Bill to change how Wisconsin handles in-state adoptions

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MADISON (WKOW) — A Republican lawmaker is making another attempt to change how Wisconsin handles in-state adoptions. Senator Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) re-introduced a bill focusing on the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR), a process that some complain is too long.

Two years ago, Jacque’s proposal was opposed by some adoption attorneys. Since then he’s worked to draft a bill that more people would support.

The bill would allow birth parents to skip a court hearing after filing for TPR. For birth mothers, it’s often difficult to appear in court as a judge asks several personal questions. His bill would have a TPR signed within 72 hours and eliminate the court hearing.

Current law requires a hearing and is typically scheduled within 30 days, but if a birth mother doesn’t show up this process can take weeks or months.

Before all that though, the birth mother is counseled about her decision so she understands she’s giving up her parental rights. The adoptive parents go through background checks and have to become certified foster parents.

Sen. Jacque says his legislation is more in line with what most states are doing now. He proposed it in 2015 where it passed the Assembly with bipartisan support. But it never got a committee hearing in the Senate.

“We can help repair Wisconsin’s reputation for a state that currently has a higher rate of disruption and a lower rate of adoption compared to lesser populated states,” said Jacque.

Stephen Hayes with the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys said he was pleased to hear about some changes Sen. Jacque made including some the grounds for involuntary TPR and allowing payments to be made to an out-of-state private child placing agency for services provided in connection with an adoption.

Hayes was not fully supportive of Jacque’s first draft of the bill in 2015. He heard from some judges they don’t like the idea of a birth mother not showing up to court because they couldn’t question the birth mother, particularly about potential fathers. By law, all potential fathers must be given notice.

Sen. Jacque says with support from adoption attorney’s this year and including their input he’s hopeful the bipartisan proposal can land on the Governor’s desk.

Emilee Fannon

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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