The following is news from the Office of Sen. Mary Camacho Torres:
Recognizing that no unharmed infant should have to go into foster care, lawmakers supported a set of measures that would place relinquished newborns into Public Health-approved adoptive homes by a vote of 10-4 today.
If enacted, Bill Nos. 108-36 and 109-36 would allow adoption agencies that are contacted and selected by Child Protective Services to place a legally surrendered baby with an adoptive family instead of a foster home.
The measures were introduced at the request of former CPS management to ease the burden on the island’s foster care system. Guam currently has 450 children in foster care and less than 50 licensed foster families.
Under Guam law, adoptive families must undergo an extensive screening process which includes the Superior Court’s review of the adoptive parents, a home study report conducted by a social worker, and Public Health’s approval before the adoption is finalized.
“If an adoption agency brings unsuitable people to DPHSS, the adoption will not be approved. This is the same process that private attorneys are using to facilitate adoptions on Guam right now,” said Senator Torres. “Bills 108 and 109 simply recognize that a mother in distress should have just as much say in where her baby goes as a woman who can afford legal representation.”
According to the American Bar Association, infants entering foster care spend 33% more time in the system than older children. In other words, babies that start out in foster care, are more likely to stay longer —increasing the risk of trauma from multiple placements.
“Every child deserves to grow up in a stable and loving environment—not be taken from home to home because that’s just the ‘way it’s always been,’” said Senator Torres. “I thank my colleagues for standing by the facts and ask Governor Leon Guerrero to sign these into law soon.”