It must have seemed like such a slam-dunk when the proponents of the Children in Families First act began to develop their plans for orphans. Who would oppose children needing families?
Since the bill’s introduction many months ago, though, it’s been a slow motion dribble to any movement, never mind passage, and the game clock is ticking loudly.
Recently the website, the Facebook page, and the Twitter account of CHIFF have all been noticeably silent.
Drawing from my time a while back in legislative advocacy, I am guessing that this means they are taking a new tactic, probably still lobbying on Capitol Hill, and probably considering making some concessions.They may have grown tired of having their information countered and questioned by people like me who believe, yes, children deserve families, but, no, CHIFF is not the right approach.
From the start, CHIFF has been silent on these vital issues:
- Much needed funding for improved pre-adoption and post-adoption resources
- Federal level legislation on “re-homing” of internationally adopted children
- Documented cases of fraud and corruption
- Support from the State Department
- Support from international adult adopted persons
- Support from international family preservation organizations
- Support from international first parents
- Pre- and post-placement resources, support, counseling, and information for international first parents
- Citizenship for all international adoptees
That silence on those issues speaks volumes.
CHIFF has a few more cosponsors, but proponents have chosen not to draw attention to them publicly as they had previously done. The recent House Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Africa’s orphans was not a strategic success. The upcoming trial of International Adoption Guides via Department of Justice indictment has not helped. Court cases of adoptive parents for abuse and deaths of their internationally adopted children (Hana Williams, Hyunsu O’Callaghan, and the Barbour children are just a few examples) cast a tragic long shadow. Increasing numbers of internationally adopted children now in the US foster care system is of concern–at least, I hope it is. CHIFF is silent on that.
How about dropping international adoption from the bill, since that has been the main point of contention? CHIFF proponents have argued occasionally that the bill is not really about adoption, though that’s hard to believe, since almost all their endorsers and Executive Committee are adoption-related, and prospective and current adoptive parents are the main supporters.
Would that crowd, and the Congressional staffers and sponsors, rally and promote (through Facebook, Twitter, and their website) family preservation and reunification, instead of adoption? That would mean some $60 million for vulnerable children in adversity, not for a new bureaucracy or a small number of children who would benefit from adoption. Many more children would benefit from remaining with their families and not entering orphanages; many more mothers would not have to lose their children because of poverty.
Then perhaps we could all turn to genuinely overhauling and improving the international adoption process, with input from adult adopted persons and international first parents, not just adoption agencies and adoptive parents, and with a goal of addressing current, real needs in the adoption community.
That is something I could cheer for.