Perspectives on this Congress’ legislative priorities

In an article from last week, CCAI’s shared in part the discussion that took place at our 112th New Congress Forum where Members of Congress addressed their legislative agendas for this year.  It was a vigorous and insightful hour-long discussion.  Perhaps the most captivating out of all of the speakers at the round table were the individuals who had direct experience with the foster care system or domestic and intercountry adoption.

Alixes Rosado bravely began with his story explaining while life on the streets was tough he felt the streets were safer and more loving than some of his foster homes.  After hearing this, Sen. Mary Landrieu expressed her interest in working to improve the foster parent recruitment processes across the nation to promote quality homes and better support foster parents.

Christina Miranda, also a former foster youth, changed schools 6 times between the age 11 and 18, and discussed the difficulties this school instability posed to her educational success.  Rep. Michele Bachmann highlighted a piece of legislation she introduced last Congress and plans to continuing working on, “School Choice for Foster Kids Act which would allow foster parents to send any foster child to his or her original school.”  To this, Sen. Landrieu said she would introduce a companion bill in the Senate to encourage the passage of this law.

Panel of individuals who shared their personal stories.

Samuel and Mildred Stewart adopted 3 children from foster care.  They stressed the need for mental health services to be provided to adopted children, as they have and continue to struggle to find services for their son.  She suggested how helpful it would be for families if parents had services, such as support groups or respite care.

International adoptive parent, Jeromy Smith, told his moving story of adopting his daughter and son from Kenya.  “Orphans struggle not only with physical poverty, but with relational poverty. Every night millions of kids—both those with empty stomachs and full stomachs—go to bed wondering if anyone, anywhere will ever love them.  Their souls ask the question, ‘Do I even matter?”  Read his full remarks here.

Nicole Dobbins, Executive Director of Voice for Adoption and former foster youth, stated, “I sometimes have to pinch myself when I say ‘executive director’ because it is hard for me to believe sometimes, when I think about where I have come from. I am delighted to share in the context of both my professional and personal capacity, if it will help push the agenda on foster care and adoption policy, because waiting children truly deserve to be at the forefront of every discussion.”  Read her full remarks here.

Executive Director of C.A.S.E., Debbie Riley shared that from her experience as both an adoptive mother and adoption  professional, “according to adoptive parents, one of the greatest post-adoption support needs is mental health services provided by someone who knows adoption.”

These speakers brought most of the room to tears with their personal stories and helped Members realize that the 112th Congress has some work ahead of them to improve foster care and adoption.  Members shared their commitment to use their position to bring about change for these children and families.