e-Memo for July 2004

Save the date: NCFA gears up for Kids at Heart 2004

This year’s Kids at Heart festival will be on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, November 21. Similar to last year, this exuberant celebration of adoption will take place at the Puck building in New York City the day after National Adoption Day. The festive occasion will feature a number of special guests, including performances by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Stay tuned for further details.

Last year, 350 children and parents from adoptive families came to celebrate Kids at Heart 2003. This year, we are expecting another enthusiastic crowd. If you or someone you know is interested in attending or helping to volunteer for this very special event, please contact Megan Lott at (703) 299-6633 or e-mail

For more information on Kids at Heart, click here.

Finally! Massachusetts legislature passes, and Lt. Governor Healey signs, Safe Haven bill

After several attempts over a three-year period, Massachusetts finally became the 46th state to enact Safe Havens when Lt. Governor Healey signed H 4325 today. Only Nebraska, Hawaii, Vermont, and Alaska have failed to pass this common sense, compassionate law that protects the lives of vulnerable newborns.

Safe Haven laws allow desperate parents a non-threatening escape from their perceived crisis. This law provides parents a safe place where they can go, in order to avoid harming or destroying their newborn’s life, as well as their own. To date, Safe Haven foundations in 33 states have documented over 250 children being placed under the law.

To read more about the bill, click here, go to “Search Bill Histories,” and type in “4325” in the “House, No.” box

To read NCFA’s news release regarding Senate passage of this bill, click here.

To read NCFA’s testimony regarding Massachusetts’ 2003 Safe Haven bill, click here.

Subcommittee on Human Resources introduces bill, “Child Safety, Adoption, and Family Enhancement Act of 2004” (Child SAFE Act)

On July 19, Congressman Wally Herger (R-CA), Chairman, Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means, introduced the Child SAFE Act (HR 4856) to provide states with improved incentives, more flexibility, and increased funds to develop child welfare services that meet the needs of children and families.

Since November of 2003, the Subcommittee has heard from a total of 41 witnesses through the course of five hearings on this subject. These hearings have revealed widespread consensus that federal foster care financing needs to be reformed. At a recent hearing on July 13, the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care shared the Subcommittee’s desire to protect children from abuse and neglect. Many of the Pew Commission’s recommendations are incorporated into the draft bill.

“No one thinks the status quo is acceptable,” said Herger. “Every week, stories of children lost, abused – or worse yet, killed – appear in newspapers across America. We owe it to them, and to the half million children in foster care, to improve this system.”

If passed, the bill would allow states the flexibility to reinvest unspent foster care funds into other services; expand and improve child welfare waiver options for states; guarantee rising foster care payments; and de-link federal foster care and adoption assistance income requirements from the 1996 AFDC income standards.

To learn more about this bill, click here and type “HR 4856” in to the “Bill Number” box.

Louisiana: two victories in one bill

The Louisiana legislature defeated two unsound adoption provisions contained in HB372 during its 2004 session. As introduced, HB372 would have institutionalized a confidential intermediary system to facilitate contact, whether desired or not, between adult adopted persons and both birthparents and adult birth siblings. The state would have become, in effect, a reunion advocate, rather than maintaining its present, appropriate, neutral position. Louisiana already uses a mutual consent registry, by which it facilitates mutually desired contact. After favorable review by the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee, the full House passed HB372. But the bill was then referred to the Senate Judiciary A Committee, where it was considered and rejected at a May 25 hearing.

Following this decision, the same Committee considered an amended version of HB372, which would have provided for court enforcement of post-adoption contact agreements. Such a policy would relegate adoptive parents to second-class status as parents. Biological parents do not have to go to court to defend their decisions regarding with whom their minor children may or may not have contact; neither should adoptive parents have to. It is easy to imagine any number of reasons adoptive parents would conclude in good faith that it was no longer in their child’s best interests to continue previously agreed to birthparent contacts. The Judiciary A Committee rejected the amended bill at a June 8 hearing.

To read the legislation, click here.

Read NCFA’s policy brief submitted to the Senate Judiciary A Committee, criticizing HB372’s confidential intermediary provision.

Read NCFA’s policy brief submitted to the Senate Judiciary A Committee, criticizing HB372’s provision that would establish court enforcement of post-adoption contact agreements.

HHS launches national PSA campaign

On July 15, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson launched a new national public service advertising campaign (PSA), Answering the Call: A National Campaign to Encourage Adoption of Children from Foster Care. This campaign will focus on recruiting parents to adopt children waiting in foster care.

“All children need loving families,” Secretary Thompson said. “Every time a waiting child finds a supportive, permanent home, it helps not only the child, but the family as well. Our nation has a responsibility to ensure that all children find a permanent home that provides the support they need to realize their full potential.”

This national PSA campaign is one component of HHS’s five-year initiative called the Collaboration to AdoptUSKids. These PSAs will specifically highlight the adoption of older children (ages 8 –17), who comprise 53 percent of the children in foster care who are in need of permanent homes.

The PSAs were developed in cooperation between the Advertising Council and the Collaboration to AdoptUSKids. This PSA campaign encourages prospective parents to realize that they "don't have to be a hero to be a hero," and "don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent."

Click here to learn more about the campaign.

Report announces teenage birthrate hits record low in 2002

A recent report by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-being 2004, announced this month that the adolescent birth rate dropped to its lowest in 11 years. For example, according to the report, the birthrate for girls ages 15-17 was down 40 percent since 1991. The report also noted that teenagers are using contraceptives more often and having sex less often or abstaining, resulting in lowered adolescent birth rates. An Alan Guttmacher Institute study in February 2004 also reported decreases in teenage abortion rates during the 1990s.

Click here to access the full report.

Portugal signs the Hague Convention

The Hague Convention reports that, effective July 30, Portugal has been added to the list of signatory countries. Additional countries expected to follow this year are: Thailand (8/01/04), Turkey (9/01/04), and Madagascar (9/01/04).

To read more about Hague Convention ratification status, click here.

Nominate your “Angel in Adoption”

Each year, members of Congress honor worthy individuals in child welfare and adoption advocacy from their home states at the annual Angels in Adoption awards banquet held in Washington, D.C. The “Angels” program, developed and presented by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), helps to raise awareness among congressional members and the public about vulnerable children in need of adoptive homes in local communities across the nation.

This year's event is scheduled for the evening of September 23 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

Please share your suggestions with your senators and congressional representatives about individuals you know who are making a positive difference in the lives of children through adoption.

To learn more about this award, click here.

NCFA PSAs popping up in northwest

Since its release in May, the new Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program (IAATP) public service advertising (PSA) campaign has earned a great deal of recognition. To date, local television stations around the country have responded favorably, donating more than $778,000 of airspace. According to the Nielson tracking system, the commercials have aired over 5,700 times, and have been seen by more than 23 million viewers. These impressive numbers only account for localized airings of the television commercials, and do not include the national airings by our media partners, ABC, CNN, Lifetime, Univision, and Telemundo.

Additionally, outdoor advertising giant Viacom ordered 80 billboard-sized copies of the IAATP print advertisements to be displayed throughout Washington and Oregon. The billboards have been produced and delivered, and are currently being installed along major highways.

Click here to view the campaign materials, and to learn more about IAATP.

Last call for nominations: HHS accepting nominations for 2004 Adoption Excellence Awards

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is requesting nominations for the 2004 Adoption Excellence Awards. The Department of Health and Human Services honors annually those states, agencies, organizations, businesses, and individuals that have demonstrated excellence in providing stable, permanent homes for children in foster care.

If you know someone or some organization that deserves this award, please take a few moments to submit your nomination(s). (Self-nominations are accepted.) All nominations must be received by Monday, August 2.

For more information about the Adoption Excellence Award and nomination process, click here.|

NCFA's e-Memo is a monthly publication distributed free of charge. Subscribe online. You can contact NCFA by mail, phone, fax, and e-mail:

National Council For Adoption
225 N. Washington Street Alexandria, VA 22314
703-299-6633 (Phone)
703-299-6004 (fax)