TROY, Ohio (CBSDFW.COM) – On any given day, as most of us go home to our families, an average of 6,000 state foster children in Texas wait – and hope –they can one day do the exact same thing.
They smile for the camera, their pictures posted on the Internet, so that people can shop for that special child they may want to adopt.
And then come the array of interviews, the background checks, home visits … the rigorous efforts to make absolutely certain a prospective adoptive parent is worthy to be just that, especially for a child who needs to be saved from a broken home.
But despite all of those safety measures, authorities now say Kenneth Brandt of Ohio may have slipped through.
Brandt is charged in his home state with rape and compelling prostitution. His victims, police say, are four children he adopted, or was in the process of adopting, from the state of Texas.
The children, all believed to have come from North Texas, were placed with Brandt through a cooperative effort by child welfare workers in both Texas and in Ohio, and by ACTION Inc., an Ohio-based adoption service.
Officials in both states said they did everything by the book. ACTION sent CBS 11 News a statement that said, in part, that it “follows and complies with the rules and regulations in cases that it is involved with,” and “is cooperating and in contact with all appropriate parties” involved in the ongoing investigation of Brandt.
CBS 11 News has learned that the state of Texas paid ACTION $33,750 to help place the four Texas children with the man now accused of being their assailant.
Since implementing a contract with ACTION in December 2004, Texas paid the Ohio adoption agency a total of $286,750 to place 28 adopted children in that state, according to records obtained by CBS 11. There have been no problems with any of the other adoptions, authorities say.
The Brandt case, however, has since shockwaves through the ranks of child welfare workers and adoption agencies – even those that had no involvement with Brandt being approved as an adoptive parent.
“These are tragic … one story like this can really rattle our world about whether we’re doing the right thing,” said Wayne Carson, CEO of ACH Child and Family Services, a non-profit organization in Fort Worth that works to protect children and place them in safe home.
Carson, whose organization had nothing to do with Brandt’s adoptions, said there can be breakdowns, with hurtful consequences, even when all of the rules and regulations are closely followed in vetting a prospective adoptive parent. “There are thousands of kids in Texas that are benefiting from finding a forever family … but unfortunately there are bad guys that slip through,” he said.
The Brandt case, Carson said, should make everyone take a second look at how to ensure that foster children do not land in the wrong hands.
“Definitely, somebody needs to get to the bottom of what happened … that’s the saddest part of this,” said Carson, adding, “We owe it to these children to give them a better experience than they’ve had.”
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