A White House task force on adoption has recommended that adoption of children by homosexuals "should not be supported," but otherwise called for few innovations in the complex adoption field.
The task force, established in August to make specific recommendations on how adoption could be encouraged, called for legislation providing Social Security benefits for adopted children and health insurance coverage for disabled adopted children.
"The task force has ignored the staggering costs, archaic agency procedures and stifling requirements which have so long burdened the adoption process," said Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo). "The task force chose to rail against abortion and to judge the appropriateness of homosexuality and transracial adoptions."
Schroeder estimated that adoption costs to a family now run between $5,000 and $10,000.
The task force, headed by Mary Gall, counselor to the director of the Office of Personnel Management, recommended:No change in tax policy. The "effects of federal and state tax policies on choices made by households regarding adoption are likely to be small." A public education campaign highlighting successful military adoptive families. No change in state policies pertaining to sharing with the parents of birth background information about prospective adoptive parents. No change in rules regarding access to adoption records. A concerted effort to recruit minority families and expedite the adoption process in their behalf. Allowing transracial adoption as a permissible method of providing a loving permanent home, although it is "preferable to place a child in a family with a similar racial background." Not supporting homosexual adoption, although "marital status, age or handicapped conditions should not preclude individuals from consideration as adoptive parents." Pushing for more "timely termination of parental rights, establishment of foster care review boards, accountability and supervision of agency caseworkers and methods for addressing bureaucratic inertia in foster care and adoption programs."
The task force noted that the absence of reliable data on the numbers of adoptions remains a longstanding problem. The White House used a figure of 140,000 annual adoptions when the task force was named in August.
"We see many obstacles to adoption," said Mickey Lutz, co-chairman of Northern Virginia FACE, Families Adopting Children Everywhere. "Adoptive parents are still given second class status -- usually there is no insurance coverage for the baby, usually there is not parental leave."
Lutz said finding out how to adopt is a time-consuming process because hundreds of state and local laws differ and sometimes conflict on who can adopt and how. Costs can go as high as $20,000, or be free.
"The real difficulty is there are millions of different types of laws, and some private adoption agencies have very rigid rules that close the doors to a lot of people," said Lutz, who teaches a course for adoptive parents in Alexandria.
There are "enormous possibilities" for adopting children, said Lutz. "The sources are endless, but people don't know how to find out about them."
The task force said in the report that, in conducting its research, it was "guided by principles of federalism which mandate that there be no undue interference by the federal government in areas of family law which have traditionally and correctly rested with state governments."