CHICAGO -- Governor Rod Blagojevich today sent a letter to Cook County Circuit Judge Michael Murphy urging him to issue a ruling allowing Baby Tamia to be returned to the State of Illinois, where the Department of Children and Families is prepared to fully cooperate and facilitate Tamia’s safe return. The Governor also called on the Illinois General Assembly to pass House Bill 3628, State Representative Sara Feigenholtz’s proposal to de-commercialize and significantly reform adoption practices in Illinois to avoid future cases like that of Baby Tamia’s.
“The purpose of the Interstate Compact Administrator is to ensure that the adoption and placement of children is not only safe, but appropriate,” wrote the Governor in his letter to Judge Murphy. “This law ensures that the best interest of children is paramount. I am personally distressed over the violation of Illinois law and the handling of the Baby Tamia adoption by the A Cherished Child Adoption Agency. Birth parents are extremely vulnerable during the adoption process and need to be protected.”
“I support the Governor’s desire to expedite this process and return Baby Tamia to her family,” said Bishop Larry D. Trotter of Sweet Holy Spirit Church in Chicago, where Tamia’s mother and grandmother are members. “The family has gone through quite a bit, and we are walking with them every step of the way.”
To improve the way adoptions are handled in the state of Illinois and to help put the state at the forefront of protecting adoptive and birth families, Governor Blagojevich endorsed House Bill 3628 sponsored by State Representative Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) that would:
· Stop unethical adoption practice in Illinois
· End inconsiderate treatment of birth parents
· Stop private agencies like A Cherished Child Adoption Agency from advertising in Illinois
“As policymakers, we have a responsibility to the adoptive parents, the birth parents and – most importantly – to children whose lives hang in the balance,” said Rep. Feigenholtz, who herself was adopted and has been the lead advocate of adoption reform in the General Assembly.
More specifically, the legislation would help achieve these goals by:
- Requiring all adoption service providers to be licensed
- Strengthening the law that prohibits agencies from misleading birth parents regarding post-adoption contact
- Ensuring that birth parents and adoptive parents are advised of their rights
- Ensuring that adoptive parents are informed about the health background of their adoptive children
- Allowing the public to learn about unethical adoption agencies by establishing a toll-free complaint registry with DCFS
Current law allows adoption agencies to operate as for-profit businesses, with no limits on fees they can charge, no limit on how much profit they can make or salaries they pay themselves, and no binding commitment to act in the best interests of children and families. With the proposed changes, only agencies licensed in Illinois will be permitted to advertise in Illinois. Their license number would have to be cited in advertising.
“DCFS strongly endorses Rep. Feigenholtz’ bill because it would help prevent situations like what has happened with Baby Tamia,” said Bryan Samuels, DCFS Director. “The changes included in the bill would help improve regulation and oversight of adoption agencies that the State of Illinois licenses and increase protection of the children and the public that these agencies serve,” he added.