State Adoption Laws Update, May 2015

State adoption laws are always changing. Read on to see if your state made any big fixes this year.

State adoption laws, represented by map of the United States

Alaska: Governor Bill Walker filed emergency regulations to counter the effects of restrictions added to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act by the state’s Supreme Court. The administration is currently working to create legislation that will back the temporary regulations.

Arizona: Governor Doug Ducey vetoed legislation that would have limited free legal aid for same-sex couples seeking to adopt.

Arkansas: Governor Asa Hutchinson forbid “re-homing,” or placing an adopted child in the custody of another household without court approval, and has made the crime a felony offense. The issue entered the spotlight in Arkansas after it was discovered that State Representative Justin Harris and his wife placed two children they had adopted with a man who sexually abused the older girl.

Missouri: Bill HB 647 would establish lawful processes through which adoptees can obtain a copy of their original birth certificates. The bill was introduced and read a second time on January 26, 2015. The proposed effective date is August 28, 2015.

Florida is set to officially repeal the decades-old law banning gay adoption in the state, and to provide incentives for special needs adoption (HB 7013). It awaits approval by Governor Rick Scott. Although the House passed a “conscience clause” (HB 7111) that would allow faith-based organizations to refuse to place children with LGBT families, the bill stalled and died in the state Senate.

Illinois: HB 3079 is advancing in the State Assembly. It would prevent a single person from denying an adoption, eliminate problems in the readoption process after intercountry adoption, and promote post-adoption counseling to help families adjust.

Indiana: An open records initiative that would have allowed adoptees access to sealed birth records has been bumped from consideration in the Indiana House due to time constraints, despite passing in the state Senate 46-3 in January of this year.

Ohio: An Ohio law unsealed adoption records for an estimated 400,000 individuals who were adopted between 1964 and 1996. The legislation was signed into law in 2013, and implemented on a delay to give birth parents the chance to have their names redacted from records. On March 20, 2015, the day the law went into effect, hundreds of adoptees requested copies of their original birth certificates and other documents.

Same-sex couples that have adopted children face challenges in states where gay marriage is not legal — like Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee. If a state does not recognize the partnership, only one parent can be on the adoption papers. These families’ futures are at stake when the U.S. Supreme Court hears legal arguments on same-sex marriage and issues a decision.

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