WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu filed bipartisan legislation Thursday intended to improve the nation’s international adoption processes.
The Children in Families First Act is led by Landrieu, who has two adopted children with her husband, but has 10 sponsors overall — five from each party. The goal is to reverse the trend of the number of international adoptions in the U.S. decreasing by 62 percent over the past nine years.
“This is not just an adoption bill,” said Landrieu, D-La. “This is about (placing) children in families.”
The legislation is intended to prioritize “family” as a key element of U.S. foreign policy and to realign U.S. departments and agencies in order to better place children in families — kin first, but also families looking to adopt once other avenues are exhausted.
The bill “streamlines” the roles of U.S. government agencies in adoptions to allow for more partnerships with states, the “faith-based community” and accredited adoption agencies.
The bill also reallocates a portion of existing international assistance funding for children so that it will do more to support family preservation, reunification and international adoption.
The central principle is that “all children should grow up in families,” Landrieu said.
“We would think this would be something we don’t have to say, something that everyone knows, but for some reason it is just not reflected in our policies,” Landrieu said. “We need it written in the law.”
Similar legislation is being drawn up by U.S. House members.
“For children who are orphaned, unparented, help is on the way,” Landrieu said. “We’re doing better domestically, now we have to do better internationally.”