Michele Bachmann is a Republican U.S. representative from Minnesota and Karen Bass is a Democratic U.S. representative from California. They are co-chairs of the House Congressional Coalition on Adoption.
A few days from now, thousands across America will unofficially start the holiday season by celebrating Thanksgiving. On this national day of gratitude, many will offer thanks for the love of family. It is, after all, the love and support of a family that offers us a foundation on which the majority of us build our lives.
Yet sadly, several thousands of American children will not know the joy of being "home for the holidays" with a family of their own. As you read this article, more than 100,000 children are in the American foster care system, waiting to join a "forever" home through adoption. Fifty-six percent of these children are under the age of 10.
These shocking statistics should not be a reality. But we believe they are a reality because of the many misconceptions Americans have about the foster care system and adoption process.
Research reveals just under half of all Americans believe the majority of foster care children are juvenile delinquents. But, instead, these children are tragically the victims of neglect, abandonment, and abuse.
Research also shows that 46 percent of Americans believe adopting a child from the foster care system is an expensive process they simply cannot afford in this time of economic hardship.
This too is false.
There is no substantial cost to those families seeking to adopt. And for those eligible families, there is financial support available to supplement the income of adoptive families until the child is 18 years old. With all this misinformation, it is not surprising that only three in 10 Americans even considered adopting a child last year.
However, there is good news.
Special initiatives, such as National Adoption Day and National Adoption Month, are highlighting the need for permanent homes for foster children eligible for adoption.
One such effort, National Adoption Day, became a reality in 2000 due to the joint efforts of many hardworking adoption organizations. On this special day in November, policymakers, practitioners, and adoption advocates work to finalize thousands of adoptions across the nation. We are happy to report the hard work of these adoption advocates is paying off. Over the past 11 years, 35,000 children have been placed with their "forever family" on National Adoption Day.
National Adoption Month also raises awareness about the adoption process. Though the idea of the bipartisan initiative began with President Ronald Reagan's "National Adoption Week" in 1984, President Bill Clinton was the first president to set aside all of November to recognize the importance of adoption in 1995. Since then, presidential proclamations appropriate November as National Adoption Month.
We are so thrilled at the success of these adoption awareness initiatives that we, as co-chairs on the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in the House of Representatives, jointly introduced House Resolution 433 last month. This resolution asks our fellow U.S. representatives to support the ideals and goals of National Adoption Month and National Adoption Day.
We truly believe that if members of Congress help correct the misconceptions about the adoption process, we will be doing our part to see every American foster child has the opportunity to join a permanent, loving, and stable family.
We also ask you for your support of this important bipartisan effort. Though the process of adoption is not always easy, the rewards of adopting a child are innumerable and eternal.