August 1, 2018 ushered in a comprehensive, new “Adoption Option Act” in Louisiana. Legislators unanimously passed and the Governor signed into law Act 562, which limits adoption expenses paid, by adoptive parents for birth parent expenses, to $7,500. The new law changes the word “reasonable” expenses to “actual” when listing the types of expenses with which adoptive families may assist an expectant mother. Allowable expenses will continue to include medical costs and legal fees, temporary housing, maternity clothes, food and personal hygiene products. The law specifically excludes living expenses such as vehicles and leisure activities. In addition, the law provides that lying about pre-natal expenses shall be a crime punishable by up to $50,000 fine and 10 years in prison.
This spring, Georgia updated their state’s adoption laws for the first time in almost three decades. Act HB 159 reduces the length of time a birth mother has to change her mind and revoke her consent to an adoption from ten (10) days to four (4) days. A second piece of the legislation allows for adoptive parents to assist a birth mother with certain living expenses in private adoptions. The legislature is still debating a proposal to allow faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to work with same-sex couples.
In a more negative trend in state law, Oklahoma passed a law in May, which would allow private adoption agencies to discriminate against L.G.B.T.Q. couples on religious grounds when placing children. The Governor, Mary Fallin, explained the law allows agencies to choose not to place children in certain homes if it “would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies”. Critics of the law, which also applies to private agencies working in foster care, said it was unconstitutional and would hamper efforts to find secure, permanent homes for children.