The Arkansas Senate unanimously passed two bills this afternoon intended to address the issue of “rehoming” adopted children.
The bills are intended to work in concert with one another. HB 1648, by Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville), would address post-adoptive services offered by the Department of Human Services to parents of adopted children. HB 1676 makes it a felony to rehome an adopted child with another family; it does not affect biological parents and children. That bill is sponsored by Rep. David Meeks (R-Conway).
The legislation was authored in response to a story published in the Times that revealed Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) and his wife had sent two adopted girls to live with another family (who were friends of the Harrises) in 2013. One of the girls was then sexually abused by the father at the new home. The children were ages 3 and 5 at the time they were sent away from the Harris home and had only been living in the household for about a year.
Because the bills were amended in the Senate, they’ll now go back to the House. Assuming the House concurs in the Senate’s amendments, the two bills will then head to Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The governor has also ordered an independent review of the DHS child welfare system.