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President signs adoption law to bolster national commitment

WASHINGTON (BP)–President Bush signed a law Dec. 2 giving further impetus to a national commitment to adoption.

“The adoption of a boy or a girl is a moment of joy for a family, and it’s an act of great generosity,” the president said in signing the Adoption Promotion Act of 2003. “When parents share their homes and all they have with a child — the child they adopt and love as their own — all their lives are transformed forever.”

Bush’s signature renewed a law passed in 1997 that gives $4,000 in federal money per child to states that exceed their placement performances from the previous year.

From 1998 to 2002, states placed more than 230,000 children in adoptive homes, Bush said. That is about the same number that had been adopted in the previous 10 years. During the same time period, 33 states and the District of Columbia at least doubled foster care adoptions. Bush also noted that in 2001 the adoption tax credit was increased from $5,000 to $10,000 to further promote adoption.

The latest law will give states an additional $4,000 for every adoption of a child 9 or older, over a baseline set by the Department of Health and Human Services.

“In every young life there is a great need to belong,” the president said. “For the sake of our children, this nation has a responsibility to encourage adoption of children at all ages — from infants to adolescents.”

Bush said the new legislation sends a clear message that “our society is building a culture that values every life, and our government strongly supports adoption.”

To underscore the need for adoption to gain more attention in America, the president said more than 126,000 foster children still need an adoptive family. And nearly half of those children are past the age of 9.

“Foster parents bring help and kindness at a crucial point in a child’s life, yet foster care is by nature temporary,” Bush said. “And the aim of the system and the desire of every child is a permanent home.”

On a national scale, the president said, it is not an impossible task to provide a future for many thousands of children who depend on the willingness of caring parents to make a commitment to provide a home.

“It would take less than 1 percent of the American population to provide a home to every child awaiting adoption,” he said. “Welcoming a child into your home and calling that child your son or daughter is a major decision. It is never to be made lightly. Yet so many parents who have made that decision count it among life’s greatest and happiest turning points.

“And so I hope more Americans, after careful thought and prayer, will make the decision to adopt a boy or girl of their own,” Bush said.

In 2002, the Bush administration created a website called adoptuskids.com for people interested in adoption. The site already has helped join nearly 2,000 children with adoptive parents, the president said.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: PROMOTING ADOPTION.

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  • Erin Curry