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Kentucky Couple Loses Adoption Appeal

October 1, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court today turned down the appeal of a Kentucky couple who say they were disqualified as adoptive parents for a biracial child because they are white.

The justices, without comment, let stand state court rulings that threw out Lisa and Ronald Wilson’s civil rights lawsuit against the Kentucky Cabinet for Human Resources and several of its officials.

The Wilsons contend that their race-based disqualification was automatic. But state officials say the couple’s race was taken into account but was not the controlling factor.

The state agency in August 1984 took legal custody of a month-old child, Maria, who had been born to a white woman and a black man. She was placed in a foster home with a woman known by Lisa Wilson, then 24 and single.

Lisa started taking Maria home with her every weekend, and then four or five days each week. In August 1985, Lisa inquired about adopting Maria.

After a 1986 meeting with Cabinet for Human Resources employee Brooke Darrow, Lisa received a letter telling her she and Ronald Wilson, whom she planned to marry in early 1987, would not be considered in selecting Maria’s adoptive parents.

″If parental rights are terminated we will be requesting an interracial adoptive family since (the child) is biracial,″ Darrow’s letter stated.

″If we consider placing her with a white adoptive family, we will be looking for a mature married couple who have been married for a while, live in an integrated neighborhood ... and live an integrated lifestyle,″ he said.

Two months before the Wilsons married, Maria was placed in the home of an interracial couple who had been selected as prospective adoptive parents.

The Wilsons sued in state court, contending they had been discriminated against.

After a 1988 trial, a jury ruled against the Wilsons.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld that ruling last year, and the Kentucky Supreme Court refused to review the Wilsons’ ensuing appeal.

In the appeal acted on today, the Wilsons challenged what they called the state agency’s ″automatic race-matching of adoptive parents and adopted children.″

But state officials urged the justices to reject the appeal, noting that the prospective adoptive parents with whom Maria was placed had been approved more than a year before Lisa Wilson first inquired about the possibility of adoption.

The case is Wilson vs. Darrow, 90-123.

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