The adoption process in the state of Kansas could get a little easier. A social worker says a new law may get kids into loving homes quicker.
Sharon Stuewe has a passion for it – helping prospective parents through the sometimes grueling process of adopting a child.
“The adoption process is stressful for all those involved,” Stuewe says.
A new law eliminates a part of the waiting – a once mandatory 30-day hold between when a birth mother gives her consent, and when the adoption goes to court for final approval.
“It could speed up the court process, say for example the birth mother signed the relinquishment papers and then a judge is available to have it go in front of a court,” says Director of Lifeline Children’s Service of Kansas, Lisa Kelly.
Stuewe says with this law, an adoption could theoretically be complete before the baby is even a day old.
“Realistically I could see some adoptions being finalized maybe 10 days, two weeks,” Stuewe says.
“I don’t think it has dramatic affect on the way adoptions will work,” adds adoption attorney Allan Hazlett. He stresses that month of time was not a chance for the birth mother to back out of the adoption.
“To set aside the consent, she’d have to prove by clear and convincing evidence it wasn’t her free and voluntary act and I’ve never heard of that being done in Kansas,” Hazlett says. He adds that waiting period was often used to find the birth father to get his consent for the adoption, because in about 90% of infant adoptions, the birth father is not involved.
Stuewe agrees there is a misconception about the waiting period being a chance for mothers to change their mind about the adoption.
In a state that already has some of the most supportive adoption laws, she does have one concern.
“There have been times that young women have been encouraged to come to Kansas to give birth which may not be in their best interest, they may not be with their support systems and may not be in their home areas,” Stuewe says.
That aside, she says any law to potentially speed up what can often feel like a marathon for families, makes getting to the finish line that much sweeter.