Letter was led by Representatives Smith and Aderholt in the House
Klobuchar, Blunt, Smith, and Aderholt serve as co-chairs of the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Coalition on Adoption
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA) and Robert Aderholt (R-AL), co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Adoption Caucus, led a bipartisan, bicameral group of 73 colleagues in urging the Biden administration to take immediate action to unite Ukrainian children going through the adoption process with American adoptive or host families.
The lawmakers specifically called on the Biden administration to identify the approximately 300 Ukrainian children waiting to join American adoptive or host families and work with the Ukrainian government to find a way forward to allow children with in-process adoptions to travel to stay with host families in the United States instead of requiring these children to remain in other locations for displaced persons in Europe or in Ukraine.
“We write to advocate for immediately uniting American host families with Ukrainian children who are engaged in the adoption process, based on the shared belief that every child deserves a safe, stable, and loving place to call home,” the lawmakers wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Regardless of where children are within the adoption process, protecting vulnerable children should remain a top priority for Ukraine and the United States.”
“American families seeking to adopt or be host families for a Ukrainian child are eager to welcome these children into their home and provide the affection, stability, and safety all children deserve,” the lawmakers continued. “As you continue to lead the United States’ diplomatic response to the invasion of Ukraine, we request that you raise our concerns regarding these children in institutionalized care to the highest levels of our diplomatic engagement, so that they are prioritized in protection and response measures.”
As chairs of the Congressional Adoption Caucus, Klobuchar and Blunt have long worked to help American families looking to adopt children from overseas. Last May, they reintroduced bipartisan legislation to improve the intercountry adoption process. In 2020, Klobuchar and Blunt urged the Trump administration to use all available resources to ensure that intercountry adoptions proceed in a safe and timely manner during the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to Klobuchar and Blunt, the letter was signed by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), John Thune (R-SD), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Rob Portman (R-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), John Boozman (R-AR), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bob Casey (D-PA), James Inhofe (R-OK), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Steve Daines (R-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Todd Young (R-IN), Angus King (I-ME), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
The letter was also signed by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Joseph Morelle (D-NY), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Angie Craig (D-MN), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), William Timmons (R-SC), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Kevin Brady (R-TX), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Andrew Clyde (R-GA), Deborah Ross (D-NC), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Pete Stauber (R-MN), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Ashley Hinson (R-IA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Barry Moore (R-AL), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), Bob Good (R-VA), Trent Kelly (R-MS), Mike Johnson (R-LA), Rick Allen (R-GA), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Blake Moore (R-UT), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Julia Letlow (R-LA), Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), and Mike Kelly (R-PA).
The full letter is available HERE and below:
We write to advocate for immediately uniting American host families with Ukrainian children who are already engaged in the adoption process, based on the shared belief that every child deserves a safe, stable, and loving place to call home.
There are approximately 300 Ukrainian children who are waiting to join their American adoptive families or host families. Regardless of where children are within the adoption process, protecting vulnerable children should remain a top priority for Ukraine and the United States.
We urge the State Department to take the following actions to protect these children from harm and trauma, including trafficking:
- Identify Impacted Children and Families: In collaboration with the Ukrainian government and U.S.-based organizations, the State Department should immediately identify children in Ukraine who American families seek to host or rehost while waiting for the full adoptive process to move forward. Children often form important emotional bonds with the adoptive families with whom they have been “matched,” even before the adoption process is complete and many of these children have previously traveled to the United States and lived with these American families in their homes for hosting trips.
- Allow Adoption-Eligible Children to Travel to Live with American Host Families in the U.S.: The State Department should immediately use its powers under the law to work with the Ukraine government and find a way forward that will allow children with in-process adoptions to travel to the U.S. to stay with their host families in the U.S. instead of requiring these children to remain in other locations for displaced persons in Europe, or in Ukraine.
Many of these children may be appropriately given refuge in neighboring countries. However, we believe that in the unique circumstances where children already have established relationships with families in the United States, it is appropriate to prioritize allowing these children to stay with host families to ensure the child’s safety and stability.
While we recognize that the adoption process should only be advanced where it is safe, ethical, and appropriate to do so, American families seeking to adopt or be host families for a Ukrainian child are eager to welcome these children into their home and provide the affection, stability, and safety all children deserve. As you continue to lead the United States’ diplomatic response to the invasion of Ukraine, we request that you raise our concerns regarding these children in institutionalized care to the highest levels of our diplomatic engagement, so that they are prioritized in protection and response measures.
We appreciate the efforts of your Department and those of our allies in working to protect those that flee violence. Thank you for your consideration of these important objectives and for the Office of Children's Issues commitment to supporting vulnerable children in Ukraine. We look forward to working with you on this urgent issue.