Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I rise in recognition of National Adoption Month, and I know our great colleague Senator Landrieu will be here to also address this important month. She has been such a great leader in fighting for this cause. She has literally gone to Guatemala to make sure that children who are awaiting loving homes in our country get to come to those homes. She literally knows the names of those kids and is hands-on every step of the way and has been the leader in Congress.

She established the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, which has brought together Senators and Members of Congress on behalf of children who need loving homes and families who want to welcome them home. We are very pleased with her leadership. 

Senator Landrieu is joining us right now, and I will be able to flip it over to my friend at any time it is appropriate. But I do wish to speak about National Adoption Month. It is especially important in my home State of Minnesota.

Many people don't know this, but Minnesota actually has the highest rate of international adoptions in the country. Minnesota families have opened their homes and their hearts to children from all over the world--from [Page: S6113]
Vietnam to Guatemala to Nepal to Haiti.

I have had the opportunity to witness the power of adoption firsthand. Before being elected to the Senate, I spent 8 years as Hennepin County attorney, the largest county in Minnesota. We had jurisdiction over foster care and adoption. I actually worked to speed up those adoptions. I remember saying we need to eliminate this delay and reduce the time it takes for a child who has been going from foster care home to foster care home in half, and we were able to do that because people understood 
the need for children to have a permanent home.

I know Senator Landrieu is here right now and has a busy schedule, and I will turn it over to her as soon as I finish.

In the United States, nearly 400,000 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system. Over 100,000 of these children are eligible for adoption, but too many of them will wait for years and years to be adopted. Some will not be adopted at all.

Last night I attended an event called Kidsave. It is about children who are older and in other countries. This group has actually set up an incredible system where the kids come to our country for a few weeks and many of them end up being adopted. As the kids get older, it becomes harder and harder for them to become adopted.

Senator Landrieu and I are aware that as some of these countries, such as Russia, completely close their doors to adoption, there will actually be more and more children who are older that will need to be adopted. We hope the system changes and they do eventually open up their doors.

Around the world it is estimated that nearly 18 million orphans who have lost parents are living in orphanages or are on the streets and lack the care and attention required for healthy development. As a nation, we must open our arms to these children. Just last night at this event, I had the opportunity to hear the story of Jennifer Baumann, a 17-year-old girl from Colombia. She spent years in a broken home and then in a broken foster care system in that country. She was exposed to violence. 
She would go to bed hungry.

At age 14, she was still in foster care and had lost hope for her future. She was considered too old to be adopted. As she said in her own words, she ``cried for a year.''

But then, miraculously, she had the chance to visit a family here in America as part of the program that Kidsave organized. The family fell in love with her, she fell in love with them, and in 2011 she was adopted into a loving home. 

We have seen this time and time again in my State, and that is why I got involved in legislation with my mentor, Mary Landrieu. 

One of the things we found out is--we had a family called the Makorises, and they were adopting nine children from the Philippines who had first lost their father, and their mother kept them together, and then their mother died, and it was the two oldest children who held those kids together. When they turned 16 and 17, they couldn't be adopted. The Makorises of Cambridge, MN, had to make a decision: Were they going to strand those two kids who held the family together, leave them in the Philippines, 
and take the other children? It was like Sophie's choice. That was their choice. 

They decided there was a better way. They came to Congress. I led the bill in the Senate with the help of Senator Landrieu, Senator Sessions, Senator Inhofe, as well as House Members, and we were able to pass a bill that allowed kids who had reached an age where they were not legally allowed to be adopted, to be adopted if a younger sibling had been adopted. That means that retroactively, thanks to the work of Senator Landrieu, 10 million children all across 
the world were allowed to be adopted into loving families. And how fun was it to be in the Makorises' living room and see all nine children, like some Minnesota version of ``The Sound of Music,'' with a place for all of their winter boots and their coats. They came from the Philippines in the middle of the winter to Minnesota; yet they were still as happy and as warm as can be because now they have parents who love them. 

The Senator from Maine understands how important adoption is because it has touched his own family. This has touched every Member of the Senate. 

As we focus on National Adoption Month, we have to continue to look at policies and changes we can make to our laws to make them better. We passed that law to allow those older siblings to be adopted. We passed a law to allow vaccinations to be allowed in our country to make sure they are safe and that they are actually done. But there is more work to do with these intercountry adoptions, and I can think of no one better to lead that charge than the Senator from Louisiana, Ms. Landrieu. 

So I am here to acknowledge the work we have done with the adoption tax credit, which we have gotten into law, and the work we have done to make sure it is easier for these international adoptions. Every single family out there knows there are problems right now with international adoptions. A lot of them stem from people such as Vladimir Putin. By the way, the reason Senator Landrieu was banned from going to Russia is because of the work she is doing for kids, being willing to take 
Putin on because of the fact that he was closing the doors to kids and using them as pawns for political gain. That is an amazing story, and that shows a fighter. 

(Mr. KING assumed the Chair.) 

I thank the Presiding Officer for his work with adoption and his personal story, as well as all the Members on both sides of the aisle who have devoted themselves to looking out for these kids who have no one else to look out for them.

I yield the floor.