Suit alleges forced separation of parents, children

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – A local couple is suing a foster care center for monetary damages, saying that three of their children were abused under its care.

Rehab Amer and her husband, Ahmed, both of Dearborn, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Michigan against three women employed by the Judson Center in Royal Oak and two employed by the Michigan Department of Human Services.

The suit alleges that the children were taken from them illegally and abused, and that they were placed in homes that severed them from their culture, religion and family, causing them to be separated completely from their parents.

Court documents do not specify the amount of damages being sought.

In 1985, Rehab Amer was accused of second-degree murder when her 2-year-old son, Samir, fell in the bathtub and fractured his skull.

She was acquitted by a jury in 1986, but still lost custody of three other children – an older son, Mohammed; the deceased child’s twin sister, Suehier; and another daughter, Zinabe – because the death certificate still listed the cause of death as homicide.

A fifth child, Hussein, was raised by the Amers as a nephew so they could retain custody.

The lawsuit alleges that officials from the Judson Center and DHS went out of their way to see that the children were not retuned to their parents. It further alleges that the children suffered abuse while at the Judson Center.

Officials there declined through an e-mail to comment for this story.

In 2007, now-retired Wayne County Judge Edward Thomas ordered the cause of death changed to accidental after a post-mortem examination determined the 2-year-old had brittle bone disease.

“They would do everything in their power to see their children stripped from them,” attorney Nabih Ayad said of the organizations.

The Amers’ struggle to be reunited with their children led to the passing of state legislation known as the Amer Act. Signed into law in December by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, it says courts must give special consideration to relatives when deciding where children are to be placed in Michigan’s foster care system.

The law gives the adoption agency 30 days to “identify, locate, notify, and consult with relatives to determine placement with a fit and appropriate relative…”

Ayad said it could take a while for the case to be heard because the complaint was filed in federal court.