U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) announced today the introduction of legislation to ensure family planning service projects and programs effectively promote information about adoption. The Adoption Information Act (S.1539) would require federal grant recipients to provide assurances to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding their plan to issue adoption promotion literature. Original cosponsors of the Adoption Information Act include Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and John Thune (R-S.D.).
"Adoption forever changes the lives of countless children in need of a good home and parents who feel the call to form or enrich a loving family," said Senator Fischer. "Unfortunately, many individuals utilizing family planning services do not receive adequate information about this important opportunity for birth and adoptive parents. It is critical that those seeking these services are informed of all options available to them. This legislation helps make sure the option of adoption is effectively promoted."
"This is an important initiative that will enhance knowledge of adoption for families looking to provide a permanent and loving home for a child," said Senator Inhofe. "I am proud to work with Sen. Fischer and my colleagues to ensure continued improvements are made to further promote and enhance the adoption process."
"Actively promoting the benefits of adoption can open the doors for more children to be placed with loving families. This measure would instruct family planning agencies to spread the word about adoption services, and to do so within the Department of Health and Human Services budget," Senator Cochran said.
"One way we can continue to promote a culture of life is to help every child find a good home to live in and a loving family to share their lives with," said Senator Enzi. "I thank Senator Fischer for her leadership on this issue and for promoting adoption as a viable option for many families and individuals across the country."
"Providing women with greater access to adoption information embraces life and ought to be included in any family planning discussion," said Senator Johanns. "Adoption is a worthy, loving option with life-changing impacts. I strongly support this measure that discourages abortion and supports life."
"Every child deserves the opportunity to be part of a permanent and loving family," Senator Moran said. "Individuals using federal family planning programs should be educated about adoption to ensure they're making a fully informed decision. The Adoption Information Act makes certain adoption is promoted as a viable option."
"Knowing and understanding the available options is critical to ensuring birth parents and adoptive parents have the information they need," said Senator Thune. "More can be done to make information available to those seeking services and to ensure that each family makes an informed decision. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to move this legislation through Congress."
Specifically, the legislation would require family service project or program grant recipients to:
Provide each person served by the project or program a pamphlet containing a list of all the adoption centers in the state, along with contact information, at the time that person inquires about family planning services;
Verbally inform each person that the pamphlet was provided by HHS and contains a list of adoption centers located in the state; and
Provide clients with an opportunity to read the pamphlet.
Under this bill, HHS is required to prepare, distribute, and update annually the pamphlets provided to individuals and families. Additionally, the bill makes clear HHS can only use previously appropriated funds to carry out these requirements.
In 2007, there were just 18,078 infant adoptions in the United States, a rate of 4.2 domestic infant adoptions per 1,000 live births, according to the National Council for Adoption.
Last month, Congressman Robert Wittman (R-Va.) introduced similar legislation (HR.3062), which is awaiting action in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. Wittman applauded the introduction of Fischer's bill and released the following statement:
"I was adopted as an infant, so I understand how important it is for birth mothers to be aware that adoption is an option and have access to the tools to locate and contact their local adoption agencies, which is why I was proud to introduce the Adoption Information Act in the House of Representatives. I also recognize that domestic adoptions are more important now than ever as countries like Russia are closing their doors to American adoptions. There are many safe and loving American families that yearn to give a child a permanent home."
The Adoption Information Act is supported by the National Council for Adoption, Nebraska Children's Home Society, and Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parents Association.