Adoption lawyer is cleared as couples drop their suit


A Severna Park lawyer was cleared of any wrongdoing yesterday when two couples agreed to drop the suit they filed in Anne Arundel Circuit Court alleging she misled them when they retained her to arrange foreign adoptions.

Thomas and Lynn Meushaw of St. Michaels and Jack and Heidi Adams of Mineral, Va., filed a $3.5 million suit against Karen Kiefer on Aug. 4, 1994. They claimed they agreed to hire her in 1993 and paid her a combined $50,000 after she told them she was an expert at foreign adoptions.

In papers filed yesterday, the plaintiffs agreed to dismiss their complaint without receiving any monetary settlement, said Christopher L. Beard, Ms. Kiefer's lawyer. "This was a case that had no meat, just smoke and fizzle," Mr. Beard said.

Ms. Kiefer said the political climate in Ukraine, and not her lack of effort, prevented the couples from getting children.

"It's unfortunate that the children are still over there, but it's because of a complicated political situation, and not any lack of trying from my end," she said.

Ms. Kiefer also said she never promised either couple that they would find children. Both couples signed release forms saying they understood there was no guarantee, she said.

The lawyer said she made several visits to Ukraine over a four-month period, found children for the couples to adopt and after a series of government roadblocks, won approval for their adoptions from Ukraine's Chief Justice Dmytro Prytyka.

A representative of the president of the Ukraine for the Transcarpathian region refused to release the children because of a long-running dispute between Ukraine and the United States over foreign adoption policies, she said.

"He just refused to follow the orders of his superiors and the laws of his own country," she said.

The Circuit Court record in the case includes affidavits from another couple Ms. Kiefer helped adopt a Ukrainian child, and from Judge Prytyka, who attested to her being "well-informed" about Ukrainian adoption laws.

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