Knowing an Adoptive Child's BackgroundJulia B. Rauch's...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 28, 1992

Knowing an Adoptive Child's Background

Julia B. Rauch's recommendation (letter, June 15) that the adoption law be changed to require that background health information be made available to the adoptive family deserves serious consideration.

As a case in point, she mentions the John R. Gregory case and suit brought by his parents because they were not aware of the biological mother's use of drugs during pregnancy.

In almost two decades of caring for infants in pre-adoptive care and older ones in regular foster care, we were no strangers to the lack of background information on children placed with us. One was not unlike that of John Gregory, except for the more fortuitous outcome.

A number of years ago, an infant was placed with us prior to adoption. He began exhibiting rather bizarre behavior, including emotional outbursts, from time to time. Later we learned that the mother had been on drugs during pregnancy.

When the child was about 2 1/2 years old, the agency decided to place him for adoption despite what we considered contra-indications. After strenuous objections from us, the agency agreed to a psychological examination. The result was conclusive and unequivocal: The child not only was unsuitable for adoption at the time, but should go into therapy.

After a year of treatment, a satisfactory placement occurred. It takes little stretch of the imagination to conclude what the results could have been had not early intervention taken place.

In another instance, an 8-year-old was placed with us ostensibly because of sexual abuse in the home. The placement was made by a private agency through a purchase of care arrangement. Neither that agency nor we had pertinent information as to the child's mental problems.

After a number of tense and patience-exhausting episodes, we learned that we had in care a difficult, emotionally disturbed youngster, one who had been under psychiatric evaluation in a local hospital with the recommendation that upon discharge she be institutionalized. Sound placement practice dictates that all pertinent information be given not only to adoptive parents, but to foster parents as well.

Agencies know this, but apparently this guideline had been in too many instances more honored in the breach than in its observance.

Abner Kaplan

Baltimore

Columbia's No City

I noted with interest your recent editorial entitled "Sharpening Columbia's Edge," and wish to note that your several references to Columbia being a city are erroneous.

Most textbooks will define a city as a body corporate and politic with local home rule powers including the ability to pass laws, levy taxes, etc. Our old friend Webster in his New World Dictionary, defines city as "an incorporated municipality whose boundaries and powers of self-government are defined by a charter from the state in which it is located."

Columbia is not a city. It is, however, a community which may one day be a city.

As one of the presenters at the recent forum in Columbia, the Maryland Municipal League discussed the advantages of Columbia becoming a real city. The advantages include:

Having direct control of finances; the ability to exercise direct control of the level and type of growth through planning and zoning; locally determined variety and levels of services; the ability to exercise broad police powers and code enforcement authority by enacting and enforcing local laws; the ability to reduce liability exposure and insurance costs because cities' civil awards are capped under state law; the ability to reduce debt service payments because bonds issued by a city would be tax exempt and would carry a lower interest rate; the ability to become eligible for state-shared revenues such as highway user money and police aid; and last, but not least, territorial integrity during redistricting. The reasons go on, but for purposes of this response, I will err on the side of brevity.

I do find it strange to note in this instance and in your earlier comments on the Crofton Special Taxing District, that you seem to find it hard to advocate municipal home rule for people.

Jon C. Burrell

Annapolis

The writer is executive director of the Maryland MunicipaLeague.

Tennis Cheat

What a pity that Dan Quayle and the Republicans seek re-election by again using the divide-and-conquer technique, when what this country needs most is the leadership required to bring it together. Pushing the Willie Horton code word button under the sanctimonious guise of ''family values'' should be a transparent enough dirty ploy to cause it to backfire on the Republicans.

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