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Panel to review Oklahoma Department of Human Services' policy

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: November 24, 2009
The adoption policies of DHS need further review, the co-chairman of a legislative task force on adoption said Monday.

Especially troubling is the dilemma adoptive parents face when the child they adopt develops mental or violent problems, and they are told they must keep the child although the child poses a threat to them or others in their family, said Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City.

"People are just looking to adopt a child from DHS, but they’re basically getting a child that needs therapeutic care of some kind whether DHS knows about it or doesn’t,” said Nelson, saying the Adoption Review Task Force, which heard about the issue Friday, will discuss the matter again early next year.

"These kids are in foster care or up for adoption for a reason — things have not gone well — but you don’t think you’re going to get somebody who’s going to poison you or set your house on fire or stand over your bed at night with a knife,” Nelson said.

Karen Poteet, post adoption programs manager for the Department of Human Services, said the agency only places children in its custody who are suffering from abuse or neglect.

"We disclose all of the written information that we have regarding the child’s medical issue, how they came into custody, all the social history, medical history, everything we have we disclose,” she said.

"The key is everything we have, because sometimes we have birth families who are uncooperative with us because we remove their children. So sometimes they control the flow of information that is given to us.”

DHS tells adoptive parents that the information on the child is what was made available and the child may have physical, mental health or emotional issues that have not yet been diagnosed, Poteet said.

Parents adopting children through DHS also must complete a 27-hour course, in which parents are advised to look closely at the child’s records, she said. Know It: Parenting

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