CCAI Statement and Summary Regarding Supreme Court Ruling in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl


CCAI Executive Director Kathleen Strottman’s

Statement Regarding Supreme Court Decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl

“Through my work with current and former foster youth, I have learned that having a strong sense of one’s culture, heritage and identity is a vitally important part of child and adolescent development. It is for this reason that CCAI has continued to work to ensure that these components are not only recognized but protected by the United States child welfare system.  The Indian Child Welfare Act is an important piece of federal legislation that, when well implemented, carefully safeguards the best interests of Native American children.

 It has been over 25 years since the Indian Child Welfare Act was enacted into law.  In recent years, the media and tribal community have rightly pointed to the disproportionate number of native youth in care as evidence of its continued need.  At the same time, child welfare advocates have pointed out cases in which application of ICWA is resulting in native children being denied a safe, loving and permanent family through adoption.  I sincerely hope that today’s decision sparks a necessary and open discussion of ways that this critically important law might be used to better protect the best interests of children.”

CCAI Summary Regarding Supreme Court Decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 in favor of the adoptive parents of “Baby Veronica” in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl and reversed the decision of the South Carolina state court that removed the child from the adoptive parents’ home at the age of 27 months and placed her with her biological father, a member of the Cherokee tribe, whom she had never met.

The Supreme Court’s decision held that the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) that the state court relied upon in its decision do not apply to the facts of this case.  Specifically, the Court found that ICWA “was designed primarily to counteract the unwarranted removal of Indian children from Indian families. But the ICWA’s primary goal is not implicated when an Indian child’s adoption is voluntary and lawfully initiated by a non-Indian parent with sole custodial rights.”

The Court stated that the biological father abandoned the child before birth and never had “continued custody” (legal or physical) of the child so there was no relationship that could be discontinued by terminating the biological Indian father’s rights to the child.

The Court also held that ICWA’s adoption placement preferences for Indian families do not apply in this case, because the biological father and extended family did not seek to adopt the child.


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.

Press Release: CCAI Honors National Angels October 6th



Award Ceremony Honors Those Who’ve Helped Children through Adoption and Foster Care

WASHINGTON, DC — The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) hosted its 12th Annual Angels in Adoption™ Gala on October 6 in Washington, DC.  The gala highlights the work of celebrities and individuals across the country working tirelessly on behalf of children in U.S. foster care and orphans around the world.  2010 National Angels in Adoption™ honorees include Tony and Emmy Award winning actress Kristin Chenoweth, Four-time Emmy Award winning actress Rhea Perlman and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Members of Congress presented these awards and praised the National Angels for using their celebrity and influence to bring awareness about children in need of families.

Also recognized were the 140 Angels in Adoption™ who were selected by their Member of Congress and came to DC from across the country for this program.  2010 Angel in Adoption™, Martha Allen of California, said of attending the event, “I’m looking forward to coming home full of ideas, inspiration and awe after hearing about each Angel and the wonderful things they have accomplished.”  For a complete list of Angels and their states visit

As part of the event, Country music artist Jimmy Wayne performed his song “Elephant Ears” about his own experience as a foster child.  He shared, “One of the great things about the Angels in Adoption™ program is the level of awareness it  brings to an option people don’t always consider, and that’s adopting a child or teen who is in the Foster Care system.  There are so many kids there, just waiting for a loving family to give them a home.”

Kristin Chenoweth was honored for her willingness to use her own personal story to raise awareness about adoption and the importance of individuals stepping forward to impact the lives of children. “Being adopted myself,” says Chenoweth, “I understand what impact adoption has on the life of a child. I was lucky that my parents gave me unconditional love and support, and I don’t think I would be where I am today without them.”

Over the years, Rhea Perlman played an important role in the media and television industry’s advocacy for improvements to foster care, and in particular the need for reform throughout California.  There are over 67,000 children in the California alone, accounting for one-eighth of all children in the U.S. foster care system.  She is also outspoken about adoption for older youth in care.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was awarded for its efforts to feature foster and adoptive families on their show, thereby raising awareness of the needs of waiting children and the joy adoption can bring to a family.  Since the show began, there have been three Angel in Adoption™ families, from various parts of the country, featured on the show.  “We are honored to receive this award for the 33 episodes in which we presented homes to adoptive or foster families. While our efforts to provide these families a beautiful new home are intended to make a difference in their lives, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is pleased to learn that these episodes are also making a difference in the fight for every children in the world to have a safe and loving home of their own,” says the show’s Executive Producer, Diane Korman.

Kathleen Strottman, Executive Director of CCAI states, “Statistically speaking, it is possible for each and every child to have a safe and permanent family to call their own.  Because of Angels celebrated by this program, we are much closer to achieving that goal. Almost across the board, each Angel’s extraordinary journey started with a single step forward – saying count me in.”


For more information about the event, please contact Emily Collins ( or Allison Cappa ( at 202-544-8500.

CCAI ( is a non-profit organization which serves as an educational resource for information critical to advancing the efforts of policymakers on behalf of children in need of families.  Please follow us on Twitter (, Facebook (, YouTube (, and our blog ( 

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Media Advisory: Back to School, Back to Instability


Back to School, Back to Instability: New Study Shows Foster Children Struggle in Math, English and other standardized tests

Bipartisan Hill Leaders and DC ‘Real Housewife’ Stacie Scott Turner Call for Change, Equal Opportunity

Washington, DC— As millions of hopeful children engage in familiar back-to-school rituals, early new data shows that the educational playing field is not level for children in foster care, whose academic careers are often impacted by multiple school relocations. Foster youth persistently score lower than their peers in all educational measures.  The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and Fostering Media Connections will release new data that supports their call to action at a press conference on Thursday, September 23rd from 12:00—1:00PM in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, room SVC 215.


  • Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.): Co-Chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth and Co-Chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): Founder and Co-Chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth; Ranking Member of the Finance Committee which oversees child welfare financing.
  • Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.): Sponsor of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act.
  • Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.): Sponsor of the School Choice for Foster Kids Act and foster mom.
  • Stacie Scott Turner: Star of Bravo’s Real Housewives of DC, former foster child and founder of Extra-Ordinary Life, which provides a new outlook on life for girls in foster care.
  • Sokhom Mao: Former Foster Youth from California who benefited from state law that ensures educational stability.
  • Christina Miranda: Former foster youth who experienced three moves in elementary school, three in middle school and an additional four in high school.
  • Molly McGrath: Baltimore City Department of Social Services Director who outlines the need for collaboration between education and child welfare.


As children head back to school, this event will identify the factors that impact educational outcomes for youth in foster care, and ways the federal government might act to address them.


Thursday Sept. 23, 2010 from 12:00PM—1:00PM


U.S. Capitol Visitor Center SVC 215


For more information about the event, please contact Daniel Heimpel with Fostering Media Connections at 510.334.8636, or

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute ( is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that strives to be an objective, educational resource for information critical to advancing the efforts of federal policymakers on behalf of children in need of homes.  Please follow us on Twitter (, Facebook (, YouTube (, and our blog (

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