David Guterson’s Op-Ed on Revamping WA State Adoption Laws

David Guterson is well-known for his books, such as Snow Falling on Cedars. He lives on Bainbridge Island, a quick ferry ride from Seattle, with his family. Like me, he is an adoptive parent, and has followed the Larry and Carri Williams’ case closely.

Today’s Seattle Times (September 12) included this op-ed by David, urging an overhaul of Washington State adoption laws.

David writes that “efforts at adoption reform should focus on vetting prospective adoptive parents and on insuring that children are not placed in homes where they will be abused. Current preplacement and home-study practices don’t work.

After Larry Williams was convicted, his attorneys stated that he was ‘naive and unprepared to deal with’ the challenges inherent in the adoptions he had undertaken. It is exactly that sort of naiveté and lack of preparation we must address through legislation. The time for reform has come.”

I testified earlier this year in Olympia on behalf of HB 1675, a bill David cites in his op-ed, to bring about some of the changes needed in terms of preparation and home study requirements. Information about the bill is available in my post here, “In Remembrance of Hana.” David also notes in the op-ed that the bill, unfortunately, went nowhere.

Here’s hoping that the Washington State legislature will be more open and brave in bringing about much-needed changes to protect children.

I also hope the voices of adult Ethiopian adoptees will be an important part of the legislation and the reform process.

As I wrote in my post Hana’s Legacy, strong, meaningful adoption policy reform would be a long-lasting tribute to her brief but valuable life.