Smucker Introduces Legislation to Improve Adoption Outcomes And Affordability

July 15, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Smucker introduced the Improving Adoption Outcomes and Affordability Act (H.R. 3690) to enhance medical support services for birthmothers that have made the selfless decision to place their unborn child for adoption to provide them a loving home.

“Adoption costs outside of the public child welfare setting can be very expensive, ranging from $7,000 to over $40,000 per adoption. While legal fees, home evaluations, and agency fees are factors in the overall cost, the cost of an adoption can fluctuate drastically based on the medical needs of the birthmother. By providing additional support for counseling needs for birthmothers who require this help, we can ensure the mother and baby are at their healthiest and improve the adoption process.” Smucker said.

While not the case for all adoptions, many birthmothers are facing personal challenges including substance abuse when they choose to pursue adoption for their unborn child. In fact, data from the Centers on Disease Control (CDC) shows increased opioid use during pregnancy has led to a fivefold increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome. The rise of the opioid epidemic has played a role in the increasing number of birthmothers who need mental health or substance abuse treatment during their pregnancy.

The Improving Adoption Outcomes and Affordability Act would authorize the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to award grants to state or local governments, public or private adoption agencies, and faith-based organizations for the purpose of providing mental health or substance abuse counseling to birthmothers who are working with these agencies to place their baby up for adoption. This legislation will help ensure birthmothers in need of mental health or substance abuse counseling receive the assistance they need during pregnancy. Paying for these medical needs, when necessary, could lead to lower adoption costs for the adopting families and provide more pricing stability to the overall fees families pay.

During a recent markup of the Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (H.R. 2480), unanimously agreed to Congressman Smucker’s bipartisan amendment that would require a study to specifically look at how parental substance abuse affects the outcomes on adoption. “The information from this study will help states detect additional barriers by gaining a deeper understanding on how this crisis is affecting families and children, and identify if there are ways to better serve children caught up in the opioid epidemic.”  To learn more about the Stronger CAPTA, click here. To see Rep. Smucker speak on his amendment, click here.

These efforts build on Rep. Smucker’s work to improve adoption outcomes. Last Congress, Rep. Smucker’s bipartisan legislation to reduce known barriers for foster placement was signed into law. Introduction of the Improving Adoption Outcomes and Affordability Act builds on his strong commitment to ensure every child has the opportunity to grow up in a safe and loving home.

Visit our website to learn more about Rep. Smucker’s work to improve foster care and adoption placement.