Federal Adoption Policy
NCFA has been a leader in setting adoption policy at the federal level. Among other accomplishments, we:
- Provided important facts and data about sound adoption policy that were relied upon by Congress in passing the 1980 Draft Model State Adoption Act, which, as initially conceived, would have ended the option of privacy in adoption;
- Endorsed Congress' efforts in 1981, 1991, and 1994, to reauthorize the Adolescent Family Life Act, which, in part, promoted adoption as an alternative for adolescent parents;
- Contributed substantially in 1992 to the final content of the Uniform Adoption Act, as approved by the National Council of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, which included as part of its model provisions: the requirement of home studies in advance of placement; the availability of counseling for birthparents; the exchange of non-identifying background health and social information; and birthparent consent to adoption only after an informed decision-making process;
- Provided expertise to Congress in the late 1980s about the need to find permanent homes for infants abandoned in hospitals, especially those with AIDS; consequently, Congress passed legislation entitled the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act of 1988, which made grants available to assist in finding permanent homes for these vulnerable infants;
- Endorsed the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994, which prohibits racial discrimination in adoptive placements and was designed to decrease the time that African American children spend in foster care due to the lack of available same-race placements;
- Coordinated closely with federal policymakers as part of enacting the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997;
- In 1997, provided adoption expertise which was used by lawmakers in amending a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act to exempt children adopted abroad from the Act's requirement to receive a variety of immunizations;
- Endorsed the Adoption Awareness Act of 2000, which appropriated $9.9 million to develop and implement training programs for federal health center staff and others who counsel women with unplanned pregnancies;
- Endorsed the enactment of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act that grants automatic citizenship to children adopted from other countries by United States citizens;
- Endorsed the 2003 Adoption Promotion Act, which reauthorized the existing adoption incentives under the Adoption and Safe Families Act and established an additional, higher incentive for placing children age nine years and older in adoptive homes;
- Educated key Congressional offices on the need to ensure that federally funded maternity group homes be allowed to provide adoption option counseling, not only teaching parenting skills.
Federal Tax Credit Legislation
We have called for legislation to make permanent the adoption tax credit provisions of the 2001 Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, which make adoptions more affordable. In addition, we have endorsed three major federal adoption tax credit bills enacted by Congress:
The 1981 law that permitted an itemized deduction of up to $1,500 for a family adopting a "special needs" child;
A 1986 statute which created a $5,000 adoption tax credit for international and domestic adoptions, and $6,000 in the case of special needs adoptions;
The 2001 Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, which increased the available tax credit to $10,000, made the credit available for special needs adoptions regardless of ability to show qualified adoption expenses, increased the size of employer adoption assistance program credits, and extended the law's "sunset" until 2010.
Adoption From Foster Care
We have consistently promoted sound foster care adoption policies and practices, and have focused on improving public understanding of and attitudes toward foster care adoption. The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994, for example, was enacted to help decrease the time that African American children spend in foster care due to the lack of available same-race placements. We worked closely with members of Congress to ensure enactment of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, the Adoption Promotion Act of 2003, and we fully supported the Bush Administration's Safe and Stable Families Program, which adds to the States' ability to strengthen families and promote permanency and well-being through post-adoption support services. We believe that States should be permitted to apply federal funding to their greatest need in order to meet the needs of their own residents in foster care, which is why we support flexible funding legislation. We also proudly supported the Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2008, landmark legislation that was signed into law by former President George W. Bush and facilitates finding permanent families for thousands of children languishing in foster care.
NCFA is widely regarded as a diplomat for intercountry adoption and a champion of sound intercountry adoption practices. Our achievements in intercountry adoption include:
- Co-sponsored a worldwide adoption meeting held in Athens, Greece in 1987, to discuss adoption developments and perspectives, including the need for child-centered adoption policies and the issue of "openness" in adoption;
- Hosted Dr. Alexandra Zugravescu, President of the Romanian Committee for Adoptions in 1991, for a ten-day visit to speak with experts and officials, adoptive parents, and children who have been adopted from Romania;
- Participated in the Special Commission on the Practical Operation of the 1993 Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention, convened by the Hague Conference on Private International Law in the Netherlands;
- Was a key participant in the United States' ten-year effort to enact the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, legislation that implemented the 1993 Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption;
- Upon the U.S. State Department's publication of the proposed Hague regulations in 2003, we spearheaded efforts within the adoption policy community to submit comments on behalf of respected national adoption advocacy and membership organizations for consideration by the U.S. State Department.
- Provided official comments on the U.S. State Department's proposed regulations to implement the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption and the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (Hague regulations);
- Brought together the Hague Confederation, an assembly of national and international nonprofit adoption advocacy and membership organizations to provide additional comments on the State Department's proposed Hague regulations; Received delegations from China in 2003, 2005, and 2006;
- Led a delegation to China in 2002 and 2005;
- Together with the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAI), hosted the 2007 Experiencing China and Embracing Beijing Culture Camp, which involved chaperoning 30 teenage children adopted from China as "cultural ambassadors" for intercountry adoption;
- Led a delegation to Vietnam and Cambodia in 2007;
- Received delegations from Russia in 2007 and 2008;
- Led delegations to Russia in 2006 and 2008;
- Hosted the 2007 Russian NGO Conference for adoption service providers to be accredited in Russia;
- Received delegation from China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAI) in 2005 and 2006, and a delegation lead by Director General Lu Ying in 2009.
Safe Haven Legislation
Following Texas' passage of its 1999 Safe Haven law, we endorsed the policy to promote enactment of Safe Haven laws in all states. Through these laws, mothers may confidentially place their child with a Safe Haven and avoid civil or criminal liability. State support of this policy is immediate. From 2000 to 2008, the number of states with Safe Haven laws rose from 15 to 50.
Please visit the National Safe Haven Alliance's website for more information on safe haven laws and policies.