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Michigan Children's Institute superintendent's denial of petition to adopt not arbitrary and capricious

The court held that the trial court did not err by denying the petitioner-foster parent's petition to adopt the child (JSF) or by denying her motion to determine that the MCI Superintendent's denial of consent to the adoption was arbitrary and capricious. She claimed her adoption was denied as a result of bias against her for reports she made claiming JSF was being harmed by the birth mother. The trial court disagreed, finding that the Superintendent's reasoning for denying her adoption was not arbitrary and capricious. On appeal, the court rejected her argument that the trial court essentially "rubber stamped" the Superintendent's decision, noting it was "crystal-clear from reading the transcript as a whole that the trial court was scrupulously even-handed in admitting evidence and dealing with objections[.]" Further, the trial court was not biased against her and the courtroom was not "inadequately closed." Ultimately, "the trial court evaluated the credibility of the witnesses and found that [the Superintendent] had been credible and that he made a decision calculated to resolve the conflicting evidence before him, and petitioner refused to cooperate[.]" Petitioner "simply does not make out a persuasive case for [the Superintendent] or anyone at the adoption agency having any kind of axe to grind with her or acting out of motives other than a concern for JSF's well-being." Moreover, it was "readily apparent, and indeed inescapable, that petitioner disqualified herself from eligibility to adopt JSF by refusing to cooperate with [the Superintendent's] attempt to find an explanation for the anomalous information [he] had received from Macomb DHS." The court noted that the Superintendent's decision was "partially based on JSF's lack of contact with petitioner for an extended period of time, JSF's present well-being and connection with the eventual adoptive parents, and petitioner's refusal to participate in a process to clarify the concerning information [he] had received. That decision is neither arbitrary nor baseless, and it is neither random nor whimsical." The court concluded that petitioner appeared to "draw the conclusion that the only possible reason for such an adverse decision must be malicious malfeasance by others, which the evidence fails to support." Affirmed.


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