CDC launches health guidance site for children adopted internationally

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has launched a new part of their website to assist prospective adoptive parents as they plan to bring home a child who they adopted internationally.  There is information about vaccines, medical exams, class A conditions, and finding a health care provider once back home in the U.S.  Also included is a section for news, updates, and useful links.

From the Center for Disease Control website:

Each year, parents in the United States adopt more than 12,000 children from all over the world. Adopting a child is a wonderful and exciting event for families. The health of the adopted child is one of many issues that parents need to address during the adoption process. Parents should be prepared for possible challenges during the adoption process and be aware that sometimes the process can be lengthy.

Children born in other areas of the world may have different health problems from those of children raised in the United States. Children may have been exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases that are rare in the United States. Some children are adopted from countries with high rates of diseases, such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, and HIV/AIDS. For all these reasons, knowing as much as possible about a child’s health will help parents get the right treatment and care for their child. Ensuring that adopted children are healthy will also help prevent the spread of dis

To visit the site, click here.

The most wonderful time of the year

The most wonderful time of the year–no, not the holiday season–but National Adoption Month is drawing to a close.  I wanted to use this last Adoption Month post to draw attention to activities that have been taking place this month since my first post on this topic.  I’m excited to share many new activities were started this year, and will hopefully continue to grow in the future to accomplish our shared vision of a family for every child.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commemorated National Adoption Month through a video message in which she highlighted that over the past decade 200,000 children have been adopted internationally.  Secretary Clinton shared that the U.S. Department of State is committed to safeguarding the interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents worldwide.  As evidence to this commitment, Secretary Clinton announced early this year the appointment of Ambassador Susan Jacobs as Special Advisor for International Children’s Issues who works to ensure the child’s best interest is the heart of every international adoption.

The global media company Clear Channel celebrated National Adoption Month in conjunction with the Heart Gallery NYC by broadcasting pictures of children waiting in foster care to be adopted on a Times Square screen.  Thousands of New York City residents and visitors learned about the need for adoption.

Tampa Bay Rays’ right-hander, James Shields, along with his wife Ryane are committed to helping children in foster care find homes.  The Shields have worked with the Tampa Bay Heart Gallery for a few years now, recording PSAs and most recently holding a blown-up picture of one of the boys waiting to be adopted on the field.

Voice for Adoption launched their Adoptive Family Portrait Project during an event on Capitol Hill.  During November, Members of Congress display constituent family photos in their DC office in order to raise awareness about foster care adoption.

Joint Council dedicated posts each day on their blog to share one successful adoption story, one unsuccessful adoption story, and one action that individuals can do to help children’s welfare domestically around the world.

Do you know of other unique National Adoption Month activities?  Be sure to comment in order to share information about the great work taking place on behalf of this effort!

National Adoption Day reaches beyond courtrooms

The 11th annual National Adoption Day took place last Saturday, November 20th.  This year brought a number of new accomplishments to this national effort.  This year alone, more than 4,800 children were adopted on National Adoption Day–more than any year before!  Nearly 400 events took place across the country.  While judges, social workers, attorneys, CASAs, volunteers, and most importantly adoptive parents worked together to ensure successful events; celebrities, elected officials, and pro sports are now realizing the importance of this day.

For the first time ever, all 50 governors issued National Adoption Day and National Adoption Month proclamations along with numerous mayors of cities across the country.  President Obama issued his annual proclamation.  State courts, state legislatures, and city councils passed National Adoption Day resolutions.

Once again, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives both passed National Adoption Day and Month resolutions with a total of 75 original co-sponsors.

Several elected officials expressed their support by attending events, such as Gov. Deval Patrick of Mass., or by writing op eds such as Rep. Jim Cooper of Tenn., or by issuing press releases, such as Sens. James Inhofe and Mary LandrieuLt. Gov. of New Jersey, Kim Guadagno opened up about her own adoption in an op ed she wrote for the day.

Academy Award nominated screenwriter and actress Nia Vardalos participated in the Los Angeles event by sharing her personal foster care adoption story.  Actor Willie Garson also shared his story of adopting his son from foster care.  Nia served as spokesperson this year, and participated in several interviews on the topic.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, kicked off National Adoption Day by finalizing two adoptions from the D.C. foster care system on Friday, Nov. 19th.  One boy was a 17 year-old who was being adopted by his friend’s mother.  He went on to share what his adoption day means to him through his blog post.

The New Orleans Saints also recognized the importance of the day by playing the National Adoption Day PSA and announcing to the 70,000 fans present at their November 21st game about the need to step forward and make a difference in the life of a child.

Numerous TV stations across the country featured stories about local families’ adoption on National Adoption Day.  In Atlanta, one boy shared what his adoption means to him. “There is no sadness here,” he said of his new home.

While 2010 presented many new successes for foster care adoption, there is much work to be done.  Thank you all for your efforts surrounding National Adoption Day.  We are looking forward to even more forever families to celebrate next year!

For the official National Adoption Day press release, click here.

how lucky that little boy is…

Tens of thousands across the country will be celebrating National Adoption Day tomorrow.  While I could reiterate the magnitude of this effort, I wanted to focus on what National Adoption Day means beyond the balloons, press releases, proclamations, dress clothes, and photographers of tomorrow’s events.

The love of a mother or father is fundamental to our lives.  Well into my twenties, I’m realizing that my need for parents is no less now than before.  It’s a loving parent that gives children a sense of security, a knowing that they have a place to call home, a reality that they are not in this world alone.  A parent is a child’s biggest fan.  A parent is who will fight any battle for that child.

As a trained social worker I couldn’t let tomorrow come without addressing the significant impact on the emotional development of the child.  Research and common sense tell us that the best place for a child to grow and develop is in a family.  Children need stability and a sense of security in order for a healthy physical, psychological, and social development.  Childhood experiences forever impact the people we become and the success of later life.

As I was driving to work this morning, I was thinking about the courtroom celebrations that would be taking place tomorrow.  But my mind wandered to one adoption day story I will never forget.  Last year, my boss was attending a young boy’s foster care adoption finalization along with one of our Foster Youth Interns who had aged out of foster care himself.  Now this intern would remind you of a football linebacker, and would never be pegged for a bleeding heart.  But as the judge was leading the ceremony before signing the adoption decree, “do you agree to be adopted?  will you provide a suitable home for this child?  this child will now have all of the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of being your child.”  The new mother, so overcome with emotion, could barely spell her name aloud for the court reporter.  As my boss sat next to our intern, she looked over and noticed tears in his eyes.  He leaned in to her and said, “I’m sorry, I’m usually not emotional…but I can’t help but think how lucky that little boy is.”

With tears streaming down my face remembering this story, it was then that I was reminded just how important tomorrow is.  We all work in this field because we are passionate and hope to see not one more youth age out of the foster care system with that longing for a family unfulfilled, wanting nothing more than a parent to be proud as they walk across the graduation stage, wanting a parent to call them on their birthday, or knowing they always have a place to go for the holidays .

As we leave our National Adoption Day celebrations tomorrow, we cannot fail to remember the 114,000 children and youth still waiting for a family to call their own, and the 30,000 youth who will age out of foster care this year.

Members of Congress Support National Adoption Day

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Adoption Day Resolution expressing their support for the day and the overall effort to see children adopted out of foster care and raised in a family with the love and support needed to thrive.  The House recognized that, “every day loving and nurturing families are strengthened and expanded when committed and dedicated individuals make an important difference in the life of a child through adoption.”

To that end, several Members of Congress who champion this issue expressed their support for National Adoption Day:

“Thousands of children are waiting for loving and supportive homes,” said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.). “National Adoption Day serves as a reminder to put these children first. It’s our duty to find them the love they need and deserve.”

“It’s vital to raise awareness about the need for adoptive families and to recognize those that provide a safe environment for children in need,” said Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio). “I have long advocated for improving the adoption process because I believe every child deserves a caring, stable and secure place to grow up. With initiatives like National Adoption Day and National Adoption Month, hopefully more children will gain permanent homes.”

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), founding member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) and child welfare advocate, said, “There is nothing more important for a child than to be raised in a supporting and loving family. A family is where children are taught values that serve as the foundation of lifelong decisions, where they gain a sense of belonging and find confidence in themselves. For more than a decade, tireless judges, attorneys, child advocates and hundreds of volunteers around the country dedicate National Adoption Day to changing lives. They are giving these children a permanent place to call home.”

Research and reason continue to tell us that children need stability as they grow. To that end, adoption has the power to forever impact the life and future success of a child.

“For children in foster care, stability is critical. National Adoption Day reminds us of our commitment and duty to the hundreds of thousands of foster children who are waiting for the stability of a permanent and loving home,” said Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), founder and co-chairman of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, said, “Thousands of children are adopted on this day every year. And the day draws attention to the many other children who are waiting for a permanent family. Adoption not only brings these children the immediate benefits of a loving family, but it also gives them a greater chance at educational opportunities and future success than if they age out of foster care without a permanent connection. I appreciate the work of advocates, adoptive parents and young people whose commitment brings families together.”

Personally aware of how significant adoption can be to the life of a child and to a family, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) shares, “Adoption creates a family where none existed before. My wife and I have two amazing sons and the family we prayed for thanks to the miracle of adoption and two mothers who chose life. Cathy and I now can’t imagine what our lives used to be like. Because every child needs the security of a loving family, that is my prayer for this National Adoption Day.”

“Families are the cornerstone of our communities and I applaud each and every family that has opened their homes and their hearts to children in need,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “Adoption enriches lives immeasurably and on this National Adoption Day, thousands of children and families will learn this life-changing lesson firsthand. It is my hope that every child in need finds a permanent, loving and supportive family.”

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), a leader on adoption issues in the House, said, “Every child deserves to have a safe, loving and permanent home. I am truly humbled by the thousands of families who open their hearts and homes every year to adoptive children, and everyone who helps children find families through adoption. I proudly support the work of initiatives like National Adoption Day and National Adoption Month that help bring awareness to the need to continue to improve our adoption and foster care systems.”

“As a supporter of National Adoption Day, I believe that every child deserves a loving family with parents to guide them through their childhood. National Adoption Day is a celebration of committed individuals and families willing to step up and provide a loving, caring and supportive home for a foster child. Let us therefore celebrate the endless efforts of child care advocates, and our courageous children waiting in the foster care system,” said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). “I encourage everyone to help make the dream of belonging to a permanent family a reality.”

For the press release, please click here.

Legislative Update: what’s happening in Congress this week

As part of CCAI’s efforts to educate federal policymakers about children in need of families, CCAI tracks legislation related to foster care and adoption.  For the updated list of all pending legislation in the 111th Congress related to these issues, click here.  Please note, CCAI does not take a stand on any particular piece of legislation, rather, we serve as an educational resource to policymakers and advocates.

The Child Welfare League of America highlighted two pieces of legislation in their most recent Children’s Monitor newsletter: the Title IV-E Waiver bill H.R. 6156 which renews the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to approve demonstration projects designed to test innovative strategies in state child welfare programs; and the the CAPTA reauthorization bill S. 3817 which amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, the Family Violence and Services Act, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform Act of 1978, and the Abandoned Infants Assistant Act of 1988 to reauthorize the Acts.

Today on the Floor, the House is expected to pass H. Res. 1648 Supporting the goals and ideals of National Adoption Day and National Adoption Month by promoting national awareness of adoption and the children in foster care awaiting families.  A similar Senate version S. Res. 291 is also expected to be passed this week.

Yesterday, the House passed the International Adoption Simplification Act S. 1376.  In a press release announcing this bill will now head to the president to be signed into law, the following explanation of the legislation was given: The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Klobuchar (D-MN) and cosponsored by Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), would allow U.S. parents to adopt children who are siblings, even if one of those children is between the ages of 16 and 18, and help protect children’s health during the adoption process.  The bill would restore two exemptions to U.S. immigration law for internationally adopted children that were eliminated when the United States began implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption.