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Evan Smith |
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013, 4:12 p.m.

Rep. Roberts bill in legislature aimed at protecting adopted children from abuse

A bill sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Mary Helen Roberts is aimed at protecting adopted children from abuse and neglect.

The House Judiciary committee, on which Roberts sits, heard the bill Wednesday morning.

The bill was inspired by the story of an adopted Ethiopian girl living in Sedro-Woolley. A couple of years ago, her adoptive parents starved her, abused her, beat her repeatedly and left her outside on a cold night, which ultimately killed her.

The report includes recommendations addressing each phase of the adoption process from assessing and training prospective adoptive parents to support services for adopted children and their families.

Roberts' bill to protect adopted children from abuse and neglect would establish procedures to identify, track and report adoption proceedings that fail or are not completed, require prospective parents to disclose their planned approach to discipline and punishment.

"This bill puts an emphasis on trying to do things right before the adoption takes place so that we know the child goes to a safe and caring home," Roberts said Thursday.

Roberts said that the state needs a process that does not shortcut concern for the safety and well-being of children.

"For us to have seen a placement that had been examined and approved, yet resulted in a fatality, says that we need to be very conscious and ask the questions, how is this child going to be parented and is this child going to be safe?" she asked.

In addition to her position on the judiciary committee, Roberts serves on the rules committee, the committee on early learning and human services and is vice chairwoman of the House Committee on Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Roberts represents the 21st Legislative District, including most of Edmonds, north Lynnwood, all of Mukilteo and part of south Everett.

Evan Smith can be reached at
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