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Brief Overview, Types of Adoption, Needs

Removing Barriers to Permanency

Historically, children from minority and poor families represent a disproportionate number of children in the child welfare system, and these children also remain in care longer.  We know that removing children from their homes leaves room for cultural misunderstanding, biases and personal judgment that can lead to oppression and regulation of families.  The 1994 Multi-Ethnic Placement Act is aimed at removing the barriers to permanency for the hundreds of thousands of children who are in the child protective system.  The specific intentions are to decrease the length of time that children wait to be adopted, facilitate the identifying and recruiting of foster and adoptive parents who can meet children’s needs, and prevent discrimination in the placement of children on the basis of the race, color, or national origin.  This was the country’s first federal law that addressed race during an adoption.  In 1996, the Interethnic Placement Act was enacted to ensure it was clear that racial discrimination should be eliminated from the adoption process.

By the 1990’s in the United States, many families consisted of step-parents and step-children, blended families, single parent families and other family arrangements with any genetic connections.  Adoption became more widely known and accepted.  The nation even dedicated November as adoption month for the first time in 1995.

Legislative changes were implemented by the end of the 1990’s that greatly affected child welfare and adoption in America.  The child welfare approach was shifting again to planning for permanency for children so they did not languish in care.  The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, ASFA, was created to improve the safety of children, promote adoption and other permanent homes for children who need them and to support families, while establishing timelines for termination of parental rights.  The John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, increased Independent Living, IL, funding nationwide, serving youth up to age 21.  The act clarifies that IL activities are not an alternative to adoption but are done concurrently with efforts to locate a permanent resource.  These legislative changes led to a dramatic increase of almost 20,000 additional adoptions from the child welfare system as we headed into the new millennium.