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Adoption agency didn't suspect boy's mental retardation, president says


Author: BEASLEY, DAVID; David Beasley Staff Writer STAFF

Lya Sorano, president of Children's Services International (CSI), testifies that her adoption agency didn't suspect that a Salvadoran child adopted by a Florida couple was mentally retarded.

The president of Children's Services International (CSI) testified Wednesday that her Atlanta-based adoption agency didn't suspect that a Salvadoran child adopted by a Florida couple apparently was mentally retarded.

Lya Sorano said an agency worker examined the boy when he was 2 months old and reported that "the child was a normal, healthy baby."

It was not until about a year later, when Harry and Michelle Ackerman of Jupiter, Fla., asked a mission worker to check on the child they were adopting, that they learned he was apparently retarded.

The infant remains in El Salvador, with the Ackermans contending they can't afford his medical expenses.

Mrs. Sorano testified, "There are many, many things that can go wrong" when adopting a child from abroad, "and there are a number of cases each year in which something does go wrong."

The Department of Human Resources, in refusing to renew the license of CSI, has alleged that the agency failed to inform some couples that the children they were adopting had serious medical problems. DHR also maintains that CSI accepted fees from couples hoping to adopt Filipino infants when it had no agreement with that country's government to handle adoptions.

CSI, which also has offices in New Jersey and Florida, is appealing the DHR decision this week before a state hearing officer.

Mrs. Sorano, founder of the non-profit organization, testified Wednesday during the third day of the hearing that she tried for months to conclude an agreement with the Philippines and was confident that adoptions would soon be approved there.ting away."

She said her efforts to win approval from the Philippine government were stymied last fall after a videotape of an Orlando news station broadcast about problems with CSI was mailed anonymously to the government there.

A rash of complaints from clients followed the arrest last August of a lawyer, Roberto Parada, who handled adoptions for CSI in El Salvador, on suspicion of illegally smuggling children out of the Central American country.

After Parada's arrest, a number of children in his care who were scheduled for adoption were placed in a government orphanage, creating confusion about the whereabouts of the infants and delaying their departure from the country.

1988 Mar 31