This summer, the state of Ohio passed a number of restrictions to accessing abortion and birth control, adding the new rules as amendments to the state’s budget to avoid feedback and debate at the Capitol. Among these amendments was a new rule that would reallocate family planning funding in a way that could leave 11 counties without any subsidized family planning services, another that had the potential to more easily shutter abortion clinics and had already closed the clinics in the city of Toledo, and even a mandatory ultrasound.
Leading the charge to push these amendments through and to pressure Republican Governor John Kasich to not use his line item veto was Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis. Now, Gonidakis has a new goal: deregulating adoption.
In other words, he would like families who adopt to have more assets and perks, and for those who are providing them with children to be monitored more closely and treated with suspicion as they carry the adoptive parents’ new family members.
If it isn’t clear that the proposed regulations are made solely to reward those who are adopting, and at the expense of a child’s birth parents, the new rules regarding birth fathers clarifies. Rather than a full month to register to potentially block an adoption and assert parental rights, a father would be limited to just seven days after birth to act. Adoptions would be finalized in 60 days, rather than the twelve months they currently require.
In a state that has already made it clear that it not only wants to mandate that every pregnancy be brought to term and is more than willing to cut off access to contraception to those who are struggling financially, the move to deregulate domestic adoption makes sense. Ohio already approved taking funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) budget and giving them to crisis pregnancy centers, proving how little they prioritize struggling families trying to stay together.
In upping the credits for adoption, especially when at the same time sending any financial support for the pregnant person to an agency or lawyer to be doled out to her because she can’t be trusted to use it properly, Gonidakis and his allies essentially are arguing that those “good” families who can care for children should be even more heavily rewarded to have them do so, while those “bad” parents who cannot care for them and need to give them up should be punished.
“Bad domestic regulation is sadly an old story, but this doubles down,” Kathryn Joyce, author of The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption, stated on Twitter. “And many will buy in because of cultural blind spots about adoption.”
We’ve already seen the bad things that can occur in unregulated overseas adoptions. As a Reuters investigation in September reported, some families hoping to grow their families have looked outside the U.S. to other countries, where it is easier to adopt. Instances of adults seeking numerous children for less scrupulous reasons, including financial gain, have risen as restrictions are less onerous overseas. Those who adopted children they later regretted have even gone as far as to give them to strangers to get them out of their houses.
Yet Ohio is looking at these “better, cheaper and faster” adoptions as something to emulate, and with exponentially greater financial perks added as well. That seems like a system ripe for abuse, especially from a group of advocates insistent that preventing pregnancies is not a state concern.
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