Grassley Floor Statement on National Adoption Day
Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley
National Adoption Day on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014
Delivered Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014
On Saturday, many children and families around the country will celebrate National Adoption Day. It’s a day that many adoptions are finalized and youth find their forever families.
It’s very comforting and fitting that this day helps kick off the holiday season. Families will be formed and strengthened. This Thanksgiving, many children will celebrate with their new families and not have to worry about their next placement or their next meal. And this month, we give thanks to the men and women who make their dreams come true.
Since the first National Adoption Day in 2000, nearly 50,000 children have joined “forever families” during National Adoption Day. In 2013 alone, adoptions for 4,500 children were finalized through 400 National Adoption Day events across the county.
These are impressive numbers -- numbers that make us proud of the work being done to help children in foster care find loving families. But there is always more work to be done.
Today, there are over 102,000 children in the foster care system. Iowa alone has over 6,200 children in foster care, many of whom are waiting for a loving family to adopt them.
There are so many issues facing foster youth – in addition to being torn apart from their families. They face serious trauma. They are likely to be treated differently, and don’t get to do the same activities as other kids. They transition from home to home, and school to school. They don’t know normalcy. And they may never know permanency. And, after years of challenges, some are forced to transition to adulthood on their own. Unfortunately, each year over 23,000 youth age out of care in the U.S.
Too many older children in foster care, especially those with special needs, are often the ones who wait the longest to leave foster care. Foster youth simply desire to have what so many of us were blessed to have — that is, a home with caring, loving parents and siblings. These kids are less likely than younger children to find “forever homes.”
That is why I helped form the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth. I wanted to draw attention to the challenges that older foster youth face. The caucus has allowed Congressional leaders to become more aware of the issues faced by young people and families who are involved in the foster care system.
The caucus cannot function without the input and insight from foster youth. These children are the experts on the foster care system. They tell us what works or what needs to change. They share their experiences and provide us with real world stories about how our policies truly affect them.
The caucus and the youth who share their experiences remind us that no child is unadoptable. No child should be without a mom and dad. And we must remember that foster care should be a layover, not a destination.
November is National Adoption Month, a time to raise national awareness of adoption, and celebrate families, advocates and volunteers involved in adoption. It’s also a time to devote more attention to policies and practices that protect the safety and well-being for all children.
I am hopeful that Congress will continue to look for ways to improve the foster care system and promote adoptions. I am glad Congress worked to enact a bill this year to renew the adoption incentives program and to do more to screen and help foster youth who may be trafficked. We must continually examine how the system is treating youth, and whether policies in place are strengthening families.
There are many youth who will celebrate this holiday season without a permanent family. Hopefully, our celebration of National Adoption Month will raise awareness of the issues they face and the need to find them a mom and a dad. We need to keep working together to break down the barriers to adoption.
So today, I thank all those who have adopted or who have fostered children who needed it. And, I thank the many individuals and organization that work to make permanency possible for children. I know many dreams will come true this Saturday, and I wish the very best to the youth as they begin their journey with their new families.