MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — As Friday marks nine months since Alabama’s abortion ban took effect, state lawmakers are taking steps to streamline the state’s adoption process.

They unanimously passed a bill Thursday, which has been in the works for about four years. Lawmakers said with the state’s abortion ban now in place, it comes at a crucial time.

“There was urgency, and I do think this was good timing,” House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said.

Ledbetter said improvements to the state’s adoption code will impact thousands of children.

“We’ve got almost 5,700 children in our state that don’t have mamas and daddies,” Ledbetter said.

The bill aims to address that. It separates adult adoption from minor adoption, works to improve court communication by allowing for the electronic transfer of documents and strives to speed up the termination of parental rights.

It’s a process Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) has seen first-hand as an attorney.

“Adoptions are difficult, and they shouldn’t be,” Simpson said. If we’re going to be a pro-life state, if we’re going to be the state that stands for life, then we need to make sure that we stand up for the kids and give those options to kids, give those options to parents.”

Bill sponsor Ginny Shaver (R-Leesburg) said this could shave off a year from the process.

“A year, two years, that’s a long time in the life and development of a child,” Rep. Shaver said. “They just want a family and want to be loved, so I just hope it facilitates that and helps them to find a family who loves them.”

The issue is personal for many lawmakers who spoke but especially Shaver.

“I have a sister who’s adopted,” Shaver said. “She’s seven years older than I am. She’s 67. She’s suffering from early onset dementia and is in assisted living, and I look after her. So yes, it’s very personal to me.”

The bill now heads to a Senate committee when lawmakers return from spring break the first week of April.

If the bill becomes law, the new guidelines will take effect next year.