Mississippi News

Wicker: Works to save international adoption

Note: The following is Sen. Roger Wicker’s Weekly Report and is provided from the Senator’s office.  

New Bill Would Bring More Orphans into Loving Homes

Eden was born into a dire situation. Like so many unwanted young girls in India, she was abandoned as an infant and left for dead. By the grace of God, she was rescued and taken to a local hospital for life-saving care. That same month, Robby and Jess Followell, a young couple in Clinton, Mississippi, felt led to pray for a young orphan in India who might one day become their daughter.

As it turned out, the child they had been praying for came to their attention through an adoption firm called Children of the World. They learned that Eden had suffered a rare condition in the womb that left her hands and feet malformed. Although doctors said she might never be able to walk, the Followells were not deterred. Moved by compassion, they completed a home study with New Beginnings, an adoption firm in Tupelo, and traveled to India to adopt Eden as their own. Once in America, Eden received surgery, leg braces, and physical therapy – and she defied the odds. She learned not only to walk, but also to run and to climb. And she received a constant playmate and companion in her older sister, Meg.

Today, Eden is nine years old and thriving. She is one of more than 150,000 children adopted from overseas who today are growing up in American homes. Unfortunately, her story is increasingly rare.

Red Tape Makes Adoption More Difficult

In recent years, red tape in Washington has made it harder for adoption providers like New Beginnings to stay open. Many providers specialize in one or two parts of the adoption process, such as vetting and advising parents. Yet since 2008, the State Department has required all intercountry adoption providers to pursue an expensive accreditation that goes far beyond the scope of their work. This costly requirement has forced many providers to close their doors. Between 2008 and 2021, the number of agencies involved in inter-country adoption fell by nearly two-thirds, from 300 to 108. This decline has resulted in higher prices, making adoption simply unaffordable for many who are eager to welcome a child.

All of this has led to fewer orphans finding a loving home. In 2004, Americans adopted 23,000 children from foreign countries. By last year, that number had shrunk to fewer than 2,000. This is a shame given that there are some 153 million orphans around the world and thousands of Americans seeking to adopt. Government should be making it easier, not harder, to welcome a child. In 2020, Congress unanimously passed my legislation providing prospective parents with better information to pursue overseas adoption. I am now pushing legislation to help save adoption agencies from the crushing regulatory burden they continue to face.

Helping Adoption Agencies Survive

This past week, I introduced S.5101 to help save our nation’s adoption providers. The bill would allow agencies to be accredited in their own areas of expertise without having to be certified in other areas. This would lead to lower costs, allowing more agencies to stay open. Ryan Hanlon, who leads the National Council for Adoption, recently said that without this legislation we will continue to lose adoption providers nationwide, resulting in fewer orphans being able to find a home.

Americans are compassionate people who have a heart for orphans. Like Eden Followell, countless former orphans are today experiencing love, support, and opportunity because of the miracle of adoption. I am committed to ensuring future generations of Americans can show the same compassion toward children in need, both at home and abroad.

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