By Mike Gonidakis
Ohio Right to Life recently initiated major adoption legislation in the Ohio House of Representatives. When this legislation passes, the choice for life will be much more accessible to Ohioans, and the adoption process will be accelerated and safeguarded in myriad ways.
One way is by shortening the adoption decree challenge period. Another is by slashing the cost.
People frequently say that adoption costs too much time and money. Quite frankly, they’re right. For many would-be parents, these two factors are enough to stop them from ever considering adoption. The choice to give new life and a new home to a child in Ohio is slow and expensive, fraught with both red tape and fraud. In fact, adopting my son in Cleveland was much more difficult than adopting my daughter in Guatemala.
Currently, Ohioans wait a whole year before they can leave adoption limbo. They endure a year of stress, a year of worries, a year of knowing full well that a child is theirs—but that this reality could be challenged at any moment.
As part of its groundbreaking adoption reform legislation, Ohio Right to Life is working to change that—shortening the period that an adoption decree can be challenged to 60 days, a period that is still long enough to address concerns if they arise.
In addition, to make the cost of adoption less forebidding and crippling, Ohio Right to Life’s adoption reform legislation will dramatically enhance the tax credit for adoption from $1,500 to $10,000, with the flexibility to roll over unused portions of the credit for four years. This provision alone would return thousands of dollars to adoptive parents, providing them with more economic freedom and choice to provide for all of their child’s needs.
Furthermore, Ohio Right to Life’s adoption initiative will potentially eliminate a court hearing that can cost upwards of $1,500, shaving hundreds more off the cost of adoption. By slashing the cost of adoption and increasing the financial incentives to adopt, adoption will certainly not just be for the wealthy or those who have an equity line. The choice for life will be expanded beyond current economic boundaries, as the economic choices that families can make with their saved money are also expanded.
Another of the legislation’s provisions will concentrate the birth father’s opportunity to claim or renounce his parental rights in the pre-birth period, giving him potentially months in advance and an additional seven days after birth to do so. Currently, he has 30 days post-birth to address these rights. The birth father’s rights are by no means truncated. In fact, by repositioning the starting place of his rights at a point before birth, birth fathers can decide to claim or renounce their rights much earlier. By concentrating the days in the pre-birth period, parts of the adoption process can be completed before a child is even born, providing him or her with a much smoother transition into the world.
Essentially, these adoption reforms are child-focused, as they provide more choices and opportunities to secure the best life possible for the adopted child. When this reform passes, Ohio families will find a cornucopia of new opportunities to make life-giving choices, without having to worry as much about so many emotional, financial, and temporal costs.
There is a saying that goes, “Adoption means you grew in her heart instead of her tummy.” With an accelerated and safeguarded adoption process, Ohio families will hopefully find that their adopted children have grown in their hearts much more seamlessly and without unnecessary burdens.
Get ready, Ohio families: the choice for life in Ohio is about to get much, much better.
Editor’s note: The adoption tax credit is a mechanism many states and the federal government have used to ease the cost of adoption, make adoption affordable for families with lower or middle incomes, and reduce the costs of long-term foster care to the state and federal government. The impact of the credit in improving the lives of adopted children is less quantifiable but lies at the heart of its importance. See “The Adoption Tax Credit: Progresss and Prospects for Expansion” at lozierinstitute.org/adoptiontaxcredit. Passage of the bill would make Ohio’s tax law one of the most adoption-friendly in the nation.