This afternoon I attended the first hearing of HB 307, Ohio Right to Life’s cheap and easy adoption scheme that I wrote about last month. I suggest you go there first for background.before you continue here. For those not so inclined, here’s a cheat sheet: HB 307:
- Decreases the waiting time for adoption finalization from 6-months – 1 year to 60 days
- Decreases the eligibility time a man can file with the Ohio Putative Father’s Registry (PFR) from 30 days to 7.
- Requires adoption agencies and adoption lawyers to inform fetal fathers (before the birth of the child) that an adoption plan is being made; thus, giving them more time to file with the PRF (if they can find it)
- Increases the Ohio adoption tax credit from $1500 to $10,000 to be spread out over four years, substantially offsetting the cost of the adoption
- Requires adoption agencies and adoption lawyers to make living expense payments provided by paps (prospective adoptive parents) up to $3000 (in current law) directly to service providers (doctors, landlords, utilities), not to “birthmothers” themselves.
- Allows paps, lawyers, and adoption agencies to advertise publicly or “birthmothers.”
After the Columbus Dispatch broke the story that the bill was about to be introduced, things got quiet. When I contacted sponsor Rep. Shannon Jones’ office about the bill’s status I was told by her aide that it was being discussed due to “interested party concerns” and that some of the provisions mentioned in the Dispatch would likely be changed.
The draft of HB307 was not available to the public, so it’s hard to say what if anything was changed. The filed bill however, sounds just about what the Dispatch reported.
With one exception.
Shannon Jones is no longer the sponsor. She either dumped the bill or was dumped by Ohio Right to Life for reasons I can only guess. She was replaced by the….how shall I say it….more complaint Jim Buchy .. (R-Greenville). A couple months ago, Buchy. one of Ohio’s favorite anti-aborts was featured on Al Jezerra-English discussing abortion. When asked why he thought women got abortions he replied, “I’ve never thought about that.”
Today’s hearing wasn’t ‘much better. I really wish there was a video of it, but as far as I know none was made. My description won’t do it justice. We fell through the rabbithole.
Q: Social services currently has a year to investigate the adoption after a child is placed before it is finalized. Won’t this bill force a change in social service procedures? 60 days seems an awfully short time to do a thorough investigation to make sure everything is OK and to get all the paperwork in.
A: Because of the short time involved, social workers will need to keep the focus on those cases, not on other things.
John Patrick Carney (D-Colulmbus, always good, asked his favorite kind of question.
Q: I’m concerned about advertising. Have you researched anti-human trafficking laws and authorities on the subject to see if this bill contradicts anti-human trafficking laws?
A: (mumble) No.
Carney on tax credits:
Q: This bill has a tax credit for newborns. What about older children in foster care, who are actually available for adoption now and need families?
A: Obviously, this bill is about newborns. Foster care is another story. (Foster care questions and references came up several times, and Buchy shot blanks each time)
Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood)
Q: Is there any provision here for sibling groups? Giving tax credits for a sibling group adoption. Say a newborn has older siblings available for adoption already and we want to keep them together. Can there be tax credits for that situation.
A: That’s an interesting question.
And it went on.
Buchy oddly claimed that HB 307 would save the taxpayers money by keeping newborns out of foster care and get into “loving homes” (as he likes to call them) quickly. Huh? When was the last time any of us heard of a newborn stuck in foster care? )safe jhavens excpted)
Buchy closed by asking one of the committee members to adopt him. I’m not kidding!
By the end of the testimony I had no idea what this bill is about, even though I do know what it’s about . Perhaps Rep. Buchy doesn’t
HB 307 is ostentatiously supposed to be about “reforming” adoption to be fast and quick and to hell with best practice (which we see little of anyway) , but the subtext is really weird. I have no idea why Ohio needs to encourage more people to adopt newborns. There is already a line of paps, as long as the traffic jam on 315 before the Michigan game,.waiting to pick up a new baby There may be a small number of people discouraged by long waits and bureaucracy, but who cares? All those available-for-adoption newborns are going to “loving homes” immediately. Clearly Buchy believes that adoption is about finding newborns for people who “need” them.
There is nothing in HB 307 to offer economic or other incentives to women to put their newborns up for adoption. Maybe ORTL has burnt itself out on that. So, no matter how many desperate and childless individuals or couples are encouraged to adopt through these “reforms” (a doubtful claim in itself) how does that change the fact that there aren’t that many newborns available for adoption anyway, no matter how great the consumer demand.. The real problem is not abortion, which strangely didn’t come up in testimony once, but that women are keeping and rearing their babies, not tossing them in the adoption mill. So, despite all facts to the contrary, Ohio Right to Life continues to conflate abortion awith adoption (not just “saving” the fetus). Adoption is the healthy outcome of a so-called “crisis pregnancy.”
Buchy’s message today was inept and fuzzy. If this is an adoption bill, then why are the thousands of Ohio kids aging out in foster care treated as bad baggage. If adoption fees are to high, put a cap on them. Is Buchy trying to keep it a secret that this is a ORTL bill? That this is about abortion. . No, wait a minute it isn’t. Or is it?
Since when is it therapy the state’s job?
NOTE: ORTL president Mike Gonidakis published a piece on the bill in today’s Life News. I didn’t incoporate it in this entry, but will use it later.
I am covering this bill for the Columbus Free Press and hope to have a print piece out in next Thursday’s issue.By then I should be unflummoxed. It will be much more formal than this blog, which is just a quickly written rundown and notes of today’s hearing.
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