Adoptive parents, local adoption agency talk about proposal to expedite adoption process

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Wisconsin (WQOW) – Adopting a child in Wisconsin is a long process. Some parents know that from experience, as some lawmakers push to change policy.

Rebecca Eby grew up in Chetek, and now lives in Crawford County. She decided to adopt six or seven years ago, and she said finding her son was quite the journey.

Right now in Wisconsin, birth mothers have to appear in front of a judge and answer personal questions to confirm they’re voluntarily placing their child for adoption. Typically that happens within 30 days, but if birth parents don’t show up, it can take weeks or even months.

Eby said it was an emotional day when her son’s birth mother had to be in court and answer those questions, when she had already made her decision and had chosen a family for her baby before he was even born. After that hearing, it took another six months to finalize her son’s adoption.

“You want them to be sure they have the time they need to make this decision that adoption is right for them and for this child,” Eby said. “But on the other hand, to make them second-guess themselves for so many weeks or months in many cases that does seem a little bit cruel. I don’t know if there’s a right answer, but personally I feel as though it does seem to drag out longer than is necessary.”

Eby said if you’re looking at adopting, you should check out different agencies and make sure everyone is being taken care of, including the child’s first set of parents. She emphasizes making sure counseling is available so they’re comfortable with their decision.

Post Adoption Coordinator at Catholic Charities Christy Reppe has reservations about the proposal. “It’s true that some families adopt from other states because it’s quicker, or because it’s relieving to them to not have to spend time in limbo wondering whether or not they will become the legal parents of the child who is placed with them,” she said in a statement. “I believe that most adoption professionals, adult adoptees, or parents who have ever gone through the process of having their parental rights terminated would voice real ethical concerns raised by the timeline proposed by this law.”

The bill would make the process faster: instead of having to wait for that court hearing, a termination of parental rights form could be signed within 72 hours of a birth mother’s decision. State Senator Andre Jacque said the proposed plan is in line with what other states are doing. Among parents trying to adopt, Wisconsin is known as a difficult state to adopt from.

That bill is currently being circulated for more sponsors.

Shannon Satterlee

Shannon Satterlee

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