Burr v. Stark Cty. Bd. of Commrs., 491 N.E.2d 1101 (Ohio 1986) (wrongful adoption)
The adoptive parents could sue the adoption agency for wrongful adoption where they were fraudulently misled to their detriment by the agency's misrepresentations about the child's background and condition.
In Burr, the adoption caseworker told the prospective adoptive parents that the infant they sought to adopt had been borne by an eighteen-year-old unwed mother and had no health problems. After the adoption, however, the child suffered mental and physical problems, including being classified as mentally retarded and diagnosed as having Huntington's Disease.
During treatment, the adoptive parents got a court order opening the sealed records. The records revealed that the natural mother had been a thirty-one-year old mental patient with a "mild mental deficiency, idiopathic, with psychotic reactions." The father too was thought to have been a mental patient. The records also showed that the child suffered a fever at birth, and that the agency knew the child was developing slowly.
The adoptive parents sued for medical expenses, claiming they would not have adopted the child had they been told the truth. The jury awarded the adoptive parents $125,000. The agency appealed, arguing that any costs incurred in caring for the child were incidental expenses that all parents were obligated to incur for their children.
The Ohio Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the adoptive parents had proven fraud, which was: (a) a representation or, where there is a duty to disclose, concealment of a fact, (b) which is material to the transaction at hand, (c) made falsely, with knowledge of its falsity, or with such utter disregard and recklessness as to whether it is true or false that knowledge may be inferred, (d) with the intent of misleading another into relying upon it, (e) justifiable reliance upon the representation or concealment, and (f) a resulting injury proximately caused by the reliance.
Doe v. Sundquist, 106 F.3d 702 (6th Cir. 1997) (open records)
The constitutional right to privacy did not include a right to remain anonymous in adoption surrenders.
A Tennessee bill made adoption records available to adoptees 21 years of age or older. Information could be released only to the parents, siblings, lineal descendants, or lineal ancestors, of the adoptee, and only with the adoptee's written consent. The bill also provided for a "contact veto," under which a parent, sibling, spouse, lineal ancestor, or lineal descendant of an adoptee could register to prevent contact by the adoptee.