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To: Senate Human Services
From: Christopher Dodson, Executive Director
Subject: House Bill 1534 - waiver of certain adoption requirements for licensed foster care providers
Date: March 15, 2023

The North Dakota Catholic Conference opposes House Bill 1534.

The processes for adoption home approval and foster care home approval include some of the same steps. They are, however, different processes, and those processes are shaped with different goals and purposes in mind. Equating the processes jeopardizes the overriding goal of achieving what is in the best interests of the child.

Sue Grundysen, the program director for adoption services at Village Family Services, has submitted testimony explaining the differences and the problems with this bill. When I read it, I thought I could not explain it better, and would merely refer the committee to her testimony.

Then I read the submitted testimony of Jean Nasers, the interim director for Christian Adoption Services, and thought the same thing. Then I reviewed the notes of Kara Eastlund, the director of the Adults Adopting Special Kids (AASK) program and Catholic Charities North Dakota. AASK works to place children in foster care into permanent homes. Although it discussed the original bill, it also does a great job of explaining the problems with House Bill 1534. (
Those notes are attached to my testimony.)

The three adoption agencies that facilitate almost all adoptions in North Dakota oppose this bill. I cannot explain the reasons as well as they do. The best I can do is offer an analogy.

There comes a point with every family where the parents have to leave for a few days and not take the children. They may decide that the kids can stay at Aunt Sally's and Uncle Bob’s for the weekend. They trust them to watch the kids for a weekend and Aunt Sally and Uncle Bob have the parents’ phone numbers if anything goes wrong.

This situation is very different than when the parents are meeting with their lawyer and deciding who should raise their children if both of them die. An entirely different set of considerations go into making that decision, compared to deciding about a weekend stay. Uncle Sally and Uncle Bob might be great for a short visit, but they may not be the right choice for permanently becoming parents.

We urge a
Do Not Pass recommendation on House Bill 1534.

What We Do

The North Dakota Catholic Conference acts on behalf of the Roman Catholic bishops of North Dakota to respond to public policy issues of concern to the Catholic Church and to educate Catholics and the general public about Catholic social doctrine.
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