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December 02, 2015

Tulsa World: Let's extend the blessings of adoption to more children

Across our nation, Americans are commemorating November as a month of thankfulness. It’s a period of time where trials fade into the shadows while we pause to celebrate ways in which our basic needs are being met, whether it’s having food on the table, a season of good health or a home to rest in.

As both history and science confirm, the foundation to these blessings is most often derived from the love and support of a committed family.

Today, more than 400,000 children in America and 10,000 in Oklahoma are in need of a loving family and a place to call home. In light of these facts, it is appropriate that Congress over the past decade has chosen November as a month for our nation to also celebrate the hope and blessing that comes from adoption.

As a member and former Senate co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, I have had the honor of working with my colleagues in the Senate to unanimously pass legislation each year to give advocates a dedicated national adoption day and month to promote and educate our nation about the benefits of adoption and the needs of children in the U.S. and abroad who are without a permanent home.

This year, Congress has also advanced adoption policy to help ease the financial burden and red tape that slow down or cause unnecessary barriers to both domestic and international adoption.

The Adoptive Family Relief Act is the most recent piece of legislation Congress passed that was signed into law. It offers American families visa renewal relief when in the process of adopting overseas and confronted with extraordinary circumstances.

With a granddaughter brought into our family many years ago from Ethiopia, I was proud to cosponsor this legislation that will give American families peace of mind as they navigate the cost and commitment of international adoption.

This year, I also joined forces with a colleague in the U.S. House of Representatives to introduce The Protecting Adoption Act, which would provide for a defined process to help expedite the placement of children into stable, permanent families by creating a National Responsible Father Registry.

Action is not just happening on the federal level, but in Oklahoma as well with the state’s recently announced Oklahoma Fosters Initiative, a campaign to recruit more foster and adoptive families for children in our state.

While governments must continue looking for ways to help advance the life of every child in need of a family, it ultimately takes every-day people to be the solution. Whether it’s opening up your home and your family, extending your resources or taking the first step of being educated on what adoption entails, I hope you will take a moment this month to not only be thankful for what you have been given, but to also look for ways you can extend those blessings to the children around you in need.

Together we can stand in the gap for these children and give them a chance at a brighter future that they each deserve.

Tulsan Jim Inhofe is Oklahoma’s senior U.S. senator. 

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