Durham Jones & Pinegar Associate Ray Johnson, assisted pro-bono in drafting an Adoption Ethics Bill (SB 89) that will be introduced in the 2017 legislative session. The Chief Sponsor of the bill is Sen. Luz Escamilla from Senate District 5.
If enacted, this bill will amend minimum ethical standards for child-placing agencies, i.e., companies that facilitate the adoption of infants.
Mr. Johnson explains his support for this measure:
“Imagine you have waited 2 years and paid $35,000 to finally arrive at a meeting where, at last, a newborn baby will be placed in your arms. But first, there is legal paperwork. You are asked to sign a legal waiver of all claims you might have. At that moment, if you refuse to sign, you will walk away from the baby you hoped to bring home. You will also forfeit all fees paid.
This is the pressure routinely exploited by adoption agencies, and they use it to extract a waiver so broad that it includes intentional misconduct, care of the child, future harms, including ‘all claims’ – without any exceptions.
Such waivers are largely unenforceable under Utah law. But the adoption agencies have every incentive to ignore the law and over-reach. They rely on adoptive parents, who simply assume that the agreement is valid. Most adoptive parents can ill afford legal fees to finalize the adoption, let alone fight the agency in court. One or two adoptive parents might fight back, but the settlement agreement is bound to be confidential, enabling the wider practice to continue. This Bill aims to ban these unfair practices.”
Detail, updates, hearings and debates, as well as the bill text can be found at: http://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/SB0089.html