It took about three years for state Rep. David Meade, R-Stanford, and his wife, Rebecca, to adopt their daughter, Cara, from Korea.
The average length of time to adopt a child in Kentucky is about 1.5 years.
Both types of adoptions can be done in a shorter amount of time, said Meade. “There’s a lot of redundancy involved in the process,” he said.
House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, tapped Meade and Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Louisville, Wednesday to co-chair an eight-member, bipartisan Adoption Work Group to study how to streamline Kentucky’s adoption process for people who want to adopt children in and out of the state.
At a news conference in the Capitol Annex, Hoover charged the group with finding legislative solutions to improve Kentucky’s adoption process, and to present draft legislative to him by Dec. 1 in time for consideration in the 2018 lawmaking session that begins in January.
Hoover appointed five Republicans and three Democrats to the work group. In addition to Meade and Jenkins, they are Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington; Jeff Donohue, D-Fairdale; Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort; Donna Mayfield, R-Winchester; Melinda Prunty, R-Greenville; and Russell Webber, R-Shepherdsville.
Over the years, the adoption process has grown more cumbersome due to increasing paperwork and escalating cost, both of which have had an unfavorable effect on the number of families seeking to adopt, said Hoover.
He said Kentucky has more than 8,000 children in out-of-home placement, with about half in foster care.
Only about 25 percent of children in foster care are adopted, Hoover said. “The question I’ve asked, could that number be higher if the process was more streamlined.”
The new work group comes as Gov. Matt Bevin prepares to announce an “adoption/foster care czar” for the state. He said Tuesday during a radio interview with Tom Roten on WVHU in Huntington, W.Va., that he had hoped to have the position filled already but the person he has hired is involved in another job that he could not leave immediately.
Bevin described the new “czar” as an adoptive father and former military officer.
After their application to adopt a daughter from Kentucky’s foster care system was denied because they already had five children, Bevin and his wife, Glenna, adopted four children —between the ages of 2 and 10 — from Ethiopia in June 2012.
Bevin has also said he believes Kentucky churches can play a bigger role in adoptions.