Adoption Acceleration

N.B. This page is new and is in an unsettled state, as adoption related issues have been changing recently.

Federal attention focuses on increasing adoptions

Concerned that unwanted children have been languishing in foster homes while awaiting adoption, the Clinton administration moved to accelerate the pace of adoptions.

In 1996, President Clinton outlined his vision to double the adoption rate by the year 2002. This year, 28,000 children were adopted.

In 1997, President Clinton signed into law the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, the law designed to implement his vision. This year, 31,000 children were adopted.

In 1998, 36,000 children were adopted.

In 1999, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced that financial bonus awards totaling $20 million were awarded to 35 states, including New Hampshire. The New Hampshire figure was small, only $9,407, but any additional increase in the adoption rate means more than proportionately more money. It's hard to ignore Illinois's $6,869,733.

Needed: more children to adopt

Many children in foster care have been removed from families against the wishes of both family and children. Are these children at an increased risk of being adopted? I am hearing from parents that they may be.

I've had several phone calls from people desperately trying to get more visitation with their children, or wanting legal representation for a termination of parental rights case. The grounds for termination had nothing to do with the original reason a neglect petition was filed previously.

In one case, after denying parents visitation with their children over a period of two years more than once a month, the grounds for termination was the lack of parental involvement in the children's lives.

Freedom in Information Act request

In order to learn more about what is happening in New Hampshire, I've filed this:

November 2, 1999

Nancy Rollins
DCYF, Main Office
Brown Building
129 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301-3857

Re: Right to Know

Dear Ms. Rollins,

There was a press release from the United States Department of Health and Human Services this summer, indicating that there would be an incentive for states to achieve permanency planning for children in placement by virtue of a cash payment of $10,000 per child adopted (or by virtue of termination petitions being filed) over a certain number. In the interest of attempting to figure out what sort of effect this cash bonus has had on New Hampshire DCYF practices, please answer the following:

  1. How many petitions were filed by the Division for Termination of Parental Rights in each of the last five years, and for YTD 1999?

  2. Whether or not the Division knows what the "baseline number" is under which there is no cash stipend from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and what that number has been calculated to be by the US Department of Health and Human Services or DCYF, or when that number will be known.

  3. How many Petitions for Termination of Parental Rights were filed in 1999 prior to the United States Department of Health and Human Services announcement of this incentive for states to develop "permanency plans" for children in placement?

  4. How many Petitions for Termination of Parental Rights were filed in 1999 after the United States Department of Health and Human Services announcement of this incentive for states to develop "permanency plans" for children in placement?

  5. Please forward a copy of any documentation you have from the United States Department of Health and Human Services on this program, including any correspondence you have regarding anticipated payments or reports to the Department of Health and Human Services regarding this stipend to New Hampshire.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Paula J. Werme, Esq.

Cc: File

No answer yet, but Nancy Rollins has been pretty good about answering my requests.

Postscript: National Adoption Month

This WWW page was created during National Adoption Month, so proclaimed by President Clinton each November.

A Presidential Proclamation

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 28, 1999


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This month, as families across America look forward to the holiday season that is fast approaching, we remember with special concern the thousands of children in our Nation who are growing up without the unconditional love and security of a permanent home. Our Nation's foster care system plays an invaluable role in providing temporary safe and caring homes to children who need them, but permanent homes and families are vital to giving these children the stability and sustained love they need to reach their full potential.

My Administration has worked hard to promote adoption by assisting adoptive families and breaking down barriers to adoption. We have helped remove many economic barriers to adoption by providing tax credits to families adopting children, and the Family and Medical Leave Act that I signed into law in 1993 gives workers job-protected leave to care for their newly adopted children. The Adoption and Safe Families Act I signed in 1997 reformed our Nation's child welfare system, made clear that the health and safety of children must be the paramount concern of State child welfare services, and expedited permanent place-ment for children. It also ensured health coverage for children with special needs and created new financial incentives for States to increase adoption. We also took important steps to help ensure that the adoption process remains free from discrimination and delays on the basis of race, culture, and ethnicity. We are now working to break down geographic barriers to adoption by using the Internet to link children in foster care to possible adoptive families.

We have new evidence that our efforts are bearing fruit: the first significant increase in adoptions since the National Foster Care Program was created almost 20 years ago. A new report from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that from 1996 to 1998, the number of adoptions nationwide rose 29 percent -- from 28,000 to 36,000 -- and should meet our national goal of 56,000 adoptions by the year 2002. In addition, the First Lady and I were pleased to announce this past September the first-ever bonus awards to States that have increased the number of adoptions from the public foster care system. We also announced additional grants to public and private organizations that remove barriers to adoption.

To follow through on this record of achievement, I have urged the Congress to safeguard the interests and well-being of young people who reach the age of 18 without being adopted or placed in a permanent home. Under the current system, Federal financial assistance for young people in foster care ends just as they are making the critical transition to independence. We must ensure that when these young people are old enough to leave the foster care system, they have the health care, life skills training, and educational opportunities they need to succeed personally and professionally.

As we observe National Adoption Month this year, we can take pride in our progress, but we know there is more work to be done. Let us take this opportunity to rededicate ourselves to meeting those challenges, and let us honor the many adoptive parents whose generosity and love have made such an extraordinary difference in the lives of thousands of our Nation's children.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 1999 as National Adoption Month. I urge all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities to honor adoptive families and to participate in efforts to find permanent, loving homes for waiting children.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fourth.


Contact Paula Werme, Esq. or return to Law Practice home page.

Last updated 1999 November 7.