Over the years, NCFA has worked to increase awareness of adoption as a positive option for serving the needs of children and building families; protect the rights of children, birthparents, and adoptive families; establish sound domestic and intercountry adoption legislation and policies; advance pro-adoption fiscal policies to encourage adoption and make adoption affordable for more families; and meet the permanency needs of children in foster care.
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; the release of identifying information only after mutual consent of all parties; 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.
We support passage of the Families for Orphans Act (HR 3070, S 1458) and the Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act (HR 3110, S 1359).
We support passage of the Protecting Adoption and Promoting Responsible Father Act of 2009 (S 939), which will establish and maintain a national putative father registry.
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 Out of 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.
Privacy in Adoption
While we are not opposed to open adoptions, reunions, or the exchange of identifying information when parties to adoption mutually agree, we are opposed to laws that empower one party to adoption to receive confidential identifying information about the other without the other party's consent. Openness in adoption can be healthy when both parties to adoption choose it voluntarily; but it can be traumatic and disrupts lives when one side forces him or herself on the other.
For 30 years, we have demonstrated our commitment to protecting the option of privacy in adoption by repeatedly initiating efforts to educate state legislatures across the country about the harmful effects of legislation that would allow an unrestricted right of access to birthparent identifying information in lieu of requiring mutual consent of birthparents and adult adopted persons prior to release. As early as 1983, we drafted a model mutual consent bill and began educating state legislatures about the advantages of using mutual consent registry laws to safeguard privacy and enable mutually desired contact between adult parties to adoption.
We continue efforts to preserve the option of privacy in States across the United States by advocating for mutual consent.
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.
We have been instrumental in raising public awareness of the positive option of adoption. Nearly 30 years ago, we launched our first ad campaign, Adoption Hotline, a resource for women with unplanned pregnancies. Since then, we have been successful in spreading the message of adoption to hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Toys for Adoptable Kids: Together with the Hyatt Hotel, this ad campaign raised awareness about the need to increase special needs adoptions.
Adopted Children Have Great Expectations: This media campaign, accepted by the Ad Council for inclusion in its public service advertising bulletins, featured famous adopted persons, including President Gerald Ford, Kitty and Peter Carruthers, Greg Louganis, and Wilson Riles, and featured Meryl Streep as the voice over.
Thanks for Considering Adoption: Recognized with three "Angels Awards" by the advertising industry, this public service awareness campaign underscored the fact that adopted children are happy, well-adjusted, and just like other children. Produced by our Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program, it promoted infant adoption on TV, radio, transit, and print advertising, and was seen on CNN, ABC, Lifetime, AOL, Telemundo, Univision, and many others.
We re-designed and launched a brand new look for two of our websites, www.adoptioncouncil.org and www.infantadopt.org making them more user-friendly and informative for anyone interested in adoption.
We launched iChooseAdoption, a public awareness campaign with the message that "Sometimes choosing adoption is being a good mother." We were awarded with a Silver Davey award for iChooseAdoption for "best integrated campaign," an award for which we competed with web, television, radio and outdoor advertising. The iChooseAdoption PSA reached its 2009 ratings peak when it ranked as high as the 85th percentile in airtime among all PSAs nationally, reaching a broad audience and effectively spreading the message to women facing an unintended pregnancy that adoption is a path that can be pursued without fear, bias, or misunderstanding.
In partnership with Walmart, we launched Families For All, a public awareness campaign designed to inspire Americans to consider what they can to do help children in foster care by becoming a mentor, special advocate, foster or adoptive parent. Our National Adoption Spokesperson and Award-winning country music artist Rodney Atkins is the spokesperson and major-media representative for this campaign.
Immediately following the tragic earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, we launched Heart to HAITI, an online adoption information network, designed to keep the public informed on adoption and foster care developments in Haiti.
Media and White House Relations
We are a resource for the media including:
- Electronic Media: ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, Nightline, Post-Newsweek Television, CNN, CNN Headline News, CNN International, Larry King Live, National Public Radio, British Broadcasting Company, Sonya Live, Geraldo, Sally Jesse Raphael, 60 Minutes, Fox Morning News, NewsTalk Television, Black Entertainment Television, Good Morning America, Today Show, MSNBC, C-SPAN, the Oprah Winfrey Show, and many others;
- Print Media: New Yorker, Associated Press, Time, Newsweek, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Reuters, Washington Post, Woman's World, Ladies Home Journal, World Magazine, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Cincinnati Enquirer, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Des Moines Register, National Review, New Republic, Weekly Standard, Dallas Morning News, Des Moines Register, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Globe, People Magazine, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Town and Country, and many others; White House Resource: We were the only adoption policy organization invited to advise President George H.W. Bush in preparation for the 1990 World Summit on Children at the United Nations. In 1997, we worked with the White House, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the Department of Health and Human Services on a presidential initiative to double the number of adoptions of children from foster care and in 2002, we briefed President George W. Bush at the White House on our adoption policy priorities along with adoption leaders from across the country, thanking him for his leadership and compassion in helping needy children in America and around the world through adoption. In 2010, President Barack Obama's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships requested a meeting with NCFA to discuss our Infant Adoption Training Initiative, the adoption crisis in Haiti, and any other pertinent adoption issues.