Proposed Kentucky bill would make changes to state's adoption pr - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Proposed Kentucky bill would make changes to state's adoption process

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LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- A bill awaiting Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's signature could speed up the adoption process while giving biological fathers rights they now don’t have.

Rep. David Meade’s House Bill 1 would overhaul the way Kentucky handles foster care and adoptions in order to better benefit children.

Currently, a birth father can go unnamed or unidentified once his child is born. Therefore, his birth rights are not protected.

“That’s a lot of emotion that they don’t want to go through," said Julie Barkley, a social worker with Adoption Bridges in St. Matthews. "Maybe they don’t want their family to know, so we are hinging upon their rights instead of protecting them in that aspect in my opinion. I think it benefits all three parties, meaning the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the child. And the child needs to be put first in my opinion.”

The 120-page proposal would allow birth fathers to register their information with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services after having sexual relations with a woman who he may have gotten pregnant. He then would be notified that she is pregnant is entering into an adoption plan if the mother chooses.

“[The birth father] is notified that she is pregnant and is entering into an adoption plan, and it’s a ‘speak now or forever hold your peace,’” said adoption attorney Waverly Townes.

The bill could also expedite the foster care process for children to get them into permanent homes and could terminate a mother’s rights quicker if she is addicted to an illegal substance.

Over 8,000 Kentucky children are currently in state custody, one of many issues that sparked the creation of the House Working Group on Adoption in 2017. House Bill 1 is fully funded in the final budge proposal, which includes a 10 percent raise for all the commonwealth’s social workers.

Right now, children can be placed in prospective adoptive homes without agencies even knowing for sure if that child will be free for adoption. Those who back the House Bill 1 say it would add more certainty and hopefully peace of mind to all those involved.

Bevin, who has four adopted children, has until Friday to sign the bill into law, which he is expected to do.

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