The Missouri House of Representatives has adopted a proposal that, its sponsor says, would lead to more foster parents to adopt children in the foster system.
The plan was amended to another bill dealing with adoption issues. Its sponsor, Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City), says it deals with cases in which parents voluntarily terminate their parental rights.
It would allow natural parents to enter a post-adoptive agreement for limited contact with the adoptive parents. “Either party could come to court. If, for instance, the natural parents were not living up to their obligations under the agreement the adoptive parents could shut off contact. If on the other hand the new adoptive parents were not allowing access to the natural parents, those natural parents could have their rights enforced.”
Representative Chris Kelly (D-Columbia), a self-described opponent of all changes, to the current adoption system, told Barnes he backs the plan.
He asked Barnes, “Under your amendment, nobody has to do anything.”
Barnes confirmed, “No, this is all voluntary. This involves a situation where the natural parents and the adoptive parents agree that this is what they want to happen.”
Kelly says the plan allows adoptive parents, “for example, allow the birth parents to visit with, to see, to kinda keep track of how their birth child is doing, but all the responsibility and authority still resides with the adoptive family.”
Representative Rory Ellinger (D-University City) disagrees with the goal of having more foster parents adopt children out of the foster system.
“We should urge more reunion, more help, to a mother who may have had drugs, a father who was an alcoholic, so that the natural family can be reunited. We don’t want to make adoption easier because every time you make adoption easier you tear a family apart and then try to put it together again. That’s why the law is so tough in this area.”
Barnes’ amendment was approved by the House. It is now part of a bill sponsored by Representative Jeannie Lauer (R-Blue Springs) that aims to help adoptees obtain medical information from birth parents.
Another positive vote would send the package to the Senate.
AUDIO: Listen to debate of the amendment between Representatives Jay Barnes, Chris Kelly, Thomas Long (R-Battlefield) and Rory Ellinger