KMSP Fox 9 News
MINNEAPOLIS - Sen. Amy Klobuchar introduced a new bill on Monday that aims to improve the support available for families going though challenges associated with international adoptions.
The Supporting Adoptive Families Act involves three main changes to existing law:
It would redefine the current federal definition of “adoption support services” to include American families adopting a child from abroad.
It would make those services eligible for federal funding that would be delivered to states for child welfare-related services, and a specific portion of existing funds would go directly to caring for adopted children with mental health problems.
It would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve its data collection regarding adoptions -- especially those that fail -- to better develop the support services.
“This legislation doesn’t require any additional spending,” said Klobuchar. “Instead, it will make better use of existing funds and ensure that all adoptive families have access to support services.”
While introducing the bill, Klobuchar recounted a story about a 14-year-old boy who was arrested at Hastings Middle School last year in an attempt to shoot teachers and classmates. After the incident, it was reported that the teen had been adopted from a Russian orphanage at age 3 and his adoptive parents had struggled unsuccessfully for years to get the right help for his mental health issues.
“This issue is of special importance for Minnesota, because we lead the country with the highest rate of international adoptions,” said Klobuchar. “Parenting is always a challenge -- but there can be additional challenges for parents who adopt a child from another country. We need to help adoptive families get access to the support they need so their children can thrive.”
International controversy has previously erupted surrounding overseas adoptions and mental health concerns, such as when a Tennessee woman put her 7-year-old adopted son on a plane by himself to return to Moscow, along with a note saying she could no longer care for him because he was mentally ill and becoming violent.
“These incidents aren’t typical of international adoptions,” said Klobuchar, “but they do highlight -- in extreme form -- the serious challenges that some families face after they adopt a child who may suffer problems caused by neglect, maltreatment or institutionalization. The adoptive parents often do not have adequate access to support services that could help both them and their child.”
The bill debuted by Klobuchar has bipartisan support and was co-authored by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Tim Johnson (D-SD). She introduced the legislation with adoptive families and adoption agency representatives standing by her, and emphasized that the proposed plan is endorsed by the North American Council on Adoptable Children and Children’s Home Society & Family Services.