Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Change to Adoption Laws and Giveaway

Post script: Upon further investigation, I learned the talking points provided by LDSFS attorneys I summarize below were developed around last year's bill HO499. Because that bill has been revised, some of the information below may not apply. Last year the bill was put on the schedule the DAY it was heard, leaving citizens very little time to write/call legislators. This will likely happen again. LDSFS has encouraged Idaho residents to voice their opinions NOW instead of waiting until it appears on the schedule. 

If you are an Idaho resident, adoption needs your help today.  (And you get a chance to win a gift certificate to Red Robin!)

Adoption laws have to maintain a delicate balance between four important parties—the birth mother, the birth father, the baby, and the adoptive parents. A proposed bill in the state of Idaho threatens to upset adoption laws and make adoptions much harder. 

Idaho Bill HO499 will change current laws to allow birth fathers 30 days POST PLACEMENT to contest an adoption. This means that even after a mother has terminated her rights and chosen a perfect family for her baby and the baby has lived with that family for a month, that can be reversed by a father who has been absent for the entire pregnancy. 

To put this in perspective, once the birth mom terminates her rights, it is irrevocable. She cannot contest. But now a birth father could for 30 days. It's very unfair to give someone who potentially wasn't involved in the pregnancy and the harrowing choice to place such power. So a birth mom would have zero chance to contest and a birth father would have 30 days.

Right now, unmarried fathers are able to exert their rights to a child through financial support, emotional support, and a birth father registry. If a birth father has been financially and emotionally supporting the mother throughout her pregnancy, then his rights are intact. If he has been completely absent during her time of need and pops up at the end to try and stop an adoption out of spite or for whatever reason, the law protects the rights of the baby and the adoptive parents. The new bill will change this.

This bill would allow the birth father 30 days after placement to exhibit a “good faith effort” that he is willing and wants to be a father, even if he has done nothing to support the child for the nine months of pregnancy. It would also require birth mothers to legally notify and obtain permission from the birth father.

How this bill would hurt adoption

  • Considerable risk with every adoption—adoptive couples may no longer wish to adopt in Idaho for fear of having a one-month-old baby removed from their home
  • Trauma to the child—after bonding to a loving adoptive family, the child’s custody arrangement would be permanently altered
  • Birth mothers may not place—most birth mothers choose adoption because they feel it is best for the baby. If they feel that the adoption will be upset and the baby will live with the birth father after the birth mother has terminated her rights to the child, she may avoid that situation and choose to terminate the pregnancy or single parent.
  • More litigation in the state—the “good faith effort” that birth fathers must exhibit for the 30 day period after placement while he contests is not very well defined. Each case would have to go to trial and be determined by the judge. What is a “good faith effort”? It no longer includes financial support for medical bills…so does it include just talking the talk? Who knows? The state will have a lot more litigation at the tax payers’ expense as well as lots of legal expenses on the part of the adoptive family trying to fight disruptions.
  • Infringes on the birth mother’s privacy—this bill would require the birth mother to notify the father of her pregnancy and intentions to place for adoption. If she doesn’t know who the father is, she must legally notify any potential father, i.e. all past sexual partners. Sometimes mothers choose adoptions because the fathers are dangerous people. She would no longer have the right to privacy of keeping paternity to herself. By the way, the law does NOT require a mother to notify the father and obtain permission for an abortion. It seems only fair that adoption laws protect the same right of privacy.
  • Infringes on the birth father’s privacy—Any potential father would be served legal notification of the pregnancy. A legal notice can be served to anyone of age at the father’s residence. This means the papers could be served to the father’s wife, roommate, girlfriend, or children. And this would be true for any “potential” fathers, even if he ends up not being the biological father. This would infringe on the birth father’s right to privacy.
For the record, I strongly believe in birth father’s rights. However, this bill would take away from the rights of birth mothers, adoptive families, and the baby. And ultimately, adoption is all about what is best for the baby.

Jocelyn's birth dad is totally involved, supportive, and just awesome. 

Involved, caring, and loving birth fathers are already protected by law. These are the stand-up guys who are there during their girlfriends’ pregnancy, helping her pay the bills and giving her a shoulder to cry on. Their rights are protected under the current law.

This bill would basically give more power to the guys who disappear for nine months, want nothing to do with the girl they knocked up, then reappear to contest an adoption for whatever personal reason that has nothing to do with the best interest of the baby.

Bill HO499 was proposed last year but did not have enough support from the State Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) and has been revised. Last year, this bill was kept very quiet and didn't even appear on the schedule until the day it was heard. It was also listed under paternity law instead of adoption law. I believe those trying to pass this law realize that the majority of the public will not like it, so they are are trying to keep it under the radar so it will go through.

To read the original bill, click here:

To read the amended bill which is what will likely be presented to the Judiciary Committe, click here.

Last year, David M. McConkie, an LDS Church General Authority and lawyer provided talking points on the original HO499 bill to help us understand its implications. To read it, click here. Again, these talking points are before the bill was revised, but the essence of the revised bill is similar. In Elder McConkie's words in his email yesterday in reference to the revised bill, "This is a very bad bill."

I do not support this bill.

Anyone who loves adoption and the opportunity it provides to the baby should not support this bill.

This bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Denton Darrington. Do your part as a citizen of Idaho and call or email him ASAP and express your opposition to this bill. 

Elder McConkie has advised writing/calling Senator Darrington ASAP because he is the chairman of the committee who will be hearing this bill first and he believes the place to halt the bill is in the committee before it goes to the House. Email Senator Darrington by clicking here

Look up you legislative district by clicking here and finding your location on the map. Then go here to contact your representatives.  

You can even just drop this message into the email form:

Subject: Opposition to Revised Bill H0499

I understand that a revised version of bill HO499 will go before the Judiciary Committee in the near future. I do not support this bill and ask that it not be passed. This bill does not equally reflect and respect the rights of birth mothers, adoptive parents, adopted children, as well as birth fathers. It will ultimately hurt adoption in the state of Idaho.

Thank you.

If you would like to read what the local FSA chapter says on this matter, read it here.

And now for the giveaway

Just because I think this message is so important and because I believe bribery works, I’ll do a giveaway along with this post. :) I have a $25 gift certificate to Red Robin up for grabs.
Ways to enter:

Leave a comment with your name and email address. You get an entry just for reading this post and being educated. :)

Email your legislators regarding your opinion on this bill (even if it isn’t the same opinion I have) and leave me a comment listing the names of those you emailed or called. Your name will be entered in the drawing for EACH legislator you contact. Also leave your email address in the comments so I can contact you if you win.

Do a blog post about this—even if it is just a link to my post. Leave me a comment with a link to your blog and your email address so I can contact you if you win. 

Link to this blog post on Facebook. Leave me a comment telling me you've done this and leave me your email address so I can contact you if you win.

Email your friends and family who live in Idaho or have contacts in Idaho about this bill. Include me on the email list (justin and lara at gmail dot com). 

This legal matter needs swift action. Please speak your mind TODAY!

29 comments:

Beckie said...

I read it- wow-- that is crazy--

cobbap@ida.net

Beckie said...

I emailed senator Darrington-- do you think they read those emails?

cobbap@ida.net

Jamie Boyd said...

I sent an email to Senator Darrington and explained the reasons I think this bill is a terrible idea. This gets me so upset. It just opens the door up for spiteful birth fathers who just want to cause problems. If fathers really want to be involved, they should, but they need to show interest at the appropriate time. Keep us posted on what happens with this bill.

Que and Brittany's Adoption Journal said...

I posted a link to this blog post on Facebook, I hope that's ok!

Carissa said...

I would be interested in the article from Elder McConkie. clittleford3(at)gmail(dot)com

And yes, PLEASE email your Senators and Representatives with your concerns. My dad serves in the Senate and I know he reads his emails regularly, even though he rarely has time to respond. I will ask him about this bill next time we talk. :) Thanks for the information!

The Lynd Family said...

For the record I am 100% absolutely pro adoption and disagree with the majority of this bill BUT!

"It would also require birth mothers to legally notify and obtain permission from the birth father."

Don't you think that's the birth father's RIGHT to know that his birth child is being placed for adoption? Irregardless of the situation if a birthfather wants to parent that's as much his choice and right as it is the birthmother's. We should respect that as much as we like to respect a birthmother's choice to parent.

I absolutely disagree with the way they are structuring the birth father's ability to invoke his rights with this 30 day thing HOWEVER a birthfather should absolutely have rights to his child and be involved in the decision making process.

Lara said...

@ The Lynd Family,

I agree that the birth fathers have a right to know, but the way this bill is structured is not the way to go about that. Also, the fact that mothers aren't required to tell fathers about abortions is also weird - the rights should really be the same. Maybe they need to make it a law for mothers to legally notify fathers of an abortion plan as well.

Levi and Amanda said...

I emailed Senator Darrington immediately after reading this.

Amanda

mumtojonah (at) gmail.com

Levi and Amanda said...

I also shared the link on facebook!

Amanda
mumtojonah (at) gmail.com

Levi and Amanda said...

I also emailed people I know in Idaho and asked them to email Senators as well.

Amanda
mumtojonah (at)gmail.com

Lara said...

@The Lynd Family,

Just thought of something else I wanted to add about a problem with this bill. It is important to protect birth fathers' rights -especially those who never even knew they had a baby on the way. So sad.

But there are those birth dads who will interrupt adoptions out of spite. To protect that situation, maybe the birth mother's revocation period needs to be extended from zero days to 30 days.

The laws aren't perfect as is, but I think this bill causes a lot more problems than it would fix.

Thanks for sticking up for birth dads! They are often forgotten.

The Lynd Family said...

I totally know there are birthdads out there who are poinsonous, spiteful, or dangerous and that's why a birthmother may not tell them - I tunderstnad that - that's why this issue is sooooo conflicting and complex.

Here in Cali (one of the hardest states to adopt from btw - it sucks) the birthmother has 3 options for the termination of her rights - (1) terminate 3 days after placement, (2) terminate 30 days post placement, and (3) terminate when all other parental rights to the child have been terminate (ie alleged birthfathers). This way if a birthfather comes out of no where and spitefully wants to take the child back the birthmother still has her rights to the child and is not left out in the cold. It's still sad and not ideal but much better then allowing birthfathers that kind of dominance over the birthmother. Blech.

The Lynd Family said...

Excuse my dyslexia please, LOL

Ca.ll.y said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mommy, RN said...

Hey,
Just thought you should know that the legislation is going before the House of Respresentative Judiciary, Rules, and Administration COMMITTEE, not the entire House. So it would be most effective to email those members of the HOUSE committee where the legislation is originating. Then, perhaps the House of Representative member over individual Idaho districts. Not Senators (unless the legislation is approved by the committee, then approved by the House of Representatives). Currently, the Senators, including Senator Darrington, have VERY LITTLE to do with it until it reaches (IF it reaches) the Senate floor. You can find the list of those in the committee where this legislation is originating here: http://legislature.idaho.gov/house/committees.cfm

Lara said...

@Mommy, RN

It is important to contact all legislators. David McConkie recommended the Chair of the Committee specifically because he will be hearing the bill tomorrow and may be educated on the case. In any case, it wouldn't hurt to contact everyone.

The Ward(s) said...

can you email me what McConkie said please? My Idaho FSA Chapter doesn't have anything posted on the blog. Thanks.

Elaine
elaine_ward@hotmail.com

Ca.ll.y said...

Here is a list with links to the senators email addresses, all in one place.

http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/house/membership.cfm

Mommy, RN said...

Also, if you look at the agenda for the Idaho House of Representatives tomorrow, it is actually NOT on the agenda. Judiciary, Rules, and Administrations committee has not posted tomorrow's agenda, so THEY MAY be discussing it, but it is NOT on the house floor tomorrow.

http://legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/agenda.htm

Also, the actual legislation that you are siting, H0499, is a bill from the 2010 Legislative Session that never even made it out of committee. This year the legislation could be and will be different. H0499 should only be used as a guideline to form speaking points as it MAY be similar to anything in committee right now.

Please, educate yourself before becoming an alarmist. Most definitely prepare speaking points NOW and review your feelings of the bill. Certainly email THE APPROPRIATE legislators that WILL KNOW WHAT YOU'RE REFERRING TO! Absolutely check the agendas each night and be prepared if you'd like to speak to the committee in Boise the day it DOES come up to be discussed.

Ca.ll.y said...

Mommy RN,
Actually I am looking at THIS YEARS bill. If anybody else would like a copy of this years bill, please feel free to email me.

Maryann said...

Ugh! From personal experience, this will not be good.
I am a birth mom who placed in Idaho 18 years ago.
At that time I was told I COULD NOT choose to place my baby for adoption without notifying the father. (I am not sure if this was state or agency policy) I do know I felt he had all of the power and none of the responsibility.
Normally I would think this was the right thing to do - however when I first told him I was pregnant his response was to threaten, intimidate, and demand abortion.
Why then should a birthmom be required to contact him again? Especially when she believes her safety, her family's safety, and her baby's safety are at stake?
This puts everyone at risk.
Because I was forced to contact him - he did indeed follow through with threats when I arrived home.
Why should the father be given so much power over so many people's fate?
He certainly shouldn't be given opportunity to contest it out of spite which is what his extra 30 days would allow him to do.
He should not have any more time than the birth mother does.

Maryann said...

Also - could you email me what Elder McConkie said?
Thanks!
maryannbyg@gmail.com

www.brightspotz.com

Jarom & Candise said...

Lara,
Your write-up is fabulous. You have covered the points thoroughly with accuracy and clarity. Birth fathers have plenty of rights. If they are even the slightest bit on the ball they will have no difficulty protecting their rights. Many just find it difficult to do it right, and within the timeframe dictated by our laws. We really don't need to make it any easier for them!
Thanks so much for your voice. I'm burning the midnight oil to inform and write, write, write!

StefanieJinelle said...

I posted this on my husband's facebook wall since he knows more people in Idaho.

StefanieJinelle said...

Oh. And I posted it on mine. Stefanie.okj@gmail.com

Rebecca said...

I agree that the birthfather should have rights but he already does under the current law. The current law presumes that a male has notification since he should know having sex even protected sex may result in pregnancy. Even if he is not told by the birthmother that she is pregnant, he should register with the punitive father registry anyway. That gives him the rights he needs if the birthmother tries to place the baby for adoption without his knowledge.

M said...

Thank you so much for compiling this.

What is the House Bill number this year? It looks like HO499 was for last year. Should we list the email addresses right on here for the committee members where this will be heard? Is it for sure going to be heard in the Judiciary committee? And maybe we could also email the sponsors of the bill to voice or dis-satisfaction. Who are the sponsors?

AubreyLaine said...

Aubrey Fick
aubreyfick@yahoo.com

Whitney said...

I shared a link to your post on my adoption blog. I hope that's okay! I was only recently aware of this proposed bill. But I wanted to help spread the word.

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