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Finding a loving home for children should be the primary focus of adoption agencies, but if a bill passes the Arizona Legislature, marriage might become the focus instead.

Arizona House Bill 2148 severely limits the options adoption agencies will have when attempting to find a child a family. Under this new bill, the chief concern to legally adopt a child is now the marital status of the parents.

The bill states that adoption agencies “must give primary consideration to adoptive placement with a married couple and may consider placement with a single person only if a qualified married couple is not available.”

The bill does allow for exceptions where single people are given priority. Examples are when the single person is a relative of the child or the other option is prolonged foster care. Regardless, this bill is a reversal of current law, which gives everyone a fair shake in the adoption process.

“Under the current law married people and single people are treated the same. The current law looks out for what is the best interest of the child,” said Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, who serves as the Assistant Minority Leader.

If this law passes, priorities will change — and not for the better. The focus shifts from finding the child a loving family to whether mom and dad have tied the knot.

“The new bill would take what is in the best interest of the child off the top of the list of considerations and put marriage as the number one consideration,” Sinema added.

Single, adoptive parents will become a thing of the past. This affects the children because the number of prospective parents will be cut significantly. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 33 percent of adoptive parents are single.

“Single people will stop going through training to [become] adoptive parents,” Sinema said.

The process would be anything but certain, and very time-consuming. If they are not likely to get a child, it is unfair to aspiring single parents to go through the training process. All their efforts might be for naught.

This bill does not just hurt prospective single parents, but children who are less likely to be adopted.

“Single women are also more likely to take special needs, kids of color and older kids, which are the hardest kids to find families for,” Sinema said.

If no single parent is available, then adoption agencies will have a harder time finding a home for these children because married couples are statistically less likely to adopt a child from one of these categories.

This is not the first time the state government has tried to dictate what a family should look like. A bill similar to this was introduced in 2006, but thankfully was killed. Let us hope that HB 2148 will suffer a similar fate.

At first glance, this bill targets single people, but a closer examination reveals that children are the ones really hurt. Less of them will be able to find a loving home. And finding a loving home is never too much to ask for.

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