Legislation to address adoption costs still waiting on final approval
BATON ROUGE - Legislation that could make the adoption process less expensive and risky is still one step away.
The Governor still needs to sign HB 643. The bill sponsor, Representative Rick Edmonds, thought that was going to happen Wednesday, but says scheduling conflicts may have delayed it.
If it does get signed, Edmonds say those looking to adopt will have more protection than they do right now.
“One of the major issues is birth mother expenses,” says Edmonds.
After looking into the adoption process for the last three years, Edmonds says he found some couples are having to pay thousands of dollars to biological mothers for living expenses. Those expenses could be rent or utility costs during pregnancy.
“There’s some agencies in the state that are doing a great job, but there’s also some that have taken advantage of these families,” said Edmonds.
The Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge says this has lead to some biological moms shopping around.
“Basically, children were going to the family who was willing to pay the most money in some cases,” said Paula Davis, the Clinical Director for Maternity and Behavioral Health.
That’s why Edmonds created legislation that puts a cap on how much someone can pay for living expenses to $7,500. It's made it through both floor chambers, and is waiting on Governor John Bel Edwards’ desk.
Edmonds says there is some opposition.
“There’s some concern at what the cap number should be,” he said.
Agencies want to makes sure the biological mom is being looked out for as well if they truly do need financial help. Edmonds says he doesn't believe the legislation would deter the amount of adoptions.
“A biological mom can change her mind at the last minute, and we would want that," he said. "If a biological mom decides she wants keep her child, we support that.”
If signed, Edmonds says the Louisiana Law Institute will conduct a survey at no cost to see if the $7,500 cap benefits all parties during the adoption process.