Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge
Sound Off Louisiana viewers may recall a previous feature wherein the Louisiana State Law Institute (LSLI)’s Children’s Code Committee (CCC) objected to us videotaping their September 30, 2017 public meeting. Isabel Wingerter, a key member of the CCC, was by far the most vocal opponent to videotaping as evidenced by the preceding link.
Perhaps Ms. Wingerter’s frustration was that the camera would readily capture her admitting that, despite having well over a year to discuss and prepare a report to the Louisiana Legislature, as required by HCR-79 of the 2016 session sponsored by Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, the CCC had done zilch! The report is due no later than 60 days prior to the 2018 regular legislative session, or around January 18, 2018.
As a result of the CCC’s procrastination, Wingerter further indicated that it would now be “impossible” for legislation to be drafted in time for the 2018 session. Upon hearing that, as evidenced by the following video clip, Edmonds made it crystal clear that he will be proceeding with legislation in 2018 with or without the CCC’s assistance:
Wingerter indicates having adoption reform legislation in time for the 2018 session will be “impossible,” thus prompting Rep. Edmonds to indicate that he is moving forward in 2018 with or without LSLI’s assistance.
Soon after Edmonds’ revelation, which certainly appeared to catch the entire CCC off guard, several discussions ensued about the nature of the problem (prior to Edmonds’ bombshell revelation, any discussion was planned for December). Catholic Charities’ Paula Davis illustrated the problem that faith-based charities are encountering given the lucrative adoption incentives being offered to birth mothers. She also indicated that many of these payments should be covered by Medicaid, a point emphasized by Craig Mills, an alleged adoption scam victim, who has been previously profiled on Sound Off Louisiana. She also expressed alarm at the fact that payments are being made directly to birthmothers by adoptive couples. The following video highlights her concerns:
Davis outlines competitive problems Catholic charities face from lucrative adoption incentive payments and emphasizes what a problem direct payments from adoptive couples to birthmothers presents. The alleged scam Davis references, including the texting, may be viewed here.
The topic of direct payments got much more expansive, especially on the part of East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Court Judge Pamela Johnson, who indicated what a judge sees and files as payments often differs substantially from what was actually paid. The following video highlights that discussion:
Spirited discussion of the problems of direct payments from adoptive couples to birthmothers. According to Mills, Louisiana’s loose regulatory framework entailing those payments have led to the state being labeled “ground zero” for adoption scams and have purportedly encouraged birthmothers to be recruited to Louisiana and to relocate from states like New York and California in order to exploit Louisiana’s loose regulations. In addition to the Mills alleged scam referenced previously, this Central couple was recently extensively profiled as the alleged victim of an adoption scam.
Amazingly, at the September 18, 2018 meeting of the Baton Rouge Press Club, DCFS Executive Director Marketa Garner Walters, indicated to Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns that she has “no knowledge” of adoption scams transpiring in Louisiana. The following brief video illustrates her making that point:
Walters indicates no knowledge of Louisiana adoption scams.
Sound Off Louisiana does wish to acknowledge that Ms. Walters honored her commitment expressed in the video above to speak at length with Mills over the phone. Her staff has further promised to review not only material that he originally submitted (for which he lambasted the agency’s inaction) but also to review additional material that he indicated he’ll be presenting to the agency.
Finally, a key player for any adoption reform initiative for the 2018 Legislative Session will be Rob Tazman, Executive Director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops. Tazman largely kept a low profile during much of the meeting (as did Edmonds), but here is a brief video of him introducing himself:
Tazman introduces himself to the CCC.
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