'Baby Veronica' Case Spurs Proposed Change In Oklahoma Adoption Law

Sunday, January 26th 2014, 10:05 am
By: News On 6

A new bill has been proposed that would change adoption law in Oklahoma.

The bill, introduced by State Rep. Wade Rousselot, (D) Okay, would require both birth parents to go before a judge to sign away their parental rights. The parents would not have to appear at the same time. Under current Oklahoma law, a birth parent does not have to go before a judge and can use a notary public to sign away parental rights.

10/10/2013 Related Story: Biological Father Of 'Baby Veronica,' Dusten Brown, Drops Legal Fight

Two high-profile adoption cases have spurred a bill to change adoption laws here in Oklahoma.

Rousselot adopted a child 16 years ago and knows what it's like to go through that process.

He said Oklahoma law needs to be changed to give birth parents more rights.

It was a story that dominated headlines last summer with a 4-year-old little girl at its center.

Veronica is now living in South Carolina with her adoptive parents.

Her biological father, Dusten Brown, fought for years to get custody.

Brown relinquished his parental rights, but he claimed he never realized what was happening until it was too late.

10/15/2013 Related Story: Despite OK Court Order, South Carolina Couple Not Giving Up Baby Desirai

It's very similar to the Baby Desirai case.

She's also in South Carolina and the Oklahoma man who is her biological father said he never knew she was placed for adoption.

"I followed that from afar in the news but I understand, after watching that this last summer, that when asked to file the bill, I don't want to see that ever happen again," Rousselot said.

Rousselot adopted his daughter 16 years ago and has introduced House Bill 2442 in the Oklahoma legislature, which he calls the 'Truth in Adoption' bill.

Linda Kats/Broken Arrow Resident: "I could almost call this Veronica's Law, just about, because they were a tremendous springboard," Broken Arrow resident Linda Kats said.

Kats Rep. Rousselot write the proposed law.

"Fathers, absolutely have no rights written into our legislation," she said.

The bill would require birth parents to go before a judge to sign away parental rights.

If the biological parent can't be found, then a close family member could step in, and it also states the child's best interest is to be raised by the biological family.

Rousselot admits the bill would slow down the adoption process but says that's the point -- to make sure every base is covered.

"It's all for the right reasons to make sure that two years later someone doesn't come forward and say, 'I'm the birth father, that child was adopted and I never was asked. I was never approached,'" he said.