To mark the beginning of 112th Congress, CCAI hosted a round table discussion to bring federal policymakers together with adoptive families and foster youth. The goal of the discussion was for individuals with direct foster care, foster care adoption, or international adoption experience to share what policies they would enact if given the opportunity based on the successes and barriers they faced.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, Sen. James Inhofe, Rep. Michele Bachmann, and Rep. Karen Bass, the co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, convened other Members of Congress to discuss their legislative agendas based on what they heard directly from youth and families. Sen. Roy Blunt, Sen. Ben Cardin, and Rep. Tom Marino attended in person, along with representatives from the offices of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Tim Johnson, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. John Kerry, Rep. Jim Cooper, Rep. Dave Camp, Rep. Billy Long, and Rep. Dennis Cardoza.
Congressman Marino, an adoptive father himself, urged that children are our most precious resource, and we have an obligation to care for them.
Congresswoman Bass shared about her experience in the California state legislature and the time she spent traveling around the state talking to current and former foster youth. One of the comments she often heard was, “I want someone to care about me who isn’t paid to do so.”
Congresswoman Bachmann commented that even after being a foster parent to over 20 adolescents herself, she is moved each time she hears the story of a foster youth. She spoke about her legislative work on allowing children in foster care to remain in their school of origin despite moving out of the school district with each foster home move.
Senator Inhofe, an adoptive grandparent, recognized how challenging it is to navigate the intercountry adoption system. As a U.S. Senator himeself, and his daughter, a tenured professor, they found the process complicated. He shared his priority to remove bureacratic barriers to adoption to ensure an efficient process to place children in families.
Check back next week to see what the panel of individuals who have personal experience with these issues recommended, and learn how the Members of Congress responded.