Every Child Deserves a Family Act Briefing

following blog is reprinted from the
Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) blog.

The Every
Child Deserves a Family Act
(S. 1770) was the topic of a
Congressional briefing today organized by Senator Kirsten
Gillibrand’s (D-NY) office. Advocates from LGBT and Adoption
organizations engaged in a panel discussion about the bill and its
promise of expanding the number of eligible families for children
awaiting adoption.

Emily Hecht of the Family Equality Council explained precedence for
and the logistics of nondiscrimination policies. She described the
ease of implementing S. 1770 by pointing to the Department of
Health and Human Services’ (HHS) existing support and technical
assistance regarding LGBT nondiscrimination in adoptions. Rhodes
Perry of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
agreed that Every Child Deserves a Family is good policy and
described how it will produce savings by shifting children in care
to permanent families. Ellen Kahn with the Human Rights Campaign
(HRC) talked about her organization’s direct work with public
child welfare agencies and how passing the bill would lift barriers
to accessing certain training funds in addition to preventing
case-halting discrimination by individuals working in adoptions.
Nicole Dobbins of Voice for Adoption (VFA) described the youth
waiting for adoption: that they tend to be older, have special
needs, have been in several foster care placements, and are often
in sibling groups. She attested to their strong desire for a
permanent family without concern of the family’s make up.

Voice for Adoption holds an annual Adoptive
Family Portrait Project
engaging Congressional members in
celebrating November as National
Adoption Month
. This year over 60 Senators and Representatives
participated by posting a picture of an adoptive family from their
constituency. The portraits depict a diverse group of adoptive
families, including those headed by LGBT parents. The last
panelist of the briefing was Mathew Reynell whose family portrait
is posted in Senator Gillibrand’s office. Mr. Reynell and his
partner adopted their son James from foster care just a couple of
years ago. Mr. Reynell described the adoption process and how much
positive socio-emotional and educational progress James has made
since joining their family. He credits the love of a forever family
as the best medicine for struggling children.