MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama lawmakers say streamlining the state’s adoption process will be a top priority this legislative session.
This comes after Alabama’s abortion ban took effect last June following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
According to Rep. Ginny Shaver, it can take on average two years for a child in foster care to find a permanent home, with much of that time spent in the courts terminating parental rights.
“That’s a long time in the life of a child waiting on permanency,” Shaver (R- Leesburg) said.
Shaver chairs the House Children & Senior Advocacy Committee and plans to sponsor a bill to make it easier and faster to adopt.
“We’re wanting to do more to offer alternatives and advertise those alternatives and make it easier and better for women and girls who find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy,” Shaver said.
Shaver says specifics of the bill are still being discussed. Meanwhile, those with Alabama’s Department of Human Resources, which oversees the state’s foster care and adoption system, say there are some areas of the process that could be improved.
Deputy Commissioner for Children and Family Services Karen Smith says one improvement deals with addressing probate courts’ requirement that adoptive parents must publish information for unknown fathers ahead of adoption.
“We’ve already terminated parental rights on our foster children for their unknown fathers or known fathers, but now on the probate side, the foster parents are having to pay to publish again for unknown fathers. So that’s an area we’re interested in,” Smith said.
Smith says another part that adds to the adoption timelines requires that potential fathers be notified. A third area, she says, prohibits 18-year-olds from consenting to adoption.
“Again, we’ve not seen the final draft, but we’re told this new bill will take care of all three of those issues,” Smith said.
Shaver says she expects the bill will come up early in the session.
The Alabama Department of Human Resources currently oversees about 5,700 children in foster care, 225 of whom are up for adoption.