Legislation looks out for unwanted children, speeds up adoption process

Children who are born out of unwanted pregnancies or to drug-dependent mothers didn’t get to choose their parents.

Sadly, many such children, because of the reasons we mentioned, end up in the custody of the state. It’s very sad to realize that someone who brings a beautiful child into this world can’t, or won’t, take care of them. It’s a reality that we read or hear about every day.

Thousands of prospective parents across this country try for years to have children, only to find out that they aren’t able to because of various circumstances, such as fertility issues or some other health matter. They would love to adopt these kids who are living in state custody, but the process has to be frustrating for these families, as the bureaucracy and procedures take far too long to navigate.

But hopefully the long waits for adopting in our state are about to become somewhat shorter, after the Kentucky House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation that would help put these children into loving homes. House Bill 1 would impose timelines on the state and the court system in an effort to shorten the length of time children in state custody are in limbo. It would also direct state officials to automatically begin the process of terminating parental rights for any mother who gives birth to a drug-dependent baby and refuses to enter a drug rehabilitation program.

The bill would create quicker timelines for the placement of children, adding language to resolve delays in the court systems that often keep children out of homes. It also would reduce the amount of paperwork involved in the process, not only for adoptive parents, but for the social workers who must deal with ever-increasing foster care caseloads.

HB 1 also would place a much higher emphasis on looking out for the welfare of children than currently exists. The measure would create an advisory committee in the legislature to focus on child welfare issues, and also would create more oversight and accountability over the processes of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The bill would also establish a confidential putative father registry in Kentucky. Here, unmarried males who claim to be a father must register with the state no more than 30 days after the child’s birth in order to have input into the child’s adoption processes.

In addition, the bill would protect infants diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome, which often occurs as a result of the birth mother misusing controlled substances.

Currently, Kentucky has more than 8,600 children in state custody. Officials say that number has risen sharply in recent years because of the opioid crisis. Again, it’s a real shame that a mother would choose drugs over their own children, but it does happen. But what is promising is that those kids potentially now have a better chance of being adopted and getting out of state custody if this legislation becomes law.

The passage of this legislation is a victory for Kentucky’s children. Children whose parents don’t want them need to be in loving, caring homes in a much more expedited manner than currently exists. We believe this is common-sense legislation that should be overwhelmingly passed in the state Senate and signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin.

Bowling Green Daily News