I have a niece named Iris, who is one of the most extraordinary young women I've ever known. From the day she came into our family, she has filled our lives with love and joy. And every time I'm with her, I am grateful my sister Peggy was able to adopt her from China years ago.
Every child needs and deserves to grow up, safe and sound, in a loving home. But sometimes that's not the kind of environment a child's biological parents can provide.
When parents or relatives aren't able to care for children, adoption can help give kids the permanent families they deserve. And, when adoptive families are not available in the places where these children live, inter-country adoptions can help find them a loving home abroad.
I firmly believe that ethical and transparent inter-country adoption is a critical part of the international children's welfare system. It helps ensure that kids receive the love and support they need to grow into healthy and productive adults. I've seen it firsthand. That's why I worked hard in the Senate to help families navigate past roadblocks in the international adoption process. It's also why I was proud to be a member of Senator Landrieu's caucus on adoption.
Today the United States is one of 90 countries that are party to the Hague Adoption Convention -- a set of internationally supported principles aimed at protecting both birth and adoptive parents and, most importantly, adopted children.
And thanks to a law President Obama signed this past January, one I co-sponsored when I was a U.S. Senator, today these adoptions are safer than ever. Every U.S.-accredited inter-country adoption provider -- in every country, around the world -- must adhere to a set of strong, universal standards that make the well-being of kids the top priority.
The State Department's adoption website -- adoption.state.gov -- is a great resource for anyone who is interested in learning more. Our Bureau of Consular Affairs keeps this site updated with the latest country information sheets, adoption processes, and developments that may affect inter-country adoption.
Over the past decade, more than 200,000 children -- from more than 100 countries -- were adopted by American families. And as we mark National Adoption Month this November, the Department of State commits to doing our part to find loving homes for thousands and thousands more.