“Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does.
So, what are we, helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are gonna come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's
when you find out who you are." - Joss Whedon

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

OR Housebill 2904- Together We Can Make a Difference

In 2 days, a group of interested people will meet to discuss a House Bill about adoption that could potentially affect us all. OR House Bill 2904 was written to supposedly ‘protect’ birth mothers and expectant mothers. As written the bill will not pass, due to opposition but, the Birthmother behind the bill has said, "We are looking forward to the larger task of developing a bill for the next session. This bill will address other issues in HB 2904 (information, legal services, remedies) as well as other important issues including father's rights and the enforceability of open adoption agreements." If a bill such as OR Housebill 2904 is passed, it will change adoption from the current law in a few really big key ways and in a lot of little ways. Here are the key points that were proposed:

~HB 2904 would have required that a mandatory time period of 8 days pass after the birth before a birthparent can relinquish the child for adoption.
The 8 days cannot be waived and the verbiage used in the bill clearly states that the child cannot be placed in the adoptive home prior to relinquishment.

(Currently, there is no mandatory waiting period and a birthparent can relinquish whenever they want to after the birth of their child, typically this is done when discharged from the hospital anywhere from 2-5 days after the birth. The birthparent is free to relinquish whenever they want to- as in 1 day, 5 days, 20 days 68 days, etc after the birth. If they need more time to decide whether or not they want to relinquish, the current law ALREADY allows them ‘all the time in the world’

~HB 2904 would have required that mandatory counseling take place 3 times before placement and 3 times after placement.
Each birthparent must attend their counseling sessions and the bill states that the birth parent must participate in the counseling session. The bill also specifically states what must be discussed at the sessions- parenting options, and that if the counseling sessions are not met and participation in the session is not adequate, then the adoption process cannot proceed. Adequate participation is not defined in the bill. The expense of the counseling sessions will be the financial burden of the adoptive couple, the agency and/or the state.

(Currently, the law requires that 3 pre and 3 post placement counseling sessions be offered to birthparents. The birthparent can choose whether or not they want to attend, at the cost of the agency and/or adoptive couple. The current law ALREADY provides all the needed opportunities for birthparents to receive guidance and information concerning all resources for all parenting options and this is ALREADY fully discussed with any birth parent considering adoption via an agency/facilitator/attorney.)

~HB 2904 would have required a 30 day mandatory revocation period after relinquishment.
This means that after signing the relinquishment papers, the birthparent has 30 days to change their mind, aka revoke their relinquishment signature. This 30 day period cannot be waived, in other words a birthparent has to wait the 30 days and cannot say that they waive their right to change their mind.

(Currently, a birthparent ALREADY has until the adoption is final to change their mind and can revoke their relinquishment signature- in OR it typically takes 6 mos to finalize an adoption. There is a form that can be signed that waives the right to change your mind, a certificate of irrevocably, and IF that is signed, then there is no revocation period. This means that typically birthparents sign the relinquishment form and then choose to sign the form that says in a fancy way “I refuse the right to change my mind later on”.)

~HB 2904 would have required that each birth parent consult with an attorney prior to relinquishment. This cannot be waived.
The bill states what will be discussed at the consultation – parenting options. If the consults don’t take place, than the adoption process cannot proceed. The consult is at the expense of the adoptive couple, the agency and/or the state.

(Currently, birthparents are ALREADY have the right to consult with an attorney as many times as they want to, at the expense of the agency or the adoptive couple, and it is common practice to make sure this offer to consult with an attorney is understood by all birthparents.)

~HB 2904 states that a fund would have been generated from the state and from adoptive family petitions to help cover the fiscal costs of these new requirements.
This will raise the cost of adoption in Oregon, not only for adoptive couple but for the Department of Human Services and the tax payers of the state of Oregon.

(Currently, there is no state adoption fund to meet birth parent expenses above what is ALREADY covered and offered to any expecting parent via DHS services, WIC services, Oregon Health Plan medical services, etc. Agencies and Adoptive couples ALREADY cover the birth parent expenses – each situational cost being individually unique.)

To read the bill in its entirety you can go HERE.

If a bill such as this passes, it will effectively affect a mother’s right to choose and could affect the adoptive parents’ ability to bond with their OR adopted child.

The passing of a bill such as this would be a huge step back for adoption. It would make adoptions in the state of OR virtually impossible (or at least extremely difficult) for Birthparents from OR AND adoptive couples FROM ANY STATE adopting an OR child.
Thankfully, the bill will not go forward as written, but with the impending meeting, anyone who has an affiliation with adoption should be paying attention.
So whether you live in OR or not, your opinion matters.

This is not over yet. If you would like to know how this impending meeting plays out and whether a new house bill will be written, check back for further updates.

Together we can make a difference for adoption.

Thank you to mrs. r for her use of the bill definition. You can find her blog post in its entirety here.

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