- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Lawmakers are working to speed up adoptions and improve outcomes for parents and children with legislation advancing in the Senate.

Three House bills that unanimously passed the Senate on Thursday change the timeline for certain adoptions. One bill shortens to three months from six months the time needed for finalizing the adoption of a child less than 1 year old. Another bill gives birth parents five business days to change their minds about terminating custody. It also lets birth parents give consent for adoptions out of court in order to save time and money.

Bill sponsor Rep. Kenneth Kurtz, R-Coldwater, said lawmakers aim to establish a more “efficient” adoption process that “gives a safety net for the mother” and creates better opportunities for children. He called the three bills “a good, basic start” to an ongoing process.

“The outcome is going to be a little smother process, better understood. I think we’re going to be addressing it earlier on when one expresses the desire for adoption,” said Kurtz, who chairs the Families, Children and Seniors Committee.

The third bill clarifies an unmarried father’s adoption rights. The legislation now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder.

“We should be united in raising the value of life in our society by ensuring a bright future for all of our children,” House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, said in a statement. “Passage of these bills will improve the adoption process for all parties involved - birth mothers, children and new parents who are eager to make a child part of their loving family.”

The Senate is still considering other adoption legislation in the package.

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