Very Good News on Adoption in Texas and Ohio

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Thanks to Texas Pro-life Gov George W Bush, a series of improvements have been made that will dramatically streamline the adoption process.
Research coming out of Ohio and legislation passed in Texas are proving both that adoption is a very good option for unmarried teens and that with proper leadership from elected officials, barriers to more rapid placement of children who need homes can be eliminated.

In Texas Gov. George W. Bush saw the problems in the existing public foster care and adoption systems, appointed a task force to draft recommendations, and saw his proposals successfully through the legislature. And in Ohio, researchers from the University of Dayton have demonstrated that teenagers who place their children for adoption benefit in four distinct ways.

While the research shows benefits to young women who place their babies for adoption, from the pro-life point of view the pre-eminent concern is that the child is allowed to be born in the first place. Such a decision benefits both the mother, who honors her obligation to her unborn child, and the child, who is not aborted.

Improvements Follow Year-long Efforts

In Texas, following a year-long effort by Gov. George W. Bush, a series of improvements have been made that will dramatically streamline the adoption process and move children into loving homes more quickly.

It was those children who do end up in the foster care system that were the primary concern of Gov. Bush. He and his policy advisors were aware that hundreds upon hundreds of children were lingering in the Texas foster care system.

To analyze the problems and prescribe potential solutions, Gov. Bush appointed a "blue ribbon" committee. But unlike many other such committees that have been appointed at the state level, Gov. Bush's committee was not dominated by the same interests that in many instances either caused the problems in the first place or who were wedded to solutions that have not worked.

Gov. Bush's committee quickly focused on its mission and presented a remarkable action agenda. Once Gov. Bush received the report, he and his aides prepared a legislative strategy to get changes made immediately.

Using skillful diplomacy, Gov. Bush secured three pieces of legislation. Those bills contained these major features:

  1. Set a deadline for action on behalf of a child: within 12 months of removal from the home, the child must either be reunited with the family or the parental rights must be terminated so the child is legally free to be adopted.

  2. Require an annual review of the status of each child in foster care.

  3. Require a father to document his paternity of a child no later than 30 days after birth or lose any parental rights he may have (establishes a putative fathers' registry).

  4. Change the period for court-approved adoptions to be subject to challenge from the current two years to six months.

  5. Streamline termination of parental rights in certain cases, such as drug addiction, sex crimes, and imprisonment of the parent.

  6. Mandate better publicizing of the state's voluntary mutual consent registry for those seeking identifying information about an adoption or a meeting.

Research Says Adoption Good for Mothers

The results of the Ohio research may be most helpful in showing that although unmarried teens who decide to plan adoption and those who decide to try and parent both may have initial regrets over their decision, "the regret over the parenting decision to place for adoption is most intense 1 year after the birth but lessens drastically by the end of the second year." The research confirms what anecdotal reports have long held: it is a myth that women who place their children for adoption "never get over it."

The results from Ohio are important because they should be encouraging to those who have been saying that giving more information about the adoption option would be beneficial not only to their children, but also to the young mothers.

The Ohio research results, first published in Family Relations late last year but also publicized by Family Planning Perspectives recently, are from a study conducted by Brenda W Donnelly and Patricia Voydanoff, research associates at the Center for the Study of Family Development.

The researchers had some important comments regarding the implications of their findings. For instance, they said that those who counsel pregnant teens usually try to present information "in a fairly detached way. Given some of the benefits of adoption cited [in the study], however, it may be important to more explicitly and accurately convey this information to teens. ... All too often, the benefits of adoption to the birth mother are not explored adequately."

The Dayton team also stressed the importance of follow-up counseling so that teens who placed babies would get help with their grieving, come to closure, and move on with their lives.

More information about the Ohio and Texas developments is available. Donnelly and Voydanoff's research appeared in Family Relations, Oct. 1996, pp. 427-434. Reprints are available from the authors at 300 College Road, Dayton, OH 45469-1445.

Copies of the report of Gov. Bush's Committee to Promote Adoption may be obtained by calling Gov. Bush's office at 512-463-1800. A five-page summary of the Texas changes appears in the June 1997 issue of National Adoption Reports, the monthly newsletter of the National Council For Adoption (NCFA).

Free copies of the five-page summary may be obtained by calling NCFA at 202-328-1200; writing to NCFA at 1930 17th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009; or reading it on NCFA's web site,

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Posted 9 Sep 2000.

Copyright 1997 by National Right to Life Committee.
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