Monday, December 10, 2007

Senators Seek to Improve the Adoption Process

by Mary Boo, NACAC assistant director

On November 19, Senators Clinton and Rockefeller introduced the Adoption Improvement Act (S. 2395), which is designed to speed the adoptions of children from foster care. The legislation would provide $50,000,000 in funding to retain prospective adopters as they go through the process of adopting from foster care.

“We have made important advances in the child welfare system since the Adoption and Safe Families Act was introduced a decade ago, but we still have work to do in order to increase the number of adoptions nationwide,” Senator Clinton said, “This initiative will help the tens of thousands of children still waiting for families find permanent, loving homes.” (Read full statement.)

The legislation is designed to address barriers to adoption that were identified in a recent study by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in collaboration with Harvard University and the Urban Institute. The study found that each year, about 240,000 people in the United States will seek information about adopting a child from foster care. Only a very small fraction of these prospects end up actually adopting a foster child. As a result, thousands of needy children will remain in foster care and thousands of prospective parents will remain childless.

Research shows that prospective adoptive parents often face a number of barriers that discourage them from adopting children out of foster care, including difficulty in accessing the child welfare agency and unpleasant experiences during critical initial contacts with the child welfare agency, as well as ongoing frustration with the agency or aspects of the process.

To address these barriers, the act would provide funding to at least 10 child welfare agencies to enable them to implement projects to effect long-range improvements in the adoption process by increasing prospective adoptive parent access to adoption information and strengthening such agencies’ responsiveness to prospective adoptive parents.

This legislation would be a good first step to helping ensure that all 114,000 children waiting to be adopted have the best opportunities to find a forever family of their own. “I believe that success today is when we hear of a child who has found a loving home, and when we see a sad situation turn into an inspirational story of hope,” Senator Rockefeller said. “But success tomorrow will be when we reach each and every child – when not one is left wondering who is there to love them, when not one is left without a nurturing home.”

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