Many years ago we had the blessing of bringing home the three adorable children we had adopted in Germany. They’re all grown up now and have given us four precious grandchildren. How grateful we are that those were easier times to adopt a baby from a foreign country. Sadly, now, too many international adoption doors are being closed– sad for the homeless children and sad for the prospective parents.
One woman is not standing idly by while this is happening. United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, is trying to remedy the problem. Too many children needing a loving home are stuck in orphanages with little hope of ever enjoying the blessing of a stable, loving home life. Senator Landrieu released the following statement to the press March 21, 2014:
I am saddened, but not surprised, by the continued collapse in international adoptions. Russia’s adoption ban only accounts for one quarter of the losses this year. We also saw dramatic declines in China, Ethiopia, and South Korea. The United States intercountry adoption program is suffocating fast, while the Department of State stands by, doing next to nothing. Without major reform as called for in Children in Families First Act now before Congress, the international adoption program in the United States will fall to zero in about four years. Meanwhile the number of children living without families grows every day, and millions of children languish in institutions or worse.
The press release went on to state that Senator Landrieu is not alone. In September 2013, she and several other senators from both political parties introduced the Children in Families First (CHIFF) Act. “CHIFF is built on the idea that American law should reflect the simple human truth that children need families. Around the world, millions of children are growing up without parental care, in institutions or worse.”
The report further stated, “Recent science shows that growing up under these circumstances causes terrible developmental damage to children, which is often irreparable. The number of these vulnerable children continues to grow every day– we need to and can do better.”
As international adoptive parents ourselves, my husband and I have personally watched not only our own children, but our friends who are raising children they adopted from other countries. In every case, these are children who were suffering in orphanages, as were ours. Adoption has changed these children’s lives forever. They are flourishing in their opportunities to learn and become valuable, contributing citizens. For this opportunity to be shut down is tragic.
Report in USA TODAY
Advocating for foreign adoption, writer Foster Friess in USA TODAY said, “Every child should at least grow up in family, rather than without one.
“This is so obvious that we don’t think about it much. But for many children, a family is something they do not know. The United Nations Children’s Fund reports that more than 18 million children worldwide have lost both parents to the ravages of AIDS, starvation, war, or natural disasters.
“Yet adoptions by U.S. families of children from other countries fell by over 62% in the last eight years. This is not due to lack of American demand. Would-be adoptive parents have to struggle for years through a bureaucratic obstacle course at an average cost of $30,000.
“Many foreign governments allow children to languish for years in severely compromised lifestyles. The U.S. State Department is not only of little help, but often contributes to the long delays.”
Friess went on to say, “As Sen. Landrieu has said she wants to ensure that the United States advocates for family preservation, family reunification, and, when necessary, family creation through adoption.
“And when the only good option for children is to join American families, her proposal ensures that U.S. immigration law makes the process as easy as possible.”
What You Can Do
If you are interested in helping these orphaned children find homes with adoptive parents– maybe even in your home– there is something you can do. Contact your representatives and senators. See where they stand on Senator Landrieu’s proposal. They may be on the line, not knowing which way to lean. You can help them see the value of making these adoptions more accessible and possible.
Be prepared with information that may help them see how important it is for these doors to be opened. Nothing is more persuasive than a story of yourself or someone you know who has adopted internationally or who is eagerly awaiting that opportunity. Let them hear the passion in your voice. That can be one of the most convincing arguments– the kind that motivates action on their parts.
Here is where you can locate your congress members.
Click on your state on the map and the names and contact information of your representatives and senators will pop up. It can’t get much easier than that. Either send them an email or call them. If enough people do this, then the international adoption doors may open wider and with less hassle.
A Little More About CHIFF
Sen. Landrieu’s website gives a description of CHIFF.
“WHAT CHIFF DOES:
-Prioritizes family as a key element of U.S. foreign policy so that every child can have a permanent, safe, and nurturing family through family preservation, family reunification, and family creation through kinship, domestic, and international adoption.
-Realigns U.S. departments and agencies to support the objectives of the 2012 International Action Plan on Children in Adversity, which includes as a central goal that all children grow up in families.
Reallocates a portion of existing international assistance funding for children so that it will do more to support family preservation, family reunification, and family creation through kinship, domestic, and international adoption.
Streamlines the roles of U.S. Government agencies in adoptions so that they will be better partners with states, the faith-based community, and accredited adoption agencies in their mission to unite children with families.”
Watch Senator Landrieu on YouTube
You may also click here to watch Senator Landrieu give her announcement for international adoption change at the press conference.
Let’s make a difference for children. Take action today.