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.
Here are some of the questions (paraphrased) asked by committee members and Buchy’s responses. I failed to get the name of the first questioner, but the rest are identified.
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?
When his excruciating testimony was finished, Buchy’s argument seemed to be that all-in-all HB 307 is needed to relieve the stress of paps waiting for finalization. It’s therapeutic.
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.
Follow me on Twitter @DBastardette
Thank you, Marley, for keeping everyone informed about this bill. We can be sure that other states are slipping these same type of bills through their legislatures as well.
A few comments:
It appears that Ohio permits placement of a child in a home before the family has been vetted. Is that correct? If so, the concern should be in seeing that social services has done their work before a child is placed. Problem solved.
Expanding tax credits for newborns and not for children in foster care is bad public policy. How can Ohio encourage the separation of families on one hand and seek new families for children separated from their families of origin on the other? If tax credits there must be, limit them to foster adoptions, sibling groups in particular. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, credits simply drive up the cost.
Do you pronounce PAPal as pay-pal, pape-al, or papp-al?
Why the direct payments, some of them aren’t getting paid, or is it that they don’t want to admit that women are being paid to make their children available for adoption? Abolish the practice completely and eliminate even the suggestion of undue influence. Have they proposed making those payments recoverable in the event the woman doesn’t surrender her child? Can’t the ‘fetal father’ get in on the action? Granted, he’s not doing the heavy lifting here, but he is a necessary component.
7 days to register with a PFR? That’s insane. (Does no one in this business recognize the irony of proposing a law requiring that a fetal father be given notice of his obligation to register with a PFR, which is itself designed to obviate the need for notice of an adoption? Wait until a father tosses an adoption because he wasn’t given this notice. )
What’s the current law on advertising?
Thanks for our comments, Jim.
To answer your first question, I don’t now what Ohio law is I assumed that a kid could only be placed after vetting, but now that you bring it it….I’ll check.
The tax credit question seemed to bother the most people yesterday, with several commenting about foster care. The agenda here is newborns, but the anti-abortion business is really being downplayed so far, and that has to be on purpose. Not that anti-aborts don’t run the legislature, but I find this soft approach weird. You’d think there was a growing surplus of newborns on the market with no one who can afford them.I’d have no problem if ORTL would come up with a bill to put a cap on costs.Maybe ORTL knows it’s on shaky ground if it claims that adoption is a cure for abortion. I can’t figure it out yet, though maybe the answer is right in front of me. (And I can’t disregard the growing chasm between ORTL and Cinc,i Cleveland, and Toledo organizations. Mostly recently, those 3 opposed expansion of Medicaid in Ohio under the ACA where ORTL supported it. The city orgs looked liked idiots in their explanations (which I should write about), and ORT looked downright liberal.
It’s PAPal as in Papal Infallibility.
The direct payment is a safeguard against fraud; that is women taking the money and spending it on other stuff. I don’t think the fetal father can get in on the action, but I’ll check. There’s nothing about recovering of funds. Up until a few years ago I’d never heard of “birthmother support,” by paps or agencies. It makes me wonder what went on with Mama Dot. I supposed her parents paid for her stay in Toledo. Doing away with support in Ohio won’t fly
There is so much wrong with the PFR deal. I wrote about some of it my original post in October. Something occurred to me last night, too. What about older children. There’s already an obvious problem with kids who are placed for stranger and stepparent adoption at a later age involving PFR (and a dandy case has gone on for years here on Ohoi over that), but if a mom really wanted to relinquish but not deal with dad, she could just wait out the 7 days
Honestly, this bill is so screwed up. I’m having trouble writing about it. It’s about something, but what. Certainly not what it says it is. And Buchy as the lead sponsor is a disaster. I’ve never seen anything like him in my 40+ years of legislative activity. Shannon Jones would have probably had the ducks lined up. I mean, if you don’t know an answer to a question from your colleagues on the committee, for instance, you don’t answer No and let it go at that. You said, “I don’t know, but I”‘l find out and get back to you”. I think by some method Jones saw what a crazy thing this was and either dumped it herself, or if she complained, was discharged from duty.
I’m’ working on my Free Press article the rest of the week. Could I quote you on tax credits? I use local sources whenever possible, but you’ve said it so well. Unfortunately, I”m limited to 800 words and I have a lot to get in, so I don’t now how it’s going yet., and have other people to interview.