Senator John ThuneAt the end of every year we take time to be especially mindful of all of the blessings in our lives. I, like many South Dakotans, count my family as the greatest blessing I enjoy. There are many families in South Dakota that have another great blessing: adopted children.
November is National Adoption Month, and November 15th marked National Adoption Day. During this month, we recognize those who have welcomed adopted children into their homes, but we also consider the reality that there are more than half a million children in the foster care system in this country today. Sadly, 26,000 young adults “age out” of the foster care system annually without ever experiencing a permanent, loving family.
This month, I proudly cosponsored the Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act, which seeks to address the high legal costs that can prohibit some caring families from adopting a child. This bipartisan legislation would permanently extend tax incentives for families that adopt children. These tax incentives were originally created in 2001, but without extension by Congress they will expire at the end of 2010. This legislation is supported by several national adoption advocacy organizations, and I will work to broaden support for it in the Senate.
One of the biggest deterrents of families considering adoption is misinformation. Studies show that a significant number of people believe children end up in foster care because of juvenile delinquency, which is far from the case. Most foster care children have been neglected, abandoned, or abused, which only further highlights the need for loving, supportive families to choose adoption.
Adoption is not something that many of us think about every day, but it is a powerful thing that can profoundly impact all the lives of those involved. Through adoption, children get loving and supportive families and families are blessed with new lives to nurture. In the broader picture, National Adoption Month is a small thing, but the impact adoption has on lives is not. Many families in South Dakota have experienced the joy of opening their homes to children, and I invite others to consider it, too.