AUGUSTA – The Maine Legislature on Tuesday unanimously overrode the governor’ veto of a bill sponsored by Rep. Craig Hickman to prohibit the unauthorized “rehoming” of adopted children.
Hickman’s bill, LD 1342, addresses this practice. It prohibits the transfer of the long-term care and custody of a child without a court order. Hickman, adopted when he was a baby, has been involved in adoptee rights issues for the past 20 years.
“Imagine being shipped across oceans to a new culture with a new language to become part of a new family, only to have that family decide that they don’t want you. And since it is not against the law, that family advertises you on Facebook or Craigslist or some other social media platform and within days you are dropped off to another stranger in a parking lot behind some Walmart somewhere,” said Hickman, D-Winthrop. “Yes, this actually happens.”
The Judiciary Committee passed the bill unanimously with an amendment to make rehoming a crime subject to the current penalties for abandonment. It includes an affirmative defense clause to ensure people acting in good faith are not penalized.
The first time Hickman ever testified before a legislative body was before the same committee. In 2005, he spoke in favor of a bill that would allow adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates, which had been sealed when their adoptions were finalized. That bill became law in 2007 and took effect in 2009.
“This legislation will protect children and families from the outrageous indignity called re-homing and send a clear message to adoptees here and all over the nation that Maine people care about the safety and welfare of all our children,” Hickman said.
According to the Washington Times, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio and Wisconsin also have adopted laws against rehoming.
“When I saw the votes in favor of this bill light up the board all green, I was moved to tears,” said Hickman. “This is the most important piece of legislation I’ve introduced thus far. As an adopted person, it goes to the core of who I am. It feels like the culmination of two decades of work. I am forever grateful to my colleagues for their overwhelming support.”
Hickman is serving his second term in the Maine House and represents Readfield, Winthrop and part of North Monmouth at the foot of Mt. Pisgah.