Adoptive Parents Lose Lawsuit Over Mentally Ill Son

MEDINA, Ohio (AP) - Jurors said they sympathized with a Wadsworth couple whose adopted son caused them years of heartache but ruled against them in their $1.6 million lawsuit against Medina County.

The all-female jury deliberated about 90 minutes on Tuesday before deciding that the Medina County Welfare Department did not intentionally hide the truth from George and Kathy Sirca 22 years ago.

The Sircas were seeking damages from the agency for the pain and expense of raising a child who developed severe psychological and behavioral problems.

"They are wonderful people with a huge heart," said Barbara McHenry, one of several jurors who cried during the Sircas' testimony. "We all feel terrible for them, but we didn't feel there was any intent to defraud."

Unable to have children of their own, the Sircas adopted a son, John, in 1980.

They believed he was the healthy, blue-eyed baby boy of a young mother who got B's in school and liked to travel.

The Sircas, honored by the county in 1976 as foster parents of the year, based their decision to adopt John on information the Welfare Department gave them, their attorney, Dennis Paul, said.

In 1995, after John was admitted to a hospital for depression and drug abuse, the Sircas discovered that his mother was a paranoid schizophrenic runaway who sniffed glue and abused drugs.

The Sircas said they never would have adopted John if his social worker had told them about his biological mother.

County lawyers argued that no child comes with a warranty.

The Sircas left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.

"They are very emotionally distraught," Paul said. "They wanted their day in court.

"They wanted to express to a court and a jury how they were wronged by the Medina County Welfare Department."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)