Adoption laws and regulations have long been hot topic issues. Recently, more than a few states have initiated new legislation regarding adoption laws and regulations. Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Texas have each proposed new legislation regarding their state’s adoption laws and regulations.
Pennsylvania has proposed to change it’s regulations, with the support of local adoption agencies. Currently, Pennsylvania requires birth parents to wait 72 hours after the birth before they may relinquish parental rights. Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to reduce the amount of time birth parents must wait before relinquishing rights. Lawmakers believe reducing the 72 hour waiting period will benefit all parties. Birth parents will benefit and babies will be placed with their eager and loving adoptive parents sooner. This isn’t the only change Pennsylvania lawmakers hope to make. Presently, Pennsylvania law allows birth parents 30 days to “change their minds,” after their baby has been placed with his or her adoptive parents. Lawmakers are aiming to cut this “waiting period” in half, to 14 days. Lawmakers and adoption agencies believe this change to be in the best interest of both adoptive parents and babies, as the families won’t feel as though they’re living in a state of “limbo” for an entire month.
Pennsylvania isn’t the only state proposing new legislation regarding adoption laws and regulations. Recently, Indiana unanimously passed a bill that will no longer require background checks for prospective adoptive parents. While some may think this is a bad idea, perhaps even an irresponsible one, Indiana has good reason for the change. According to Parvonay Stover, Child Services Legislative Director, a 2006 law passed by Congress to create a Centralized Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect was making it difficult for Indiana couples and adoption agencies. Why would a law aimed at protecting children from potentially abusive and/or negligent parents cause problems for prospective adoptive couples and agencies one may wonder? According to Stover, the Centralized Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect was never created, thus no centralized registry exists. Changing the mandatory background check law for prospective adoptive parents now enables agencies to place babies with adoptive families much faster than previously allowed. Indiana couples wishing to adopt had faced much longer than average waiting periods because there is no Registry for adoption agencies to check. The newly passed bill changes this for prospective adoptive families and agencies and enables children to be placed with their loving new families in a much more timely manner.
Texas legislation regarding adoption is very interesting right now. The Texas Adoptee Rights group, an advocacy group dedicated to helping adopted persons born in Texas access their original birth certificates, has recently proposed Senate Bill 329. This bill would allow an adopted person to receive a non-certified copy of his or her birth certificate upon turning 18. The bill doesn’t only advocate for adoptees, though. The bill allows for birth parents to complete a preference form, indicating whether or not they wish to be contacted. Senate Bill 329 also aims to keep medical information current and accurate, which could prove invaluable in the life of an adopted person should he or she ever face serious health conditions and/or problems. Currently an adopted person receives a birth certificate with all original information pertaining to their birth, but the birth parents’ names are replaced with the adoptive parents’.
Many people are in support of Senate Bill 329 and for good reason. According to a 1989 comprehensive study of the issues involving adoption, conducted by The Maine Department of Human Resources Task Force on Adoption, 95% of adoptees surveyed in the study expressed that they would like to be found by their biological parents. The same study revealed that every single birth parent surveyed wished to be found by the child they placed for adoption, and 98% of adoptive parents expressed support in a reunion of their adopted child with his or her birth parent(s). It is important to note that more than 70% of young adults have questions about their adoptions. According to a study of American Adolescents by The Search Institute, 72% of all adopted adolescents wished to learn why they had been placed for adoption, 65% of adolescents wanted to meet their biological parents, and 94% of adopted adolescents were curious as to which biological parent they resembled most.
New legislation is proposed everyday. Some will make it easier for prospective adoptive families and sadly, some may make it more difficult. We can only hope our lawmakers realize the
beautiful, selfless, responsible gift that is adoption when placing their votes.