Every Child Deserves a Family Act of 2013


In honor of May’s National Foster Care Month, Congressman John Lewis with Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have reintroduced The Every Child Deserves a Family Act of 2013. This proposed legislation attempts to stop discrimination of foster and adoptive parents based on marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity by eliminating federal funding to those states and agencies that discriminate against these groups. Studies show there would be an additional 2,000,000 homes available to children in need if discrimination against these possible families would be eliminated.

Growing up in a loving and permanent family is the foundation that allows a child to succeed in life. Research shows that only 54% of children who age out of foster care complete high school. Only 2% receive a college degree while 84% become parents. The statistics go on to show that over 30% end up receiving public assistance and 25% become homeless. The truth is those who age out of the foster care system are at a much higher risk to live a life of crime, become addicted to drugs, and to suffer from poverty. The fact that over 80% of the children who age out of foster care have children early in life results in even more children living in poverty and these children are at greater risk for neglect and abuse. The cycle continues.

Research also shows that children who are not raised in a permanent, loving family and who grow up in foster care will suffer many transitions from one foster home to another. On average a child will have three placements before they reach age one. With the continuing shifts and new placements, children are at high risk for developing Reactive Attachment Disorder. Each transition is another blow to the child, another blow to their sense of trust and their ability to form loving relationships.

Our goal as a nation should be to find as many loving homes as possible for these children in need. It should not be to limit the pool of potential foster families. There are over 400,000 children in the United States foster care system. Despite our good intentions, our legislation and policies have a long way to go to serve the best interests of these children.

Kudos to Congressman Lewis and Representative Ros-Lehtinen for reintroducing The Every Child Deserves a Family Act of 2013. Please contact your representatives in Congress and urge them to support this act that will allow more children to gain the vast benefits of growing up in a loving, permanent home.

Photo Credit: Hoaln

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Sonja Brown works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptionsā€™ programs in Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Samoa. Sonja is also proud to work directly with our Individualized Country Program families who are adopting from countries where no adoption service providers currently operate.