Sununu Announces NH Adoption System Suggested Improvements
A report about the way the adoption process handled the adoption of Harmony Montgomery calls for better cooperation between New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and the updating or creation of several steps.
The 7-year-old girl was last seen in October 2019 but her disappearance was not reported to police until December 2021 by her mother, Crystal Sorey, who had lost custody because of substance abuse. Sorey's attempts to contact Harmony after earning her sobriety were thwarted by Harmony's father Adam Montgomery and stepmother Kayla Montgomery.
Gov. Chris Sununu called for an investigation into Harmony's adoption after it was revealed that in 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (MA DCF) requested that New Hampshire DCYF conduct a home study of Adam and his then-wife Kayla Montgomery.
While NH DCYF was awaiting information, a family court in Lawrence abruptly awarded custody to the couple, Sununu said.
Bringing Harmony Home
“This update is about bringing Harmony home. We left no stone unturned in our fact-finding mission to help determine what happened in the hopes that it will help bring Harmony home safe, " Sununu said in a statement. “Everything we could make public, we did make public, and we hope the improvements recommended below set the stage for an even better and safer child protection system here in New Hampshire — and across the country.”
The recommendations for system improvements include an update of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children which was adopted in 1965, which the report concludes operates more as a guideline instead of an enforceable law. Legislation is pending for such an update.
The report also said the state needs to strengthen processes to help ensure safety of children who move out of a household and replace the "Bridges" case management system, which it calls "antiquated."
The position of assistant supervisor should be added to the Manchester District Office and the agency should continue to work to ensure that assessment caseloads remain as low as possible so staff has time to thoroughly assess and understand a family situation.
Lastly, DCYF policy should be amended to require confirmation of the residence of all children who are known to be members of a household, including one who is alleged to have moved from a family.
Harmony Montgomery is described as approximately 4 feet and 50 pounds with blonde hair, blue eyes and glasses. Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call a special number that is manned 24/7: 603-203-6060.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH