Feb. 13, 2017

The Children and Youth Committee in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, on which I serve, is committed to opening up more loving homes for young people. With that goal in mind, committee members this week sent a package of bills to the House floor that would reform the state’s adoption process.

One of the measures is House Bill 289, which I am sponsoring. My legislation would add reasonable expenses incurred by a birth mother of a child being placed for adoption to the list of expenses that currently are permitted to be reimbursed and paid by the adoptive parents. Those expenses may include food, rent, utilities, maternity clothing, and an amount not to exceed $300 for expenses and transportation costs associated with prenatal, maternity and post-maternity care. The list would be overseen by the court.

Currently in Pennsylvania, pregnant women who are giving up their children for adoption cannot be reimbursed for maternity clothing, a half-gallon of milk, a cell phone or a ride to the hospital. With my legislation, we are making sure birth mothers can get what they need during pregnancy, like they can in many other states.

House Bill 56 would ensure that birth parents, if they so desire, have access to adoption-related counseling services when they are considering relinquishing parental rights and placing a child for adoption, or when they have relinquished parental rights and have consented to place their child for adoption.

Other bills include:
  • House Bill 57, which would streamline and expedite the procedures for terminating parental rights.
  • House Bill 58, which would shorten the period in which a birth parent can revoke his or her consent to an adoption.
  • House Bill 59, which would allow adoptive families to appeal the amount of an adoption subsidy.
  • House Bill 61, which would make it easier for parents who are incarcerated to relinquish their parental rights by allowing correctional staff to witness the individual’s consent to adoption.
  • House Bill 62, which would eliminate the hearing currently required to confirm a consent to adoption.
  • House Bill 63, which would refine the definition of “intermediary” to include a licensed attorney or social worker.

These bills did not make it through the legislative process to be enacted into law last fall. This week’s action by the Children and Youth Committee signals that we intend to make adoption a priority this session. I believe our children deserve no less.

I sometimes use this column to answer your questions regarding any state government-related matter. Please email them to me at ttoohil@pahousegop.com. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Representative Tarah Toohil
116th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office
RepToohil.com / Facebook.com/RepToohil