Recent Changes in Utah Adoption Laws

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As of late, Utah has seen its share of negative screen time in the news due to negligence in adoption practices. Even within the adoption community itself, which often house several different course of thinking, there was a resounding belief that Utah needed to significantly alter their adoption practices. With the movement of father's who were isolated from the adoption process coming forward to regain their parenting rights to their children, to stories regarding agencies manipulating information for financial gain, the issues had come to a boiling point. It's become clear that there is an inherent need for the adoption practices within the state to revisited and reevaluated.

With this in mind, it is no surprise that several adoption related bills made their way into Utah Legislature this session. Five out of the eight proposed bills passed, while some were sidelined for moralistic reasoning, and budgetary issues. The feat of having even five adoption bills passed that will require more ethical practices within the state of Utah is a huge cause for celebration for all involved in adoption. Further pressure from reform advocates and other states changing their laws will likely help move more laws forward in the future.

Among the passed was Bill 232 that requires emotional support be part of the criteria for deciding whether a father has abandoned a child that may be placed for adoption. This will essentially eliminate the stories that have been making their way to the media about fathers who were lied to regarding the adoption process, or left out of the entire decision. For adoptive families this means that they will also have the assurance that due diligence has been done in making sure that all parties, were aware of the proceedings of an adoption.

Of all the new “tweaks” to the current legislation laws, the bill proposing that adoption agencies are required to maintain a specific level of ethics, including that they can no long misappropriate facts, or information. In other words, they will be required by law to be honest in the information they provide to expectant mothers and adopting families.

Bill 282 will stop the process of agencies bringing women from other states into Utah simply for the sake of avoiding permission from the father, among other issues. It maintains that in order for an adoption to go forward the relinquishing mother must have lived in Utah for at least 30 days before her partner must comply with specific adoption laws.

Unfortunately a bill that would have created a voluntary-mutual consent registry was denied .This registry would have been a major step forward in Utah where adoption records are currently sealed for 100 years.

For all parties involved in adoption, these bills are certainly a move forward for Utah where their laws have been called unethical and archaic. Undoubtedly Utah still has a ways to go in moving forward in terms of their adoption practices, but most proponents of ethical adoption and adoption reform believe that this is a step in the right direction.

For more information on the bills that passed and those that did not, check out this article which links to several of the Bills.


Credits: Danielle Barnsley-Cervo

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