by Megan Lindsey, Assistant Director of Policy
Last week, Chuck, our president & CEO; Jessica, our summer policy intern; and I had an exciting day on Capitol Hill.
On Wednesday, June 20th, Senator Landrieu introduced the Protecting Adoption and Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Act of 2012 on behalf of herself and Senator Jim Inhofe (also co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption).
This bill would create a National Responsible Fatherhood Registry, allowing any unwed father the chance to register and consequently be notified of court proceedings concerning his child. A registry system is a positive solution for all parties involved in adoption. Simply, here’s why:
- Fathers get the notice and right to participate they deserve.
- Expectant mothers are released from the burden of being entirely responsible for providing information to the father to ensure this notification. It affords expectant mothers a bit more privacy and, in limited cases, safety.
- Adoptive parents can have more faith that a child placed in their home is there ethically and will be able to stay there. This is great news, because systems like this that help make adoption a more reliable, stable process can also encourage more families to give homes to children who need them.
- Most importantly, this system helps ensure stability for children. When a child is placed in an adoptive family, they deserve for that to be a forever family. Instinctively, we all know that stability is good for kids, but science backs this up too. Children are emotionally and physically healthier if they have a continuous safe, stable environment for healthy development and attachment consistent caretakers.
Those are the important details of why NCFA has worked to educate the public, adoption professionals, and policymakers on the necessity of putative, or possible, father registries at the state level and a database that makes these state registries work together at the national level. It’s a complicated issue to explain, but we keep trying. These systems help to prevent heartbreaking cases where, after a child has been placed with their adoptive family for an extended time, fathers who may or may not have been aware of the child’s birth or placement for adoption seek to parent the child. These cases are difficult for all involved, and ultimately lead to instability for children and heartache for either biological or adoptive parents. That’s why we believe every possible safeguard – like father registries and databases – should be in place to protect children from even the small likelihood of this happening.
Luckily for NCFA, and all those impacted by adoption, Senators Landrieu and Inhofe agree on this issue and have been zealous advocates to create great legislation. Last Wednesday, Chuck, Jessica, and I got to see a small, but exciting part of this process unfold. Senator Landrieu’s office provided us with gallery passes that allow visitors to watch as the Senate does the interesting (and sometimes tedious!) work of introducing and voting on different pieces of legislation.
On Wednesday afternoon, before Senator Landrieu introduced the legislation we got a special invitation to meet her in the Senate Reception Room, a breathtaking space where Senators can receive guests without going too far away from the Senate floor. A staff member escorted us to this space, and as we waited for Senator Landrieu to join us, I couldn’t help but look around to see what other Senators and decision makers were in the room and think about the many historical figures who had stood there before me and discussed some of the very decisions that shape our nation. Wow. What a gift to play even a small role in helping to encourage some of those decisions to take into account the best interests of children. We are grateful to Senator Landrieu for being such a great advocate for children!
|NCFA Staff in the Senate Reception Hall with Senator Mary Landrieu and Andrea Vavonese, friend of NCFA and expert advocate for a National Registry system.|
What a great opportunity! We know our work has only just begun though. Now, we must continue to educate the public and policymakers on why this system is so important to children and families. Introducing the legislation is important, but it’s only the beginning! It is imperative that all Members of Congress understand its importance and vote to pass this bill.
Want to help? Members of Congress value hearing how their constituents feel about legislation they are considering. Use your voice to make a difference and call your Members of Congress (You can look up and find out who your Representative and Senators’ are and how to contact them here) and explain to them why you hope they’ll support the Protecting Adoption and Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Act of 2012.