(Senate - November 14, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 186 (Tuesday, November 14, 2017)]
[Pages S7192-S7194]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                             ADOPTION MONTH

  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, Senator Klobuchar and I are here to talk 
about National Adoption Month.
  I think we started a little bit late, so by unanimous consent, I ask 
that we be allowed to extend our closing time by the same number of 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, it is good for both of us and our 
colleagues to be thinking this month about National Adoption Month, to 
recognize the celebration of National Adoption Day, which will occur 
this Saturday. I have had the great privilege of serving as cochair of 
the Coalition on Adoption with Senator Klobuchar from Minnesota. It is 
an opportunity not only for us to work together in a bipartisan way, 
but at an event we attended just the other

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day, I was told the adoption caucus in the House and Senate is the 
biggest caucus of either body and the biggest caucus of the Congress. 
Of course, it should be. It is built on the idea that kids have the 
need of a family and that there are families out there who want to 
adopt kids. Whether that is nationally, domestically, or 
internationally, we really work hard to try to make that more possible.
  Our House cochairs have been great to work with. Senator Klobuchar 
and I are working on several pieces of legislation right now to make it 
easier for families to adopt and to make sure adopted families have the 
support they need to stay strong.
  One piece of legislation we are working on is the Adoption Tax Credit 
Refundability Act. It is a little bit outside the norm of the 
discussion of simplifying the Tax Code, but I was pleased the other day 
to have some important evidence put on the table when the chairman of 
the House Ways and Means Committee--who, by the way, is an adoptive 
father of two sons and an advocate for adoption and for kids--when the 
current adoption tax credit was not in the House bill, he said one of 
the reasons it is not here is so many families who adopt kids don't pay 
income tax because of the low level of their income. My thought was, 
well, that is exactly what Senator Klobuchar and I were saying. That 
should be a refundable credit as well as a credit, but I am glad to see 
the current credit back in the tax bill that the Finance Committee is 
looking at now. We want to continue to look at not only the current 
credit but expanding that.
  According to the Department of Health and Human Services, one-third 
of all adopted children live in families with an annual household 
income at or below 200 percent of the poverty level. It is because of 
that the tax burden is low. They don't pay income taxes. The adoption 
tax credit isn't as helpful to those families as it is to families who 
actually have income tax to credit it against.
  More than 400,000 children now in the United States are also in the 
foster care system, and more than 100,000 of those 400,000 kids are 
ready and waiting for families they can call their own. Lots of other 
children need to be in families all over the world, but we can be 
looking carefully at the children in our system now. We both looked--
and others have joined us in that--at the foster care system and 
ensuring behavioral health screening happens within 30 days of getting 
into that system. Once you get into the foster care system, often it is 
because of unavoidable challenges families face, and often it is 
because of challenges kids should never have to face. So that early 
evaluation of what is going on there can really make a difference in 
how foster kids are dealt with in the system and how they get ready--as 
100,000 of them now are--to leave the foster care system and be 
  Before I turn to Senator Klobuchar, I just want to mention some kids 
right now who are on what is called the Missouri Heart Gallery. More 
than 1,200 Missouri children are in need of permanent homes. The 
Missouri Heart Gallery is a place to look, as we approach the end of 
this year, to see what the stories of some of these kids are.
  Brandon, for instance, who is 12, loves to play games. LEGO sets are 
his favorite toy. He likes to smile and give hugs. He probably hasn't 
gotten enough hugs in his life up until now, but it is possible to try 
your best to catch up with kids who need hugs. He needs a stable and 
loving family. He is often playing outside. It would be wonderful if he 
were playing outside a house or a home that he knew was a permanent 
home for him.
  Shaniah and Shanae are sisters who hope to be placed together, and 
they hope to have a chance to maintain contact with their aunt 
following placement. Shaniah loves dancing and cheerleading. Her 
favorite color is green. She hopes to be a scientist one day. Shanae's 
favorite hobby is singing, and she makes friends really easily between 
her dancing and singing skills that she shares with her sister. Both of 
these girls would really bring a lot of life and vitality into what we 
would hope would be their family forever.
  Brandon, Shaniah, and Shanae are in need of permanent and loving 
homes. This is a time when we ought to be thinking not only about the 
obstacles to adoption, the things that encourage adoption but also how 
we can make the support system for both adoption and foster care and 
adoption out of foster care work better.
  I know my colleagues will be eager to join Senator Klobuchar and me 
in marking November as National Adoption Month and by passing our 
resolution today.
  I turn to my friend from Minnesota Senator Klobuchar.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, first of all, I would like to thank 
Senator Blunt for his leadership. We have worked side by side on these 
issues for so many years, and I am really pleased--as he noted--that 
there has been a lot of focus on this issue of the adoption tax credit 
and not only how it needs to be fixed in any tax bill and make sure it 
is maintained, but, in fact, it should be expanded on. I thank him. We 
have both been advocating for that.
  One of the reasons I am so involved in this issue is, in my State of 
Minnesota, we have historically had a lot of adoptions. One is 
international adoptions. We have one of the highest rates of 
international adoptions in the country. We have families who have 
opened their hearts to kids from Vietnam to Guatemala, to Nepal, to 
  I have had the opportunity to witness the power of adoption firsthand 
when I served for 8 years as the Hennepin County attorney--which is the 
largest prosecutor's office in our State. We also have civil 
jurisdiction so one of the things I worked on was speeding up the 
amount of time it took for foster kids to get out and into permanent 
homes. I was able to see firsthand those loving parents who would do 
anything to bring these kids into their families. When you see it 
internationally, it just breaks your heart if it goes on for years and 
years and years.
  Right now, domestically, over 425,000 children are living without 
permanent families in our foster care system. Over 110,000 of these 
kids are eligible for adoption. One of the reasons Senator Blunt and I 
came together today is to make people aware that, yes, there is 
international adoption--it is so important--but there are also kids 
right here in America who would love to be taken in by a family. That 
is part of the theme of our Adoption Month for the country.
  We have tackled a number of issues over the last few years, along 
with former Senator Landrieu of Louisiana. One of them was the 
International Adoption Simplification Act, which was a big help in 
terms of making sure that older children weren't left behind when 
younger siblings were adopted. I worked on that bill with Senator 
Inhofe; then, Senators Blunt and Landrieu and I introduced the Accuracy 
for Adoptees Act, which helps greatly to ensure that families don't 
have to fight with foreign authorities to get their kids' documents 
  We are also working on some of the international issues now because 
of the slowdown in international adoptions and the work that we can do 
there. We look forward to working with the State Department and other 
agencies on that.
  One of the best parts of our job is helping a family in our home 
State with an adoption. Recently, I got to visit a family in the 
western suburbs of Minnesota. For years, they had been waiting to adopt 
two Ethiopian boys. We worked really hard on this, as the halt of 
adoptions out of Ethiopia affected more than 200 American families; one 
of them was David and Katie Norton. Because of the work that was done 
and the push that was made, a number of these kids came home to their 
  I got to swing on a tire swing with these two rather fun boys who, 
every day, like to put on their bicycle helmets just because they think 
that is cool, and they wear them around the backyard. We had a great 
time with them.
  There are other children, and it makes you realize how close to home 
this is and how pleased we are to welcome these kids to American 
families. That is what National Adoption Month is all about. We want 
more kids to be able to swing on tire swings, so we will continue to 
work with the foster care system, as well as the international

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adoption system, to make this a reality for more and more orphans 
across the world.
  I thank Senator Blunt for his leadership, and we look forward to 
working on this issue for many years to come.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, I thank Senator Klobuchar. We will continue 
to work on this. We are glad it is so well-received and these are 
issues our colleagues pay close attention to. Whether it is domestic or 
international, we are going to continue to find ways to open the doors 
to more homes and to get access to more tire swings. I look forward to 
that work.
  Mr. President, as in legislative session, I ask unanimous consent 
that the Senate proceed to the consideration of S. Res. 331, submitted 
earlier today.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the resolution by title.
  The bill clerk read as follows:

       A resolution (S. Res. 331) expressing support for the goals 
     of National Adoption Day and National Adoption Month by 
     promoting national awareness of adoption and the children 
     awaiting families, celebrating children and families involved 
     in adoption, and encouraging the people of the United States 
     to secure safety, permanency, and well-being for all 

  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the 
  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the resolution 
be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider 
be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action 
or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The resolution (S. Res. 331) was agreed to.
  The preamble was agreed to.
  (The resolution, with its preamble, is printed in today's Record 
under ``Submitted Resolutions.'')