

DHR Commissioner James G. Ledbetter lifted CSI's license for violations that included failing to inform DHR within 10 days of the child-smuggling arrest of a lawyer in El Salvador who had done business with CSI clients, taking money from eight Florida families for Filipino babies it could not deliver and failing to provide accurate health reports on two Latin American children up for adoption.

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