The Michigan Court of Claims says state auditors can access confidential adoption records for their review of child placement programs.
Thursday's ruling should advance the auditors' delayed investigation into the performance of public and private agencies that provide foster care and adoption in Michigan.
The Lansing State Journal reports the Office of the Auditor General hopes to evaluate the effectiveness of licensing and monitoring procedures used by the Department of Health and Human Services.
But to do so the auditors said they needed access to records agency officials contended were off-limits without court approval.
Although the court ordered the records' release, it sided with the state agency in saying that adoption records are private.
The auditors will lose access to the records at the close of their audit.