The holiday season is now underway and for many this means spending time with our family and friends.
Sadly, over 450,000 children are in foster care nationwide and do not have a permanent home this holiday season. November is National Adoption Month, making this a great time to raise awareness about the importance of and need for finding permanent and loving homes for these children.
While many of these children are temporarily separated from their families, about 115,000 are eligible for adoption.
This year’s National Adoption Month campaign is specifically focused on finding parents for older children in the foster care system. Data from the U.S. Children’s Bureau shows that children over the age of 8 wait longer to be adopted and have lower overall adoption rates. We also know that the older a child gets, the more difficult it is to find a permanent home for them.
To show my support for National Adoption Month, I am participating in the Adoptive Family Portrait Project organized by Voice for Adoption, a national non profit organization that advocates for improved adoption policies. I am supporting this annual awareness campaign by displaying the portrait and inspirational adoption story of a Kentucky family in my Washington, D.C. office.
I was also honored this month to be named by Voice for Adoption as a recipient of the 2011 Legislator of the Year Award for my efforts to make foster care and adoption policy a priority. Part of my responsibility as Chairman of the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Resources is to review and improve child welfare, foster care and adoption programs. These are important and often bipartisan issues for Congress to call attention to and address.
For example, earlier this year, I introduced the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (H.R. 2883). Working with a bipartisan group of my colleagues, the bill passed both the House and the Senate and was signed into law by President Obama on Sept. 30. The law improves and extends two child welfare programs that were set to expire on Sept. 30, and renews the authority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to grant approval for innovative State demonstration projects.
While it is important for Congress to continue improving adoption and child welfare policies, our efforts pale in comparison to the sacrifice, time, love, and support from families who have adopted children from the foster care system. As National Adoption Month concludes, these families should be commended for giving a stable home and a permanent family to children in need.
Now is also a great time to help promote adoption. As you reconnect and catch up with family and friends during the holidays, you can encourage anyone you know looking to adopt to consider a child currently in foster care. This will bring the joy of children to a growing family, and give a child the supportive and caring family all children deserve.
To get more information about adopting children from foster care, please visit AdoptUSKids.org, or call (800) 200-4005.