Kentucky's House Speaker Appoints Adoption Task Force

Apr 19, 2017

Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover
Credit LRC Public Information

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers will meet over the summer to craft legislation aimed at overhauling the state's adoption and foster care system.

Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover appointed the committee on Wednesday. It will be led by Democratic state Rep. Joni Jenkins of Louisville and House Republican caucus chairman David Meade of Stanford.

Specifically, the committee will be looking at how to shorten the adoption process and make it less expensive.

It is a personal issue for Meade, who adopted a daughter from Korea in 2012. He said the process took three years to complete because of an abundance of redundant paperwork. He said most of the paperwork is valid for 12 months to 18 months. But because most adoptions take longer than that, it requires prospective parents to fill out the paperwork and pay fees a second time.

"Sometimes when we do reforms as far as government is concerned we do what's best for the government," Meade said. But that may not be what's best for the individuals, for the families. What our goal is going to be is focusing on those families."

Jenkins said the state has to be careful not to rush things, adding many of the adoption rules are in place to protect the child. But she said she worried that "the high cost of adoption leaves out some really good families that would be able to take care of and nurture a child."

Kentucky has about 8,000 children in out-of-home care. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who along with his wife adopted four children from Ethiopia, has made it a priority of his administration to overhaul the state's adoption and foster care system. He said he plans to hire an adoption "czar" that can study the system and recommend changes.

Hoover said he supports the governor's efforts, but said "I would encourage them to understand it is the legislative body that makes the policy and it's the executive branch that carries out that policy."