Adoption deception bill sails through Senate committee

Opponents no-show at committee hearing

By: - May 17, 2022 3:38 pm
Adoption deception bill sails through Senate committee

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A Louisiana Senate committee advanced a House bill Tuesday that would make it illegal to deceive parents seeking to adopt a child. Opponents who previously spoke against the bill did not show up to offer any counter arguments. 

House Bill 568, sponsored by Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, advanced unopposed from the Senate Judiciary C Committee and will next head to the Senate floor for consideration.

The bill would expand what qualifies as adoption deception, a crime the Legislature added to Louisiana’s books last year. The expansion would allow the law to apply to a birth mother who intentionally lies in an effort to collect living expenses or other benefits in connection with a purported adoption. 

Under current law, adoption deception applies to only two circumstances: when someone pretends to be a birth mother but is not pregnant when she asks for or receives payments; or when someone accepts payments from more than one prospective adoptive parent or agency at the same time without disclosing it. 

The bill sparked lengthy debate on the House floor back in March. House Democrats argued that existing fraud laws already cover the circumstances of adoption deception and said the bill could lead to abuse if adoption agencies and adoptive parents use it to pressure birth mothers who change their minds.

At that time, Edmonds had amended the bill to include an exception that states the provisions would not apply to someone who, in good faith, declines to proceed with the adoption in favor of parenting the child. However, Rep. Joe Marino, I-Gretna, pointed out that the exception would only apply to someone who has already been arrested and charged with a crime. 

The bill has not undergone any changes since the House floor debate on March 28. 

Edmonds told the Senate committee he felt the bill does enough to protect birth mothers who simply change their minds and decide to keep the baby.

Marino said his stance on the bill has not changed.

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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the years since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and worked on staff at the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. He also taught English as an adjunct instructor at Baton Rouge Community College. Much of his journalism has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and coverage of municipal and state government. He has received recognitions including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus and a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his two sons and his wife, who is also a journalist.

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