2005 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare
By: Senator(s) Nunnelee
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 43-15-117, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE ALL ADOPTION AGENCIES OR OTHER PERSONS WHO ADVERTISE FOR ADOPTION SERVICES TO SHOW THEIR OFFICE LOCATION ON ALL MEDIA ADVERTISEMENTS; TO PROVIDE THAT AN ATTORNEY WHO PROVIDES LEGAL SERVICES TO A CLIENT IN CONNECTION WITH ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS FOR THE CLIENT SHALL NOT BE REQUIRED TO HAVE A LICENSE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 43-15-117, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-15-117. (1) Except as provided in this article, no person, agency, firm, corporation, association or group children's home may engage in child placing, or solicit money or other assistance for child placing, without a valid license issued by the division. No child-placing agency shall advertise in the media markets in Mississippi seeking birth mothers or their children for adoption purposes unless the agency holds a valid and current license issued either by the division or the authorized governmental licensing agency of another state that regulates child-placing agencies. Any child-placing agency, physician or attorney who advertises for child placing or adoption services in Mississippi shall be required by the division to show their principal office location on all media advertising for adoption services.
(2) An attorney who provides legal services to a client in connection with proceedings for the adoption of a child by the client, who does not receive, accept or provide custody or care for the child for the purposes specified in Section 43-15-103(c), shall not be required to have a license under this article to provide those legal services.
(3) An attorney, physician or other person may assist a parent in identifying or locating a person interested in adopting the parent's child, or in identifying or locating a child to be adopted. However, no payment, charge, fee, reimbursement of expense, or exchange of value of any kind, or promise or agreement to make the same, may be made for that assistance.
(4) Nothing in this section precludes payment of reasonable fees for medical, legal or other lawful services rendered in connection with the care of a mother, delivery and care of a child including, but not limited to, the mother's living expenses, or counseling for the parents and/or the child, and for the legal proceedings related to lawful adoption proceedings; and no provision of this section abrogates the right of procedures for independent adoption as provided by law.
(5) The division is specifically authorized to promulgate rules under the Administrative Procedures Law, Title 25, Chapter 43, Mississippi Code of 1972, to regulate fees charged by licensed child-placing agencies, if it determines that the practices of those licensed child-placing agencies demonstrates that the fees charged are excessive or that any of the agency's practices are deceptive or misleading; however, those rules regarding fees shall take into account the use of any sliding fee by an agency that uses a sliding fee procedure to permit prospective adoptive parents of varying income levels to utilize the services of those agencies or persons.
(6) The division shall promulgate rules under the Administrative Procedures Law, Title 25, Chapter 43, Mississippi Code of 1972, to require that all licensed child-placing agencies provide written disclosures to all prospective adoptive parents of any fees or other charges for each service performed by the agency or person, and file an annual report with the division that states the fees and charges for those services, and to require them to inform the division in writing thirty (30) days in advance of any proposed changes to the fees or charges for those services.
(7) The division is specifically authorized to disclose to prospective adoptive parents or other interested persons any fees charged by any licensed child-placing agency, attorney or counseling service or counselor for all legal and counseling services provided by that licensed child-placing agency, attorney or counseling service or counselor.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.