AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the state has shifted its focus to get more people to adopt. But what efforts are actually being made in the already tough adoption process?
“It’s an incredibly difficult process. And there are a number of regulatory barriers that stand in the way of folks completing the process,” Associate Vice President of Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation Andrew Brown said.
On Nov. 30, a panel moderated by the Texas Public Policy Foundation focused on key barriers that make adopting harder: extensive paperwork, the cost and not enough money put into programs to aid in the adoption process.
Wichita Falls Rep. James Frank—the only legislator on the panel— does think the state will prioritize adoption barriers in the next legislative session.
“We will… spend much more money on some government programs that will help adoption, making it easier to adopt. I’m betting there’ll be some subsidies for adoption,” Frank said. “But let’s also be real clear that government programs are not going to substitute for personal involvement at the local level with the individual. Everybody wants to fix the system, [but] nobody wants to do anything individually.”
According to the Texas Department of Family Protective Services, 4,586 children were adopted in 2021. That number was down from the 5,270 children who were adopted in 2020.
Rachel Lauren, a foster and adoptive mom who went through the foster-to-adoption program, said she saw a need as she fostered a total of seven children and ultimately adopted three.
“When you do foster to adopt, you’re able to get emergency placements. But you’re also able to look at broadcasts, which are essentially emailed files of children that are legally free,” said Lauren. “You’re open to bringing children in your home that might not be able to be adopted, they might end up being, rehabilitated or reunited with their family.”
For Lauren, both of her adoption processes were completely different.
“I have two daughters. They came together… it was actually an unheard-of situation. It was a broadcast that we received, and we submitted and said, ‘yes, we’re interested.’ And a week later, they were in our home,” said Lauren. “They were in our home because of an emergency situation that happened in the placement that they were already in. And the adoption process took six months, it was instant.”
“My son took a lot longer. It was about a year and a half, and it was because there were so many issues with the state. Every situation is different. Every caseworker is different. Every family of origin is different. So you never know kind of what you’re going to be dealing with until it happens,” said Lauren.
Lauren hopes the state puts more resources into adoption programs, and others consider fostering and adopting too.
“I don’t know what my life was before them [my kids],” Lauren said. “I really don’t.”
Ahead of the 88th Legislative Session, some lawmakers have filed bills to ease the process of adoption. HB 461 waives the requirement for the performance of an adoption evaluation in certain suits, and SB 222 grants paid leave for certain state employees for the birth or adoption of a child.
More related bills could still be filed ahead of the next session.