On Tuesday, we asked you to call Congress and ask them to sign a letter expressing concern about the Department of State proposed intercountry adoption regulations. So far, even though several Congressional offices have called the co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition of Adoption with questions, the letter only has signatures from three Senators and four Representatives. If you made a call, send a reminder email to your office's staffer today (click here to see our sample follow-up email). If you haven't made a call yet, it's not too late. Make a call today – all signatures must be in by Monday, November 21st, but calls should be done sooner so Congressional staff have time to take a look and get it approved by the Member of Congress. before the deadline to sign.
Being an advocate is easy! We chatted with Ashlie H. and Lydia T. who both called their Members of Congress this week. Here's how it went!
You made some calls on Advocacy Day. Can you tell us about those?
Ashlie: I made calls on Advocacy Day to the offices of Congresswoman Susan Brooks and Senator Daniel Coats. Before this, I hadn't been passionate about something enough to call my representatives in office so this was my first experience. While calling Susan Brooks' office, I was caught off guard because someone actually answered the phone. I was expecting a machine. They were very nice and asked questions about the reason for my call and we joked about how I was flustered at first because I wasn't expecting a live person. They were very nice. For Senator Coat's office, I did leave a lengthy voicemail but I was a pro by this point so it was easy to state the reason for my call and why I was concerned.
Lydia: I am first an adoptive mother and second an adoption professional. I called Congressman Todd Young’s office and while I didn’t speak directly with someone, their office did take my name and information and promised I would hear back from them. I also left a message with Senator Joe Donnelly’s office about the current issues.
Lydia and her family pose for a pic.
Why was it so important to you to call your Members of Congress?
Ashlie: I have the privilege of being called "Mommy" by two of the most beautiful children from Bulgaria. Adoption has grown and completed our family. I feel strongly that all children belong in a loving, forever home and the Bible calls us all to advocate for those who have no voice. When I was calling, I was calling for the children without a voice. I feel that adoption is already so hard, so lengthy, so expensive... it's easy to turn your back on the idea. Unfortunately, turning your back on that idea will rob so many of the greatest joys. International adoptions have decreased by 75% since 2004 AND over 80% of people who have thought about adoption did not follow through because of the expenses and time involved. I cannot fathom why our government deems it necessary to add more time, fees, and regulation to an already long and expensive process. This will deter even more families from following through, and it's the children who suffer. I wish those sitting behind a desk thinking up these new regulations would go and visit orphanages all over the world. Then they would see the need. They would ask why it was so hard. Why these children do not know the love of a family. It's heartbreaking and we must do something.
Lydia: It was important to me, again, as an adoptive parent to create an awareness of the proposed changes because I know from firsthand experience what a family means to children who are waiting around the world. Also, as an adoption professional, I wanted my representatives to understand what an impact this could make to the future of adoption, and what is in the best interest of a child.
If I sit back and do nothing children will suffer, my job could be at risk and even worse children could lose what the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has legally determined as their right to a family. Because I have witnessed what neglect, abuse, and trauma have done to impact my children, I can’t sit back and not do all I can to protect children who do not have the love, security and protection that a family offers.
Ashlie and Mr. H. with their two children.
What are you going to do next to help bring change for intercountry adoption?
Ashlie: I have been sharing links and ways to advocate for children on my social media pages, as well as within adoption forums and groups with other adoptive parents. I have sent emails to my State Rep and State Senators and have made phone calls on behalf of the orphans all over the world. In the meantime, I will continue to tell our story in hopes that it inspires another family to grow their family through adoption. As a family we will donate to families in-process when we can and we will continue to help other families in-process with questions and help in whatever way we can post-adoption.
Here is a photo of our family. Our adoption from Bulgaria took just shy of two years from start to home. We have been home since Oct. 30, 2015. Our children are healthy, silly, happy, doing well in school, making friends and are constantly keeping us on our toes. Life is good and I pray that many other families will be able to know the joy of adoption. It's miraculous.
Lydia: I have shared with my family, friends and client families how anyone can make a difference in the life of an orphan – by speaking up and giving them a voice. While international adoptions have been on a significant decline, sadly the number of orphans continues to grow. We have a responsibility to children everywhere to give them opportunity to their right to a family.
If you called your Congressional offices, take a moment to follow-up with them via email to remind them to sign the letter to Secretary Kerry by Monday, November 22nd. Keep your follow-up quick and concise! Below is a sample email. If you don't have the email address of the staffer who handles international adoption issues, no worries! Just the call the Congressional office again and ask for an email address.
Dear [name of the staffer you spoke with]:
I was just checking back to see if you’d had a chance to ask Senator/Representative XXX about signing the letter expressing concern about the Proposed Intercountry Adoption Regulations. We really hope to have his support on this issue. Let me know if I can provide any information that might help.
Please contact any of the following offices by Monday, November 22nd to sign on to this important letter.
House of Representatives
Office of Rep. Trent Franks (R)
Contact Chelsea Patterson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D) 202-225-5802
Contact: Alex Huang: email@example.com
Office of Senator Roy Blunt (R) 202-224-5721
Lauren McCormack: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) 202-224-3244
Lindsey Kerr: email@example.com
Thanks for supporting adoption and let me know if you have any questions!