Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Utah legislators seek to open up adoptions

In the eyes of the state, the preferred place of residence for most children is with their parents or guardians. While that is the ideal, it is not the reality as many children are placed under the care of the state. Those children are placed in a foster care program, with the hopes that loving and supportive families will pursue an adoption of the children. Even when placed with a loving family, the children still may have an urge to see their biological parents; and a proposed bill is looking to make it easier for adopted children to do so.

Utah's Senate Bill155 would create a new open adoption program for foster children under the care of the state government - specifically, the Division of Child and Family Services. Under the program, biological parents would have visitation rights with the children, but the adoptive parents would still maintain their rights as legal parents. Those opposed to the measure voiced their concern over the lack of data for such measures and the possibility of the adoptive parents changing their minds during the process.

The program relies on three components for its success. First the biological parents must be willing to give consent. Second, the adoptive parents must agree to the biological parents' visitation rights, and finally, the courts must sign off on the agreement. Under this program, the child or children also must agree to the adoption before an adoption can take place.

The bill, which passed committee meetings, is headed to the Senate floor for consideration. While the bill is controversial, the legislation seeks to make life easier for those children who are separated from their biological parents.

Source:, "Open adoptions for foster children the goal of Utah bill," Antone Clark, Feb. 15, 2013

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