DeWees v. Stevenson

779 F. Supp. 25 (1991)

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DeWees v. Stevenson

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
779 F. Supp. 25 (1991)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

Victor and Mary Jane DeWees (plaintiffs) were a White, married couple who lived in an almost exclusively White community. The DeWeeses had three adult children and multiple grandchildren. In 1988, the DeWeeses decided to apply to a state agency (defendant) to become foster parents. Mary Jane initially stated that she did not want to foster Black children out of concern for what others would think or because she did not know how to take care of a Black child. The agency approved the DeWeeses as foster parents, and they went on to foster seven children, including Black and biracial children. The last child in the DeWeeses’ care was Dante Kirby (Dante), who was placed with them when he was two months old. Dante was biracial, with one White parent and one Black parent. In 1991, when Dante was two years old, the DeWeeses expressed an interest in adopting Dante. The agency’s adoption supervisor, Kay Thalheimer (defendant) interviewed the DeWeeses and referred them to Dr. Joseph Crumbley, a Black family therapist and social worker who specialized in adoptions. Thalheimer, who was White, had 20 years of experience in adoptions. Crumbley evaluated the DeWeeses and reported concerns regarding their suitability as adoptive parents because the DeWeeses were not sufficiently sensitive to the needs of a biracial child in the child’s formative years. The DeWeeses had expressed the belief that race had “no impact” on a child’s identity and that addressing racial issues was not important in raising a minority child. The DeWeeses also had no Black or minority friends. Thalheimer concurred with Crumbley’s assessment and denied the DeWeeses’ request to adopt Dante. The DeWeeses sued the agency, its director, and Thalheimer, alleging that the agency’s denial of their adoption request was based on their race and violated equal protection.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Waldman, J.)

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