On Jan. 24, Link Savoie criticized U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. for focusing on international rather than American adoptions. The legislation in question — the Children in Families First Act — changes how the U.S. provides international assistance to children by restructuring efforts to keep vulnerable children in their families, reunify separated families and create new families for children (through domestic or international adoption). Our foreign policy doesn’t do enough to support the importance of family, and we need to fix that.
The letter caught my eye because recently I attended a meeting organized by Sen. Landrieu regarding how to enhance foster care and adoptions in Louisiana. I have spent much of the past 30 years working with young children who have been maltreated, and I have found the senator to be a powerful and effective ally in these efforts.
Mr. Savoie may be unaware of the work Sen. Landrieu has done to improve the U.S. foster care system and the laws she enacted to better protect and increase adoption of American children. For many years, she has worked tirelessly on domestic foster care and adoption issues, and the number of American children adopted each year has tripled from 15,000 to more than 50,000. Today, most American children who are available for adoption find permanent families within two years of entering foster care.
Recently, Sen. Landrieu spearheaded and passed legislation providing $4 million in federal funds so states can find families for harder-to-place children in foster care (sibling groups, children with special needs) so former and current foster youth can have better access to scholarship funding. Last year, Sen. Landrieu made the Adoption Tax Credit permanent so more families can afford to adopt a child in need, whether an American or from another country. We can all be proud of that.
We should all be grateful for Sen. Landrieu’s vocal, passionate and effective advocacy for all children, at home and abroad.
Dr. Charles H. Zeanah
vice chairman, child and adolescent psychiatry, Tulane University School of Medicine