Q&A: National Adoption Month
With U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley
Q: Why is the month of November celebrated as National Adoption Month?
A: The short answer is President Bill Clinton in 1995 expanded upon a presidential proclamation declared by President Ronald Reagan 33 years ago this month. Recognizing the joys of parenthood and the dream-come-true reality that a loving family brings to young people awaiting adoption -- from infancy through adulthood – November is observed as National Adoption Month in the United States. Society benefits from the stability that nurturing, loving homes provide for the next generation. Strong families make for strong communities that guide young people to become law-abiding, taxpaying, productive citizens. Prospective parents who choose to open their hearts and homes to adoptive children are blessed by the bonds of love that moms and dads share with their children. And for the child who longs for the permanency of a forever home, the unconditional love that sons and daughters experience with loving parents brings a lifetime of security that no government program or temporary placement in foster care can replicate. At any given moment, as many as 400,000 children are in the nation’s foster care system; more than 100,000 of these kids await adoption with a forever family. Of those, more than 23,000 will age out of the foster system with no permanent place to call home for the rest of their lives. Adolescents across America struggle with the transition to independence. Imagine the hardship parentless teenagers face with no permanent support system to help navigate health care, housing, transportation, money management, job search and higher education decisions. During this season of Thanksgiving, let us renew our collective commitment to raise awareness about adoption and keep our eyes, ears and hearts open to help ensure each and every child in our communities grows up in a safe and loving home.
Q: How do you work to raise awareness and improve policies to promote adoption?
A: For many years I have championed efforts in the U.S. Senate to advocate on behalf of young people who are in the nation’s foster care system awaiting adoption. In particular, my advocacy has focused extensively on finding solutions for teenagers and young adults who face a lifetime of no permanent support system. Kids need and deserve the lifeline of love and stability that can be taken for granted by those who don’t face homelessness or being shuffled from school to school and from one foster family to the next. Millions of children across America may complain about the household rules and chores they must follow under their parents’ roof. But for the kids who don’t have the advantages of parental guidance and supervision, they long for the security and certainty that a permanent, loving family guarantees. The desire for a forever home goes beyond home-cooked meals, clean clothes and a warm place to sleep. Loving parents hold their kids accountable for finishing their homework, getting good grades and making good choices. They set curfews and raise expectations to help their children achieve their full potential. Several years ago, I launched the bipartisan Senate Caucus on Foster Youth to raise awareness and solve problems arising in the foster care system. We have used this platform to turn up the volume and listen to the voices of foster youth. Their experience and expertise helps policymakers understand the challenges in the foster care system. It is in the public interest to help ensure that foster youth and prospective adoptive families receive the necessary support services that will help facilitate the transition to lasting, loving homes. Kids want to be kids. No matter if they are living with their biological family, foster family or adoptive family, kids want to be loved most of all. Collaborating with foster youth brings integrity to our policymaking discussions. These adolescents live with a high degree of uncertainty looming on their horizons. Providing support services, such as financial literacy tools that teach the importance of paying bills and landing a job or obtaining an advanced degree can make a world of difference for those who age out of foster care and make the transition to independence on their own.
From my leadership position in the U.S. Senate, I will continue to wield my legislative and oversight authority to advocate for foster youth and support permanent loving homes through adoption. Adoption can be a dream-come-true solution for children in foster care, many of whom have experienced trauma, abuse or neglect. Policymakers, child advocates, social workers and officers of the court have a responsibility to do all we can do to bring safety, certainty and stability to these vulnerable kids. Recently, Barbara and I welcomed our 11th great grandchild into our extended family. Every year we count our blessings at our family’s Thanksgiving feast. We are grateful for the bonds of faith and family that bring so much joy to our hearts and home. This month, we also give thanks to those who are in a position to open their hearts and homes to children in foster care. For those who long for a permanent loving home and for the unborn who deserve the gift of life, I will continue my advocacy at the federal level to promote adoption and champion policies that help secure the permanency and stability of a forever family in our society.