International Adoptions

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An Increasingly Popular Way To Start A Family

November marks National Adoption Awareness Month, a time for anyone who has ever adopted, thought about adopting or maybe never even considered adoption to reflect on the joy it brings to both the family and child. Once considered by many as a "last ditch" alternative to starting a family, adoption has never been more popular. In fact, the National Council for Adoption reported that the number of adoptions nationwide increased nearly 30 percent just between 1996-1998 ... and this number will only continue to rise.

Intercountry adoptions are the fastest growing segment of adoptions in this country. The U.S. Department of State estimates that the number of people adopting children from China, Russia, Vietnam and other parts of the world will exceed 17,300 for the current fiscal year - a record high. This trend is the result of a variety of factors, including the availability of young, healthy infants and toddlers; no concerns that the birth parents may reclaim the child; and the fact that these adoptions often are quicker than domestic adoptions. The full expense to adopt is also known before the adoptive family proceeds, and many countries consider single parents for adoption, as well as two-parent families.

Three pieces of legislation also promise to make intercountry adoption even easier and more attractive to prospective adopters during 2001. They include:

Hague Convention: This historic piece of legislation, finally signed into law by President Clinton October 6, is designed to create uniform adoption standards between the U.S. and 65 other countries to better protect the rights and interests of children, birth parents and adoptive parents. The treaty will also greatly help to expedite the legal adoption of children across national borders and prevent potential abuses, such as misrepresentation of a child's medical condition.

Child Citizenship Act of 2000: This bill, granting automatic citizenship to foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizens, went into effect on February 27, 2001. The Child Citizenship Act eliminates the need for parents to submit an application to have their adopted child naturalized.

Hope for Children Act: Passage of this bill, which is anticipated sometime in early 2001, would raise the current adoption tax credit from $5,000 to $10,000 per child, as well as adjust the qualifying income levels so more people can take advantage of the credit. This will undoubtedly make it even more affordable for individuals and families to not only adopt a first child, but also additional children, if they so desired.

There are also a growing number of employers across the U.S. making a concerted effort to make adopting a more attractive option for their employees who are considering it. In fact, adoption benefits are one of the fastest growing benefits, according to benefits consultant Hewitt Associates. Such forward thinking companies realize that this is an extremely cost effective way to recruit and retain skilled employees, while at the same time sending a message that they truly care about the well being of their workforce -- both in and out of the office.

Adopting - whether it be domestic or intercountry -- has long proven to be a wonderful benefit to the child and to those who adopt that child. As a proud parent of two adopted children, I can personally attest to this. Unfortunately, for every child that is adopted, there are many more of all ages and backgrounds who patiently wait for an adoptive family to help them grow to their fullest potential. If you have ever considered adopting a child, I would encourage you to do so. For more information, call 315-422-7300 or New York Parent's Help Line at 1-800-345-KIDS.

2000 (c) Golda Zimmerman
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