U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sam Brownback (R-KS), and Tim Johnson (D-SD) have introduced legislation to strengthen pre- and post-adoption support services for American adoptive families. The Supporting Adoptive Families Act would develop and expand training and resources for families adopting domestically or internationally, ensuring that both parents and children have the assistance and care they need to remain together. The bill would address the current shortage of adoption services available to families prior to and following adoptions, and it was inspired in part by the recent case of an American mother who returned her adoptive son to Russia because she felt unable to care for him.
"One of the biggest challenges facing adoptive parents is that there are simply not enough adoption support resources available," Klobuchar said. "Adopting children from foreign nations often requires extra assistance -- especially for older kids who have been living in institutions for years and may have suffered abuse and neglect. This bill highlights and builds upon the best practices developed by the adoption community and gives parents and children the care they need to build happy, loving families."
"As Co-Chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, I believe that all children deserve a permanent, loving family," Landrieu said. "A significant amount of time and resources have been spent to promote the adoption of children in foster care, particularly special needs and older youth. Yet we have ignored the reason why many families choose not to do so: because all supportive services stop upon completion of the adoption. This piece of legislation, the Supporting Adoptive Families Act, addresses the concerns of prospective adoptive families by providing pre- and post-adoption services. Additionally, it calls for an accurate reporting of failed and disrupted adoptions so that we can better understand how to increase the success rate of the adoption process."
Brownback said, "Adoption is a wonderful way for loving families to provide a home to children who otherwise may face a very difficult life. My family and I are very fortunate to have adopted two beautiful children, and we understand first-hand the challenges and responsibilities facing adoptive families. The legislation introduced by my colleagues and I will support families during the adoption process."
Specifically, the Supporting Adoptive Families Act would help improve pre- and post-adoptive support services for American families by:
* Focusing attention on the needs of both domestically and internationally adopted children
* Highlighting and providing additional funding for the best practices developed in the private sector
* Establishing a grant program for states to develop relevant mental health programs for adoptive children
* Developing an improved data system to track information about adoption disruptions and dissolutions to help prevent failed adoptions from occurring in the future.
The legislation has been endorsed by the North American Council on Adoptable Children and the Children's Home Society & Family Services.
Klobuchar and Landrieu introduced legislation earlier this year that would allow U.S. parents to adopt children who are siblings, even if one of those children is between the ages of 16 and 18, and to help protect children's health during the adoption process. The bill recently passed the Senate and has been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.