INDIANAPOLIS – As Indiana’s near-total abortion ban takes effect, some Hoosiers are renewing their calls on lawmakers to take a closer look at adoption services and the foster care system.
It’s not clear what impact the abortion law will have on the number of adoptions in Indiana or the number of kids who enter the foster system.
While lawmakers did approve some funding for social services last session, some foster parents and advocacy groups feel more is needed to help children and their families.
“The placements that we had have ranged from six months to three years,” said Samantha Bonty, a foster parent in Lawrence.
Bonty and her husband have taken in 14 foster children over the past four years for both short- and long-term care. She has seen firsthand some of the challenges facing Indiana’s foster care system.
“One of our biggest struggles in the last year was we changed caseworkers three times,” Bonty said.
That turnover often means less support for foster families, Bonty said.
Others say families of both foster and adopted children also need more financial support. Shannon Schumacher, who runs The Villages of Indiana – an agency that provides foster care and adoption services – points out a private adoption costs around $40,000.
“We know that if there’s 1,000 new babies, which is very, very likely that are going to need child care, that’s $18 million right there,” Schumacher said.
During the special session, the Indiana legislature approved $75 million in new funding for social services. It also more than doubled the adoption tax credit.
Statehouse Republicans have pledged to do more when they return to the Statehouse in January.
State Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Granger) says she wants to find ways to lower the costs of adoptions and speed up the process.
“It takes too long for someone to adopt,” Rogers said. “And secondly, the cost is so high.”
Statehouse Democrats are also looking to increase funding for social services.
“I’m thinking in terms of our kinship care… the funding needs to be increased,” said State Rep. Carolyn Jackson (D-Hammond).
Meanwhile, Samantha Bonty says there’s always a need for more foster parents.
“It doesn’t take a drastically special person to be a foster parent,” Bonty said. “It just takes someone who cares.”