Adoption and Financial Assistance: Tools for Navigating the Bureaucracy

By Rita Laws; Tim O'Hanlon | Go to book overview

1
Adoption ABCs: Advocacy,
Bureaucracy, and Children

The full value of this life can only be got by fighting.

-- G. K. Chesterton ( 1874-1936)


VROOM, VROOM!

If someone gave you every part required to build a brand new car, but only some of the assembly instructions and tools, could you build the car? If you built it, would it run? Unless you are gifted mechanically and experienced in auto assembly, chances are you would not be able to build or use that car. PL 96-272, the adoption assistance law that is also called Title IV-E, or ASFA IV-B, is like that pile of auto parts, although its potential to do good is far greater than that of a new automobile.

PL 96-272 is designed to make special needs adoption, both the process and the child rearing, financially affordable for virtually every American who wants to open his or her home to a waiting child. It has already had a profoundly positive effect on waiting children by encouraging thousands of adoptions that could otherwise not have happened ( Gilles & Kroll, 1992; Bower, 1998; Marindin, 1998). And as a bonus, this law is reforming foster care and saving tax dollars in the long run ( O'Hanlon, 1995). It encourages the more cost-effective process of adoption while shrinking the numbers of children in expensive foster care. A 1993 study by Westat, Incorporated, found that this law has saved the U.S. taxpayer billions of dollars. In fact, Title IV-E is the most important and effective adoption legislation in the history of the United States.

Like the pile of auto parts, PL 96-272 is limited by its complexity. This

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