Failure to inform adoptive parents of birth mother's drug use

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Case in Point

March 19, 2013

Failure to inform adoptive parents of birth mother's drug use 

The plaintiffs alleged that the adoption agency and its owner failed to exercise due diligence in their dealings with the birth mother, which would have revealed she was using drugs. The jury awarded about $1.37 million. Doe v. Adoption Access Inc.

When the Does arranged their second adoption through Adoption Access Inc., they filled out a form stating that they would not accept a child whose biological mother had used hard drugs. Several months after taking home their new baby, the Does noticed that the child was exhibiting physical and psychological problems. The Does subsequently located the child’s birth mother, who told them that she had used methamphetamines during her pregnancy.

Now 5, the child has been diagnosed as having non-genetic ADHD and cognitive and executive functioning deficits.

The Does sued Adoption Access and its owner, Deborah Hug, alleging breach of contract, negligence, fraud, and violation of Texas’s consumer protection statute. The plaintiffs charged that the defendants knew or should have known of the biological mother’s drug use. They claimed that the defendants failed to exercise due diligence in their dealings with the birth mother, who was purportedly living with a drug user during her pregnancy and was arrested on drug-related charges several months before the child’s birth.

The jury awarded about $1.37 million.

Citation: Doe v. Adoption Access Inc., No. DC-10-10653-C (Tex., Dallas Co. Jud. Dist. Oct. 16, 2012).

Plaintiff counsel: Mark L. Johansen and Christopher J. Simmons, both of Dallas.

Plaintiff experts: Ira Chasnoff, in-utero drug exposure, Chicago; and Gary Durham, economics, and Adela Jones, adoption, both of Dallas.

Defense expert: Lori Wolf, genetics, Denton, Texas.


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