Alabama lawmakers plan to streamline the adoption process in the next session

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama lawmakers say streamlining the state’s adoption process will be a top priority this term.

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This comes after Alabama’s abortion ban went into effect last June after the Supreme Court ruled Roe v. Wade had fallen.

According to Rep. Ginny Shaver, it can take an average of two years for a child in foster care to find a permanent home, with much of that time spent in court to end parental rights.

“That’s a long time in a kid’s life waiting for permanence,” Shaver (R-Leesburg) said.

Shaver chairs the House Children & Senior Advocacy Committee and plans to sponsor a bill to simplify and speed up adoption.

“We want to do more to provide and promote alternatives and make it easier and better for women and girls with unplanned pregnancies,” Shaver said.

Shaver says details of the bill are still being discussed. Meanwhile, officials at Alabama’s Human Resources Department, which oversees the state’s foster and adoption system, say there are some areas of the process that could be improved.

Deputy Commissioner for Children and Family Services Karen Smith says one improvement concerns probate courts’ requirement that adoptive parents publish information for unknown fathers before adoption.

“We have already stripped our foster children of parental rights for their unknown or known fathers, but now the foster parents have to pay on the probate page to re-post for unknown fathers. So that’s an area we’re interested in,” Smith said.

Smith says another part that adds to adoption deadlines requires that prospective fathers be notified. A third area, she says, prohibits 18-year-olds from agreeing to an adoption.

“Again, we haven’t seen the final draft, but we’re told that this new law will address all three of those issues,” Smith said.

Shaver says she expects the bill to come early in the session.

The Alabama Department of Human Resources currently cares for approximately 5,700 children in foster care, of whom 225 are put up for adoption.

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