Sen. Angus King presents Rep. Craig Hickman, with a 2015 Angels in Adoption award for his outstanding advocacy on adoption issues. Hickman was recognized by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute at an awards ceremony in Washington D.C. Courtesy photo.
By Ramona du Houx
A measure sponsored by Rep. Craig Hickman to prohibit the unauthorized “rehoming” of adopted children goes into effect Oct. 15. "Rehoming" is a form of buying and selling children once they have been legally adopted. It's slavery and the USA lacks laws protecting these children.
The Maine law prohibits the transfer of the long-term care and custody of a child without a court order. Hickman, adopted when he was a baby, has been involved in adoptee rights issues for the past 20 years.
“Imagine being shipped across oceans to a new culture with a new language to become part of a new family, only to have that family decide that they don’t want you. And since it is not against the law, that family advertises you on Facebook or Craigslist or some other social media platform and within days you are dropped off to another stranger in a parking lot behind some Walmart somewhere,” said Hickman, D-Winthrop. “Yes, this actually happens.”
Sen. Angus King honored Hickman with a 2015 Angels in Adoption award for his outstanding advocacy of adoption issues. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, which orchestrates the Angels in Adoption Program, honored Hickman this week.
The Angels in Adoption Program honors individuals, couples and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions on behalf of children in need of families.
The Judiciary Committee passed the bill unanimously with an amendment to make rehoming a crime subject to the current penalties for abandonment. It includes an affirmative defense clause to ensure people acting in good faith are not penalized.
“This law will protect children and families from the outrageous indignity called rehoming and send a clear message to adoptees here and all over the nation that Maine people care about the safety and welfare of all our children,” Hickman said.
According to the Washington Times, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio and Wisconsin also have adopted laws against rehoming.
“When I saw the votes in favor of this bill, I was moved to tears,” said Hickman. “This is the most important bill I’ve introduced so far. As an adopted person, it goes to the core of who I am. It feels like the culmination of two decades of work. I am so grateful to my colleagues for their support.”
Hickman is serving his second term in the Maine House and represents Readfield, Winthrop and part of Monmouth.