Adoption gets support of governor

January 28, 1995|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Sun Staff Writer

SUITLAND -- In a room filled with adoptive parents and their children, Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday portrayed himself as strongly committed to abortion alternatives.

Mr. Glendening highlighted a handful of programs, ranging from family counseling to child support enforcement, that he intends to upgrade to aid families who choose to raise children.

The announcement was clearly intended to blunt criticism the governor is receiving for proposing last week to loosen restrictions on abortions for Medicaid recipients.

The controversial proposal contained within Mr. Glendening's budget is expected to face strong opposition from anti-abortion legislators.

"I want to make 'choice' real and without financial restrictions," Mr. Glendening said during a news conference at a Prince George's County health center. "But there's another choice as well. The choice to have children, to have foster children, and to adopt."

Mr. Glendening said he hopes to make the adoption process less bureaucratic and time consuming. He has proposed reforms to the system and is setting up a commission to study other improvements.

The governor's budget includes money to hire 27 more adoption workers, a 50 percent increase in staff, and 200 more people to strengthen child support enforcement. He announced the opening of three new family support centers -- facilities where skills are taught to parents -- in Allegany, Washington and Frederick counties.

He said the state has also been granted a federal waiver to spend Medicaid funds to provide family planning and contraceptives to poor women who would not otherwise qualify for medical assistance. The governor also proposed setting up a special fund to leverage more federal dollars for child support enforcement.

The adoptive parents in attendance said they would welcome any help in speeding up the adoption process.

About 7,000 children are in foster care in Maryland, and 775 children are available for adoption, but the state finalized just 400 adoptions last year, officials said.

"We have over 1,000 children in foster care in Prince George's County -- the caseload is getting real high and the kids get lost in the system," said Helen F. Lanham of Lanham. "If parents can't get it together, we need to be able to move a child along."

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