Virginia Mom With Past Drug Record Challenges Lawmakers To Review Adoption Ban For Convicted Parents
A mom from Virginia is hoping lawmakers will review a law banning convicted parents or adults from adopting or fostering children. Laura Tarantino wants to expand her family but because of her past drug record, she cannot adopt a child as the state ban remains enforced.
Tarantino, then 21-years-old, went to prison in 2009 for a drug conviction for 15 months but she turned her life around upon her release. Now at 28, Tarantino, who is raising a 5-year-old son with husband Frederick, said they want to adopt.
Under West Virginia laws, however, individuals convicted of a drug-related felony are automatically denied the right to adopt or foster children for 10 years, according to Child Welfare. The state's stipulation is two times longer than federal standards for adoption bans.
Tarantino, who was also adopted as a baby, has written state's lawmakers many times to reconsider her case and she has yet to get a favorable reply. Rep. Robert B. Bell said the 10-year ban for drug convicts is reasonable.
"The paramount concern for adoption is to make sure that we find the safest and best placement for these children," Bell said, per The Washington Post. "The person who was convicted of the crime is obviously not just in a short-term better place but actually on an entirely new path," he added.
In other words, the state's ban was to ascertain drug convicts who have changed won't relapse. If they relapsed, it would have an effect on their adopted children.
How likely will Tarantino and other individuals like her relapse, though? Ten years is not a certain number and there is no specific number at all, meaning Tarantino could be of sound mind and body to raise kids now.
"I'm sure it's arbitrary in that I'm not aware of a study that says a person is truly clean at a certain point," toxicology expert Dr. Glen Hanson told ATTN. "The further you're away from drug use the more likely you are to stay away from it," he said.
Tarantino and her husband have other options, such as moving to another state where adoption bans are more relaxed. They have chosen to fight for the revision of the state's law instead.
"Make it so families like mine can have a chance at adopting without waiting arbitrarily," Tarantino challenged lawmakers. Watch her statement in the video below.