Five of eight adoption related bills made it through the legislative gauntlet during the session.
Under SB31, families who adopt a child with special needs on or after Jan. 13, 2013, are entitled to a refundable tax credit of up to $1,000. SB155 makes post-adoption contracts for children adopted from state custody enforceable. The Office of Licensing will be required by SB183 to implement ethical rules that prohibit adoption agencies or employees from providing false or misleading information. SB282 requires the registrar to look at creating a national putative father registry and requires birth moms to have been in Utah at least 30 days before an unmarried father must comply with certain provisions of the adoption law.
SB232 makes the most substantive changes to the law. In addition to financial support, emotional support will now be part of the criteria for deciding whether a father has abandoned a child being placed for adoption. Adoption petitions may now be filed before a child’s birth. And paternity notices filed by unmarried biological fathers will be official when they are received by the state registrar, addressing a Utah Supreme Court ruling that found a Florida father’s rights were violated when he was deemed too late to intervene in his daughter’s adoption because of a delay in filing his paperwork.
Notable bills that failed: HB148, which would have created a mutual consent voluntary registry for birth parents and adoptees; critics said the bill might result in more abortions. The bill’s fiscal note — $540,400 a year to run and publicize the registry — may have been a bigger deal breaker.
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