Watson Advances Eight Adoption Reform Bills to Full House
HARRISBURG – Committed to opening up more loving homes for children, the House Children and Youth Committee, led by Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Bucks/144th), today reported out a series of bills designed to reform the adoption process in Pennsylvania.
“Thousands of children in Pennsylvania are awaiting loving homes, but many of our laws are discouraging would-be parents from bringing them home,” said Watson. “Our laws are unfriendly to birth parents who are bravely making the decision to try and give their children a better life; to adoptive parents who want nothing more than to bring a child into their home; and to children who may get bounced around in foster care waiting for the right family.”
Among the bills reported out of committee today is Watson’s House Bill 56, which would ensure that birth parents, if they so desire, have access to adoption-related counseling services when they are considering relinquishing parental rights and placing a child for adoption, or when they have relinquished parental rights and have consented to place their child for adoption.
The purpose of the counseling is to help a birth parent understand the adoption process, the birth parent’s rights and obligations, the consequences of a decision to relinquish parental rights, and the alternatives to relinquishment and adoption. This would assist an individual or individuals in navigating through an extremely emotional decision, or in the event that the decision to relinquish parental rights has been made, to help the birth parent or parents deal with the psychological aftermath of that decision.
Other bills reported out today include:
• House Bill 57
to streamline and expedite the procedures for terminating parental rights.
• House Bill 58
to shorten the period in which a birth parent can revoke his/her consent to an adoption.
• House Bill 59
to allow adoptive families to appeal the amount of an adoption subsidy.
• House Bill 61
to make it easier for parents who are incarcerated to relinquish their parental rights by allowing correctional staff to witness the individual’s consent to adoption.
• House Bill 62
to eliminate the hearing currently required to confirm a consent to adoption.
• House Bill 63
to refine the definition of “intermediary” to include a licensed attorney or social worker.
• House Bill 289
to add reasonable living expenses incurred by a birth mother to the list of permissible reimbursable expenses paid by a prospective adoptive family during the course of the adoption process.
“This legislative package builds upon hearings held last year to update our adoption laws, and although they didn’t make it through the process to be enacted into law last fall, today’s action signals that we intend to make adoption a priority this session,” Watson added. “Our children deserve no less.”
All of the bills now go to the House floor for consideration.
Representative Kathy Watson
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton