Drug issue arises at Crist’s adoption roundtable
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The kickoff for Gov. Charlie Crist’s “Explore Adoption Day,” celebrating what the governor’s office calls record-breaking adoption rates in Florida, didn’t go quite as planned.

Crist and Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp—both running for new offices in 2010—planned a flyaround day of ceremonies in seven Florida cities to promote adoption. At a roundtable at the governor’s mansion this morning, Crist met with leaders of the Florida NAACP, child welfare organizations and adoptive parents.

The discussion was mainly celebratory, until Mirko and Regina Ceska’s turn. The Crawfordville couple, a professional picture-framer and a nurse, showed up with prepared remarks about the intense psychotropic medication that had been administered to two foster children they adopted.

The Ceskas said their 12-year-old girls were given 11 pills a day including the anti-psychotic Seroquel, in doses Regina Ceska said were far larger than she gives geriatric patients in a rehab facility. Even at those lower doses, she said, state law requires monitoring the patients for side effects and documenting results every eight hours.

“These poor children are receiving this dangerous drug, that, by the way, is not approved or tested for children, in doses of 300, 400 milligrams and more every day—for years, without any appropriate diagnosis,” she said. “This drug alters the brain and it is unconscionable to administer it to young children whose brains are still developing.”

Crist, who had encouraged roundtable members to speak their minds, seemed taken off-guard but thanked the couple for making the decision to adopt.

The frequent and sometimes improper prescribing of psychotropic medication for foster children became a high-profile issue for the Department of Children and Families when Gabriel Myers, a heavily medicated 7-year-old foster child, committed suicide on April 17.

After the roundtable, DCF Secretary George Sheldon spoke with the couple and said afterward that he is aware of and concerned about the issue. He noted that he appointed a task force several months ago to evaluate the Gabriel Myers case thoroughly and said he’ll ask the Ceskas to appear before that group.

“Regrettably, the story they’ve told is not new to me,” Sheldon said.