Policy & Advocacy

Outmoded, inconsistent adoption-related laws and regulations at the state and federal levels can impede ethical, careful and expeditious adoption practices. DAI makes recommendations based on research findings to achieve best practices and advance sound law and policy by:

  • Submitting comments and correspondence to Congressional and state legislative committees and members
  • Providing expert testimony at legislative hearings and in courts proceedings, and
  • Disseminating information through our website and monthly newsletter, which is read by thousands of subscribers

A sampling of our recent advocacy efforts are included with each of our objectives below.  Over DAI’s nearly twenty-year history, we have informed policymakers on these critical issues that affect those touched by adoption and foster care.

Eliminating Barriers to Adoption for Children in Need of Families

DAI regularly collaborates with other research and policy nonprofits to reduce obstacles to adoption for gay and lesbian families. The Institute is a partner of the Family Equality Council’s (FEC) Every Child Deserves a Family Act coalition, supporting legislation (S1069/ HR2028) that would prohibit discrimination “against prospective adoptive or foster parents solely on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identification, or marital status or on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the child involved.” DAI also joined FEC’s Allies for Adoption initiative, which seeks to “knock down barriers to adoption by LGBT people in every state.”

DAI also plays a leadership role on the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group, which successfully influenced Congress to pass legislation making the adoption tax credit permanent, and is now working to make that credit refundable. Concerning children in need of families in other countries, DAI supports the United States Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity through the Children in Adversity Policy Partnership, a coalition of children’s NGOs.

Promoting Ethical and Equitable Adoption Policies and Practices

To stop “re­-homing” ­- the term coined for parents using the Internet to find new families  for their adopted children, without monitoring or regulation -­ DAI is calling on law enforcement officials, policymakers and adoption professionals to investigate and end the activity, and is recommending legal, regulatory and practice changes to better protect children and support families in crisis.

Since publication of Untangling the Web: The Internet’s Transformative Impact on Adoption in 2012, DAI has continued to examine the positive and negative effects of social media and online advertising, among other elements, on adoption practice and millions of people’s lives. We’re identifying serious legal, ethical and procedural concerns that have yet to be addressed, and are proposing remedies to ensure activities are ethical and transparent.

DAI maintains its long­-standing focus on educating state legislators nationwide about the need to restore adult adoptees’ access to their original birth certificates (OBCs), based on our For the Records research. We work with advocates in numerous states and provide testimony to legislative committees in support of bills restoring OBC access.

  • The Donaldson Adoption Institute writes a letter to Georgia legislators encouraging them to disallow a waiver of the 10-day revocation period after a parent surrenders their parental rights to adoption. Under a proposed new provision, after a mother relinquishes her parental rights to adoption, she could also agree to waive her 10-day revocation period. This would make her consent to surrender her child for adoption immediately irreversible and non-revocable which is not in keeping with best practices in adoption. NEW!
  • The Donaldson Adoption Institute supports the Department of State’s Proposed Rule to amend requirements for accreditation of agencies and approval of persons to provide adoption services in intercountry adoption cases. DAI supports the Department of State in their efforts to ensure intercountry adoption standards are robust and effective and that oversight is in place to ensure compliance and safety.
  • The Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI) is lead amicus on an amici curiae brief filed December 17, 2015 by law firm Arnold & Porter, LLP with the U.S. Supreme Court in V.L. v. E.L. (No. 15-648).  The brief, joined by other leading child welfare organizations, highlights the grave psychological and emotional impact on adopted children of undoing completed adoptions.
  • Joint Statement. The Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.), Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA), Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI), North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) and Voice for Adoption (VFA) affirm the need for greater protections for adopted children nationwide, through improved policies to prepare families for adoption and increased and coordinated investments in support services after adoption.
  • DAI encourages law makers in NY  to consider research and facts as they deliberate the rights of adopted persons.
  • Comments to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Subcommittee on Children and Families Regarding July 8, 2014 Hearing on “Re-homing,” July 23, 2014
  • Media Advisory, calling on law enforcement officials, policymakers and adoption professionals to investigate and end “re-homing” and recommending legal, regulatory and practice changes, September 30, 2013
  • Media Advisory, requesting action by regulatory, legislative and law enforcement on Internet-based adoption providers not complying with states’ legal requirements relating to adoption and child welfare, May 30, 2013
  • Amicus organization, Brief of Amici Curiae in Support of Respondent Birth Father, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, U.S. Supreme Court, March 28, 2013
  • Testimony and letters regarding state bills that would allow adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates (New York A909; Maine LD1401; New York S2490A; Washington SB5118/HB1525; Montana SB384; Ohio SB23/HB61; Maryland SB165)

Enhancing Supports for Everyone in the Extended Family of Adoption

As part of our national Keeping the Promise initiative, DAI submits testimony, comments and letters to congressional committees recommending policy and funding improvements to increase and sustain adoptions from foster care. Among its recommendations, DAI advocates for increased funding for adoption support and preservation services in order to ensure that families have adequate resources to care for their children.

In partnership with the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC), DAI works to preserve an essential tool for enabling children and youth to move from foster care into permanent, loving, successful families: state funding for adoption subsidies. DAI and NACAC have created advocacy materials, including an Issue Brief and state data resources, for parents and professionals to persuade state lawmakers to preserve adoption assistance funding.

  • DAI supports the Family Stability and Kinship Care Act’s (S1964) cost-effective investments in key child welfare objectives — enhancing family safety and stability, enabling kinship placements, and promoting children’s wellbeing, while preventing unnecessary foster care placements and decreasing foster care lengths of stay.
  • DAI submits comments on Senator Wyden’s (D-OR) discussion draft of legislation that would align child welfare funding with the critical goals of supporting families and preventing unnecessary foster care placements.
  • Letter, in support of AB1790, to California Governor, August 25, 2014
  • Letter, in support of HR4980, to Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees’ Leadership, July 22, 2014
  • Letter, in support of AB 1790, to the California Senate Health Committee, June 9, 2014
  • Sign-on letter, Foster Family-based Treatment Association, Quality Foster Care Services Act (S.1992/H.R.4016), Senate and House leadership, Feb. 20, 2014
  • Comments, Strengthening and Finding Families for Children Act discussion draft, Senator Baucus (D-MT), October 7, 2013
  • Letter, Promoting Adoption and Legal Guardianship for Children in Foster Care Act (H.R. 3205), U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, September 30, 2013
  • Voice for Adoption sign-on letter, Removing Barriers to Adoption and Supporting Families Act of 2013 (S1511), U.S. Senator Rockefeller (D-WV), September 2013
  • Comments, legislative proposal reauthorizing Adoption Incentives, U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, August 30, 2013
  • Letter, Adoption Incentives reauthorization legislation, U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Human Resources, June 24, 2013
  • Testimony, February hearing re: increasing adoptions from foster care, U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means’ Subcommittee on Human Resources, March 13, 2013
  • LetterSB268 to require adoption subsidy payments for parents of eligible children with “special needs,” Indiana Senate Appropriations Committee, January 27, 2014
  • Letter, bill for subsidies to children’s qualified, close, nonrelated legal guardians (SB47), Missouri Governor Nixon, May, 24 2013
  • Letters, adoption subsidies decrease (LD1068), Maine Joint Committee on Judiciary and Governor LePage, April 23, 2013 and January 28, 2013 
  • Letter, Proposed Senate Operating Budget 2013-2015 adoption subsidies, Washington Senate Ways and Means Committee, April 12, 2013
  • Letter, Northstar Care for Children more equitable out-of-home-care placement subsidies, Minnesota House Health and Human Services Finance Committee and Senate Finance Committee, April 9, 2013