OKLAHOMA CITY (March 10, 2009) – Legislation increasing financial transparency during the adoption process to prevent the extortion of adoptive families gained the approval of the Oklahoma House of Representatives today.
House Bill 2174, by state Rep. Jason Nelson, would require public reporting of adoption expenses to increase transparency. The bill also requires that only one prospective adoptive family at a time may be billed for a birth mother’s expenses and that all adoptions must be conducted in one of four locations: the home county of the birth mother, the home county of the adoptive parents, or in Oklahoma or Tulsa Counties.
"The adoption process should be a happy event, but it has become an emotional nightmare for too many adoptive families because of the greed of a few unscrupulous attorneys," said Nelson, R-Oklahoma City. "My legislation will help protect adoptive families from financial and emotional abuse, preventing fraud and extortion."
Although the Department of Human Services has a code that adoption agencies must follow, there is no oversight of the attorneys involved in adoptions. As a result of that lax regulation, some attorneys have allegedly bilked adoptive parents out of substantial sums of money.
A May 2006 multicounty grand jury report found that families can face dramatically different expenses when going through the adoption process. In fact, the grand jury found that adoptive parents have been forced to pay for automobiles, car parts, traffic tickets, court costs in unrelated criminal cases, driver’s license reinstatement fees, television sets and utility bills – all masked as adoption costs.
According to the grand jury report, the haphazard regulation of "adoption expenses" has actually created an atmosphere where some women and their attorneys effectively sold children.
House Bill 2174 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 97-0 vote. It now proceeds to the state Senate.