SALT LAKE CITY — Utah took another step Monday toward becoming part of an interstate compact that would allow states to share information on putative father registries.
The Utah Legislature's House Business and Labor Committee gave unanimous approval to the latest version of SB10, sponsored by Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City.
"What the bill does is create a compact so we can invite other states to share information we currently have in our vital records," she said.
In Utah, unmarried men who believe they may have fathered a child and want to start the process of preserving their parental rights can file a Notice of Commencement of Paternity Proceeding with the state Office of Vital Records and Statistics within the Utah Department of Health.
Under SB10, other states could participate in a compact to share the information regarding putative fathers who are attempting to preserve their parental rights but may not know where the biological mother resides.
Rep. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, the House sponsor of the bill, said he has adopted two children. Any measure that can help ensure the finality of an adoption would be welcomed by adoptive parents, he said.
If there is a possibility that an adoption could be contested after adoptive families believe it has been finalized, "that can be detrimental not only to the family, but devastating to the child," Anderegg said.
Registries are voluntary, he said. They allow someone who believes he may be a biological father of a child to register "and say, 'I may be the father of this child.' Between 37 states, I believe, they can share this information."
If a child is put up for adoption and a check of records of states participating in the compact locates the birth mother, paternity tests can be performed to determine whether there is a biological connection to the putative father before an adoption takes place.
"I signed on because I think this is exactly what we need in this state to make sure those adoptions can be absolute and final," Anderegg said.
Escamilla said the bill does not change any adoption laws or alter Utah's putative father registry process.
It provides a means for states to exchange information while protecting the privacy of men on putative father registries and biological mothers, she said.
"We want to share information. We have tools. We have what it takes. If other states are interested in sharing information with us, they will join the compact. The compact will be in place as of 2016," Escamilla said.
The bill already has passed the Utah Senate. It now moves to the House for its consideration.