In the 2017 Session of the Kentucky General Assembly, a focus like no other was placed on children and families. In historic fashion, the legislature passed critical legislation to improve foster care placement, protect life, and combat our devastating drug epidemic.
And thanks to the leadership of Speaker Jeff Hoover, we will now have the chance to do even more in the interim, due to the newly-established House Adoption Work Group. This bipartisan group, consisting of both republicans and democrats, will work to bring aggressive reforms to Kentucky’s adoption process. Specifically, we will meet throughout the year to develop policy recommendations for next session, with a focus on making it easier and more efficient to adopt in Kentucky.
It is an honor for me to be named chairman of this working group, and I’m excited to work to ease the process of adopting, and to place more children into deserving, loving homes. Adoption is highly personal to me. As an adoptive father, I have seen firsthand the blessing of giving a needy child a forever home, supporting them, and providing them with a better life. My wife and I love our daughter with all of our hearts.
The sheer amount of time it takes to adopt a child is disheartening, and if families choose to adopt outside the foster care program, it can get extremely costly. In a state and country with many blessings, and as much freedom as we have, there is simply no excuse for this. The excessive paperwork, redundancy, and overall bureaucracy has real-life consequences; these unnecessary regulatory burdens keep children out of safe and loving homes.
Something has to change, and we are on the brink of making that a reality. It generally takes around 1.5 years to adopt in this state. In my case, which was an international adoption, my wife and I had to wait three years until our daughter’s adoption was finalized. In addition to these lengthy wait times and mountains of paperwork, it can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $35,000 to adopt a child. The chaotic, time-consuming, and expensive way in which we handle adoption discourages parents from permanently opening up their homes to those who need a home the most.
For so many reasons, I couldn’t be more excited for this working group to deliver on behalf of the most vulnerable members of our society. We have already held our first meeting on this issue, and will be gathering monthly to find real, practical solutions. I, along with co-chair Joni Jenkins of Louisville, are both dedicated to this cause, as are our seven colleagues. These are not partisan issues; this is about bettering the lives of our children and families. President Ronald Regan once said, “Belonging to a family is a natural and vital component of life, and every child deserves to be a member of a loving and nurturing family.” We believe this to be true, and will work hard to make the adoption process more efficient for children and families of Kentucky.
Each member of the General Assembly was elected to take on big issues, and to solve the problems facing Kentucky. Further, we have a governor who has also faced the difficulties of adopting, and has pledged to work hand-in-hand with us to make adoption easier and more efficient.
All of the pieces are coming together for sound action on making it easier for families to adopt, and making Kentucky the national standard for dealing with this issue. Now, it’s time to get to work.
Rep. David Meade is the Majority Caucus Chairman in the State House of Representatives. He represents the 80th district, which includes Lincoln as well as part of Pulaski County.