Contra Costa County was sued on August 1, 2008 for child dumping and breaking California’s law that requires adoption agencies to tell adopting parents everything known about a child’s background.
A complete medical, psychological, school and family history must be given to adopting parents before the adoption. That didn’t happen for Mamie and Mark Johnson and its the central issue in their case.
Mamie and Mark Johnson have a unique family with five adopted children, all born by drug mothers, all addicted and their first bite of life going through withdrawal. That puts the Johnsons on the top of my list for sainthood.
In addition the Johnsons have been public advocates for Contra Costa County‘s Department of Children and Family Services, urging others to consider adopting drug babies as they have – the children in the greatest need and with the lowest prospect of being adopted.
The Johnsons have adopted five children of drug mothers but have refused to consider children who were sexually, physically, or otherwise abused.
In 2001, Contra Costa County asked the Johnsons to accept an 11th-month old on an emergency basis who had been removed from his mother at birth.
Based on their previous experience with both Contra Costa County, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson expected the County to fully disclose to the child’s family background, especially since they had made it clear to adoption authorities that they would not accept an abused child.
As part of the Adoptive Placement Agreement of May 15, 2002 between Mamie and Mark Johnson and Contra Costa County Adoptions, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were provided with purported disclosure documents by Contra Costa County Department of Health and Human Services social worker Reynalda Ganding.
These records reveal that in February 2000, before the child’s birth, the birth mother was reported to have physically abused two of her children. In addition, the birth mother was reported to be homeless and had outstanding warrants for drugs, prostitution and theft, plus two prostitution convictions in 1988 and 1997. The family history states the birth mother was involvd in domestic violence, but was silent whether she was a victim or a perpetrator.
The reports of abusing older children and domestic violence were not a concern because the child was taken from his mother immediately following his birth when he “tested positive for cocaine at birth and hence, was placed in police custody.”
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson believed that the County was following the law and had made a full and complete disclosure of the child’s background.
Mamie and Mark Johnson trusted the County to obey the law and tell them truth of what it knew about this 11-month old’s family background. As a result, the Johnson relied on the County’s disclosures and opened their family, their home and their hearts to this baby with his formal adoption on June 18, 2002.
Mental illness does not simply explode, it unfolds and develops as a child gets older.
In the case of this child, his conduct became increasingly bizarre in a classic “one step forward” in improvement and “two steps backwards.” Setting fires, smearing feces on walls, willfully urinating on a bed, setting off fire alarms, removing the seatbelts of siblings, stealing, sexually abusing a classmate and violent outbursts at school were definitely diagnosed by a child psychologist in late 2007 as secondary to a severe reactive attachment disorder.
RADS is inflicted on a child through neglect, abuse and abrupt separations from caregivers between the ages of six months and three years. It prevents a child from being socialized and forming normal attachments in early childhood with parents and primary caregivers. A RAD child does not bond and unless there is significant intervention and therapy the damage is lifelong. Make no doubt. This is a very serious personal injury that is permanent.
The psychologist asked Contra Costa County for information concerning the family members who cared for the child from birth during the child’s first 11 months. The County reported it has no knowledge of what, if any, emergency required the placement of the child with the Johnsons and claimed that it had no records of what happened during his early formative period.
It is expected that Johnson v. Contra Costa County will follow the course experienced in other adoption fraud cases. Moore v. Tulare County, Collister v. Tulare County and Forter v San Mateo County.
In each case the county took every procedural step to avoid responsibility for its wrongdoing and to avoid trial. On the eve trial public officials are expected to acknowledge the tragic impact of the wrongs it had inflicted on loving families. The personal injuries suffered by the adopted child and the child’s families in previous cases were serious and the awards significant: $800,000, $850,000 and $1,400,000.
For more information about personal injury cases of adoption fraud by county adoption agencies, see Adoption Fraud in California, Wrongful Adoption: Fraud by Adoption Agencies; Personal Injury Adoption Fraud Case Report of an $800,000 Recovery, Moore v. Tulare County – Filed Complaint and the complaints filed on behalf of the Johnson, Moore and Collister families.
Adopted Boy’s Ills Reported Hidden, The New York Times, August 9, 1992;
Adoptive parents sue over boy’s past, San Jose Mercury News, July 8, 1992;
Adoption suit ends in $1.45 million settlement; San Jose Mercury News, July 9, 1992;
County knew tot was time bomb, claim contends, The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 8, 1992;
Couple say S.F. Hid Facts About Adopted Child, San Francisco Chronicle, October 15, 1992;
Maury Povich Show, September 9, 1992; Couple: County Hid Adopted Child’s Illness, San Jose Mercury News, August 9, 1992; Couples Warned to Investigate Before Adoption
Undisclosed Traumas Can Destroy A Family, San Francisco Chronicle, September 22, 1992.
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