New law in Illinois tightens control of adoption agencies

Relates to:
Date: 2005-08-15

It bars profiteering, creates "bill of rights" for parents

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

CHICAGO -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed legislation Sunday to bar adoption profiteering and give the state more control over adoption agencies.

The Adoption Reform Act will help prevent interstate custody battles such as the one involving a Chicago family earlier this year.

In January, the mother and grandmother of Baby Tamia sued a for-profit adoption agency in a suburb of Salt Lake City to get the child back. The family said the agency had pressured Tamia's mother into signing away her parental rights.

The custody battle persisted until March when the agency declined to place the girl with prospective parents in Utah after they had been arrested on drug charges. A Cook County judge also ruled the agency had violated the federal law requiring paperwork to be completed in the state where a child was born. Tamia was reunited with her mother that week.

The state law signed Sunday creates a "bill of rights" for biological parents and adoptive parents and requires agencies to disclose policies, fees and basic information on a child's placement to prospective adoptive parents.

The law, which takes effect immediately, also stipulates that fees must be reasonable and that agencies involved in adoptions in Illinois must become nonprofit organizations within the next two years.

"Children given up for adoption should end up with families who love them and nurture them," Blagojevich said in a statement. "With these reforms, we're making sure that adoptions are about building families -- not making a profit."

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