Bush Signs Bill Promoting Adoption of Foster Care System Kids
by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
December 3, 2003
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — It’s been said that one of the best ways to end abortion is to promote adoption. As a result, pro-life leaders are proud of a measure, signed by President George W. Bush, designed to streamline the adoption process.
The Adoption Promotion Act of 2003 will increase incentives for states that encourage the adoption of older children. During the signing ceremony, the President said, "This is a proven way to increase the placement of children from foster care to permanent homes, and each one of those homes will be richer for the addition of new family members."
The President also noted the joy couples can experience in adopting children.
"Welcoming a child into your home and calling that child your son or daughter is a major decision. It is never to be made lightly. Yet so many parents who have made that decision, count it among life’s greatest and happiest turning points. And so I hope more Americans, after careful thought and prayer, will make the decision to adopt a boy or girl of their own," President Bush said.
The new law represents a renewal of legislation passed in 1997. It means that $4,000 per child is passed from the federal government to states that exceeded their adoption placement totals from the previous year.
States will also receive an added $4,000 for each adoption of a child 9 years and older. Under the measure, the Department of Health and Human Services must also monitor adoption efforts by the states.
The President noted that, thanks to tax incentives and a new website, adoptions have risen dramatically in recent years.
"In just five years, from 1998 to 2002, the states placed more than 230,000 children in adoptive homes, about the same number that had been adopted in the previous 10 years." According to President Bush, nearly half of the 126,000 foster children currently awaiting adoption are over age 9.
Present at the bill-signing was the Martin family of Brunswick, Md. — a family of seven children, four of whom were adopted.
"It’s what we call a good-sized American family," the President said.
In addition to putting in a plug for large families, President Bush made this overtly pro-life statement: "This nation has a responsibility to encourage adoption of children at all ages — from infants to adolescents … Our society is building a culture that values every life, and our government strongly supports adoption."
Meanwhile, the founder of an organization dedicated to the needs of adoptive parents is voicing her support for the President’s efforts to make adoption easier.
"As a mother of five children, one birth child and four adopted, all with special needs, and the founder of Together as Adoptive Parents, Inc. (TAP) I know this bill will help to find permanent homes for waiting children," said Phyllis Stevens. "I also know that incentives to the states as well as adoption subsidies to the families increase the adoption of children out of the foster care system."
Stevens notes that adoptions in Pennsylvania, for instance, have increased steadily since state incentives were originally put in place. However, Stevens notes that the adoption legislation, while significant, is only a first step.
"This is only the beginning of a life long process," Stevens said. "Yes, the subsidy checks will help, but money cannot take away the trauma that these children have experienced.
"These families will now need post-adoption services. They will need to be connected to support groups so that they can network and encourage each other. They will need to know where to find therapists that know separation and loss adoption issues. They will need to know where to locate summer camps that will take a child with behavior problems. I can go on and on. This bill is a great start but let’s not stop here," Stevens added.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) praised the President for signing
the adoption reform bill into law.
"Faith is the fundamental prerequisite for successful adoptions: faith in our communities, faith in our adoptive parents, faith in our children, and faith in the government to protect them," DeLay said. "With the president’s signature…more children will be protected, making them able to find stable, loving homes."
DeLay and his wife Christine have been heavily involved in programs to help abused and neglected children and have served as foster parents.
For more information about the resources offered by Together as Adoptive Parents, you can visit the organization’s website at https://www.taplink.org