Several bills currently in the Michigan Senate would make changes to the adoption laws in that state. Most of them are good, but one of them would allow for discriminatory practices by adoption agencies. Here’s our round-up of the proposed changes:
HB 4646: This bill would allow for out-of-court adoption consent. Currently a birthmother has to appear before a judge in court to sign her adoption papers. When done in court there is no revocation period, meaning she cannot change her mind. The new law would allow adoption agency social workers to take the relinquishment and would also allow for a 5-day revocation period for the birthmother to think her decision over. While the revocation period could be longer, this is an improvement over existing law and brings Michigan law into line with other states that allow for out of court adoption consent.
HB 4647: Would shorten the post-placement period from 6 months to 3 months. The post-placement period is the length of time from when the baby is placed in the custody of the adoptive parents, but before the adoption is finalized. It allows for the adoption agency to check in on the progress and development of the baby and the new family. We think that rushing this period is unnecessary, and that 6 months is an adequate amount of time to monitor development. The law should stay as it is now.
HB 4648: Establishes a “putatitve father registry”. This is a database the state would keep where men could register themselves for any potential children they may have fathered. It helps birthfathers secure their rights, and is definitely a good thing. We urge the Michigan senate to pass this bill.
HB 4927: This bill would allow state-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against potential adoptive parents. Private agencies that do not take public money are allowed to pick and choose who they work with based on whatever criteria they choose, but agencies that do take public money can’t do this. And for good reason, the law of the United States grants equality to everyone under the law. Some, like Bethany Christian Services, claim this is an issue of religious freedom. But the issue at hand is that agencies can not be allowed to use public state funds and at the same time discriminate against their clients based on what they believe in or who they love. If Bethany wants to deny equal access to everyone, they should do that with private money and not taxpayer money.
The first three bills (HB 4646, 4647, and 4648) have all passed the Michigan House, and are awaiting vote in the Senate. We ask the Michigan Senate to pass HB 4646 and 4648 and expand the rights of birthparents. Thankfully HB 4927 is still in the House and awaiting a vote. We call on the Michigan House to not pass this discriminatory bill.