OKLAHOMA CITY (March 23, 2009) – Legislation that would require the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to provide statistics on unsuccessful adoptions has been passed by the House Human Services Committee.
State Rep. Jason Murphey, who is sponsoring Senate Bill 794 in the House, said the issue was brought up by officials with Peppers Ranch, a constituent organization located in Guthrie.
“Peppers Ranch helps troubled young boys and is just west of Guthrie,” Murphey, R-Guthrie, said. “As a foster care provider, they see and understand the adoption issues first hand. They were interested in providing more accountability and numeric reporting of unsuccessful adoptions.”
Failed adoptions lead children to feel unwanted, Amber Given, the program director for Peppers Ranch, said.
“I worked with foster care kids extensively and one of the trends I see happening is kids coming into higher levels of care and group care because their adoptive placements haven’t worked out,” Given said. “Some kids I’ve seen have been adopted multiple times or been in adoptive homes but the adoptions were never successful. So there was a huge feeling of rejection and not being wanted.”
Given said she had also heard from adoptive parents who have genuinely wanted to take in a child but felt overwhelmed and unable to cope with problems they were not equipped for.
“Is there something we can do before the adoption takes place,” Given said. “Is there some way we can identify why these adoptions are failing? Do we need to provide the adoptive parents with more assistance on the front end of the adoption? Do we need to provide more on the back end, after the adoption? We just need to know what we can do to make this more successful.”
DHS publishes statistics on its successful adoptions and should have to show how many were unsuccessful, Murphey said.
“We need to have this measure in order to ensure transparency and understand the quality of DHS work in these cases,” Murphey said. “When the state fails a child, it is important we understand these unsuccessful adoptions and work on them. I am hoping that this will be used as a tool to improve the process when it doesn’t work.”
Senate Bill 794 will next receive a vote from the full Oklahoma House of Representatives. Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, authored the measure in the state Senate, where it passed 47-0.