January 1, 2014

THEIR VIEW: Increased aid for adoption needed


---- — We applaud Gov. Mike Pence for seeking a state tax credit that would help parents offset adoption expenses.

In addition, we join those who are urging him to provide extra help for parents who take on the added challenge of special needs adoptions.

Indiana suspended subsidies for adoptions of special needs children in 2009 — “one of the casualties of then-Gov. Mitch Daniels’ budget surplus building,” according to an editorial in the South Bend Tribune. Indiana is the only state in the nation not to offer such support.

A 2008 report from the North American Council on Adoptable Children found that 58 percent of parents said they could not have adopted their special needs children without the additional resources these subsidies provide. Not surprisingly, adoptions in Indiana have dropped more than 35 percent since 2011.

Financial help for families who wish to adopt is less expensive than foster care — and far better for the child. When children obtain a family they are more likely to complete high school, attend college, be employed and avoid drugs, alcohol and trouble with the law.

Nationwide, nearly 400,000 American children are in foster care.

Worldwide, millions of children are in need of a family. Russia — which has banned adoptions by Americans — has more than 650,000 children not in parental custody. For a number of reasons — chief among them State Department caution and lack of cooperation from some foreign governments — fewer foreign orphans are being adopted.

To help rectify this, the Children in Families First Act was written. With supporters in both the U.S. Senate and House, its co-sponsors range from liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

The goal is to create a new bureau in the State Department assigned to work with non-governmental organizations and foreign countries to minimize the number of children without families.

Professor Elizabeth Bartholet, founder of the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School, says the bill’s basic message is “the U.S. government should change itself from being a negative force, with respect to children who need homes, to being a positive force.”

“Keeping a child in an institution is systematic abuse and neglect,” Bartholet said. “The bill says we the United States should see inter-country adoption as one of the best options — it should not be the last resort.”

We support increased, meaningful support for adoption.

— Kendallville News Sun

For more information • Indiana Department of Child Services • Children in Families First • National adoption information