Missouri lawmaker looks to offset adoption costs

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COLUMBIA – A new bill proposed by one state lawmaker could help pay some of the adoption costs for parents.

December 1 is the first day state lawmakers can pre-file bills for the 2016 legislative session. 

Bill sponsor and House Representative Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold) said adoption in Missouri can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000. He said his bill would bring the cost down to $500 for adoptive parents.

“If we can lower that cost, my hope is that we can get more adoptions and give some of these children a fighting chance to get out of the system and bureaucracy of government, and have a loving home and a loving family,” said Vescovo. 

The bill would require the children’s division to reimburse the adoptive parents for any nonrecurring fees over $500, such as attorney’s fees, court costs and other litigation costs associated with adoption. 

However DeAnna Alonso, the Executive Director for the Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association, said this bill is unnecessary because Missouri currently covers the out-of-pocket expenses due to a federal or state adoption subsidy. 

Alonso said the bill would require the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division to pay about $4 million.

“This would leave Missouri's kids lingering in foster care while private and international adoptions increase. Missouri has over 1000 kids awaiting adoption. We can't afford one more barrier for these kids to have a family,” Alonso said.

“What I’m trying to do is bring incentive also on the issue of abortion. I don’t know exactly how much an abortion costs, but I think adoption should be a comparable price,” said Vescovo.

Vescovo said while he is pro-life, he does not link his adoption bill to the current issues with Planned Parenthood in Missouri.

“There’s always going to be a hot button on each of the issues, whether it’s pro-abortion or pro-life. I’m not focusing so much on the abortion side of it, I’m focusing on the realization these children are wards of the state and they need to be given the same opportunities that I’ve been given,” said Vescovo.

There are currently more than 13,000 children in Missouri's foster care system, according to the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division.